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Rock - Released February 8, 2019 | Bar - None Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 22, 2019 | Bar - None Records

In the course of a very eclectic career, Alex Chilton went from singing blue-eyed soul with the Box Tops to British Invasion-influenced pop with Big Star, seriously bent proto-punk in his early solo period, and good and greasy R&B covers after he relocated to New Orleans in the '80s. But one of Chilton's recurring sidelines was his fondness for crooning old standards in a warm, jazz-infused style. His take on "Nature Boy" during the Big Star Third sessions was just the tip of that iceberg, and Chilton would occasionally cite Chet Baker Sings as a favorite album and a serious influence on his vocal style. Chilton cut a fine album of solo acoustic takes on the classic songbook, 1994's Cliches, and in the '90s he recorded several sessions with bassist and producer Ron Miller for his jazz group Medium Cool. Songs from Robin Hood Lane is a collection that brings together cuts from Cliches and highlights from his sessions with Medium Cool (some previously unreleased), and this album is a warm, breezy delight. Chilton's phrasing on these performances is easygoing but from the heart, and his interaction with Miller and his sidemen shows just how much he learned from the great jazz singers of the '50s and '60s. The title Songs from Robin Hood Lane refers to the Memphis neighborhood where Chilton grew up, and many of these songs were on steady rotation on the family's hi-fi set. It's clear Chilton loves these songs, but his delivery speaks to a lot more than nostalgia -- as a gifted songwriter himself, he knew what made a great tune work, and he weaves his voice around the lyrics and melodies with the panache of a seasoned veteran and a star student. On the cuts from Cliches, Chilton's guitar work is simple but full of snap, and reveals another facet of his often-underappreciated instrumental skills. At just under 32 minutes, Songs from Robin Hood Lane is paced like a vintage vocal LP, and if it's a long way from rock & roll, this music speaks to a side of Alex Chilton's musical personality that clearly meant a great deal to him, and this is a low-key gem suitable for dancing and romancing. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 10, 2012 | Omnivore Recordings

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Rock - Released February 6, 2010 | Last Call Records

In most cases, adding in an unrelated EP, a second unrelated three-song EP, and a couple of random live tracks to an artist's album would make for a disorganized and confusing set, but Alex Chilton's 1979 album Like Flies on Sherbert was already a chaotic mess by most people's standards in the first place, so adding in the Feudalist Tarts EP from 1985 and the three songs from 1986's No Sex 12" EP from 1986 plus live versions of "The Letter" and "No Sex" simply expands the chaos to something closer to epic proportions. In retrospect, Flies isn't quite the car wreck it once appeared to be, and this two-disc package from Last Call has a strange coherence to it, full of loose, ragged deconstructive noise experiments, gutbucket R&B, and deliberately torpedoed pop and country songs. All of this is a far cry from the impressive power pop of Big Star, to be sure, but Flies and its various trailing EPs still seem to have a sense of purpose, even if that sense may have only been clear to Chilton. If love of Chilton's Big Star work brings you to this, well, be prepared to be shocked, but give it all a second listen. Songs like "My Rival" and its mirror cousin, "Like Flies on Sherbert," have fascinatingly bristling junkyard exteriors that mask a powerfully inverted pop sense, while tracks like "Boogie Shoes" and "Lost My Job" have a refreshing country-R&B shuffle feel, and "No Sex" may well be the most direct and honest song about sex in the postmodern world ever recorded. None of this is pop music trying to get over -- which is what one is used to -- but is instead pop music trying to get away from any perceived boundaries. What photo best captures the look and feel of the aftermath of a huge blowout party, one that is clear, in focus, and perfectly posed, or one that is blurred at the edges, tilted off axis, and has no obvious center point? The party's over, Chilton seems to be saying, and I don't have to look pretty anymore. ~ Steve Leggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 25, 2017 | Omnivore Recordings

Booklet
In 1995 the legend of Alex Chilton was ailing… With auto-destructive behaviours and unpredictable attitudes the former leader of Box Tops and most importantly Big Star spent the end of his career, and of his life (he died in 2010 at the age of 59) bewildering his fans and going from amazing to anecdotal in a snap… In that year of 1995 Chilton decided to mend the famous Ardent Studios in his native Memphis – where the Big Star saga took place – and the label to go with, to record Man Called Destruction. An album split in six original compositions and six covers (Jimmy Reed, Jan & Dean, Adriano Celentano, and even the amusing What's Your Sign Girl? by the obscure Danny Pearson) with a boiling brass section. The result is a beautiful patchwork mixing rock garage, slightly cheesy pop, jazz and rhythm’n’blues. Thanks to the excellent Omnivore Recordings label, A Man Called Destruction resurfaces in a re-mastered version with, the cherry on the cake, seven bonus tracks! And while these of course don’t come close to the Big Star’s masterpieces, or even to Like Flies On Sherbert (Chilton’s best solo opus, released in 1979), it’s hard to hide our delight in the front of a jukebox like this one, in which we’ll happily insert a quarter! © MD/Qobuz
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Pop - Released February 2, 2017 | Teichiku Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 8, 2017 | Bar - None Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 8, 2017 | Bar - None Records

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Rock - Released June 22, 2010 | Razor & Tie - Concord

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Rock - Released January 23, 2019 | Bar - None Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 14, 2018 | Bar - None Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 14, 2018 | Bar - None Records

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Rock - Released October 8, 2013 | Bar - None Records

When Alex Chilton (he of the unparalleled power pop songwriting majesty of Big Star and his own catalog of incredible solo material) was playing a two-set gig at N.Y.C.'s Knitting Factory on a February night in 1997, the power unexpectedly went out after the first set and most of the crowd went home. Some stragglers hung around in the darkness, bummed to only get a partial show and taking their time in exiting. Before too long, Chilton re-emerged with a borrowed acoustic guitar to play a few songs for the remaining crowd, with an off-the-cuff, unamplified performance to make up for the evening being cut short, and one that longtime fan Jeff Vargon captured on a hand-held cassette recorder. All of this brings us to the 2013 release of Electricity by Candlelight, the proper release of the audio from that incredibly intimate, one-of-a-kind set. The sound quality is bootleg at best, even in professionally mastered form. Were this a run-of-the-mill set, the sound alone would push this release into the "completists only" category, as vocals are muddy and sometimes drowned out by the giggling and caterwauling of the audience. There's something transcendent about this particular document, however, as one of rock's more celebrated songwriters plays through a set completely free of his own songs, opting to roll through standards like "Girl from Ipanema," country singalongs, and covers of personal favorites by Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash. Chilton sounds at first like he's trying to placate disappointed fans with a few numbers, saying he'll "just play one more" after the fourth or fifth tune, but then something turns and he continues to play on for more than an hour, taking audience requests, cracking jokes, and eventually being joined midway through by drummer Richard Dworkin on tastefully restrained snare and hi-hat. You get the sense that he's remembering how fun it can be to try things out, stumbling through "If I Had a Hammer," playing half of FM country semi-novelty tune "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" to the delight of one particularly rowdy fan, or giving a chilling reading of Loudon Wainwright's desperate "Motel Blues," seemingly more for himself than his listeners. The set peaks with a trio of Brian Wilson tunes including versions of "Surfer Girl" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" that gleam with a touching vulnerability. Chilton is exposing himself as a religiously devoted fan of all the music he's playing, which takes on a new context when he's playing it for devoted fans of his own music. Somewhere between slumber party and rock & roll church service, Electricity by Candlelight captures a truly special moment in the life of one of American music's most valuable songwriters, and gives a warm and welcoming window into his own inspirations. ~ Fred Thomas
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Rock - Released January 10, 2012 | Omnivore Recordings

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Set

Alternative & Indie - Released March 2, 2017 | Bar - None Records

Any Alex Chilton fan who's disappointed in a set of R&B and pop covers just hasn't been paying attention to his career. Ever since his comeback in the mid-'80s, Chilton has relied on covers -- from 1985's Feudalist Tarts EP on, new songs have been at a premium, and often felt like covers anyway. Maybe that's why he decided to ditch the originals for his 2000 album Set (charmingly titled Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy in every country outside of America). Set is pitched somewhere between the pop-standards album Clichés and A Man Called Destruction, boasting the feel of Destruction and its penchant for R&B, yet with a handful of traditional pop tunes. With the exception of "There Will Never Be Another You," these are read as instrumentals, but the end result is the same: It's a little ragged, it meanders, and it's listenable only to those already firmly within the cult. Set really isn't that bad, especially when its judged by Chilton's solo standards, but it isn't that good, either. In his favor, Chilton's song selections are pretty interesting: There are a handful of well-known songs ("Lipstick Traces," "Oogum Boogum," plus the standards), but he's also found some good lesser-known songs, like "Hook Me Up," "Never Found a Girl," and "You's a Viper." The problem is, he sounds like he just can't be bothered. It's not that these recordings are raw -- the production is unvarnished, but the performance is professional as can be -- it's that they're lazy. Some members of his cult find that endearing, while other listeners (and not just Big Star diehards) will tire of it after a couple of songs. It's no better or no worse than its predecessors; it simply offers more of the same. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine