Alex Chilton - Songs From Robin Hood Lane - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Alex Chilton - Songs From Robin Hood Lane

by Kevin Orton Rating:8 Release Date:2019-02-08
Alex Chilton - Songs From Robin Hood Lane
Alex Chilton - Songs From Robin Hood Lane

When it was announced that not one, but two posthumous Alex Chilton releases were in the works, I’m willing to bet Big Star fans were drooling in expectation. Could it be Alex was holding out on us all these years? An album title like Songs From Robin Hood Lane invites dreams of acoustic, long lost, lovelorn ditties like ‘All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain’. Well, you’ll have to hit the Free Again: 1970 Sessions for all that. Hate to disappoint you all but this is a collection of Chilton crooning the American Songbook. Recorded in 1990, this is just like what Dylan and Rod Stewart are doing these days. Speaking of Rod, a journalist once wrote that outside of Rod Stewart no one worked harder to betray their initial talent, than Alex Chilton. I wouldn’t go that far. Chilton always did what he wanted to do. He simply didn’t give a fuck about the consequences. That said, here his singing is deeply heartfelt and his guitar playing is stellar. True, these songs have been sung into the ground. And true, Chilton isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. But he’s approaching this material with none of the pretension of Bob or Rod. What’s more, he embraces his inner lounge lizard with tongue and cheek aplomb.

‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’ is pure piano bar cheese complete with a smooth Jazz flute. What’s more, its clear these are the furthest thing from demos. Chilton hasn’t been backed by horns like this since his Box Tops days.

‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ is just Chilton on the acoustic and I have to say, it’s a charming version. And charming is hardly a word one would attribute to Chilton given his obstinate track record, but this is the sound of Chilton getting his bliss on. And he could care less if you like it or not. Personally, it reminds me of one of my favorite albums, Sammy Davis Jr. Sings, Laurindo Almeida Plays. A spare album that features just Davis’ vocals and Almeida’s acoustic guitar tackling similar standards.

‘Save Your Love For Me’ puts us back on the cruise ship piano bar, as does, ‘There Will Never Be Another You.’ ‘Lets Get Lost’ is just Chilton with lone guitar accompaniment. And while I love the Chet Baker version, this song also seems to suit Chilton well. You can almost hear him cheekily smiling as he’s singing. ‘Like Someone In Love’ has all the self-conscious camp and charm one associates with Jonathan Richman. I’ve heard this song a million times, but I confess I love Chilton’s version.

You can piss on this if you want, but one can’t deny the chops here or Chilton’s sincere affection for this material. This is music he grew up with. In fact, the album title is the street address of his childhood home. His father, Sidney was a Jazz musician, and this is the stuff young Alex was exposed to as a kid. So, no this isn’t a collection of Big Star or Flies On Sherbet outtakes. It’s not only a deeply personal statement, but it’s also a great lazy Sunday afternoon record. Most striking, this is the sound of Chilton completely letting his guard down. Some of the most expressive singing of his career. Personally, when it comes to Rock icons hitting the American Songbook, I’ll take Songs From Robin Hood Lane over all others.

Comments (1)

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I’ll be listening. Great review

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