Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans

by Kevin Orton Rating:7 Release Date:2019-02-08
Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans
Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans

Alex Chilton’s 80’s material has long been out of print. Which is no surprise really. It’s all a bit of a lark. Fun but slight fare. A no-nonsense mix of covers and a handful of originals. Sides that certainly pale compared to Big Star and aren’t nearly as remarkably shambolic as Flies On Sherbet. At this point in his career, Chilton was either a living legend or an off-the-wall has-been. Take your pick. If the Replacements hadn’t dropped his name in a song, Chilton might have continued to languish in obscurity when these sides were cut. But thanks to Paul Westerberg’s Big Star worship, Chilton's profile rose. With the advent of the 90's cd reissue boom, Big Star’s long out of print masterpieces would once again be available to an ever-growing and hungry cult audience. Soon the likes of REM and Wilco were singing Big Star’s praises and Chilton could be seen fronting half-hearted Big Star “reunions”. But he never came anywhere near to cutting stuff like Big Star again. Let’s face it, when he wasn’t goofing around or phoning it in, the rest of Chilton’s career was a conscious effort to avoid or pull the rug out from under Big Star. And who can blame him? Not everybody wants to live in the past and watching your hopes and aspirations fall apart can’t be all that fond a memory. As great as Big Star were, I have the sneaking suspicion it wasn’t always that much fun.

Well, the material captured in, From Memphis to New Orleans, is certainly a response to all that. Culled from the best tracks from the No Sex EP and High Priest LP, this is unambitious Rock with a fuck-it attitude. Not to mention, a tasteful blast of the horns every now and then. Far from Chilton at his best. Or worst. But he’s clearly having a good time. It’s music that doesn’t make any great demands on you and that's the point.  

‘B-A-B-Y’ and ‘Thank You John’ is similar to the fare he cut with the Box Tops while ‘Lost My Job’ plays at blue-collar Blues Rock. “My reputation is shot all over town,” Chilton quips with a touch of knowing sarcasm.

‘Paradise’ has a notable touch of Rockabilly. The kind of tune Dex Romweber’s Flat Duo Jets might cover. ‘No Sex’ tips its hat to Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones. Chilton’s lyrics as tongue in cheek as the playing. ‘Underclass’ is exemplary of this set. Pure fun, but nothing to write home about.  

For my money the saucy, ‘Take It Off’ is one of the highlights off the High Priest LP. But perhaps the real standout of this era is the infectiously catchy party song, ‘Dalai Lama’.  Elsewhere on this collection, ‘Thing For You’ points in the direction of the standards Chilton would later cut in the 1990’s (See Songs From Robin Hood Lane).

If you’re coming here hoping for an album of Big Star outtakes, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This is a snapshot of Chilton blowing off some steam and obstinately content to ignore his Big Star past. Favoring cutesy Ronnie & The Daytonas covers like ‘Little GTO’. So, don’t come here expecting another ‘Big Black Car’. It was, of course, a deliberate turn of the back to not only his past but a middle finger to his present day. This is the sound of Chilton not giving a flying fuck. At best, it blows some dust off an understandably neglected period. Unless you’re a Chilton die-hard or Big Star completist, this collection isn’t going to set your world on fire. Nor is it trying to. Take it for what it is, a party record.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Big Star - #1 Record
  • 03/20/2019
  • By Ljubinko Zivkovic
Alex Chilton - From Memphis To New Orleans - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Seasaw - Big Dogs
  • 08/28/2018
  • By Bill Golembeski