Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shorties: Alex Chilton Edition

The Box Tops - Chilton standing center

Big Star (as trio) - Chilton slouching right

The Box Tops: The Letter [purchase]

Big Star: I'm In Love With A Girl [purchase]

Alex Chilton has had his hand in a few pithy pop classics. As the 17-year-old lead singer of The Box Tops, he pushed his voice way down soul deep for The Letter. The result was the second shortest No. 1 hit in the history of pop music. (Guess the shortest No. 1 hit in the comments below.) As a kid and teenager I probably heard The Letter a hundred times before I realized that it was sung by a teenaged Chilton. The guy sounds at least 24.

When Chilton actually did reach 24, he was still churning out catchy little pop numbers. On I'm In Love With A Girl, Chilton pushed his voice in the other direction, up into the falsetto range. It's hard to believe it's the same singer.

Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prevent Big Star from timely receiving the popular success their music deserved. The consolation prize was to be adorned with cult-like hipster status by the college rockers of the 1980's.

(OK. I better stop now. This post is getting too long for me.)

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