hyperbolium | 03/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recall listening to this 'album' as a 10 year old, loved all the songs but mostly 'Keep Me Hanging On', 'Cry Like A Baby', and 'Whiter Shade of Pale'. The Soul Deep Best of Album missed several of these songs that should be on there."
+1/2 -- Fantastic debut LP from '60s pop legends
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 01/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No matter how many times you read it, it's nearly impossible to picture a 16-year-old Alex Chilton providing the growling, whiskey-and-smoke vocals of "The Letter." The stories of how his producers got that tone are legendary, but even still, it's difficult to associate such an assured delivery with someone who's only sixteen. Even more incredible is that Chilton sustained this across the group's entire debut album, and the band and studio hands provided superbly soulful backings throughout. There are a few spots where Chilton strains to sound soulful, such as on Bobby Womack's "Gonna Find Somebody," but for the most part he's astonishingly accomplished.
Beyond the two hits ("The Letter" and "Neon Rainbow"), Chilton lent his Memphis pop soul to fine covers of signature songs by Dionne Warwick ("Trains & Boats & Plains"), Procol Harum ("A Whiter Shade of Pale"), James & Bobby Purify ("I'm Your Puppet"); as a mark of their quality, none will have you racing to hear the originals. Chilton's soulful take on John D. Loudermilk's country-blues "Break My Mind" is likewise outstanding, and the rest of the album was penned by Wayne Carson Thompson (who wrote "The Letter" and "Neon Rainbow"), and the album's producer, Dan Penn, and his Muscle Shoals writing partner Spooner Oldham.
Unlike many 60s teen bands, the Box Tops followed up their initial hit with several excellent albums. Sundazed's reissue of their debut LP augments the original dozen tracks with a quartet of bonuses that include a non-LP single ("Turn on a Dream"), the mono single mixes of the two hits, and the previously unreleased "Georgia Farm Boy." Jud Cost's liners give a light introduction to the group's formation and the rise of "The Letter" to hit status. More detail on the group members and the recording of the album would have been welcome, but the period photos and reproductions of Mala 45 labels are nice touches. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2006 hyperbolium dot com]"