In 1969, even before the end of his Top 40 band the Box Tops, singer Alex Chilton started making his first solo album. In 1970, he abandoned it to co-found Big Star, the Memphis version of the Beatles. Free Again finds Chilton, not yet 20, in fast bloom. The title track, “The EMI Song (Smile for Me)” and “Every Day as We Grow Closer” are ravishing, original amalgams of the Beach Boys, the British Invasion and country soul. There are also raunchy why bother covers of the Archies and the Rolling Stones, an eerie preview of Chilton’s subsequent career – confident in his gifts, always chafing against them.
Listen to “The EMI Song (Smile for Me)”: