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Non-Stop

The Box Tops

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Album Review

The Box Tops — or more precisely Alex Chilton and producer Dan Penn — were treading water on the third album to be churned out under the group's name in less than a year. The usual blue-eyed soul dominates the program, without anything on the order of "Cry Like a Baby" or "The Letter," although with "I Met Her in Church," Penn and songwriting partner Spooner Oldham were probably trying for something on that level. Sometimes the moods are a bit on the bluesy side ("Choo Choo Train," "Rock Me Baby"), at others on a gentler and poppier one ("Rollin' in My Sleep"). For the first time Chilton had the opportunity to write an LP track, and with "I Can Dig It," he brought out his most gravelly voice for an average midtempo soul belter. That's nothing compared with "Yesterday Where's My Mind," in which he sounds like he's trying to out-gravel the most sandpaper-voiced white singer of the era, Tim Rose; in fact, the track bears more than a passing similarity to "Morning Dew," one of the songs Rose interpreted on his debut album. "Sandman," a luscious ballad by the composer of "The Letter," Wayne Carson Thompson, is the most interesting little-known cut. Overall, though, this, like all of the Box Tops' albums, is a middling product with its share of filler. [The 2000 reissue on Sundazed adds five bonus tracks: two of them mono single versions (of "Choo Choo Train" and "I Met Her in Church"), the others from non-LP 45s. Those non-LP items include a Randy Newman cover ("Let Me Go") on which Chilton sounds like Paul Jones of Manfred Mann, and another of Chilton's earliest self-penned numbers, the soul-pop ballad "Since I Been Gone.."]

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During their brief lifespan, the Box Tops earned a reputation as one of the best blue-eyed soul groups of the '60s, even if their recorded legacy wasn't as large or consistent as, say, the Righteous Brothers or the Rascals. Today they're remembered not only for their smashes "The Letter" and "Cry Like a Baby," but as the launching pad for singer Alex Chilton, who went on to become one of rock's most revered cult figures thanks to his groundbreaking power pop unit Big Star. In his teenage years, Chilton...
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Non-Stop, The Box Tops
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