Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Dimensions...The Story of The Box Tops.....Show 294

Coming from Memphis, Tennessee The Box Tops originally started out in 1963 as The Devilles. The line up changed by 1967 and included Alex Chilton (vocals/guitar), Danny Smythe (drums and founder of the band), John Evans (guitar/keyboards), Bill Cunningham (bass), and Gary Talley (lead guitar). The bands sound mixed elements of Soul music and Pop, and sometimes came off with a Garage Rock sound.

Signing to Bell Records the band cut their first single "The Letter" in 1967. The song was written by Wayne Carson Thompson and produced by Dan Penn. Fronted by teenage Alex Chilton with his angry soulful voice, the single quickly went to # 1 on the Billboard singles charts. It remained at number one for four weeks and even made it into Billboard Magazines number one single of the year. The bands next single "Neon Rainbow" was also written by Thompson and produced by Penn. Session musicians began to be brought in to record a lot of the singles for The Box Tops, this frustrated guitarist John Evans and Drummer Danny Smythe. As a result, they left the group and returned to school in early 1968. It should be noted that while session musicians did play on the majority of the recordings, the original line up of The Box Tops perform on the song "The Letter" and performed live. Symthe and Evans were replaced by Tom Boggs and Rick Allen.

The band continued to have hit singles and within nine months the band recorded three full length albums. The Letter/Neon Rainbow was released in November 1967, Cry Like A Baby in April 1968, and Non-Stop in July 1968. While the band had several hits, Alex Chilton was getting upset over the inconsistency of material that The Box Tops were recording. He would push to have some of his original compositions recorded. Every song on the bands first three albums were written by someone else, but Chilton got some original compositions recorded for The Box Tops next album Dimensions. Released in 1969, Dimensions was not produced by Penn and featured several Chilton originals "I Must Be the Devil", "Together", and "The Happy Song". The band also had their last minor hit with the song "Soul Deep" which is also featured on Dimensions, it was also written by Wayne Carson Thompson. Following this Bill Cunningham left the group to go back to school.

The bands contract ended in 1970 and they were essentially over after that. More material was released from 1972-1974. In 1972, studio musicians were put together to record new material under the Box Tops name, three singles were recorded this way. The last Box Tops single recorded was "Wilobee and Dale", none of these singles charted. Alex Chilton returned to Memphis and would form the Power Pop cult band Big Star. The Box Tops reunited several times between 1989-2009. On March 17, 2010 Alex Chilton passed away due to a heart attack.

More information on The Box Tops can be found at:

The Play List:

1. The Saints - Messin' With the Kid
2. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Get Yo Shit
3. Box Tops - Everything I Am
4. Big Star - Oh My Soul
5. James OL & The Villains - Train Wreck of Thought
6. Locust Have No King - Come One, Come All
7. Teenage Head - Infected
8. Drink Up Buttercup - Seasickness Pills
9. The Whigs - Hundred/Million
10. Radio Birdman - 455 SD
11. The Spys - Welcome to the Cruel World
12. Ramblin' Ambassadors - Rat Creek
13. Bambi Molesters - Wrong Turn
14. Lovers Love Haters - Poison
15. Perky Pat - The Bells
16. The Police - On Any Other Day
17. Ramones - Let's Dance
18. Buzzcocks - Lipstick
19. The Stooges - Shake Appeal
20. MC5 - Sister Anne

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 6. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Box Tops Videos:

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