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Old 06-09-2010, 02:58 PM   #168 (permalink)
TheCellarTapes
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The Box Tops - The Letter Neon Rainbow
(1967)



Tracks

1 The Letter 1:55
2 She Knows How 3:08
3 Trains and Boats and Planes 3:48
4 Break My Mind 2:29
5 A Whiter Shade of Pale 4:34
6 Everything I Am 2:20
7 Neon Rainbow 3:04
8 People Make the World 2:31
9 I'm Your Puppet 2:54
10 Happy Times 1:46
11 Gonna Find Somebody 3:02
12 I Pray for Rain 2:26
13 Turn on a Dream 2:50
14 The Letter 1:58
15 Neon Rainbow 3:00
16 Georgia Farm Boy 3:48


Formed in Memphis, Tennessee and beginning life as The Devilles, The Box Top were one of the finest blue eyed soul groups to come out of America during the 1960ís. In the four years they were around, they had one huge hit, a string of decent albums and the marvellous vocals of one teenage marvel Alex Chilton. Combining all the best elements of Soul, R&B and Pop, as bands go you can do far worse than this group and their debut wasnít too shabby either.

Released in the November of 1967 on Bell Records, The Letter Neon Rainbow was one of those debut albums, which on the surface was quite a special piece, but sadly underneath there was a story of record label intervention and outside control. The band itself were quite the players and put on a very good show indeed when allowed off the leash, but their success left them at the mercy of outside forces.

Cellar Dwellers may know The Box Tops for their hit The Letter, which spent an unbelievable four weeks at number one spot in America, and was named Billboard Magazineís single of the year, this in 1967 which to be fair was quite a year for music. However the sad truth is that this song was penned by one of a team of writers. As the material penned by this team grew in popularity with the record label, the more the label felt they were allowed to exert control over The Box Tops.

Regular band members were swapped for session men on certain songs and sometimes even the whole band would be asked to leave, and although Chilton is the singer throughout, not one of the songs on this debut is penned by the band. Obviously such arrangement would eventually end in tears, but for 1967, all parties seemed to be content enough to create a piece of magic.



The Letter Neon Rainbow begins with The Letter, that huge bluesy, gritty, soul drenched single which obviously dwarfed the bandís future output to the very end. But that said what a marvellous song it is; the album version of this song has a few noticeable musical additions to the single version which improves the song no end in my humble opinion.

The next highlight is the Burt Bacharach song, Trains and Boats and Planes. Now itís a given that this is a good song, but I will say that Chilton gives a mighty fine performance on vocals, for a song which he could have easily been lost in. In fact there are a number of quality delightful songs on this LP where Chilton is king; Everything I Am for example is a beautiful swirling song which Chilton just excels in.

Strangely, the band that once was overshadowed by The Letter are now seemingly more famous for the song which makes up the second half of this albumís title. Yes Neon Rainbow has been getting played quite a bit of late thanks to its inclusion on a mobile phone companyís advertising campaign, which included a lucrative sponsorship of ITVís The X Factor. Itís probably a shame it has been overplayed so much because itís actually a very charming song, here this song can be found on track 7.



Now subject to a reissue from the good people at Sundazed Records with extra bits added on, The Letter Neon Rainbow provides an opportunity to listen to some nice music for 45 minutes of your life. Alex Chilton, despite his years, is rightly singled out for praise for his sensational vocals on this album. Outside of how the album was made, which is quite depressing to be honest, The Box Tops in name serve up a lovely piece of work which is as exquisite and sweet as any album I could care to mention, I think itís a gooden Cellar Dwellers.
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