With Lou Christie, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Felix Cavaliere's Rascals and the Association
Fans familiar with the latter half of the phrase "Box Tops, featuring Alex Chilton" might feel a little shafted that the first part doesn't read "Big Star" instead. That legendary group, virtually ignored in the early '70s, when it released three near-perfect power-pop albums, was ultimately deemed a monster influence and remains Chilton's most impressive legacy. Despite Big Star's historical significance, the Box Tops, which Chilton fronted as a teen-ager, remains his best-known outfit. Thanks to "The Letter," a slice of white-boy soul, the Box Tops will live in perpetuity on oldies stations. Since reuniting in the late '90s with its original lineup, the group has toured and even completed a new album. Besides those two groups (Big Star folded in 1975, give or take the odd reunion), Chilton has led a maddeningly frustrating and uneven solo career. His transformation from teen soul man to power-pop granddaddy to surly rock and roll historian and back again is one of the more fascinatingly freaky tales rock has to offer. And not a single aspect of it means anything to the average oldies-concert attendee, which is kind of a shame.