Aside from his cult icon status as the leader of the Box Tops and Big Star, Alex Chilton loved singing good ole classics right out of the Great American Songbook as taught to him by his jazz trumpeter father in the 1950s. The late rocker, who passed away in 2010, revisited a handful of those canonical hits back in the ’90s. And now New Jersey’s Bar/None Records is releasing the covers as part of their Songs From Robin Hood Lane collection. The title references Chilton’s childhood home, and the tracklist comprises all super rare/out of print recordings. Today we’re getting the first taste through previously unheard album opener “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying.”
This is not the song originally sung by the British beat quartet Gerry And The Pacemakers in 1964. Rather, it’s by Louis Jordan, later recorded by Ray Charles, whose version is the one that captured Chilton’s imagination. Chilton’s rendition is an elusive, jazzy drift. His voice reaches back to his Big Star tenderness atop a dreamy, meandering flute feature, and it’s all very beautiful. Listen below.
Bar/None is also releasing another Chilton compilation alongside Songs From Robin Hood Lane. It’s called From Memphis To New Orleans — a twist on the title of Elvis Presley’s 1969 studio album — and was recorded at the height of Chilton’s stardom in the mid-’80s. Check out the rockabilly lead single “Lonely Weekends” below.
Songs From Robin Hood Lane is out 2/8 on Bar/None. Pre-order it here.
Correction: This post originally stated that Chilton covered the Gerry And The Pacemakers song, not the one popularized by Ray Charles. We regret the error.