1987's High Priest was Alex Chilton's first full-length studio album since the fascinatingly disastrous Like Flies on Sherbert in 1979. While it certainly wasn't the return to pure-pop form some fans were hoping for from the former leader of Big Star, it at least showed Chilton to be in firm command of his faculties again, and fronting a solid band of Memphis/New Orleans studio heavyweights. High Priest boasted only four original songs from Chilton, the best being the mildly sleazy "Thing for You" (though the just-plain-weird "Dalai Lama" has a certain perverse charm), but he dug up a handful of worthwhile covers, including the good-and-greasy "Make a Little Love" and a fine, obscure Carole King number, "Let Me Get Close to You." While Chilton's vocals betray a certain inscrutable irony, he's in fine voice throughout, and his wildly underrated guitar work is very much in evidence. Black List, a six-song EP Chilton released in 1989, is featured on this CD release as a bonus; it works on the same level as High Priest, only with six songs instead of 12. It does include that modern rarity, a noteworthy original Alex Chilton song ("Guantanamerika," a witty meditation on right-wing politics and Tammy Faye Bakker) and a solid version of the R&B chestnut "I Will Turn You Money Green." In addition, Razor and Tie have dug up unreleased tunes from the sessions for each record that, for a change, are actually worth hearing; "Magnetic Field," a leftover from Black List, is a frantic old-school rocker written by Chilton, while his superb cover of Charlie Rich's "Lonely Weekends" is an outtake from High Priest that's better than most of what made the cut.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming