Big Star

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For giving Teenage Fanclub a career, classic. For inspiring every other halfwit Glaswegian indie band, dud.

Agree with dave q, the soppy gurly ballads win over the rockers everytime (esp on #1 record), and yup Sister Lovers is overwrought and overrated but any Lp with Holocaust, jesus christ and Kanga roo is ok by me (though I prefer This Mortal Coil's versions).

I will pass on the Raspberries coz' all I know about them is that they taste nice in trifle.

Billy Dods, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Weeellll I've never been that partial to "#1 record" unless I'm completely in the right mood for it, the rockers sound forced but the ballads are wonderful, especially the last few on side two. "Radio city" is end to end genius without doubt. "Sister lovers" has too much of a reputation hanging around it of 'tortured genius' to ever live up to it - didn't NME vote it most depressing album of all time a few years back? Oh come on! But it still has moments. And I'm probably the only person here who'll admit that they like the Columbia live album (but hell I love the Posies so what do you expect?) The rockier songs from "#1" sound better on "Columbia" than the originals - discuss.

Rob M, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

The three BS albums are like a drunk's progress. First album - happy buzz, sociable and 'up'. Second album - nasty, sloppy, mean-minded, initially amusing but unpleasant to be with. Third album - all the grief, dysfunction and ultimate serenity of the hangover. I like a lot of their stuff, I love a bit of their stuff - ultimately Chilton has to take some of the indirect blame for lo-fi's cult of the fuck- up.

Tom, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Nice comparison Tom. Why didn't I have that idea? "Kangaroo" is the delirium tremens isn't it?

alex in mainhattan, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Never heard them in my life.

the pinefox, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

'Like Flies on Sherbert', the solo alb AC made after 'Sister Lovers', is the real good'un - we're talking one last reckless binge before the Betty Ford clinic beckoned. So ramshackle and woozy it makes the Dead C seem like King Crimson.

I also like 'I Am The Cosmos',the posthumous Chris Bell alb.

Andrew L, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Foxy: you might actually like 'em quite a bit, especially the slower moments (Ballad of El Goodo, for ex., and of course the immortal Thirteen.)

Everyone else: The first two records rock Third's world. Radio City is, I think, my favorite of the moment, b/c tho it has fewer instant hits it feels mature and thoughtful as opposed to angsty. Also, because of Septermber Gurls. Third has probably the most breathtakingly stunning songs, but I can't listen to something so morose that often. I need lifestyle music, eh?

Sterling Clover, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

dave q: I like the Raspberries reference. Very, very nice.

JM, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Big Star weren't on Stax proper but rather Ardent, a Stax subsidiary with which Stax misguidedly took on the white rock market. I don't think it was much of a priority for Stax, which was a mixed blessing in that it allowed such a singularly weird band to pretty much do what they wanted but hurt them in that the Stax guys didn't have much interest in or aptitude for promoting anything other than soul.

fritz, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Actually, Rob, I liked Columbia too, also being a fan of the Posies. I think it's maybe telling that I like a lot of the bands that Big Star influenced a bit more than I like Big Star proper (esp. Replacements), but mostly because they are more powerpop and eliminated most of the rawk cliches of those first two albums, whether they invented them or no.

Sean Carruthers, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

anyway, what's wrong with kiss?

g, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

or Teenage Fanclub for that matter? They have gotten a bit boring...

g, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

The first time I heard "Thirteen" I nearly cried. I *heart* this band so much.

Helen Fordsdale, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Big Star totally live up to the hype. Their history is nearly as compelling as their music. "Radio City" defines it's era, much like X's "Wild Gift" defines it's own era.

Mole Man, Saturday, 20 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Sean - doncha love it when everyone gets sidetracked?

I heard Big Star before I heard either the Posies or Replacements or even the Fannies (a brother who had exceedingly bad taste most of the time finally got something right when he got "#1 Record" / "Radio city" in '91), and I've converted my fellow bandmate (a Fannies / Replacements / Smithereens fan) into a BS fan, his trying to convert me on the 'Mats and Smithereens has never worked in my direction for some reason. But we're totally agreed on the Posies and the Fannies though. Odd. I just can't get my head around the 'Mats at all, I've tried loads of times with different LPs of theirs, but still nothing. Mind, Paul Westerburg's last solo LP was rather good!

Rob M, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Call me old fashioned but I think one property of an era-defining record ought to be people actually buying it during that era, not 20 years later.

Tom, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Smithereens - AAARGGGGHHHH (makes retching sounds)

dave q, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

It is an era defining record, era being 1990 unfortunately.

TFC way, way better than BS.

Billy Dods, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Could somebody PLEASE explain TFC's appeal? Start a new thread if you have to. This one really perplexes me.

dave q, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

From my experience, Teenage Fanclub is exemplary of most Britpop bands - Hey! We like such-and-such bands! Let's pay homage to them through shameless, lifeless emulation! Everyone'll LOVE us!

Bandwagonesque was all fine & good, but a bit slow (even when going fast) and surprisingly bland as a whole. Pleasant in certain situations, though. This is the only album I can confidently speak on, so feel free to ignore my pronouncements.

David Raposa, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Basically TFC = Big Star with 'originality' replaced by 'lyrics and sentiments early 90s students could relate to better'. As an early 90s student I hugely preferred them.

Tom, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

From my experience, Teenage Fanclub is exemplary of most Britpop bands

'Britpop' = term with huge ever growing scope creep

Nick, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...
"Thirteen" is such a fucking good song.

NA (Nick A.), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 20:35 (11 years ago) Permalink

Isn't it just.

Sick Nouthall (Nick Southall), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 20:52 (11 years ago) Permalink

I like the third one the best myself. "Radio City" is the most fully realized of the three "official" BS albums, but "Third" really did something that hadn't been done before, I think.

The Stax org was in such disarray in the early '70s that it's a wonder the records even got out there as much as they did. I've read that each of the first two albums only got into the marketplace in ridiculously small quantities...4000/5000 is a number I've seen.

I don't know if they "define" any era. A post above maintains that to define era, their records would've have to been bought by somebody. So I guess they were one of the first true indie/critic's bands...the reviews were mostly glowing. In retrospect they do seem to define the period much better than any number of more popular acts, though. I see nothing wrong with revisionist nostalgia myself.

For a long time I loved them without reservation, then went thru a period during which I'd just heard them too much. For a lot of us they were like the Beatles, the absolute gold standard of pop records. Now I just accept them as a great pop band, period, and wish people would quit gushing about them so much, or maintaining that they weren't really all that good. As a live band they seem to have sucked; but I can't think of any better-conceived record than "Radio City." Such style. And they seem to define not an era but a state of mind, one epitomized by the Eggleston "red ceiling" photo that graced the original "RC" LP...bad dreams and vibes in an oversexed room, distilled into melancholy, perhaps? With a few good times vaguely recalled? Maybe that's the '70s, I don't know.

Interesting to see what the new Big Star album will be like...

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 21:12 (11 years ago) Permalink

a friend of mine is assisting with the engineering at Ardent. He says it sounds amazing.

of course, Chilton & company could scrape a chalkboard with rusty chisels and this guy would say it's the best thing ever.

(I think I listen to Third the most, too)

Will (will), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 22:25 (11 years ago) Permalink

there is a new studio album?

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 22:38 (11 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, they've been recording at Ardent since March, I believe.

I wonder how committed Chilton is to the whole idea of Big Star these days. Probably not very. I didn't think much of "Hot Thing."

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:22 (11 years ago) Permalink

When did 'Hot Thing' come out?

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:24 (11 years ago) Permalink

Umm, it was sometime after the Columbia reunion...maybe '95? It's on the somewhat misbegotten Rkyo "Big Star Story."

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:26 (11 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, £15 for a 'best of', £10 for #1 Record/Radio City. Hmmm.

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:38 (11 years ago) Permalink

Really? That's so wrong.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:50 (11 years ago) Permalink

3 years pass...

guys seriously I love "Ballad of El Goodo" so much

I want to be in a band that covers this

iiiijjjj, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:41 (8 years ago) Permalink

don't make me say a bunch of shit about it, just fire back re: yes this would be a pretty good thing to do, be in a band that covers this

iiiijjjj, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:42 (8 years ago) Permalink

yeah

ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:45 (8 years ago) Permalink

I purchased the Blitzen Trapper song 'Summer Town' just because the vocal hook reminded me of BS' 'Thirteen.'

calstars, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:46 (8 years ago) Permalink

iiiiijjjjj where do you live?

calstars, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:46 (8 years ago) Permalink

Ya know, Evan Dando covered "El Goodo".

Pleasant Plains, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:50 (8 years ago) Permalink

'Thirteen'>>'El Goodo'

Drooone, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:51 (8 years ago) Permalink

fucking love them. i honestly feel sad for anyone who who passes them by.

Frogman Henry, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:51 (8 years ago) Permalink

drooone otm but it doesn't even matter

ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:55 (8 years ago) Permalink

overrated Grandpappy Indie (VU notwithstanding); not worthless, but nor are Wishbone Ash, for goodness sake
-- mark s, Wednesday, October 17, 2001 5:00 PM (5 years ago)

"overrated"

gershy, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 05:18 (8 years ago) Permalink

8 months pass...

overrated Grandpappy Indie (VU notwithstanding); not worthless, but nor are Wishbone Ash, for goodness sake

-- mark s, Wednesday, October 17, 2001 5:00 PM (6 years ago) Bookmark Link

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:24 (7 years ago) Permalink

ENLIGHTENING

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:25 (7 years ago) Permalink

uh x-post

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

and 'mod lang' is what needs to get cover treatment

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:30 (7 years ago) Permalink

"Mod Lang" is quite easy to play, so a cover would be cool.

whisperineddhurt, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 15:30 (7 years ago) Permalink

and somehow, strangely, Big Star lives on.
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&interface=shepemp&event=257724
wish i could go ... is this one of them Don't Look Back things? Are they playing Radio City in its entirety?
i'll also take this opportunity to say that Alex Chilton probably has one of the top 5 singing voices in rock and roll history. Serious.

tylerw, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 15:41 (7 years ago) Permalink

Actually, listening to Radio City and Third, Alex Chilton kind of reminds me of a vanilla Barrett Strong Rude from Lethem's "Forttress of Solitude." Moments on Third definitely sound fucked up enough to come from three-week coke binges.

That being said "Blue Moon" and "Stroke it Noel" totally PWNs! The former is better than "Thirteen" (which, sadly, contains no oboes).

Drugs A. Money, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 02:44 (7 years ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

sweet jesus this band is good. they seem to have such a unique and effortless ear for hook and melody. such a pleasure to listen to.
and on another note, 'i'm in love with a girl' appeared on a shuffle the other day. i was feeling a little absent-minded and it took me about 30 seconds to recall who it was without checking. such a sweet, simple song and yet it feels about 20 years ahead of its time.

Charlie Howard, Thursday, 8 May 2008 16:44 (7 years ago) Permalink

Jimmy Cliff recorded in Muscle Shoals in like '70-'71. That's the Swampers on "Sitting In Limbo".

Don A Henley And Get Over It (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 1 January 2015 03:51 (7 months ago) Permalink

Found it. 1971, Another Cycle, Cliff's last release before The Harder They Come, recorded in Muscle Shoals with backing from The Swampers.

Don A Henley And Get Over It (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 1 January 2015 04:04 (7 months ago) Permalink

Yes!

calstars, Thursday, 1 January 2015 04:10 (7 months ago) Permalink

Good catch. That definitely came out before "I'll Take You There." Wonder if that was after that Wailers/Traffic tour as well. Nope. That was '72. Seems like the Jimmy Cliff connection gets left out frequently of the story- because Bob Marley is so much more famous?

Pigbag Wanderer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 January 2015 04:19 (7 months ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

I need to finish A Man Called Destruction. Was totally enjoying it last summer and got distracted just as he went off the rails in NYC in the late 70s.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 12 March 2015 13:01 (4 months ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

has anyone heard of Gimmer Nicholson? he was apparently a major influence on Big Star's acoustic guitar sound. he recorded a solo acoustic album at Ardent Studios shortly before Big Star recorded #1 Record, and while it remained unreleased for over 30 years, Chris Bell was a fan of it at the time, according to producer Terry Manning. I can definitely hear some similarities between his playing and Bell's:

the geographibebebe (unregistered), Sunday, 12 April 2015 04:14 (3 months ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:13 (2 months ago) Permalink

What's A.C.? You know? Arkansas College?

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:22 (2 months ago) Permalink

def looks like a page from a yearbook

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:22 (2 months ago) Permalink

xposts but i have to say woww @ that gimmer nicholson clip

zionsmommy (mattresslessness), Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:25 (2 months ago) Permalink

xp yeah i don't know -- i think someone over on facebook was saying somewhere in Athens GA

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:25 (2 months ago) Permalink

In reading A Man Called Destruction, was curious to learn of their jaunt through north Arkansas--Eureka Springs, elsewhere--circa Number 1 Record. I mean, West Memphis wouldn't be unexpected, but up there? Kinda weird. Circa '95 I bought a first press copy of Radio City from a little record shop in Eureka Springs. Talked him down to $10 cuz that's all I had! Radio City came out after their earlier show there, but it still makes me wonder about how the record ended up there. Perhaps a fan who'd been at the first show kept up with them after that. Who knows.

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:27 (2 months ago) Permalink

quick search turns up this, so yeah, A.C. = Athens College

https://archive.org/stream/columns1973athe/columns1973athe_djvu.txt

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:30 (2 months ago) Permalink

nice internetting!

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:32 (2 months ago) Permalink

i've read that the original quartet's set at the time included "cinnamon girl" which would be awesome to hear. i can almost hear it in my head.

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:33 (2 months ago) Permalink

Think that was mentioned in the book. Which I highly recommend for fans. Won't come away with a rosy picture of Alex. Sure was a character, often terrible. But no big surprises there I guess. Great read nonetheless. One thing I did love about him is that he adored Off the Wall and would cover "Rock With You," at least playing around at home with friends.

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 20:42 (2 months ago) Permalink

There's a straggly but cute version here. I love Alex's voice whatever he's doing -- I don't think I realised how much until I saw that terrible all star tribute show a couple of years back

http://youtu.be/DJTpdwpOHxU

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 21:32 (2 months ago) Permalink

O man thank you for that! Ha!

andrew m., Tuesday, 2 June 2015 21:38 (2 months ago) Permalink

Just finished the Chilton bio and now have some curiosity about his solo stuff, but I suspect I'll be very disappointed. I had a couple of his solo albums a long time ago but quickly dumped them. Is any of his non-Big Star stuff actually good?

I have the Nilsson bio queued up next, but I'm not sure how many books I can make it through about late 60s pop stars who self-destructed in the 70s. Alex's dark moments were pretty tough to get through.

too young for seapunk (Moodles), Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:01 (2 months ago) Permalink

there is not really a ton of non-Big Star stuff tbh and I love it but it is nothing like Big Star, it needs to be taken on its own terms

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:05 (2 months ago) Permalink

yeah otm - anyone looking for big star-y things from chilton's solo career (or even that last "Big Star" album) is going to be disappointed. but i don't know, a lot of it sounds better and better to me as the years go by. as chuck noted above, the dude's voice is incredible, no matter what the setting...

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:08 (2 months ago) Permalink

I love his standards albums, but if you were looking for the great lost Big Star record....you should probably get Chris Bell's 'I Am The Cosmos'.

campreverb, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:10 (2 months ago) Permalink

solo Chilton is a lot funnier than Big Star, for one thing

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:18 (2 months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I've got some entertaining show tapes, mostly from dive bars (also from public radio).
I'd say start with his perkiest, radio-ready sets (where I first got into his solo stuff):Feudalist Tarts [1985?] and the No SexEP, also from the mid-late-ish 80s.
Also, although it repeats tracks from Big Star's Third and some other solo thingies, some of the latter are from EPs and singles you'd pay Paul McCartney white boy money for on eBay (unless you found 'em online). Then---from the least uneven to the most---Bach's Bottom, and (what the hell) Like Flies For Sherbert---both of those are from the early 80s---and even Cliches, and evenHigh Priest. I mean, if you're really hooked. And there's a bunch of live sets (some pretty hot), and boots and legit stuff I haven't heard.
There was a pretty good-size AC stash on Spotify a while back, but I haven't checked lately. Spotify is not too finicky about albums that might be legal somewhere, in my experience.

dow, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:44 (2 months ago) Permalink

"Although it"---oops, this refers to Rhino's AC round-up, 19 Years.

dow, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:47 (2 months ago) Permalink

Why are you guys talking about Anal Cunt on the Big Star thread?

Immediate Follower (NA), Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:48 (2 months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I like all his solo records. Not at all dissapointing. Bach's Bottom is probably the most Big Star sounding, if only because it got remixed in the 1990s to sound more like Big Star -- it's pretty faux but it actually sounds really good. I love Like Flies on Sherbert, but it's the last three, Cliches, Man Called Destruction and, er, Loose Lips Tight Pussy, that I still listen to the most - they're just generic bar band covers and cheesy jazz standards but super eccentric and fun. I

Anyway, if you like this (and I love it), you'll like solo Alex:

http://www.youtube.com/v=ptHlghlmWGM

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:52 (2 months ago) Permalink

Oops I mean

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:52 (2 months ago) Permalink

Loose Lips Tight Pussy

I thought it was Loose Shoes

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:53 (2 months ago) Permalink

I'm confusing my four-word loose-containing phrases

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:55 (2 months ago) Permalink

AKA Set here in these prudish United States

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 June 2015 22:58 (2 months ago) Permalink

One thing I did love about him is that he adored Off the Wall "

to be honest — who doesn’t?

count me as someone who loves "like flies on sherbert" and listens to it all the time! i think it’s brilliant!

he quipped with heat (amateurist), Wednesday, 3 June 2015 03:26 (2 months ago) Permalink


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