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 (10 years ago) Permalink

Isn't it just.

Sick Nouthall (Nick Southall), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 20:52 (10 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 (10 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 (10 years ago) Permalink

there is a new studio album?

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 22:38 (10 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 (10 years ago) Permalink

When did 'Hot Thing' come out?

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:24 (10 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 (10 years ago) Permalink

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

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:38 (10 years ago) Permalink

Really? That's so wrong.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:50 (10 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 (7 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 (7 years ago) Permalink

yeah

ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:45 (7 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 (7 years ago) Permalink

iiiiijjjjj where do you live?

calstars, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:46 (7 years ago) Permalink

Ya know, Evan Dando covered "El Goodo".

Pleasant Plains, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

'Thirteen'>>'El Goodo'

Drooone, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:51 (7 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 (7 years ago) Permalink

drooone otm but it doesn't even matter

ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:55 (7 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 (7 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 (6 years ago) Permalink

ENLIGHTENING

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:25 (6 years ago) Permalink

uh x-post

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:29 (6 years ago) Permalink

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

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:30 (6 years ago) Permalink

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

whisperineddhurt, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 15:30 (6 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 (6 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 (6 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 (6 years ago) Permalink

because it hasn't been printed yet? do you know how publishing works?

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 23 September 2014 23:27 (4 months ago) Permalink

I love a hardback tbh. My daily commute seems to pulverise paperbacks. By the time I finished Nixonland the first half of the book had already turned to mulch.

A college wearing a sweater that says “John Belushi” (stevie), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 08:07 (4 months ago) Permalink

because it hasn't been printed yet? do you know how publishing works?

Publish an expensive an unwieldy "collector's" edition that differs only in form factor, wait a year for no apparent reason, publish a paperback edition that contains the same content. Makes sense to me!

It's like if you wanted to buy an iPhone 6 and Apple made you pay for an iPhone 4S, wait a year, then finally gave you option to buy the iPhone 6 you originally wanted for less money. They both run iOS 8, but one of them is slimmer and nicer than the other.

fields of salmon, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 08:51 (4 months ago) Permalink

I hear R&B in Chilton's vocals. One of the pluses of the otherwise diffuse and muddled 33 1/3 book about Dusty in Memphis is its explanation of how this Wexler-Mardin ethos drew towards itself the tight rhythm of Stax. When I hear "September Gurls" Chilton's vocals sound like he's invoking Dusty Springfield more than the Beatles.

This is so OTM. I can't really put my finger on it; every time I hear them I can't help hearing a feeling of displacement and isolation, which I think may be related to them doing music which did not belong in the place they were making it; in Dusty's case she was doing r&b and soul in the middle of the Swinging London, while Chilton was making English-influenced rock/pop music in the geographic heart of the r&b and soul "movement", so to speak.

Regarding Big Star and their influence in REM and the Mats, I think it's undeniably there. REM sounds like more of a #1 Record band, more aligned with the traditional power pop scene. To me, even though that's just an ingredient in their mix because they have a very unique, personal sound, I can hear it in stuff like Near Wild Heaven, for instance.

With The Replacements and Westerberg, I hear more Radio City in them, alternating the mindless "rockier" sound (Mod Lang) with the cynical approach (Life is white) and the total heartbreak (What's Going Ahn). I can also hear some Pavement in Big Star; the intro from Feel reminds me of the one in Silence Kid, and in my mind the Mats is the band that connects Big Star and Pavement into some kind of lineage, though I can't really pinpoint why, other than the fact that they share some sensibility traits, Westerberg being the Chilton fan everyone knows he is, and Malkmus often mentioning both Chilton and Westerberg as influences.

cpl593H, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:46 (4 months ago) Permalink

It's like if you wanted to buy an iPhone 6 and Apple made you pay for an iPhone 4S, wait a year, then finally gave you option to buy the iPhone 6 you originally wanted for less money.

so the answer is "no, I don't understand how publishing works" ok cool

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 15:14 (4 months ago) Permalink

So obviously I'm a consumer. Didn't realize knowledge of a series of arcane rituals called "publishing" was required to comment on why it seems strange I have to buy a hardcover or else wait a year to read a book I want to read in an age where the customer generally chooses the form factor in which they want to enjoy their content. So please, just explain it to me instead of being a dick about it.

fields of salmon, Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:49 (4 months ago) Permalink

Outic is shakey fyi

I was supposed to watch dishes (rip van wanko), Thursday, 25 September 2014 01:15 (4 months ago) Permalink

I have to buy a hardcover or else wait a year to read a book I want to read

You have heard of these things called "libraries" perhaps?

an age where the customer generally chooses the form factor in which they want to enjoy their content.

hahahahahaha

bippity bup at the hotel california (Phil D.), Thursday, 25 September 2014 01:21 (4 months ago) Permalink

the answer is money. any number of yahoo answers or google searches will explain the rest of the details

Οὖτις, Thursday, 25 September 2014 15:18 (4 months ago) Permalink

xp

Οὖτις, Thursday, 25 September 2014 15:18 (4 months ago) Permalink

not really going to go into why a book is not like a tech product, which is ridiculous on its face just due to stark differences in how the two are produced, used, sold, marketed etc.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 25 September 2014 15:19 (4 months ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Holy shit, RIP John Fry. Guy was a genius, and nice as can be.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:07 (1 month ago) Permalink

RIP. seemed like he might have cared more about big star than anyone actually in the band.
the man behind some seriously great sounding records.

tylerw, Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:09 (1 month ago) Permalink

FUCK. A young friend of mine just got geeked out on Big Star in the same way I did when I picked up Keep an Eye on the Sky. I let him borrow that and the Ardent "Thank You Friends" comp. Some of the best sounding records ever.

Trip Maker, Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:12 (1 month ago) Permalink

Damndamndamn Fry and John Hampton within a week of each other. Not good times in Ardentland. I guess Terry Manning and Jody Stephens are the last really connected to Big Star in their prime guys left?

RIP and Thank You For The Music.

Don A Henley And Get Over It (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:20 (1 month ago) Permalink

Shared by Ardent on FB today

Fry, Hampton

Don A Henley And Get Over It (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 19 December 2014 20:02 (1 month ago) Permalink

RIP

I Am Not Blecch (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 19 December 2014 20:18 (1 month ago) Permalink

Time for a new screenname

I Am The Cosmos Factory (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 19 December 2014 20:20 (1 month ago) Permalink

Man, everyone in the South goes early. I really need to lay off the brisket.

fields of salmon, Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:56 (1 month ago) Permalink

RIP... the best part of that big star documentary... was not actually in the documentary. it was a "bonus feature" on the DVD where john fry spoke extensively about recording and mixing the first two big star albums. totally endearing and smart and fascinating dude, seems like he was an exceptionally generous personality.

I dunno. (amateurist), Wednesday, 24 December 2014 01:42 (1 month ago) Permalink

Fry, Hampton, and---?

dow, Thursday, 25 December 2014 21:02 (1 month ago) Permalink

I still need to finish the Chilton book. I was obsessed with it for about two weeks and got distracted.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 28 December 2014 04:09 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

And yes, Fry's passing is totally sad. The guy came off about as unpretentious as possible in that documentary. Way too young.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 28 December 2014 04:10 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

I still need to finish the Chilton book. I was obsessed with it for about two weeks and got distracted.
― Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, December 27, 2014 11:09 PM (Yesterday)

Me too, but I say that about every music book.

Pigbag Wanderer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 December 2014 15:24 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Strike "music."

Pigbag Wanderer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 December 2014 15:25 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Some of that "Stax overflow was pretty impressive. Believe lots of Al Bell productions were recorded or mixed there, partly because he was trying to do something different from Steve Cropper. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan06/articles/classictracks.htm

Pigbag Wanderer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 January 2015 02:13 (3 weeks ago) Permalink

The first inset of that article is more specifically about Fry. There seems to be something missing in the overall story about where the reggae influence came from, since I have heard in other places it came from the Muscles Shoals guys going on tour with Traffic and thereby being exposed to The Wailers, who were also on Island Records.

Pigbag Wanderer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 January 2015 02:21 (3 weeks 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 (3 weeks 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 (3 weeks ago) Permalink

Yes!

calstars, Thursday, 1 January 2015 04:10 (3 weeks 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 (3 weeks ago) Permalink


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