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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

Never heard them in my life.

the pinefox, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (12 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 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

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

JM, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (12 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 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

anyway, what's wrong with kiss?

g, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

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

g, Friday, 19 October 2001 00:00 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

Smithereens - AAARGGGGHHHH (makes retching sounds)

dave q, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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 (12 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

Got the impression frm interviews he thought that ws all kinda juvenile stuff actually. RC/3rd're two of my fav records, never rly listen to #1, listen to solo Chilton a lot more than either, the single aside Cosmos is stodgy

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Tuesday, 19 August 2014 01:37 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

didn't come UP with them

I Am the COSMOGRAIL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 August 2014 01:40 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

this all just sounds a little too much like What Music Documentaries Can Teach Us, to me, & i'm pretty sure where this leads is it seeming like the dandy warhols are actually a pretty cool band, all of us eventually becoming the guy at the party gesticulating about some guy's private press song suite of new england devotional songs. i don't think that untangling big star's sweet recipe is really reducible to an eyes-closed/spoon-to-mouth interrogation of their ingredients.

think we need to spend as much time with rad shitty alex chilton records as we do listening to moby describe the intensity of his teenage moments trembling to joy division

schlump, Tuesday, 19 August 2014 04:05 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

(PS I/Alex (iirc) meant "juvenile" as in young/youthfully dramatic, not in a necessarily disparaging way)

xpost never heard that before, it's fantastic

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Tuesday, 19 August 2014 04:30 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

My pal Josh played "Thank You Friends" last night on the Fenway organ:
https://twitter.com/jtkantor/status/501781916862148609

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 19 August 2014 17:56 (2 weeks ago) Permalink

this all just sounds a little too much like What Music Documentaries Can Teach Us, to me, & i'm pretty sure where this leads is it seeming like the dandy warhols are actually a pretty cool band, all of us eventually becoming the guy at the party gesticulating about some guy's private press song suite of new england devotional songs. i don't think that untangling big star's sweet recipe is really reducible to an eyes-closed/spoon-to-mouth interrogation of their ingredients.

think we need to spend as much time with rad shitty alex chilton records as we do listening to moby describe the intensity of his teenage moments trembling to joy division

This is an excellent post which perfectly sums up the turn towards thought-provoking this thread has taken recently. To be honest though I still have a lot of questions about Chilton that neither books nor documentaries have been able to answer, how someone could go from making "September Gurls" (I think about this song a lot) to making "shitty" records in such a short span of time. Why did he come unravelled so quickly and spectacularly?

I have this working hypothesis, very artsy and flaky, that "Daisy Glaze" is the first glimpse of "apocalyptic Chilton" and that he had actually seen something prior to its writing—I don't know what—that caused him to go quite mad. He kept his shit superficially together and over time admitted to the lesser crime of being an incompetent, zany alcoholic weirdo to conceal the more painful truth of having stared into the abyss and come back alive to tell the tale.

fields of salmon, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 18:05 (1 week ago) Permalink

seemed to me like chris bell was a self-defeating homo

use other words, mattresslessness

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 20 August 2014 18:09 (1 week ago) Permalink

I think the only relevant piece of biographical info you need is that Chilton's musical interests were broad enough to span the Byrds, Bach and Jimmy Newman and that all of the music he produced stems from that

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 18:10 (1 week ago) Permalink

Which Chilton records are we deeming "shitty"? Flies on Sherbert and Bachs Bottom are indeed a mixed bag, but Live in London, High Priest, the Black EP, Man Called Destruction, a few other EPs and singles and Cliches are all great.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 23:13 (1 week ago) Permalink

personally I totally sympathize with Chilton being frustrated by fans who wanted him to keep making the same kind of music he did for a fairly brief period in his youth, it must be annoying to have people tell you that you're supposed to stay eternally 23 and miserable (see also David Byrne comparing requests to reunite your old band with requests from random strangers for you to remarry your ex-wife). His interests were always broad - gutbucket R&B, country, British pop, garage rock - his catalog reflects this. And the simple fact is some of those genres don't call for the meticulous studio craft of early Big Star, they aren't well served by it. The Cramps would sound terrible with a bunch of chiming guitar overdubs and vocal harmonies.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 23:22 (1 week ago) Permalink

songs the grizzly bear taught us

schlump, Thursday, 21 August 2014 01:14 (1 week ago) Permalink

Fwiw, I think a record way too many people slept on by Chilton was A Man Called Destruction. Great, funereal brass arrangements, inspired track choice. "What's Your Sign Girl" is an awesome kind of summary of everything he was up until that point.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 21 August 2014 02:58 (1 week ago) Permalink

Around Third I guess he became a p fullblown alcoholic, that might explain a lot

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Thursday, 21 August 2014 03:25 (1 week ago) Permalink

Οὖτις otm, also

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Thursday, 21 August 2014 03:26 (1 week ago) Permalink

. To be honest though I still have a lot of questions about Chilton that neither books nor documentaries have been able to answer, how someone could go from making "September Gurls" (I think about this song a lot) to making "shitty" records in such a short span of time. Why did he come unravelled so quickly and spectacularly?

The impression I got from reading Rob Jovanovic's bio (which IMHO is not too good to be honest) is that A) Big Star was never really a fully formed, ongoing "band" but more of a one-off project which resulted in #1 Record. With that album not being successful, they sort of disbanded, but when they found out it had been very well received by the critics, they came together again for "Radio City". So, for all the greatness that's in those 2 albums, I'm not sure they're really representative of Chilton's sensibilities; to him it was probably just another attempt to see if he could achieve success in his own terms. I mean, it is probably representative of his sensibilities, but just a part of them, and there's much more to him than that.

And B) Big Star was pretty much done with commercial success in mind. They wanted to make it in their own terms, but they really wanted to make it. I think Bell was totally disheartened #1 Record went nowhere in the charts. And Chilton, he has that tension between wanting to make it, being rejected by the audience and then answering by sabotaging his own career. Which is more or less the same tension that feeds Paul Westerberg and the Replacements. So those are, to me, two reasons for him going totally bonkers.

cpl593H, Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:01 (1 week ago) Permalink

Speaking of I'll take Chilton's erratic solo career over Westerberg's mediocrity

ruffalo soldier (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:08 (1 week ago) Permalink

being rejected by the audience

My impression was that there wasn't an audience to reject them: distribution was so poor, and promotion non-existent, that the few who were even aware of them couldn't buy Big Star records if they'd wanted to. Didn't most (all?) copies of Radio City languish in a warehouse during the Stax/CBS bustup?

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:40 (1 week ago) Permalink

Yeah, that's possibly true. In any way, they didn't achieve the success they expected.

cpl593H, Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:42 (1 week ago) Permalink

Yeah, I have somewhat mixed feelings about the documentary, but one thing I got from it was that everyone involved thought #1 Record was going to be a hit before it came out.

Man, when I tell you she was cool, she was red hot, I mean she was (intheblanks), Thursday, 21 August 2014 14:51 (1 week ago) Permalink

Note to self: Don't name your album "No.1 Record" even if it is your first release.

pplains, Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:01 (1 week ago) Permalink

Ha, yeah, but on the surface, it didn't seem that outlandish at the time: Ardent was part of an established company, industry rags were hyping it, and Badfinger and the Raspberries were having hits (i.e., Big Star's music wasn't as anachronistic for the time as it's made out to be in retrospective accounts).

The fact that they didn't tour at all was a pretty obvious, and avoidable, misstep, though.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:22 (1 week ago) Permalink

I think they had great expectations for #1 records because Bell had a clear, focused vision of what his music and his band should be, which was only reinforced when he found an akin teammate in Chilton, who also had some considerable commercial pedigree. Which didn't allow him to see that they had many things going on against them; not being a proper band was one of them, being in Ardent/Stax and coming out from Memphis another one; it must have been like, I don't know, having a technopop outfit in the early nineties Seattle. Their personalities were probably the main setback for them, though. None of those four guys was a trooper.

cpl593H, Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:42 (1 week ago) Permalink

(i.e., Big Star's music wasn't as anachronistic for the time as it's made out to be in retrospective accounts).

This is otm. I read about them for years as a teenager and pictured them as this incredibly contemporary-sounding group that was misunderstood for being ahead of its time. When I heard #1 Record and Radio City for the first time, they didn't sound as revolutionary as I expected.

Obviously they're incredible and I love each of their records deeply, but I've never bought the band-out-of-their-time components of their critical narrative. Like in the documentary, Mike Mills or someone says that their records were just released 10 years too early, and they didn't make sense until the 80s. I don't really hear that when I listen to them.

Man, when I tell you she was cool, she was red hot, I mean she was (intheblanks), Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:48 (1 week ago) Permalink

Anyone seen the Third tour? The whole idea sounds a bit horrible on first glance and this video doesn't change my mind: http://www.chunkyglasses.com/content/brett-harris-solo-artist-big-stars-third-player

skip, Thursday, 21 August 2014 16:45 (1 week ago) Permalink

To be honest though I still have a lot of questions about Chilton that neither books nor documentaries have been able to answer, how someone could go from making "September Gurls" (I think about this song a lot) to making "shitty" records in such a short span of time. Why did he come unravelled so quickly and spectacularly?

One thing that came across clearly in the Holly George-Warren book was how big the Box Tops were; I guess I'd always kind of thought of them as a one-hit wonder.
He was 17 when the Letter went to #1, but they ended up with 3 top 20 singles (or one less than the Stones in the same era).

And while Chilton was obviously a music industry veteran when he hooked up with Ice Water, Bell and Chilton would have been 21 and 22, respectively, when #1 Record came out.

campreverb, Thursday, 21 August 2014 17:18 (1 week ago) Permalink

Well, here's what xgau said about 'em in the 70s; pretty much the consensus, although I was among those more enthusiastic about the debut than he was. Radio City sounds more audacious, more exuberant, also, as xgau said about punk, "bored enough to fuck with it"--"it] being poptones, incl. mastery of, as musician and listener Third is obv. audacious in another way, the mid-70s late night collegetown FM downer classic, Berlin, Tonight's The Night etc. way):
#1 Record [Ardent, 1972]
Alex Chilton's voice is changing. When he was a teenage Box Top, his deep, soulful, bullfrog whopper was the biggest freak of nature since Stevie Winwood sang "I'm a Man," but now that he's formed his own group he gets to be an adolescent, complete with adenoidal quaver. Appropriately, the music tends toward the teen as well, but that provides brand new thrills. Special attraction: a fantasy about India with gin-and-tonic in it. B+

Radio City [Ardent, 1974]
Brilliant, addictive, definitively semipopular, and all Alex Chilton--Chris Bell, his folkie counterpart, just couldn't take it any more. Boosters claim this is just what the AM has been waiting for, but the only pop coup I hear is a reminder of how spare, skew, and sprung the Beatles '65 were, which is a coup because they weren't. The harmonies sound like the lead sheets are upside down and backwards, the guitar solos sound like screwball readymade pastiches, and the lyrics sound like love is strange, though maybe that's just the context. Can an album be catchy and twisted at the same time? A

Third [PVC, 1978]
In late 1974, Alex Chilton--already the inventor of self-conscious power pop--transmogrified himself into some hybrid of Lou Reed (circa The Velvet Underground and/or Berlin) and Michael Brown (circa "Walk Away, Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina"). This is the album that resulted--fourteen songs in all, only two or three of which wander off into the psycho ward. Halting, depressive, eccentrically shaped, it will seem completely beyond the pale to those who already find his regular stuff weird. I think it's prophetically idiosyncratic and breathtakingly lyrical. A-

dow, Thursday, 21 August 2014 17:54 (1 week ago) Permalink

Radio City not only sounds more audacious than #1, it sounds more audacious with each remastering (I'm tempted to spring for the audio Blu-Ray, which will no doubt be available in due time, if it isn't already.) His "semipopular" is about messing with familiar, popular elements; the results may themselves be popular (Van Morrison, The Band) or not so much, at least initially (Stooges,Flying Burritos). Those were his examples in 1970, and he was among those ready for Big Star (a bit frustrated by solo Chilton, but always more inclined to cherry-pick than nit-pick).(So Chilton brought out the Dean's better nature!)

dow, Thursday, 21 August 2014 18:06 (1 week ago) Permalink

I also prefer Radio City. To me, those two albums point in two somewhat different directions; #1 record is the album that provides the blueprint for all power pop groups, while Radio City tilts towards a bittersweet slacker abandonment which can be seen later on in the Replacements/Pavement lineage.

cpl593H, Thursday, 21 August 2014 19:35 (1 week ago) Permalink

transmogrified himself into some hybrid of Lou Reed (circa The Velvet Underground and/or Berlin) and Michael Brown (circa "Walk Away, Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina")

This is pretty good. One fun thing about being an Alex or a Lou fan is the hours of fun to be had discussing and debating which albums were pranks or cynical moves and which were actually disguised subversive masterpieces-no two people will agree all through the catalog. Plus the generally frustrating but ultimately lovable orneriness of the two guys in question means this definitely comes down to trusting the work instead of the unreliable narrator. Or does it?

I Am the COSMOGRAIL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 21 August 2014 23:59 (1 week ago) Permalink

Wow yeah that Left Banke comparison... I think of "Daisy Glaze" as this weird middle ground between "Walk Away Renee," the Who's "A Quick One, While He's Away," and Television's "Marquee Moon." The thing about Chilton and Left Banke is that they were Americans who responded very appropriately to British music but ended up as outsiders exactly because of how they ended up sounding. Or possibly because of something else I don't know.

fields of salmon, Friday, 22 August 2014 00:27 (1 week ago) Permalink

Person it all filtered down to was Elliott Smith.

I Am the COSMOGRAIL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 22 August 2014 01:37 (1 week ago) Permalink

lol i was just about to post "just pretend elliott smith is alex chilton after time travelling"

brimstead, Saturday, 23 August 2014 01:59 (1 week ago) Permalink


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