Big Star

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"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


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)


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


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.
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

"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."

Agreed. Vulnerability and attitude in brilliant proportion.

Usual Channels, Thursday, 8 May 2008 16:59 (6 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'll concur there

Charlie Howard, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:01 (6 years ago) Permalink

Sweet, poppy, cool, but also kinda fucked up. Quite obviously on Third, but also the hatefully desperate vibe on "Life Is White," and "She's a Mover" is some MANIC shit. I loved them when I was younger -- I was listening to "Thirteen" when I was 13 (funny how i hear it differently now -- so I was amazed when I put their records on about a month ago and they sounded better than ever. It's true, they will always somehow sound contemporary, like any inspired true-believing rock&roll, hey hey my my

people explosion, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:13 (6 years ago) Permalink

Hes got a good range on Like Flies On Sherbert too, a bit more free than the Big Star stuff

silkworm exploding, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:17 (6 years ago) Permalink

I love that album! It was a recent discovery for me. It's absolute proof that he was in complete sympathy with all things Rock n Roll. "Hey! Little Child" is amazing with its "Whold Wide World" beat* and Chuck Berry-level teenage lechery.

"Oh little fool, are you learning anything in school
maybe you might drop out, maybe travel somewhere down south
Hey hey little child"

*is there a better name for this beat? I had heard it all my life, but it never really came to life until I heard the Wreckless Eric song

people explosion, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:28 (6 years ago) Permalink

hehe! very observant. I really dont know though, have to do some research...

silkworm exploding, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:31 (6 years ago) Permalink

Radio City: best guitar and drum sound, ever. perfect. archetypal.

nerve_pylon, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:41 (6 years ago) Permalink

@people explosion:

it's called the "Cha-Cha".

Steve Shasta, Thursday, 8 May 2008 17:43 (6 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

from the dvd accompanying the Oxford American Best of the South issue this month

will, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:13 (6 years ago) Permalink

that is sweet! thanks.

tylerw, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:06 (6 years ago) Permalink

the 'aptly titled number one record' thing's kind of off though, right? i thought that lazy stax distribution meant that they never really did much, sales-wise.

i'm seeing them in a couple of months. i think i'd maybe prefer to see alex play skewed guitar solos and clichés stuff alone, but, still, way exciting.

schlump, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:57 (6 years ago) Permalink

aptly titled 'cause it was their first.

cool video!

G00blar, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:17 (6 years ago) Permalink

"Hey! Little Child" is a cha-cha. xp

whisperineddhurt, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:23 (6 years ago) Permalink

why in the world would they couple this footage with that tune?

andrew m., Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:38 (6 years ago) Permalink

aptly titled 'cause it was their first.

ahhh, thanks.

schlump, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:58 (6 years ago) Permalink

have the ardent studio sessions been discussed here yet?

dell, Friday, 25 July 2008 10:55 (6 years ago) Permalink

I think what the fella meant was that it was No 1 Record as in it's NUMBER ONE, man. As in, Fuckin A, totally bodacious etc.

Freedom, Friday, 25 July 2008 12:35 (6 years ago) Permalink

have the ardent studio sessions been discussed here yet?

is that the thank you friends comp? i think this is where i heard about it. i was pretty excited to hear the demo of downs, because there's a story about the recording of it in the book. apparently they were playing it, when some ardent a & r guy bowled in saying, this could be a HIT!, this song has POTENTIAL!, and so alex said 'i want to use a basketball for the snare drum'. well good.

schlump, Friday, 25 July 2008 12:42 (6 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Could someone explain where the song "Jesus Christ" came from? That is to say, they never had, to my knowledge, any other songs with any religious content and yet it seems to be unironic in its sentiment. The "we're gonna get born now" perhaps belies this a small bit.

Freedom, Monday, 20 October 2008 16:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

"it seems to be unironic in its sentiment."

are you kidding. just listen to the way chilton sings the verses.

Shacknasty (Frogman Henry), Monday, 20 October 2008 16:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

"they did rejoice/fine and pure of voice/and the wrong shall fail/and the right prevail": this couplet seems so completely trite that maybe it has to be ironic given that the album as a whole is about fucky uppyness, but I dunno, does chilton discuss it anywhere?

Freedom, Monday, 20 October 2008 16:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

also there's loads of incongruous, disconcerting elements to the music which are clearly mocking or doubting the chorus.

Shacknasty (Frogman Henry), Monday, 20 October 2008 16:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

I could care less about Bell's gender preference.

― calstars, Friday, September 5, 2014 6:04 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

is there anything else you don't care about that you would care to tell us about?

I dunno. (amateurist), Saturday, 6 September 2014 00:07 (1 week ago) Permalink

veronica, "louche" is precisely the right word

I dunno. (amateurist), Saturday, 6 September 2014 00:08 (1 week ago) Permalink


guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 6 September 2014 00:08 (1 week ago) Permalink

also i just noticed that almost all of chilton's albums are out of print! wanted to pick up a CD copy of high priest which i only have on tape. wtf.

I dunno. (amateurist), Saturday, 6 September 2014 00:09 (1 week ago) Permalink

Spotify's got a fairly good supply of Chilton, Big Star, Box Tops. Just got this--should be good, considering that it's from the tour promoting the Columbus, MO live CD:

Package available as 2-LP set, CD, digital and DVD,
with notes by Big Star’s Jody Stephens, Ardent’s John Fry,
and director Danny Graflund
Big Star live: photo by Danny Graflund
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The gig poster said “BIG STAR IN THEIR FAREWELL U.S. PERFORMANCE.” Luckily, this iconic Memphis band’s homecoming show was nothing of the kind. As Jody Stephens points out in his liner notes, “We played Los Angeles three days later and went on to play together for another 16 years. No one ever said anything about the poster.”
Omnivore Recordings is proud to present Big Star’s first appearance in Memphis since 1974, and only known professionally filmed show in its entirety. Live in Memphis chronicles that October 29, 1994 performance on CD, 2-LP (with download card), Digital, and DVD.
All audio formats contain the complete 20-song set, which includes Big Star classics like “Thank You Friends,” “September Gurls,” and “The Ballad of El Goodo,” Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos,” and covers of T.Rex, The Kinks, Todd Rundgren and more, performed by Big Star: Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, and Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow from the Posies.
Also included are notes from filmmaker Danny Graflund, Ardent Studios’ John Fry, Jody Stephens, Jon Auer, and Ken Stringfellow in both the CD and LP packaging, as well as in the DVD. Per Omnivore tradition, the first pressing of the LP will be limited to 1,000 colored vinyl, with black to follow.
According to Stephens, “This second life for Big Star begins on April 25, 1993, in Columbia, Missouri. The performance gets recorded and released. We now have a record to support and a reason to tour. A handful of dates far and wide followed, but then an offer came from the New Daisy to play Memphis. Pretty exciting! Walking into the New Daisy that night brought on a rush of ’70s friends I hadn’t seen in years. So much support there from well-wishers, which included John Fry and my parents. Stepping onstage that night in Memphis with Alex, Jon, and Ken was an incredibly good time and a bit of magic. It wasn’t so much that we were playing to the audience as we were sharing the music with them, and they were sharing themselves with us. We all cared.”
Stingfellow wrote: “It might seem intimidating, and at the same time look presumptuous, to step in and complete the lineup of Memphis’ most beloved cult band on their home turf. However, Jon and I were (and to this day remain) absolutely passionate about the music of Big Star, and that sense of devotion and belief propelled us forward and, hopefully, silenced any grumbles about what two kids from Seattle were doing there in that lineup. By the time we rolled into town to play this show, we’d gone from the initial, delightfully fragile, show in Columbia, Missouri, to engagements in London, San Francisco, and Tokyo. There would be more heft to the show, and we were getting to know Alex and Jody in even deeper ways, musically and personally. You might even say . . . we were a band.”
“Omnivore is thrilled to release what may be the only complete Big Star concert ever professionally filmed. The exuberant Memphis hometown crowd reception made this a night to remember, and even though the concert was not recorded with the intent to become an album, we know that fans will want to be in the front row for this show,” says the release’s co-producer, Omnivore’s Cheryl Pawelski.
Track Listing:

In the Street

Don’t Lie to Me

When My Baby’s Beside Me
I Am the Cosmos

Way Out West

Till the End of the Day

The Ballad Of El Goodo

Back of a Car

Daisy Glaze
Jesus Christ
For You
Baby Strange
September Gurls
Big Black Car

Thank You Friends
The Girl From Ipanema
Patty Girl

*”Fire” does not appear on the DVD

dow, Friday, 12 September 2014 21:03 (1 week ago) Permalink

I think I was at this show! Depends on whether they played Memphis more than once between 1994 and 1998.

Malibu Stasi (WilliamC), Friday, 12 September 2014 21:08 (1 week ago) Permalink

I just caved and ordered hardcover of the book, like I knew I would.

fields of salmon, Saturday, 13 September 2014 01:01 (6 days ago) Permalink

did i ever post this here? i was just listening to the 45 tonight. love the Bell-tones on this song.

scott seward, Saturday, 13 September 2014 02:14 (6 days ago) Permalink

love this song too. would have been a perfect big star b-side:

scott seward, Saturday, 13 September 2014 02:18 (6 days ago) Permalink

Wow. Would have thought that "Love You (All Day Long)" was a Raspberries tune if it didn't say otherwise.

Colossal Propellerhead (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 13 September 2014 14:56 (6 days ago) Permalink

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