Big Star

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"Thirteen" is such a fucking good song.

NA (Nick A.), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 20:35 (12 years ago) Permalink

Isn't it just.

Sick Nouthall (Nick Southall), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 20:52 (12 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 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

there is a new studio album?

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 22:38 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

When did 'Hot Thing' come out?

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:24 (12 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 (12 years ago) Permalink

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

de, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:38 (12 years ago) Permalink

Really? That's so wrong.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 00:50 (12 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 (9 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 (9 years ago) Permalink


ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:45 (9 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 (9 years ago) Permalink

iiiiijjjjj where do you live?

calstars, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ya know, Evan Dando covered "El Goodo".

Pleasant Plains, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

'Thirteen'>>'El Goodo'

Drooone, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:51 (9 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 (9 years ago) Permalink

drooone otm but it doesn't even matter

ghost rider, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 01:55 (9 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 (9 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 (8 years ago) Permalink


strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:25 (8 years ago) Permalink

uh x-post

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:29 (8 years ago) Permalink

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

strgn, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 11:30 (8 years ago) Permalink

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

whisperineddhurt, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 15:30 (8 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 (8 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 (8 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 (8 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 (8 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'll concur there

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

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

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

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

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

@people explosion:

it's called the "Cha-Cha".

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

that is sweet! thanks.

tylerw, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 14:06 (8 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 (8 years ago) Permalink

aptly titled 'cause it was their first.

cool video!

G00blar, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:17 (8 years ago) Permalink

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

whisperineddhurt, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:23 (8 years ago) Permalink

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

andrew m., Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:38 (8 years ago) Permalink

aptly titled 'cause it was their first.

ahhh, thanks.

schlump, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 15:58 (8 years ago) Permalink

have the ardent studio sessions been discussed here yet?

dell, Friday, 25 July 2008 10:55 (8 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 (8 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 (8 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 (7 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 (7 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 (7 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 (7 years ago) Permalink

it sounds like tommy hoehn basically. which is a good thing. click the youtube link above.

scott seward, Friday, 23 October 2015 02:30 (9 months ago) Permalink

chris bell played a big part in those sessions. producing and playing. so if you are a bell fan, you need that stuff.

scott seward, Friday, 23 October 2015 02:31 (9 months ago) Permalink

i'm a hoehn fan. and a van duren fan.

scott seward, Friday, 23 October 2015 02:34 (9 months ago) Permalink

and a hot dogs fan...

scott seward, Friday, 23 October 2015 02:36 (9 months ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

Yep, Chilton and Prix trax on Ork box do sound fine.
New uniform for Ardent Studio staff:

dow, Saturday, 13 February 2016 00:43 (5 months ago) Permalink

If that's gone, it's a pair of feet sporting custom Converses w Big Star logo on the hi-toppermost

dow, Saturday, 13 February 2016 00:45 (5 months ago) Permalink

you know Alex Chilton would have just loved that

PaulTMA, Saturday, 13 February 2016 16:25 (5 months ago) Permalink

Those $70 Shoes...

"Damn the Taquitos" (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 13 February 2016 17:40 (5 months ago) Permalink

Those Pretty Wrongs feat. Jody Stephens of Big Star announces debut LP

STREAM: "Ordinary" -
Pitchfork / SoundCloud

Those Pretty Wrongs are Jody Stephens and Luther Russell, two old friends and veterans of the music scene in different ways.

Jody-as many people in rock and roll (and beyond) know-was the drummer for the legendary band Big Star. He went on to help run the equally legendary studio Ardent in Memphis and play with the endearing troop Golden Smog. Luther Russell was the leader of seminal roots-rock band The Freewheelers and went on to make several acclaimed solo records, as well as produce many important artists over the years. Together they have forged a sound that is brand new for both, yet begets a strangely familiar feeling...

It was the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me that brought Jody and Luther together creatively, when Jody asked Luther to join him for some promotional performances. A chemistry was immediately noticed. They began writing songs and performing them whenever possible, soon taking their name from the opening line of Shakespeare Sonnet 41, which they slipped into one of their first collaborations, "Fool Of Myself". A relationship was soon struck up with underground SoCal label (and two-man revolution) Burger Records when the first track they cut in Memphis, "Lucky Guy", was sent to Sean and Lee, who jumped at the chance to release it as a 7", along with the aforementioned "Fool Of Myself" for the flip side. There was an outpouring of support for the new music, which gave Jody and Luther the confidence to move forward. Regarding how this all came together, Jody declares: "In a word...serendipity. So many of the events that brought Luther and me together were just by chance and born out of the Big Star world. I actually thought we might write three or four songs together for an EP but we just kept writing beyond that. 'Another window opened up and through it' we became Those Pretty Wrongs."

Those Pretty Wrongs was tracked entirely to 2" tape at Ardent in Memphis, using much of the old Big Star gear, including Jody's original kit from Radio City and Third and Chris Bell's acoustic and electric guitars from #1 Record. The album was mixed by Luther Russell and Jason Hiller at Hiller's Electrosound Studios in Los Angeles, CA. Crucially, Jody is way out in front on this release-really for the first time ever-taking all lead vocals and co-writing all of the songs with Luther. The songs range from the elegiac "Lucky Guy"-which some have described as the boy from "Thirteen" all grown up-to the marimba-laced, circus-like "The Cube". Soaring, heart-felt ballads like "Start Again" and "The Heart" mingle with songs with an almost Merseybeat-like combination of simplicity and complexity, such as "I'm For Love" and "Never Goodbye"-a number on which they went for a "busking in the train-station" quality with brushes on the snare and cascading 12-string acoustic guitar. As with all the songs, airy, light harmonies abound, making for a bittersweet sound all their own. Besides tunes with these more self-evident touchstones, there is the baroque rocker "Thrown Away", mod-like jangler "Mystery Trip" and a moment of cinematic grandeur on the exotic, piano-driven "Empty City".

Opener "Ordinary" is really the statement of purpose for the duo. Regarding the song, Luther says: "For me, the song has a message that is very timely in today's age where everyone has to be 'special' and 'different'. It says its okay to be ordinary. That's a beautiful sentiment that Jody came up with...that the space between us all, that connection, is what is extraordinary." With it's shimmering, ascending/descending acoustics and sky-high clusters of harmonies, "Ordinary" was nearly the title-track to the LP, but they opted to self-title it, because it felt like the beginning of something. Through the words on this record Jody opens up about his life, which has been well-documented, but not in this very intimate way. Adds Stephens: "For me the lyrics are a walk through day-to-day emotions and experiences."

Luther lives in Los Angeles and Jody in Memphis, so the commitment had to be strong to persevere in composing these songs and cutting them until they were completely satisfied. Those Pretty Wrongs will be released in May in a unique partnering between the classic Ardent label and the burgeoning Burger Records. No one could be happier than Jody and Luther, who feel that this keeps a family-like feeling to the release. "Why stop now", remarks Luther. "We've wanted to keep this thing sounding and feeling personal from the start because it's extremely personal for both of us." Thus they've tailored every aspect of the project themselves: from producing, writing and playing much of the instrumentation to the design itself (Luther hand-draws the artwork). Those Pretty Wrongs is like a homespun arabesque with a pattern of many lyrical, melodic and harmonic lines to discover. Just like the handmade collage inside the LP, the record is akin to a series of snapshots: of lives present and past, and fleeting moments of simple joy and reflection.

"Those Pretty Wrongs is so much more than the two of us", states Jody affectionately. "We were jump-started by friends who produced the Big Star documentary. Friends have helped book and play with us live and in the studio...not to mention providing the studios. Friends also provided accommodations and encouragement by coming out to hear the music. They have cared. We are grateful for them and hope to make more."


Mar-21 - Melbourne, Australia - Melbourne Recital Centre *
Mar-22 - Sydney, Australia - The Factory *
Mar-23 - Sydney, Australia - Petersham Bowling Club
Mar-24 - Melbourne, Australia - The Gasometer
Mar-26 - Tallarook, Australia - Boogie Festival

dow, Tuesday, 23 February 2016 21:06 (5 months ago) Permalink

4 months pass...

Ardent Studios: 50 years of Music History at The Grammy Museum in L.A.

discussion, performance??
Mot seeing specifics re participants yet yet, but can sign up for fbook updates, follow their twitter feed etc.:

dow, Thursday, 21 July 2016 18:12 (1 week ago) Permalink

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