Tag Archives: Big Star

Audio: Classic First Two Big Star Albums To Be Rereleased – Both Have Been Remastered

The great indie power-pop combo, Big Star, made two classic albums in the early ’70s: #1 Record and Radio City.
An incredible third album, Third/Sister Lovers was also recorded but that was basically an Alex Chilton solo record.

The first two albums have been major influential — R.E.M. were just one of numerous bands that fell under the sway of Big Star.

Now the first two albums have been remastered and after many years as a twofer, will be available as single CDs.

The new discs include liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills.

Says Mills says Big Star was “a band who had gotten it right, who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs.”

Mills told Rolling Stone: “Songwriting has always been, for me, the most vital gauge of a band’s quality, and these guys were clearly masters. Big Star gave you something satisfying to listen to, no matter how many times you heard them.”

The timing is right for the reissues. Holly George-Warren’s superb bio of Alex Chilton, A Man Called Destruction, was published earlier this year. A solid documentary on the band, “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” was released in 2012. A four-CD box, Keep An Eye On The Skyline, was released in 2009, and a soundtrack to the documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me, was released in 2013.

Here are some quotes from artists who were either in a later version of Big Star or knew Alex Chilton. These quotes were part of a press release sent out today.

Artists talk about the influence of Big Star:

“To me, the power and purity of #1 Record and Radio City are undeniable. From the first moment we heard these records we felt compelled to spread the word about them as far and wide as possible. The fact that we eventually became a part of keeping this music alive by performing with the reformed Big Star still fills me with a sense of pride, that this music is constantly being rediscovered and more known with every passing year. There’s a reason for that: it deserves it.” —Jon Auer of the Posies, who doubled as a member of Big Star with Chilton, performer on Big Star’sThird shows.

“For me, Big Star’s music is not only superb listening, it’s a litmus test for the human spirit. That this music’s appeal and notoriety has grown over the years is certainly related to its undeniably high level of quality; yet … it almost didn’t get heard. And here’s where it gets interesting. The fact you are listening to this now is due to the actions of a kind of underground railroad of listeners who just wouldn’t take the music industry’s incompetence as the final say on this music. It had to be shared, painstakingly copied to cassette, passed on with love. And by this hand-to-hand action, Big Star was elevated into the canon. Barely. Enjoy.” —Ken Stringfellow, The Posies and 17-year member of Big Star, performer on Big Star’s Third shows.

“Big Star’s records as instantly changing the landscape, redefining with every listen what it could mean to be a Southern rock musician. They were like beacons in the distance, beckoning, pulling us all in, one by one. . . . At a time when rock music was for the most part all bluster and lies, they shocked by trying to be straightforward, honest, and truthful.” — Chris Stamey of The dB’s, who produced some Chilton recordings in the ‘70s and has performed in the Third shows

“The one-two punch of #1 Record and Radio City knocked me out as an impressionable Southern teen musician in the 1970s, and it still does. Much as I love Big Star’s 3rd, it really was the first two albums’ sheen and shimmer that confirmed in me that there might be a melodic pop-rock world for me and my guitar-playing friends to inhabit in my future.” — Peter Holsapple of The dB’s

Listen to Radio City:

And if you haven’t heard it, check out the NOT-REMASTERED version of #1 Record:

Album Track Listings:

#1 Record

1. Feel 3:34
2. The Ballad of El Goodo 4:21
3. In the Street 2:55
4. Thirteen 2:34
5. Don’t Lie to Me 3:07
6. The India Song 2:20
7. When My Baby’s Beside Me 3:23
8. My Life Is Right 3:08
9. Give Me Another Chance 3:27
10. Try Again 3:31
11. Watch the Sunrise 3:45
12. ST100/6 0:57

Radio City

1. O My Soul 5:40
2. Life Is White 3:19
3. Way Out West 2:50
4. What’s Going Ahn 2:40
5. You Get What You Deserve 3:08
6. Mod Lang 2:45
7. Back of a Car 2:46
8. Daisy Glaze 3:49
9. She’s a Mover 3:12
10. September Gurls 2:49
11. Morpha Too 1:28
12. I’m in Love With a Girl 1:48

[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.

Or watch an arty video with audio of me reading from the novel here.

–- A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Audio: Pre-Big Star Alex Chilton & the Box Tops do ‘I Shall Be Released’ Plus More

Alex Chilton fronting the Box Tops.

Before Alex Chilton formed Big Star with Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel, he was the singer/frontman/Mr. Personality of the Box Tops, the group that scored a #1 hit with “The Letter.”

While still in the Bob Tops, Chilton head The Band’s “Music From Big Pink, flipped over “I Shall Be Released” and recorded the song for the Box Tops 1969 album, Dimensions. The group’s cover version of “I Shall Be Released” reached #67 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

After he quit the Box Tops, Chilton played folk music in Greenwich Village, part of a period of growth and transition that led to Big Star.

Plus live recordings of Chilton in February 13, 1997 at The Knitting Factory in New York performing “I Walk The Line,” “Motel Blues,” “Someone To Watch Over Me” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”

And Chilton with Teenage Fanclub doing “Dark End of the Street”:

Dark End Of The Street by Alex Chilton & Teenage Fanclub on Grooveshark

[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.]

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Books: Alex Chilton Bio, ‘A Man Called Destruction,’ Coming Mar. 20, 2014

Holly George-Warren’s heavily researched biography of Big Star frontman Alex Chilton, “A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Times of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man,” (she spoke to over 100 sources) will arrive on March 20, 2014.

Reviewing the book in the National Review, John Lingan writes:

In the summer of 1967, The Box Tops’ first single, “The Letter,” took over American radio so fast that the Memphis band’s tour schedule filled up before anyone outside Tennessee even knew what they looked like. In between gigs with The Beach Boys and The Doors, they were also occasionally booked at black venues, whose owners assumed the gravel-voiced singer would fit in fine. But when a wispy-haired white boy barely old enough to drive showed up to play, managers were mystified. One booking agent at the Philadelphia fairgrounds forced bandleader Alex Chilton to sing a capella just to prove who he was.

That summer would be Chilton’s last experience with superstardom, but the next four decades of his music career were marked by similarly bemused audiences and parried expectations. His second band, Big Star, was a soulful pop-rock group who barely sold any records in the 1970s; Chilton responded by pushing the band in an ever less-commercial direction then embarking on a willfully shambolic solo career. As time wore on, he retreated further and further from the mainstream music industry, playing the occasional club show but more often noodling the piano in his beloved house in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood.

But by the time Chilton died of a heart attack in 2010, aged 59, he had become an icon of intensely pure artistic integrity and an acknowledged influence on innumerable later acts including R.E.M., the Replacements and Elliott Smith. Rather than the failed or self-destructive pop star he appeared to be by 1980, Chilton had come to embody a new archetype: the unpopular pop musician, a performer whose reputation rests on a willful rejection of commercial considerations altogether. Without him there could have been no Tom Waits, who exchanged his piano for percussion instruments literally borrowed from junkyards; no Jeff Mangum, who disappeared from public life right after his band Neutral Milk Hotel recorded one of the ’90s’ most revered albums; no Jeff Tweedy, whose critical viability was secured when a major label dropped his group Wilco for making an “uncommercial” record with abstract lyrics and tape loops.

Holly George-Warren’s new biography bears the subtitle “From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man,” promising to tell how, exactly, the growling teen idol gave way to the romantic songwriter, who in turn became a punk icon, jazz crooner, and alt-rock figurehead….

For the rest of the review, head to the National Review.

If, somehow, you aren’t familiar with Big Star, check this out:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-