Bust a streetlight, out past midnight!
July 26, 2005 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Big Star, named after a Memphis grocery chain and arguably the most influential cult band in the pop pantheon (not to mention composers of "That '70s Show" theme song, as rendered by Cheap Trick), releases a new studio album on Rykodisc on Sept. 27. Fronted by the legendary Alex Chilton (yes, the same one) and Chris Bell (Jody Stephens and Andy Hummell rounded out the original lineup), Big Star reformed in 1993 with the Posies' Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, and have played live off and on since -- but this is the band's first release of new material since the dark, brooding Third/Sister Lovers in 1978. O my soul! Power pop fans rejoice!
posted by scody (40 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
scody, I love me some Big Star, and I consider Alex Chilton a genius, but will it really be the same without Chris Bell? His "I Got Kinda Lost," is one of my personal favorite songs.

Even if it dosen't match up to the old stuff (and very little could) it'll still be good to hear Alex rocking out again.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 PM on July 26, 2005

I felt the same way when I saw them for the first in '93, Jon, even though Chris actually left after "#1 Record" (though his imprint is all over "Radio City," of course). But their show made a believer out of me -- god, you just haven't lived till you see Alex do "The Ballad of El Goodo" with everyone (and I do mean everyone) in the audience singing along with tears in their eyes... man. Plus they did a beautiful tribute to Chris -- they played "I Am the Cosmos" and "You and Your Sister" to a huuuuge cheer. They sounded amazing (and continued to, every time I saw them after that -- three times total, I think). I'll be so curious to hear what the new material's like.
posted by scody at 6:37 PM on July 26, 2005

OK, I'll hold back my cranky old fart judgement.

There's a back issue of the Oxford American that has an excellent profil of Chris. Tortured gay Christian pop geniuses are not exactly a dime a dozen, you know.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on July 26, 2005

This is the best news I've heard all week. I just hope it can live up to the unrealistic expectations I have for it.
posted by HSWilson at 6:44 PM on July 26, 2005

this metachat thread (complete with mp3') may be of interest to people in this thread.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2005

I'm equal parts intrigued and anxious. The latest Zombies reunion / new material outing, for instance, was crushingly mediocre. Still it'd be cool to see Alex play a bunch of Sister Lovers' tunes in the flesh and all. The fact that the Posies are involved is promising, too. You know, like Saint Joan doing a cool jerk, or something. Thanks for the heads up!
posted by joe lisboa at 6:46 PM on July 26, 2005

jonmc: thanks for the link! that Raspberries tune you posted is awesome.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:50 PM on July 26, 2005

Wait'll you hear the others. Always good to meet another lover of great popcraft, joe.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2005

Excellent post scody! I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the new album.

"I never travel far, without a little Big Star"
posted by njm at 7:06 PM on July 26, 2005

Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black'
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:09 PM on July 26, 2005

Thank you freinds, who made this all so possible.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 PM on July 26, 2005

oops, sorry, didn't realize till now that I repeated David Fufkin's article twice, just at different links -- I thought the second one was a different piece he'd written. But other than that, my life is right....
posted by scody at 7:20 PM on July 26, 2005

Now if the db's would only get back together....oh wait
posted by spicynuts at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2005

Wow, this is so great. There's actually a big star song on your mix cd scody (which isn't hardly done, I bet I end up physically handing it to you when you're out here before the London trip).
posted by splatta at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2005

"You and Your Sister" is one of my all time faves.
posted by shoepal at 8:58 PM on July 26, 2005

pretty ballsy to add a fourth record, too, sez one of those guys who likes the first three above almost all else.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:27 PM on July 26, 2005

Shoepal, ever hear This Mortal Coil's version with Kim Deal (of the Pixies, of course)'s terrific breathy vocals? They also did some Chris Bell stuff; the box set has a cd of the original versions of songs they covered. Mine's in storage, so I can't be specific right now. I'm sure the box set is out of print, but checkout their three albums. Sorta moody, mellow and perhaps a tad goth, if that's your thing. And even if it's not.
posted by theperfectcrime at 9:33 PM on July 26, 2005


very acquired taste, the This Mortal Coil covers, like Marmite, I think. Undeniably, they had great taste in songs to cover. An ex-girlfriend of mine liked them (and the originals) a lot. But to me they seem the ultimate goth in that they made me want to die.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:38 PM on July 26, 2005

Count me as another Big Star fanatic. On the liner notes of the Chris Bell solo record (the title of which I can't recall), the fact is mentioned that Chris' father founded a fast food chain. I have always imagined that this must be Taco Bell, given the name. Can anyone confirm or deny?

And scody, really? I always imagined I heard a lot of Chris on 3rd/sister lovers.
posted by TonyRobots at 10:10 PM on July 26, 2005

Oh hells yes.
posted by keswick at 10:21 PM on July 26, 2005

theperfectcrime, I used to play that This Mortal Coil cover on my radio show! (and I do love that version!) Their cover definitely piqued my interest in Big Star. I had never really been a fan, but via TMC I found Bell's I am the Cosmos, which I truly love(d).
posted by shoepal at 10:49 PM on July 26, 2005

I'd like to point out that the first season actually used the Big Star single of "In the street", they changed to the Cheap Trick cover from the 2nd season on. Probably money/artistic control issues, anyway.. anyway, it got a "hrmph" out of me.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:00 PM on July 26, 2005

Wow. Kickass. Get the Jellyfish to reunite, hook up with The Star on a double bill and I could die happy.
posted by sourwookie at 11:16 PM on July 26, 2005

I will reserve judgement until I hear it, since I was not really all that keen on Chilton's (admittedly scant) 80's material. That being said, I am having a hard time not being a giddy fan boy and screaming "new Big Star! New Big Star!"
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:50 AM on July 27, 2005

I hope they play the UK.
posted by johnny novak at 12:55 AM on July 27, 2005

I listened to a live album from like 93 released on Rykodisc and was pretty disappointed. It seemed like what it was, which was a kind of wish for the past. I'll look forward to hearing the new album.

I listened to a bit of Golden Smog for a while, which had Jody Stephens in it. Also Gary Louris (from The Jayhawks and Jeff Tweedy and a couple of other guys. I always thought the whole point of the band was so that those guys had a chance to play with Jody Stephens. His contributions were meh.
posted by OmieWise at 4:32 AM on July 27, 2005

You chose that over the title track, Jon? I've only got it on tape, otherwise I'd post "I Am The Cosmos," which is one of my favorite tracks ever...
There's been a Big Star reunion before, sometime in the mid '90s, that put out a pretty mediocre album of Big Star material (I think it had some of the guys from REM on it). My local college station has that instead of the originals. Blasphemers!
(Shame I missed that metachat bit... I'm sitting on some excellent power pop here...)
posted by klangklangston at 7:35 AM on July 27, 2005

Heh. Curse you, live preview! Omnie got it first.
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM on July 27, 2005

I dunno, one of the most disappointing shows I've ever seen was Alex Chilton in St. Paul a few years ago... He was playing before the Jayhawks, and I went early, excited to hear a bunch of Big Star. But it was the most phoned-in, lackluster performance possible. He just sort of radiated contempt for the audience.
Even the Jayhawks seemed disappointed with him when they took the stage.
posted by COBRA! at 7:50 AM on July 27, 2005

any chance of some big star mp3's ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:56 AM on July 27, 2005

Solo Chilton live is a total crapshoot -- I've seen him play wonderful shows, and I've seen him play venomous ones (including the time where he walked on stage and addressed the audience with a drawled "just so you know, I won't play any Box Tops or Big Star no matter what, so y'all can just stop with that shit right now.") So I was vaguely prepared for the worst when I saw the first Big Star reunion show in 1993 -- I think most people in the audience were. But Alex walked on stage, and a buzz went around immediately: "holy shit! He looks tanned and rested! And jesus -- he's smiling!" Jody, Jon, and Ken followed, and the show was phenomenal. The thing is, I just get the vibe that Alex just enjoys playing in Big Star more than playing on his own.
posted by scody at 9:01 AM on July 27, 2005

Yeah, it might've just been a bad day for him. It was a weird setup, a big outdoor festival at the Minnesota State Capitol, with huge crowds of people wolfing down State Fair-type food during the show. That'd probably put me in a bad mood. It was another no Big Star/ no Box Tops show, with most of his energy going into doing a bunch of songs in Italian.

Oh, and OmieWise: you dis the Golden Smog, you can fluff my hog.
posted by COBRA! at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2005

You chose that over the title track, Jon? I've only got it on tape, otherwise I'd post "I Am The Cosmos," which is one of my favorite tracks ever...

I love "I Am The Cosmos," too, klangston, "I Got Kinda Lost," just strikes a personal chord with me, so it's my favorite.
posted by jonmc at 10:31 AM on July 27, 2005

sourwookie - re the Jellyfish reunion...

Andy Sturmer is tied up with the Puffy Ami Yumi crap coming out of Japan right now. I had the misfortune of seeing a Puffy concert last year, and they did a friggin' cover of "Joining a Fan Club". It hurt.
posted by BobFrapples at 11:17 AM on July 27, 2005

Jon: Two questions: how do you manage to post the you send it so that anyone can use it? And two, in a much previous thread I "challenged" you to a swap. Would you be up for it, even if it was just, say, five tracks through the You Send It or email?
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on July 27, 2005

Jon - nice tunes! You should start a music blog. Seriously.

And speaking of music blogs, womenfolk.net has a great cover of Thirteen by Kathryn Williams.
posted by vronsky at 5:13 PM on July 27, 2005

klang, just enter your own email in the email feild and post a link to the url that shows up in your inbox.

Maybe someday I'll swap. Why not join up at MeCha? The yousendit swaps are becoming a weekly event.
posted by jonmc at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2005

Done and posted. (Man, I can't keep tracka that damn site on toppa these three, less'n you wanna pay me insteada my job...)
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 PM on July 27, 2005

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