Thursday, August 06, 2009

Big Star, Bigger Influence

Although their name might not ring a lot of bells with a lot of listeners, the truth of the matter is that Big Star had a huge influence on several generations of musicians who followed them. Although they didn't make many waves in the early 70's when they released the only two records the group recorded before dissolving (material for a third album was scavenged and released as Third after the group's disolution) , the musical legacy they left behind has been name-checked by artists such as R.E.M., Wilco, The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, The Bangles, and Steve Wynn (of Dream Syndicate), solidifying their cult status in a big way. Those two albums, #1 Record and Radio City, fell out of print awhile ago, to be dug up in 1992 by Fantasy Records and released together on one CD. And now, it's been re-issued, this time remastered with a few choice bonus cuts not on the original recordings.

The band's spark (and demise) was the turbulent relationship between two lead members of the band, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton (who had sung vocals for The Box Tops on their smash hit The Letter). This highly flammable pair shone bright, but short, with the band barely lasting the first half of the 70's before splintering to pieces. But in that short period, and the two albums the pair worked on together proved the chemistry created some of the biggest, most influential, power pop music of the decade and beyond. Bell would die in a car crash at the end of the decade, but other members of the group, including Chilton, would re-form Big Star in the early 90's.

So, back to the CD at hand, which includes the band's first two albums. Below you'll find In the Street, which would eventually become the theme song for That 70's Show, although the version used during the program was actually recorded by Cheap Trick. Check out the original below, which appeared on the band's first album. The second track, I'm In Love With A Girl, is a somewhat unique slower number from the group's second album. Check them out, then pick up the re-release, complete with thorough liner notes that will do an even better job of recounting the band's fractured history.

Visit their website, the re-release's label Fantasy Records, and become their friend on MySpace.


The Box Tops - The Letter : The Letter 7" (find it on The Best of the Box Tops: Soul Deep)

Denison Witmer - Nighttime (Big Star cover) : Recovered

Matthew Sweet - The Ballad of El Goodo (Big Star cover) : Big Star Small World

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really liked this cover. They kept true to the original but there was definitely infused verve by the performer. I have been looking to make a cover compilation. The biggest help I’ve found so far has been this site: