A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Star, again

Really great to see all the attention (and, one hopes, sales) for the Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky. All very deliberately synchronised, of course, with Bruce Eaton's 33 1/3 volume on the band's Radio City album - a book which possibly contains more straight-up fresh information on a band than any other in the series to date.

Here's an extract, followed by a Vanessa Paradis clip I hadn't seen before...

Oh, and there's much more Big Star stuff from Bruce Eaton over at his blog to support the book!

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While Badfinger and the Raspberries could be considered classicists - skilfully working within the parameters of the genre - Big Star twisted and shifted the forms just far enough to add a palpable feeling of impending disintegration and anarchy to the mix. It's for this sense of surprise and chaos just around the corner amidst the classic power pop sound and forms that Big Star has wielded such huge influence over post-punk rock - what ultimately came to be known as "alternative." Big Star was, and remains so, a bright beacon for musicians who had affinities for both punk's underground rebellious energy and more sophisticated 1960s rock and roll played by people who actually knew how to play their instruments and write real songs. Put the two influences together in some reasonable proportion and you have R.E.M., the Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, the dB's, the Bangles, Tommy Keene, Shoes, and Matthew Sweet along with legions of bands stringing half-baked melodies across jangly chord progressions who followed in their path. (Today Alex Chilton expresses bemusement at the many bands who pay musical tribute, offering hearty approval for only a single one of his many acolytes. And no, I ain't telling which one.)

As Chris Bell was departing Big Star, he and Chilton divided up the songwriting credits for the four songs the band had demoed in late 1972. Chilton, getting the better of the deal, walked away with "Back of a Car" and "O My Soul" while Bell retained "There's a Light" and "I Got Kinda Lost." "Back of a Car" is one of two Radio City tracks that was initially recorded at the mono demo session and the single track with the most overall creative input from Bell. Despite this, there is no evidence that Bell played on "Back of a Car," as has been sometimes suggested, or any other Radio City track for that matter.

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2 comments:

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Caleb said...

You may be interested in Webcuts' review of the 33 1/3 books focussing on Big Star's Radio City and Elliot Smith's XO

Webcuts 33 1/3 Review

"One of the more indispensible and compelling series of music books published in the last few years that actually does, more or less, what is expected above, has been Continuum’s 33 1/3 series. "