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It was because so many of my favorite bands (the 'Mats, R.E.M., Slobberbone/The Drams, Wilco) constantly cited Big Star as an influence that I finally sought some of their records. So far, all I own is the two-fer #1 Record/Radio City. I gave them both repeated listens but never did get it. It's only been recently that I've come to appreciate them more, I'm not sure why. For one thing I think it may be hard to put albums like those in their proper context so many years after the fact. They may have a certain timeless quality but I feel I might appreciate them more if I had listened back when they were new. Of course back then the only thing I knew of Alex Chilton was his tenure in the Box Tops and the oft-played single "The Letter" (which Joe Cocker covered).

I'm also tickled to death when I run across anybody on these boards that knows what "pop" means in the context of a group like Big Star. It is so hard to penetrate so many people's preconceived notions of it's meaning as a shortened version of "popular music", especially when the two crisscross as in much of the work of The Beatles and other bands. It's really hard to get past some people's notion of "pop" as some kind of dirty word in a musical sense. Pop doesn't always mean the crap that's clogging up the top of the charts.

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I'm also tickled to death when I run across anybody on these boards that knows what "pop" means in the context of a group like Big Star. It is so hard to penetrate so many people's preconceived notions of it's meaning as a shortened version of "popular music", especially when the two crisscross as in much of the work of The Beatles and other bands. It's really hard to get past some people's notion of "pop" as some kind of dirty word in a musical sense. Pop doesn't always mean the crap that's clogging up the top of the charts.

I agree. I'll be honest and say that I thought of "pop" or any variant of it as such a "dirty word" for quite a long time.

I also heard someone describe Big Star as "Indie KISS" in a review of #1 Record which honestly made me laugh out loud while looking at the review online. Can't say I agree or disagree, seeing as I haven't heard any of their material outside of the song "Feel".

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Kiss has a song called Feel? I was a pretty big fan back in my teen years (at least up to the solo albums) but I can't say I recall a song by that name.

I don't know for sure but I'm think the term "pop" in that context may have first been coined with Nick Lowe's use of it in the title of his album Pure Pop For Now People. Which makes me realize I still haven't gotten around to picking up any Rockpile records.

Edited by Jahfin
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Kiss has a song called Feel? I was a pretty big fan back in my teen years (at least up to the solo albums) but I can't say I recall a song by that name.

I don't know for sure but I'm think the term "pop" in that context may have first been coined with Nick Lowe's use of it in the title of his album Pure Pop For Now People. Which makes me realize I still haven't gotten around to picking up any Rockpile records.

Nope, it's a Big Star song. At least that's what I meant to say.

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I can't recall I ever heard of Big Star, but by your conversation I got the feeling it could be something I'd enjoy listen to. I'll have to check 'em out.

I don't know that they ever had any huge hits but most likely you've heard Chilton fronting the Box Tops on The Letter and if you've ever seen any early episodes of That 70s Show, a version of Big Star's In the Street was used as the theme song.

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  • 2 years later...

From Anti-Music.com:

Big Star Orchestra with R.E.M, Lost in the Trees and More

Members of R.E.M, Big Star, The Love Language, Lost in the Trees and the NC Symphony will present a fully orchestrated performance of Big Star's third album, Sister Lovers, at Cat's Cradle In Carrboro, NC on December 9 & 10.

Here is the announcement with the details: Big Star's Sister Lovers has long been revered by artists and critics as one of the most influential albums ever produced.

Written and recorded when the legendary 70s band was primarily a studio project consisting of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, the third album has never been performed in public with the original string and wind orchestrations.

That will change December 9 and 10, 2010 when Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC hosts Stroke It, Noel, a special performance of this important piece of music. The all-star band will include Jody Stephens (Big Star), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let's Active), Chris Stamey (the dB's), and Jeff Crawford and Charles Cleaver (the Tomahawks). North Carolina's own acclaimed chamber pop group Lost in the Trees, as well as members of Birds and Arrows and the NC Symphony, will comprise the orchestra. Guest vocalists will include members of the Love Language, the Old Ceremony, Megafaun and other special guests. In addition to performing Sister Lovers in its entirety, the band will play a few additional Big Star and Chris Bell selections during the show.

"The original written scores for the record were long missing," Chris Stamey says. "But John Fry at Ardent Records was able to supply us with elements of the original multitrack tapes. Composer Carl Marsh, who wrote the ground-breaking charts for the original record, used these tapes to precisely retranscribe his arrangements. And I've orchestrated anew some other elements of the recordings for the players, in order to recreate live some of the aleatoric studio effects. We've also been able to hear and match the inner workings of these glorious compositions in much greater detail this way. It's been a fascinating process, and a real community adventure as well."

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  • 1 year later...

For anyone that's missed out on the Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers tribute concerts that have been held in Carrboro, NC and NYC, it looks like they're going to be making a stopover in Austin for SXSW prior to taking the shows over to the U.K. in May.

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