I discovered Big Star in 1997, from a radio performance by You Am I. They covered September Gurls, and Tim Rogers, consummate smart arse that he is, announced it as a Rail cover. I loved the song so much and it was a while before I learnt it was by Big Star. I lived in suburban isolation ok? And the internet wasn’t really around then.
So I ordered the CD, #1 Record/Radio City at my local record shop, the one I ended up working at for 3 or 4 years. Then I got Sister/Lovers. And they both did my head in.
Years later I wanted to write about them in the second issue of my zine, and I almost died doing it. Listening to their music non-stop. Reading about their story, and trying to draft it into a cohenrent piece…it sent me hard and fast into second hand depression. I was definitely not full functional.
It’s Sister Lovers that really gets me, and the ballads from the other albums. Such destruction, such fuck-it-all, such shattered beauty, such loss of innocence. It’s basically one big mess. But even the rockers are for losers – the fucked up teens of In the Street, the lonely boys of September Gurls.
Big Star are definitely one of those bands I think of when I think maybe I would be a happier person day-to-day if I’d never heard them. They gave words and melodies to my darker feelings. Maybe I should have never strayed from Boyz II Men. Maybe.
I’m listening to Sister/Lovers right now. It’s been that sort of week.
In the late mid to late 90s, around the time the CDs came back into print, a baunch of the bands that loved Big Star who were beginning to make a name for themselves, got together to make a tribute album. Called Big Star, Small World, it’s finally being released around 8 or 9 years after it was originally due (rather than the 6 or 7 reported in press).
Almost all the tracks have been released at some stage. B-sides to singles, box set rarities, and in the case of the Gin Blossoms, on the deluxe reissue of their New Miserable Experience album.
So it’s finally out through Koch records and it’s out locally too. But instead of taking tracks from that tribute, here are some other great Big Star covers.
NEWS: Shelved Big Star Tribute Due In May – Billboard
MP3: You Am I – In The Street
– b-side to the single Cathy’s Clown (Ra, 1994)
MP3: Elliott Smith – Thirteen
– from the soundtrack the to movie Thumbsucker (Hollywood, 2005)
MP3: Nada Surf – Blue Moon
– from A Tribute To Big Star (Lunasea Records, 2001)