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Big Star?


marvin

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Can someone enlighten me on the group Big Star? I've read so many rave reviews about them over the last 20+ years, purchased their discs a few years ago but was left totally unimpressed. What am I missing? Am I in the same boat as the many people who didn't understand the 'berries? Maybe I should give their discs another try?

Marvin

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I'm not a wealth of knowledge on Big Star, but I have heard some songs off of their first album, "#1 Record" from 1972 and thought they were very good. "Give Me Another Chance" and "Try Again" are a couple that are worth a listen. One of the original musicians, Chris Bell, left after the first album, so maybe the chemistry wasn't there after that. I wouldn't put any of their players in the same league as Eric Carmen, but they could play on the same field. Kirk.

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For those of you who don't know, Big Star's lead singer was Alex Chilton of Box Tops fame ("The Letter", "Soul Deep" etc.). Every time there is a "Best Albums of All-Time" list, Big Star makes the list. I believe that they released 3 albums in their lifetime, and all three are on Rolling Stone's recent "Top 500 Greatest" list. Also, many people compared them to the 'berries. Personally, I've never seen any musical resemblance so I was hoping someone else could enlighten me.

Marvin

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  • 3 months later...

Also, many people compared them to the 'berries. Personally, I've never seen any musical resemblance so I was hoping someone else could enlighten me.

Marvin

The musical resemblance is definitely there... you may be hearing the more obvious "differences" which are Eric Carmen and Alex Chilton's vocals, the band's lyrics and their artistic MO.

An easy way to explain it is that Big Star leans closer to the "Lennon" side of The Beatles and Raspberries lean towards the "McCartney" side.

Both bands tried and excelled at recreating new rock/pop music for the early '70s that captured the essence of 1964-1966, before drugs and hippies took over rock. Big Star were more influenced by The Byrds and The Kinks while the Berries were more on the side of Who, Beach Boys... Both of these concepts, in 1972-1974 sounded fresh and exciting when the majority of bands were far far away from doing such things. Thus the resemblance...

Here's my choices of Big Star songs that are kindred spirits to The Berries':

"September Gurls"--definitely inspired from similar emotions Eric was dwelling, most prominently heard on "Let's Pretend" and "Go All The Way"--these are pop/rock songs with a yearning and musical expressiveness extremely rare and totally moving...

"13" and "Ballad Of El Goodo" are something akin to "Don't Want To Say Goodbye" and "I Saw The Light"... albeit a bit folkier/Byrds-based

others: "My Life Is Right," "Give Me Another Chance" "Back Of A Car".... these kinda parallel stuff like "Cry" and "I Can Hardly Believe You're Mine"--

stuff off "3rd": not really Berries territory, but Left Bank-ish and Lou Reed/John Lennon-ish... "Stroke It Noel," "For You," "Nighttime," "Thank You Friends" and "Blue Moon"

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pierson, it's quite a stretch to lump "september gurls", "lets pretend" & "go all the way" in the same catagory..thats like saying all songs about "cars" are kindred spirits. the raspbery songs you mentioned are classic pop songs, big stars songs are'nt in the same galaxy. having heard big star i have to side with marvin & bernie, i don't see the appeal. they do some nice things vocally, but the music is just to light in my opnion for a raspberry comparison. cheap trick on the other hand, is a group that any raspberry fan should check out. some very good pop/rock songs with strong vocals!

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Originally posted by Gregkevinw:

[QB] pierson, it's quite a stretch to lump "september gurls", "lets pretend" & "go all the way" in the same catagory..thats like saying all songs about "cars" are kindred spirits.

NO NO NO NO NO.... although i respect all of your opinions... and i understand, to some degree, the difference--eric is more forward and passionate than alex chilton.... but "September Gurls" absolutley positively belongs in the same category... the yearning and sheer honesty of the performance, not to mention the incredible production--is sheer magic caught in a 1973/4 bottle... and both bands are going for similar things--and acheiving them... they truly capture the essence of the 1965/66 mod & west coast pop/rock... which no other bands (besides Badfinger & Todd Rundgren) were getting near..

the power of the sentiment (lyric) is driven home by the performance of the band and the singer's performance... if you can't hear that, i truly believe you're missing something...

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