New Big Star album... Might it actually be good?

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What are the odds that the Big Star could release a good album?

Of course it's going to be great!
4
22%
There's a chance it'll be good.
9
50%
There's a slim chance it'll even be listenable.
3
17%
No fucking way. What are you? On dope?
2
11%
 
Total votes: 18

Barabajagal
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Postby Barabajagal » Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:28 am

Tiven may be a douchebag, and speaking of douchebags, I am certainly no expert on Big Star (a casual fan) but from what I do know, I seem to prefer Chris Bell's material a good deal more and (gulp! lord help me, don't kill me, DJMurph!!) think Alex Chilton has to be, by definition, one of the most overrated figures in rock. I am not saying he's bad, I can appreciate some of his stuff just fine--but, come on, he is overrated as hell.

Anyone with me? Anyone? Am I finally banned from the board?

Or as the piquant nobodygirl pithily puts it: Let's Fight!

DJMurphy
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Postby DJMurphy » Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:36 am

Of course Alex is overrated; he's also as inconsistent as hell. But for my money, his music is a journey worth travelling. The gems of his collection (Big Star, Like Flies on Sherbert, etc.) remind me that it's worth trawling through the off material to find the good stuff.

But Tiven isn't underrated often enough. We need cranky journos like Meltzer to remind us how insignificant Tiven really is.

Lep
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Postby Lep » Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:59 am

What DJ said (about Alex), but regardless, I am a big fan. I'm just not a blind fan - I think of my music idols in kind of the same was as I think of my friends. I know the basic reason that I love them, and I love them even though I realize that they may be assholes, that they may be morons, that they may be wasting their talent, etc.

As far as Tiven, as far as I can tell, it's only Alex or Big Star fans who know who the fuck he is.

Andy Bobo
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Postby Andy Bobo » Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:48 pm

Alex Chilton would probably tell you that Alex Chilton is overrated.

(I don't think he is, though.)

ryanking
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Postby ryanking » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:42 am

Chilton is overrated just because he's like the father of power pop, the most obvious link between the Beatles and everything else, that's a heavy tag to have hanging on you. I try to appreciate him for the stuff that seemed to come from an honest place. He says he hates Big Star Third/Sister Lovers, he says he was scraping the bottom of the barrel for his songwriting. Which, he has a good point, to me. That record is a little too lily white and narcissistic to really have lasting power. However, O My Soul, which is just a workout of a fucking song, that's a song for the ages. That is an anthem and it's got something in it, some kind of R&B heart, that is very authentically Chilton. I want to find Feudalist Tarts. I used to have A Man Called Destruction which was a cool record.

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Postby Andy Bobo » Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:40 am

Well ... yes and no. I think if you want to regard Chilton solely as the "father of power pop" (not really sure what that means, anyway), then, yes, any figure you want to elevate to such iconic status is probably being overpraised, overrated. But the appeal of Chilton for many fans, myself included, extends so much beyond his foray into power pop, which he perverted to his own ends anyway (and thus made it great) and which was a mere facet of the ongoing musical evolution of a guy who refuses to be pigeonholed by a monolithic entertainment industry whose mission is to reduce the nuances of great art into easily digestible, saleable soundbites. Chilton refuses to shill for such image-mongerering. That's not to say he isn't in it for some money, and God knows he's earned it at this point, but as Robert Gordon wrote, he has charted a personal course when it clearly would have been much easier for him to have capitulated. In some ways, his triumphant cover of Dan Penn's "Nobody's Fool" is every bit as heroic as the whole of "Big Star Third." And that's what the "cult" of Alex Chilton is about. He's not just the guy who was in Big Star, "the power pop guy"; he was the teen sensation of the Box Tops, the forlorn New York folkie, "the power pop guy" in Big Star and gleeful saboteur of its pristine ethos, the proto-punk, the drunk, apocalyptic rockabilly's baron of love, the Cramps' producer, Tav Falco's partner in crime, recovered alcoholic, dishwasher, tree surgeon, patron saint of the Replacements and a host of alt-rock lights, avant-lounge act, reluctant nostalgia act, the man behind "That $70 Song," and he doesn't give a shit if you like his records or not (just buy 'em) -- he's the man. He's Alex Chilton. It's hard for me to overrate that guy.

As for Alex's seeming contempt for "Third," I believe his low regard for this material, as with his dismissive attitude toward the majority of his formative attempts at songwriting, stems from the fact that the songs function more as recorded works than as compositions that could be credibly covered by other artists or performed by Chilton live. And many of those early Chilton songs exhibit an emotional candor that, while beguiling and compelling to most listeners, is probably too frank and perhaps even embarassing for Chilton at present, so I wouln't entirely trust the artist's judgment in that respect.

And I don't hear the music of "Third" as "lily white." It's blue, like the cover of the PVC reissue. A deep, somber blue. Blue like "Blue Moon." And it's not any more indulgent (read" "narcissistic") than singing yourself to sleep instead of crying yourself to sleep -- and "Third" splits the difference between those lonely comforts.

DJMurphy
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Postby DJMurphy » Sat Oct 01, 2005 12:12 pm

Wow, a fellow Big Star nut... and one who has read the Gordon book. Not bad!!

Andy, I think you nailed it with St. Alex; he honestly doesn't care at all about any silly expectations placed upon his shoulders. He's through with trying to win approval via any course but his own. That, in and of itself, is noble. Of course, in his case, it's probably moreso just not giving a fuck.

So Andy, are you a writer for your dayjob? Or just really impassioned?

ryanking
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Postby ryanking » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:58 pm

Slave mentality. Let's all throw ourselves at the feet of St. Alex. Let the exultant paragraphs roll forth! Even if dear St. Alex thinks his own record is shit, he's wrong, because he can do no wrong! Alex is amazing because he isn't trying to win our approval, even if he is technically a musical performer. I bet he doesn't even like applause. He doesn't need it. He's Alex Chilton, demigod!

worpswede
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Postby worpswede » Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:08 pm

Nice job, Andy.

Andy Bobo
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Postby Andy Bobo » Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:20 pm

ryanking wrote:Slave mentality. Let's all throw ourselves at the feet of St. Alex. Let the exultant paragraphs roll forth! Even if dear St. Alex thinks his own record is shit, he's wrong, because he can do no wrong! Alex is amazing because he isn't trying to win our approval, even if he is technically a musical performer. I bet he doesn't even like applause. He doesn't need it. He's Alex Chilton, demigod!


I was trying to point out that his reputation ought to add up to more than just the sum of his work with Big Star since you said he was "overrated ... just because he's like the father of power pop." Nevertheless, "Third" is my favorite record. Am I supposed to not love it because Chilton devalues it in interviews? For decades, Brian Wilson dismissed his "Smile" music as "inappropriate," but thousands of fans thought otherwise, and, perhaps, they were the ones who knew better. Happens all the time. Artists are not always the best judges of their own work, or haven't you heard that? (And, by the way, Chilton also has a relatively low opinion of your professed fave, "O My Soul.") So, yes, maybe Chilton might be wrong when he thinks his own record is shit. And, as an educated listener, I reserve the right to reach my own conclusions about such things.


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