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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “Alex Chilton”

Alex Chilton Does The Rolling Stones

Alex Chilton

I’ve written previously about Big Star, here and at the bottom of this. As I noted previously, the band probably influenced everything else discussed on this site. They rank as an all-time favorite.

A fellow music blogger, Loosehandlebars, recently posted a great piece on three covers of Rolling Stones songs. One of those covers was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” that Alex Chilton recorded in 1970, two years before Big Star released its debut, #1 Record. Loosehandlbars captures quite nicely what is so great about Chilton’s cover of one of the Stones’ most enduring and popular tracks:

This is the Big Star sound he was looking for. A combination of drive & melody which evokes the best of 60s British rock but has its own thing going on. The fluidity of Chilton’s guitar work is a thing of beauty & this cover, like the best of the band’s work, makes you go ‘Oh Boy! This is how it is done’. Every rock music writer ever has said their piece about Big Star. All I want to add is that halfway through their classic songs you go, Whoa ! if only all music was this good. My favourite Stones cover I think.

Mine too. Loosehandlebars later responded to my comment on his piece by noting “this cover has, for me, a touch of ‘Back Of A Car’ about it. No higher praise.” Here is  Chilton’s wonderful version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”:

For good measure, here’s Big Star’s “Back Of A Car” from the band’s second record, Radio City:

While you are at it, go check out Loosehandlebars’ almost daily writings on music, often from a personal perspective. They are insightful, and always interesting. They can be found here, or in the “blogroll” to the right. Fans of melodic rock might will found his piece on the Go-Betweens, another all-time favorite, particularly interesting.

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Big Star’s “Breathtakingly Beautiful Music”

Today I am reblogging a piece from last month on Big Star. As Brian Westbye notes, they indeed put out “breathtakingly beautiful music.” My earlier post on the band, and “September Gurls” in particular, can be found here: https://popthatgoescrunch.com/2011/12/19/the-greatest-song-you-probably-never-heard/

brian westbye

This is the third installment of a series. Due to the subjective nature of what quantifies a One Hit Wonder, how much of the band must be dead to be a One Hit Wonder With Dead Guys, etc., etc., etc., there will be some shifting of the goal posts across these essays. Such is life and rock ‘n roll.

Goal Post Shift 1: Big Star never got anywhere near a hit. Big Star’s singer/guitarist Alex Chilton did have a #1 – “The Letter” – with his previous band, The Box Tops, for four weeks in the summer of 1967, when he was sixteen (with a much older voice). But the closest Big Star got to the charts during their existence from 1971 – 1974 was nowhere, and the closest they got to public acclaim was in 1998, when the song “In the Street” was appropriated as the theme song of…

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The Greatest Song You Probably Never Heard

big-starSometimes a song seems in retrospect to be “ahead of its times.” That usually means that the song or band proved to be influential. The song thus sounds contemporary, even though its old.

Rolling Stone picked “September Gurls” as the 180th greatest song of all time. “A nonhit from [Big Star’s] second LP . . . ‘September Gurls’ is now revered as a power-pop classic.”

“September Gurls” was destined to be a non-hit, coming out in 1974 as rock became bloated and self-important. Instead, Big Star looked back to the British Invasion with concise, elegant guitar pop. In turn, they influenced everyone that followed — REM, The Replacements, Matthew Sweet, Wilco, The Posies and Teenage Fanclub, just to name a few. What sounded old gave birth to the new.

“September Gurls” sounds as fresh and as beautiful as it did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc. That is one of the makings of a great song.

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