Saturday, August 16, 2003

You gotta lose your mind for newfound Rock City

This is easily the best news I've seen in a while: Rock archaelogists have unearthed a lost album by Rock City, the group that became Big Star when Alex Chilton joined. Big Star is, of course, the quintessential power-pop group and the biggest cult band in rock'n'roll outside the Velvet Underground, and the inspiration to groups such as R.E.M. and The Replacements. Most people probably come closest to having heard them through Cheap Trick's cover of "In The Street", which is the theme to That '70s Show. If you haven't heard them, run out of your house right now and down to the local record shop and buy a copy of their first two albums, which are conveniently collected on a single CD. Don't finish this sentence. Don't put on pants. Just go. Trust me.

This is simply fantastic news. It's like finding a lost Beatles album from before John Lennon joined the band or something like that (and I know John Lennon didn't actually join after the other guys; just work with me here for a minute), except that Big Star laboured in obscurity only for a couple of albums before breaking up. I make this comparison because Big Star, like the Beatles, was a group with two main creative forces: Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. (And, of course, the Beatles were a big influence on Big Star.) Hearing this will help give a clearer idea of just what each man brought to the table. Big Star was also like the Beatles in that each was more than the sum of its parts, but -- oh -- what parts! I imagine this will be the perfect companion piece to Chilton's 1970, which was recorded at pretty much the same time.

Simply put, the Big Star canon is an essential purchase for the true believers who worship rock and roll. And this is the Dead Sea Scrolls. And I'm totally in pretentious rock-writer mode or something.


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