Big Star- Sister Lovers (1974) {CF Edit}


There was an American band in the late 60s and early 70s who made quite a name for themselves by playing rock and roll. Their records were good, but they never quite reached the critical mass that The Byrds, The Beatles, or The Rolling Stones did.

By the time their third album was coming around, they had signed to Stax Records, which was falling apart and going bankrupt. The band was splitting up, and the singer Alex Chilton was having his own personal issues to deal with. He did what every musician should do, which is deal with his stuff openly and on tape.

Sister Lovers (so-named because he and the drummer were dating two sisters; this cd is also known as "Third") was Big Star's third record, though many consider it Chilton's solo outing, recorded with session musicians, the band's drummer, and an ambitious producer who wanted to carry the session through to fruition.

Sister Lovers is a bizarre collection of songs that ping-pong between sheer bliss, caustic sarcasm, utter detachment, total loneliness, and tongue-in-cheek. In a way, it was indie rock way ahead of it's time, and Sister Lovers nails the sonic experiments, loose arrangements, and sheer coolness that a lot of homemade rockers tried to sound like. Even in 2011, it sounds like it was recorded last month, which says a lot!

A lot of crazy-huge bands (R.E.M., Yo la Tengo) refer to as one of the most influential of all time.

I could go off on how I like each song, but everyone in the world has beat me to it. So there.

Rykodisc finally released the "official" version of Third/Sister Lovers, including bonus tracks, in 1994 or so with a setlist picked by Chilton. I have to say that i liked and didn't like it. For one thing, it's very hard to cobble any kind of cohesion together out of the songs, that make Pet Sound's diversity sound relatively tame. For another, it is 17 songs long, which is far too many, in my opinion. It also includes a handful of cover songs that range from campy to utterly atrocious.

So-called purists will get all huffy, but i made my own tracklist that has a more natural listening arc to it, and i also made my own album art (since the reissue is pretty fugly). To me, it's the strongest tracks put in an order that a skeptic would really appreciate.

(A little aside: This is Chilton's year, as people are performing Third live all over the place. This poster was from North Caroline, i believe, but a superstar cast was doing this in New York City also. Flattering or self-serving?)


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Definitely self serving.

Leiflet said...

Yeah, I think so too.

It's the same feeling i had when "Dark Night Of the Soul" was released. The label wouldn't release it for years. Then, one week after Mark Linkous kills himself, it miraculously appears. Made me want to spit on his record label.

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