Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Big Star, smallish tribute

Play it: Big Star, Small World: Big Star Tribute
Play it: Other Big Star Covers

This Big Star tribute album was lovingly compiled by drummer Jody Stephens back in '98 fresh off Big Star's reunion tour, but the label, Ignition, went under before it's release. Since that time two of the bands exist no more (Afghan Wigs, Whiskeytown) and two more have broken up and since reformed (Gin Blossoms, The Posies) in the 8 years it took for the tribute to see the light of day (yesterday, 6/13, via Koch Records.)

It'd be a better story if this was a great collection, but it's mostly just alright. The strongest of the bunch is (not surprisingly) from The Posies ("What's Going Ahn".) Ken and Jon had just toured as part of Big Star, and their intimacy with the material I imagine made it easy for them to interpret it in an interesting fashion. It almost sounds like it could've come from the Frosting on the Beater sessions (which is a good thing.) Teenage Fanclub (who toured in Europe as part of Big Star as well,) also find an interesting interpretation of "Jesus Christ," turning it into a Byrds-like affair. The Afghan Wigs were famous for covering a lot of songs (frontman Greg Dulli continues to with The Twilight Singers) so it's no surprise to see them here, and their verison of "Nighttime" is quite tasty as well. The 'W's (Whiskeytown, Kelly Willis, and Wilco) all put in admirable cuts as well.

On the other end of the spectrum, Juliana Hatfield's sloppy version of "Don't Lie To Me" really is unecessary (and embarassing.) Likewise, the new song ("Hot Thing" - new in '98, anyway) from Big Star is a bit depressing. I'm sure when it was compiled, it was a solid line-up, but looking back, some other artists would've fit in better. Heck, why not another Teenage Fanclub offering ("Free Again") or Jeff Buckley's haunting take on "Kanga Roo," and while it's technically a Chris Bell cover, I'd have to include The Posies' excellent take on "I Am the Cosmos." These are small quibbles given that it was in the can 8 years ago, so while a fitting tribute to the wonder that is Big Star is still to be seen, Big Star, Small Planet does has several fine moments that are worth checking out.

Previously:
Power Pop Covers
Power Pop 1990-1999 - 90s Flourish
Power Pop 1966-1978 - Pioneers

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4 comments:

drake leLane said...

Big Star, Small Planet: Big Star Tribute

1. "Back Of A Car" - Gin Blossoms
2. "Nightime" - The Afghan Whigs
3. "Ballad Of El Goodo" - Matthew Sweet
4. "Don't Lie To Me" - Juliana Hatfield
5. "You Get What You Deserve" - Idle Wilds
6. "Give Me Another Chance" - Whiskeytown
7. "When My Baby's Beside Me" - Kelly Willis
8. "Jesus Christ" - Teenage Fanclub
9. "What's Goin Ahn" - The Posies
10. "Thirteen" - Wilco
11. "Hot Thing" - Big Star

drake leLane said...

Other Big Star covers

* "I Am The Cosmos" - The Posies
* "September Gurls" - The Bangles
* "Holocaust" - Son Volt
* "Free Again" - Teenage Fanclub
* "You And Your Sister" - This Mortal Coil
* "Intro: I'm In Love With a Girl" - David Kitt
* "Thirteen" - Elliott Smith
* "Holocaust" - This Mortal Coil
* "That 70's Song (In The Street)" - Cheap Trick
* "Kanga-Roo" - Jeff Buckley
* "I Am The Cosmos" - This Mortal Coil

MJAPA said...

Heehee.. I didn't even know this existed until I just read your blog. Sometimes... I swear.... ;-)

drake leLane said...

Glad to be of use (if indeed it is of use!)