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Big Star Small World (A Tribute to Big Star)

Various Artists

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Editors’ Notes

Since most recordings by Big Star leave little to improve on, it seems that the best way a band could pay tribute to the Memphis deities of power-pop would be to take a completely different approach. And that’s where the brightest moments shine most on Big Star Small World (A Tribute to Big Star). Afghan Whigs turn “Nightime” (from Third/Sister Lovers) into a slow and sludgy dirge built on a foundation of guitar distortion rubbing against a lush string section. Where Alex Chilton’s vocals on the original were mixed up front, here Greg Dulli’s singing is tucked in the production to sound like another instrument. Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub simply mash-up bygone band adoration by pumping Big Star’s “Jesus Christ” through a Byrdsian filter to sound like Tennessean folk-rock by way of Glasgow. Although most contributing musicians chose to play stock renditions of these tunes, Wilco’s close-take on “Thirteen” is saved by Jeff Tweedy’s heartfelt performance, which perfectly captures the song’s tone of a teenage delinquent in love. 

Customer Reviews


WIlco did not write the song "Thirteen" > The Group BIG STAR did, hence the name of the album, they wrote ALL the songs


Thanks for clearing up the Wilco misconception in the earlier review. Alex Chilton and Andy Hummel would be more than a little upset at the pilfering of their song. None of this compares to the Big Star originals but the Gin Blossoms do a virtual note for note cover of "Back of A Car." In the greater scheme of rock music, Big Star deserved better. This tribue is a nod in the right direction but it hardly heals the wounds.

a must

i was just looking around itunes following some leads (seein' what matthew sweets been up to) and i happen upon this great record! i had no idea this tribute album existed, and i'm so glad i found it. been a huge fan of wilco and big star (and matthew sweet obviously) since about 1990. but the other covers on this are all pretty great too. even the bands i don't really care for (gin blossoms, afghan whigs) acquit themselves quite nicely. it helps to have brilliant material, i guess. but the real standout here is wilco's cover of thirteen. wilco effortlessy brings their unique sense of wistful melancholy to one of the greatest songs ever written. the simple orchestration (piano, guitar, violin, slide), along with tweedy's plaintive voice, adds a haunting color to the already poignant words. beautiful. just buy the whole album, and let these great songs wash over you. then go to your local independant record store and buy the complete big star catalogue (it's not that big, sadly), if you don't have it already. it will make the world a better place.

Big Star Small World (A Tribute to Big Star)
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Customer Ratings