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Third - Sister Lovers

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Editors’ Notes

Much like Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night, another 1970s album of great dissipation, Big Star’s third album is the sound of a man experiencing a mental breakdown. Big Star singer Alex Chilton first experienced fame as the teenaged singer of the Box Tops’ “The Letter” and then watched his music career trickle away in a series of ineptly executed business moves. Lack of promotion from both label and band, along with a shifting musical climate, guaranteed the Memphis group would never reach the mass audience their music deserved. By the time of this third album, Big Star was barely even a band and Chilton used the recording sessions to express his frustrations. “Jesus Christ” and “You Can’t Have Me” keep energy levels up — and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” sounds like the party could have held its own — but Chilton is determined to slow things to a desperate crawl, adding an eerie ache to the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” and applying a death grip to “Holocaust,” “Big Black Car,” and “Nighttime,” where he sounds lonely, drunk and disoriented. Chilling as both music and a psychological observation.

Customer Reviews

It's About Time

I'm not going to go on about the incredible history this album has; rather, let me say that this album deservedly sits at or near the top of greatest rock albums ever made. Is it Alex C.'s first solo album? The final Big Star album? Who knows? Who cares? Listening to Big Black Car or the great kiss-off Thank You Friends leaves me reeling. Alex was clearly at his breaking point during these sessions. And what in the name of everything sacred inspired him to write the Holy Grail of modern music: Kanga Roo. Sweet Lord on a popsicle stick, that song is beyond good. This album is a long way from happy, but it is an essential, complex, devastating, redeeming album. Get it now. And if you don't have Big Star's first two albums, get those as well. -Jeter

Incredible incredible incredible

Words cannot describe how breathless I am, even in saying "incredible" 3 times. What posesses an artist to pull a complete 180 in their musical ventures? I mean, with their first two albums, I saw little glimpses of something truly original, masked by overpowering straight up commercial rock. I was won over by the track "Morpha too". Back to this album. It's one thing for an artist to pull a 180, but it's another to pull it off. Big Star did that and then a whole lot more with this opus of an album. A very exquisitely moving experience. It's very dark and hopeless. Even the happier songs, "Kizza Me", "Thank You Friends", and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", all have this really dark aura looming in the background, especially the latter song named. But, this album is also laden with some of my immediately favorite moments in music. "Big Black Car", "Kangaroo", "You Can't Have Me", and "Take Care" are songs that just blew me away immediately after the first few notes. It's a shock that more people, especially the emo kids, didn't discover this. Though, if they did, the legacy that is Big Star would have been tainted. Nevertheless, Thank you to Alex Chilton and crew for producing such a beautiful work of art. BUY THIS ALBUM!!!

Good, but not great...

A classic case where the backstory overshadows the music. A. Chilton was a miserable man in the mid-70s and this music demonstrates it pretty clearly. But is misery - naked, awkward misery - worth the price of admission? There's an artlessness here that a lot of fans mistake for creative honesty - a false trope for sure. A couple of gorgeous tracks, but, look, he compares his anguish to a business deal gone bad, a funeral and The Holocaust (!!). Then turns around and compares his happiness to something so corny as Christmas morning. After two of the greatest records of all time - perfection on vinyl - Chilton left us with treacle for masochists.


Formed: 1971 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The quintessential American power pop band, Big Star remains one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll. Originally led by the singing and songwriting duo of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, the Memphis-based group fused the strongest elements of the British Invasion era -- the melodic invention of the Beatles, the whiplash guitars of the Who, and the radiant harmonies of the Byrds -- into a ramshackle but poignantly beautiful sound which recaptured the spirit of pop's past...
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