49 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Big Dipper, a mid-1980s Boston band with an impressive pedigree of the time made three exemplary records with indie label Homestead Records, then broke up. The band scattered, and the good times were forgotten until Merge Records came to the rescue, gathering those three Homestead releases into one collection for Supercluster.  Disc 1 (tracks 1-16) contain their first recording, the inspired Boo Boo 6-song EP, along with the follow up album, Heavens; Disc 2 (tracks 1 – 18) is comprised of the band’s third release, Craps, plus nine bonus tracks (alternate takes, demos, compilation tracks); Disc 3 (1-15) is an unreleased album entitled A Very Loud Array, recorded in the early ‘90s when a modified version of the band attempted to rebound. The first song here, “Faith Healer,” embodies the music of the era, and all that was remarkable about Big Dipper: the tune meshed jagged, brittle guitars with a surprisingly bright, vibrant sound and charmingly off-kilter vocals, tied together with an impossibly fat, bouncy bass line that moved even the coolest hipsters to their feet. Big Dipper were not too arty, too punk, or too pop; they sought to marry various genres into one harmonious whole, and succeeded brilliantly.  Listen to the charging drums and battery of guitars on “Wrong in the Charts” and “Mr. Woods,” the lilting pop melody of “She’s Fetching” and “All Going Out Together,” the dark paranoia of “You’re Not Patsy,” the soft jangle of “Bonnie,” or the cow-punk undertones of “Man O’War” to grasp the true range of this great band and their serious songwriting skills.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Big Dipper, a mid-1980s Boston band with an impressive pedigree of the time made three exemplary records with indie label Homestead Records, then broke up. The band scattered, and the good times were forgotten until Merge Records came to the rescue, gathering those three Homestead releases into one collection for Supercluster.  Disc 1 (tracks 1-16) contain their first recording, the inspired Boo Boo 6-song EP, along with the follow up album, Heavens; Disc 2 (tracks 1 – 18) is comprised of the band’s third release, Craps, plus nine bonus tracks (alternate takes, demos, compilation tracks); Disc 3 (1-15) is an unreleased album entitled A Very Loud Array, recorded in the early ‘90s when a modified version of the band attempted to rebound. The first song here, “Faith Healer,” embodies the music of the era, and all that was remarkable about Big Dipper: the tune meshed jagged, brittle guitars with a surprisingly bright, vibrant sound and charmingly off-kilter vocals, tied together with an impossibly fat, bouncy bass line that moved even the coolest hipsters to their feet. Big Dipper were not too arty, too punk, or too pop; they sought to marry various genres into one harmonious whole, and succeeded brilliantly.  Listen to the charging drums and battery of guitars on “Wrong in the Charts” and “Mr. Woods,” the lilting pop melody of “She’s Fetching” and “All Going Out Together,” the dark paranoia of “You’re Not Patsy,” the soft jangle of “Bonnie,” or the cow-punk undertones of “Man O’War” to grasp the true range of this great band and their serious songwriting skills.

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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

14 Ratings

time to check them out

cityguy,

Long overdue, this compilation finally makes it easy for old fans to enjoy Big Dipper again.. and for new fans to discover a very cool band. If you ever liked REM, 'college rock' - or just good poppy rock and roll - you should check this out.... the material from the "Craps" record still seems the most accessible - hooky, smart - that whole disc is here along with the other original Homestead Records releases. Enjoy...

Take a Big Dip!

Tha' ARTist,

Bill Goffrier is an absolute genius - you must buy these tunes! Saw the guys in a small club back in the day - great googly moogly!

About Big Dipper

A great band that never quite fulfilled their enormous potential, Boston's Big Dipper had impeccable indie credentials and an excellent line in crunchy post-post-punk guitar pop, but their later albums were no match for their early work.

Big Dipper was formed in 1985 when guitarist Gary Waleik and bassist Steve Michener left the original lineup of Volcano Suns, which they'd formed with drummer and vocalist Peter Prescott after the breakup of Prescott's earlier band Mission of Burma. Both uncomfortable with the idea of taking lead vocal chores, Waleik and Michener recruited singer/guitarist Bill Goffrier, who had moved to Boston after his former band, the Lawrence, KS-based indie pioneers the Embarrassment, had split up in 1983. Completing their lineup with local drummer Jeff Oliphant (formerly in an early lineup of Dumptruck), Big Dipper gigged around Boston and Cambridge for a while before recording their first EP, 1987's Boo-Boo, at the soon-to-be-famous Fort Apache Studios. Leading off with the killer "Faith Healer" (a song Goffrier had brought with him from the final days of the Embarrassment that would prove to be one of Big Dipper's most popular tunes, even getting covered by Shonen Knife), Boo-Boo was well-received on both the local and national indie scenes. Later the same year, the full-length Heavens was released (with no overlap from the EP, which was included on the CD issue) to even greater acclaim. An excellent synthesis of sunny power pop, neo-psychedelia, and indie rock angst featuring gems like "She's Fetching" and "All Going Out Together," Heavens is one of the finest American indie albums of its era.

Unfortunately, 1988's Craps is a comparatively weaker effort, with less sharp songwriting and a more sedate vibe. (Goffrier at this point was dividing his time between Big Dipper and a temporary Embarrassment reunion, which might account for his less striking contributions.) After that release, Big Dipper surprisingly signed with Epic Records. Like their Boston compatriots O-Positive, who had signed with the same label around the same time, Big Dipper's one and only major-label release is a major disappointment; 1990's Slam features far-too-slick production, with intrusive brass sections and too much emphasis on the rhythm section. Demoralized by the lack of critical and popular success for the album, Big Dipper broke up shortly thereafter. Michener moved to California and briefly worked with Barbara Manning before retiring from music to become a nurse. Other than the short-lived supergroup Crush, Sr., which released one album in 1993, Waleik also retired, becoming a producer for National Public Radio. ~ Stewart Mason

  • ORIGIN
    Boston, MA

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