Music Reviews

A Tribute to Big Star

Various Artists


If you’re gonna a pick a band to make a tribute of, you won’t find many more deserving than Big Star. And this isn’t the first one, either; at least two or three other tributes have surfaced over the years. So why pick this one up? Well, because it’s good, that’s why.

None of the artists here are big names – unless you consider Nada Surf or The Red Telephone as such – but they all show their love and admiration for the songs of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell ably. “Oh Dana” by Fooled By April is a standout, as is The Gentle Readers’ take on “Back of a Car.” Marty Willson-Piper of The Church shines with “Thirteen,” The Moths’ rendition of “Jesus Christ” charms.

The music of Big Star is a very personal thing – this was a band with severe, may we say… issues? By the time they recorded their last album the pain was in every groove, and Chilton seemed to be tottering on the brink of la-la land. For example, from “Oh Dana”: “I’d rather shoot a woman than a man/I worry whether this is my last life.” Hmmm. Not exactly American Bandstand stuff, but this sort of raw emotion (plus great pop songcraft of Chilton) is what has made the legacy of Big Star endure all these years. The 23 cuts on this well-done tribute indicate that whatever magic they created, it still bewitches.

LunaSea Records:

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