If not for Big Star, the late great Memphis band that ran from ’72-to-’78 before finally calling it a day, we’d likely never have groups like Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M., The Replacements, The Posies… hell, Ryan Adams would probably be in a metal band now if it weren’t for Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel.
The foursome only had three albums in their prime, but Chilton and Stephens recruited Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer – both from The Posies – to help them fill out the band for 2005’s “In Space.” Over the past decades some live albums have surfaced (like the fantastic “Columbia – Live at University of Missouri”) as well as a slew of re-releases. This fall, Omnivore Recordings, a longtime champion of the band, just released “Complete Third,” an amazing 3-CD collection of Big Star’s third album. The box set includes every demo, rough mix, alternate take and final master to exist of this historic recording session. Along with the music, the Holy Grail for many Big Star fans and completests, the set includes extensive liner essays from members of Wilco, the dB’s, R.E.M., The Dream Syndicate and others as well as those involved with the recording.
Completed in 1974, their third album wasn’t officially released until four years later. “Third” went on to be re-released, renamed and re-sequenced many times over the next few decades, but “Complete Third” houses 69 tracks, almost half of which are previously unheard session recordings, demos and alternate mixes made by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry.
Big Star is dead. Long live Big Star!