Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Documentary

A friend of mine knows I’m a Big Star fan…he dropped this documentary of Big Star off for me to watch and I wasted no time.

Such a great band but a frustrating story. Someone in the documentary remarked, “Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1972 but didn’t arrive until 1985.” That is a great way to explain them. They made three of the best albums of the decade that were not heard until much later. When they were finally discovered they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, Matthew Sweet, and more.

The first album got great reviews…you couldn’t ask for better. When the label called radio stations trying to get them to play it…the stations would say it’s not selling. When someone actually heard the songs on the radio they couldn’t find the record to buy it. This was basically the same story with all of the albums.

Distribution problems and just bad timing. Stax didn’t do a good job of distribution…they made a deal with Columbia before the second album to distribute the album…problem solved right? Nope, Clive Davis who made the deal was then fired at Columbia. The deal fell through and then Stax disintegrated.

Chris Bell who was key in creating the sound the band had quit after the first album. He came back but then quit again. Chris had depression problems and wanted badly to do something on his own. Alex Chilton continued and finished the second and third album with a new bass player on the third album.

After that, it follows Chris and Alex’s career to the end of both. It also covers  Jim Dickinson’s role on the third album. Family members, fans, and rock writers also share their love of Big Star and memories of the band members.

In May of 1973 Ardent Studios where Big Star recorded invited a 100 rock writers down to Memphis to hear Big Star live. They all loved Big Star and it went over great…but that wasn’t the band’s problem…it was the business side. What would have happened if they would have signed with a label more suited to them?

Before watching this documentary I didn’t realize Chris Bell was so instrumental in developing their sound. I knew it wasn’t the Alex Chilton band but Chris was invaluable and started the ball rolling. All 4 members did contribute writing and singing but Chilton and Bell were the Lennon and McCartney of the group.

It’s a good documentary about a great band that had the talent but not fate.

My recommendation? Get this and watch it…

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

35 thoughts on “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Documentary”

  1. I had never heard of Big Star until 30 years ago when I heard The Replacements song “Alex Chilton’- and that got me curious so I went out and bought their albums–and wasn’t a big disappointed. They should have hit it big–and been Big Star’s and ruled the radio airwaves back in the 1970;s, I just ordered the DVD. … “Children by the million wait for Alex Chilton to come around.” Have you read the biography on Alex from a few years back?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is roughly the same time I heard of them. No I haven’t read any thing about Alex but I will now. Last night was the most I’ve ever learned about them. I’ve seen pictures and read some things on line but never a book.
      It was just so frustrating that events fell like they did…It’s odd to see these hardened rock critics gush over anything but they do for Big Star.
      Stax didn’t know how to handle a pop/rock group. They never got a chance to be heard.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep right after I replied I looked it up and I knew that had to be the one you were talking about so I just downloaded the E-Book… What took me by surprise last night was his punk period… The song that hooked me on Big Star was Ballad of El Goodo… As far as the Box Tops the one song I really liked was Soul Deep.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It still makes me shake my head how inferior groups hit it big and these guys didn’t. Incredible. But they influenced so many…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I think timing hurt them also. Progressive rock didn’t help either. Wrong or right I always link 3 bands in my mind. Big Star, Badfinger and on the lighter side The Raspberries. I think Big Star was over them both and they were the least heard…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos album is outstanding as far as solo albums from the group go..

        Like

      5. Have 4 episodes in of Life Of Mars- that was great when he met Marc Bolan and told him to drive carefully.. Agree with you Gene Hunt is an awesome character.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That is what I wanted to ask you about because now I can and not give anything away. Have you ever heard of Frankie Miller? They play a song by him in that 4th episode about the club that floored me. It’s called “I Can’t Change It”… His voice is very strong. I can’t believe I never heard of him.

        Gene Hunt will only get better.
        Glad you like it

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes! He wrote The Fire Down Below I believe. He also played with Robin Trower some in the early 70s. That song for some odd reason just really hit me. Ray Charles covered it also. Frankie wrote it when he was 12

        Liked by 1 person

      8. He sounds somewhat like Seger too. I saw last night on Wikipedia they have all the songs played on the show listed…that would be a great playlist to listen to..

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Atomic Rooster’s Devil’s Answer I discovered on there also…
        At first I didn’t recommend it as much because I like the 70s so much I thought it clouded my judgement…but after watching it again I knew…no it’s a good show no matter what time period.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. They really have the 70’s down well… I like when he makes references to future things and they just look at him like WHAT? Great show.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. They do have them down. I’m going to use subtitles the next time I watch…sometimes I’m like what did they say? Well I have The Wire in my possession and after church tonight I’ll finally get to watch it.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. While in Rome…yes you start figuring it out. I just like when music and film are used together right. They do a good job in that show…

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Just watched the first episode…you were right. You have to pay attention. I went back and watch a few parts again. It’s really good and looks realistic. My son said I’m finally in the 21st century lol….thanks man I’m going to like this.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. After the first episode or two it slows down glad you are liking it. I didn’t watch anymore Life On Mars- knowing their is only 12 more episodes- going to take it 2-3 a day for next few days and enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Yes it is really good and I can see where they are building stories. It’s great to have a new series to watch again. Well new to me…I appreciate it…I need to listen to my son more I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A really good documentary. Although it’s hard not to wish there was more film footage of the band playing onstage and/or in the studio.
    Chris Bell’s solo album I Am the Cosmos, really reveals how important he was to their sound. Chris & Alex sounded great together.
    You should check out the star-studded concert tribute from last year, Thank You Friends, it’s fantastic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The only thing I heard from Bell is the song not the album I’ll have to check it out…. I know I wish there was more footage… I have never heard any bootleg audio of them with Bell.
      Thanks for the info!

      Like

  3. I was living in Columbia, MO when they (minus Bell, obviously) played their big reunion show which ended up on an album. I was still uninitiated and for whatever reason didn’t go. Those first two albums are pure perfection – not a weak track in the bunch – and in another universe Big Star are among the pantheon of rock royalty. I like “Third/Sister Lovers” as well, but have to be in a certain mood to listen to it. The Chris Bell album is also very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to get the Chris Bell album. I’ve heard I am the Cosmos song but that is it. The documentary is very good. It’s odd to see all of those harden rock critics as fans.
      It’s a crying shame their first two albums went unnoticed. It wasn’t a good time to be a power pop band in the early seventies.

      Like

    1. A lot of powerpop misses around this time. It’s a great documentary but heartbreaking also. In a perfect world they make it easy.

      Like

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