Big Star – Kanga Roo

This album was quite different than the other two Big Star albums. This song has a wonderful melody but it sounds like the world is collapsing around him when he sings it.

This song was on their 3rd album “Third/Sisters Lovers.” By this time the bands founder Chris Bell had been gone since the debut album was released and bassist Andy Hummel quit after their second album Radio City. There were only two original members on the album…Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens. This album sometimes has been looked at as an Alex Chilton solo album…Jody did contribute a song and brought in a string section that was used in other songs.

They used different Memphis musicians on the album. Alex was dating Lesa Aldridge (who would go on to form a punk band calle The Klitz) and she helped with the album also.

Jim Dickinson produced this album and he got close to Chilton and encouraged him to try new things. Alex sometimes cut tracks late at night, then presented them to Jim the following day. After the two had been discussing the producer’s role, Alex showed up with “Like St. Joan,” possibly referencing the martyred Joan of Arc, which morphed into “Kanga Roo.”

Jim jumped into action, adding electric guitar feedback, strings via a Mellotron, and his own amateurish drums—since Jody wasn’t there that day—including a very loud cowbell. Inspired, Alex grabbed a drumstick to use as a bow on his Strat, creating an eerie sound. Effects were added to Alex’s drowsy vocals, which presumably related the story of his and Lesa’s love affair:

Jim Dickinson: “Alex came in one morning and he had this little evil grin on his face,” “He said, ‘Lesa and I cut something last night I want you to hear.’ Okay, so he plays me ‘Like a Kangaroo’ [its second title], which is acoustic twelve-string and vocal on one track [making it difficult to separate the sounds]. I said, ‘Yeah, Alex, what do you hear on that?’ And with the evil grin, he says, ‘Well, why don’t you produce it, Mr. Producer?’” “I first saw you, you had on blue jeans / Your eyes couldn’t hide anything . . . Thought you were a queen, oh so flirty.” Alex later said of the lyrics that he was spewing things out loud, just song after song. . . . The whole process was kind of automatic, free association.” “I think of Alex as a collaborator. He allowed me to collaborate with him.

Kanga Roo

I first saw you
You had on blue jeans
Your eyes couldn’t hide anything
I saw you breathing, oh
I saw you staring out in space

I next saw you
You was at the party
Thought you was a queen
Oh so flirty
I came against

Didn’t say excuse
Knew what I was doing
We looked very fine
‘Cause we were leaving

Like Saint Joan
Doing a cool jerk
Oh, I want you
Like a kanga roo

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Big Star – Kanga Roo”

  1. some neat sound effects in there, overall it’s a bit drowsier than I expected from them , and with a title like that. Bow on the guitar is cool… is that the same idea as an “E-bow”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No this bow was a drumstick that was used like a bow but an ebow does some of the same effects though.
      This was more of an experimental album although it does have some of the old power pop songs also.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting…I can tell where they were going, but I’m not sure they got there. That surrealistic stuff is hard to pull off. Alex Chilton never completely submitted himself to a formula, even if he mixed the formula. He was always changing things up. Great musician.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. badfinger,

    Interesting verses to remind us of that moment in time we first saw what turned our to be the love in our lives on earth.

    The music to the verses sounds like an electic shock perhaps that zapped us…maybe.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Like

    1. Oh hop to it Deke…get with the program lol… Man I’ll have to catch up with the show…Wednesdays…I know this is hard to believe…I go to church and I missed it dude but I will watch it. I like that dude a lot. I was able to catch a little but not enough.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is strange but in a good way. Alex wanted to play with sounds…and he did that on this one. He wrote something with a great melody to experiment with and it worked.

      Thank you btw for the comment on the draft song. That one is a hidden nugget to me.

      Liked by 2 people

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