Replacements – Black Diamond

If you are a KISS fan…yes you are reading this right. On their 1984 album Let It Be the always unpredictable Replacements put a KISS cover in the middle of their album. It felt out of place on the album but was a fun cut. The Replacements and Big Star were similar…not music as much but as an influence. Every punk band that got huge in the ’90s, especially Nirvana and Green Day owes a major debt to the Replacements.

The Replacements have been described as being one of the best live rock and roll bands ever witnessed…or if they were in a playful or pissed-off mood…they might play covers all night long and some very bad on purpose. They started off as a punk band and doing KISS covers was not high on the punk list…neither was guitar player Bob Stinson idolizing Yes’s prog rock guitar player Steve Howe.

They gradually morphed into a great rock band after their second album. I’ve known people who saw them in the 80s…say that yes they could compete with the best rock band on earth when they were on. When they were not on…they would at least entertain you.

In the mid-80s they were playing at CBGB’s and near the set’s end, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons walked in. Peter Jesperson (Replacements manager) was at the soundboard. “They had a talkback system at CBGB where you could communicate from the booth into the monitors.” He alerted Paul Westerberg to Simmon’s presence, and the band went right into “Black Diamond.” “Simmons was looking all around like ‘How did they know I was here?’” recalled Jesperson. The ’Mats’ “suck ass version” quickly chased Simmons from the venue. The band followed up with an X-rated version of the “Ballad of Jed Clampett,” then whistled their way through the theme from The Andy Griffith Show before finally leaving the stage. Someone was watching them from the audience that night…the one and only Alex Chilton.

When the Replacements went through their routine, Chilton had a grin plastered on his face. After the show, both Jesperson and Chilton were waiting to get paid by CBGB owner Hilly Kristal. Jesperson offered to buy breakfast the next morning. Chilton accepted. That started a friendship between Chilton and the band.

Seymour Stein was the head of Sire records which was owned by Warner Brothers. He was interested in the band and listened to their albums and finally got to see them a few nights after the CBGB disaster…he was knocked out by how great they were. They went all out and were definitely on. That is how big the contrast was with their shows.

The song was written by Paul Stanley.  Black Diamond is the closing track on the band’s eponymous first album, Kiss, released in 1974. Paul Stanley did the intro vocal and then Peter Criss takes over. This is a good example of why Criss’s voice is the one I like best of all of them. It has a raspy feel to it.

The Replacements version changes it somewhat and they make it more of their style…is it a great cover? No, but it is interesting. If you asked me my favorite rock band of the 80s…The Replacements would be my pick. They played rock with intelligent lyrics and they were armed with Westerberg who I would place among the best songwriters of his era.

Paul Westerberg: ““That was, in 1974, dangerous, exciting rock-and-roll for us, I was ashamed to admit it at that time, but now I’m smart enough to know that that music was the thing that got me going.”

Paul Stanley (KISS): “‘Black Diamond’ was a song that I wrote about New York. New York was very dear to us, and life there was all we could write about. Seeing hookers on the street, whether we lived it, we saw it and it kind of gave us something to fantasize about.”

Black Diamond

Out on the street for a livingYou know it’s only begunThey’ve got you under their thumb

Out on the street for a livingShits only begunDoing whatever killed himThey got you under their thumb

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Out on the street for a countryAnd it’s only a dreamGot other people marchingAnd it’s only a way

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Out on the street for a livingAnd it’s only begunRegardless a street or a countryThey got you under their thumb

Oooh, black diamondOooh, black diamond

Favorite Rock Lyrics 2

Everyone seemed to like the first one so I thought I would bring it back. I did list many of the lyrics that you suggested in the comments on the other post…SO… this post was written by all of us…and uh…the ones that actually wrote the songs!

Bob Dylan

Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear, it’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there... Bob Dylan

Rolling Stones

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me…Rolling Stones

Who

I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles, I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn’t help me either, they called me the Seeker…The Who

Grateful Dead

Cows are giving kerosene, the kid can’t read at seventeen, the words he knows are all obscene, but it’s alright… The Grateful Dead

band

You take what you need and you leave the rest, but they should never have taken the very best… The Band

Trogg

Wild thing you make my heart sing you make everything groovy… The Troggs

Springsteen

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away… Bruce Springsteen

ACDC

Rich man, poor man, beggar man thief you ain’t got a hope in hell, that’s my belief… ACDC

Beatles - Rocky Raccoon

The farther one travels the less one knows the less one really knows …The Beatles

Leonard Cohen

My friends are gone and my hair is grey I ache in places I used to play …Leonard Cohen

John Lennon

Whatever gets you through the night … John Lennon

Replacements

God, what a mess, on the ladder of success Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung …The Replacements

Led Zeppelin 1976

Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face and stars fill my dream I’m a traveler of both time and space… Led Zeppelin

Kinks

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, except for Lola La-la-la-la LolaThe Kinks

Queen

She keeps her Moet et Chandon in her pretty cabinet “Let them eat cake”, she says just like Marie AntoinetteQueen

van morrison almost independence day

Shammy cleaning all the windows singing songs about Edith Piaf’s soul… Van

neil young after the goldrush

You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain though you’re thinking that you’re leaving there too soon… Neil Young

Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968

Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again…Simon and Garfunkel

Big Star – Feel ….Power Pop Friday

Happy Friday Everyone! Hope your week is going well. Lisa from Tao Talk did me an honor by posting an article I wrote on her site about Maria McKee from Lone Justice in her Women Music March series…she has had some great artists! Check it out if you can.

When Big Star comes up, when people think of a member…it’s usually Alex Chilton. That is not a bad thing but on their debut album Chris Bell was just as prevalent as Chilton. This song was off of their debut album named #1 Record. It’s the only album to feature Chris Bell along with Alex Chilton the entire album. They complimented each other perfectly.

After writing a post for Dave’s site about Badfinger (thanks Dave)…a band that I obviously like…I thought I would post about another band that is right up there. I hold Big Star’s music up with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972. Whenever I write about this band, I always have to stop myself from gushing about them. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people know? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

“Feel” leads off the album with a bang. Feel was written by Chris Bell and Alex Chilton and Bell takes the lead vocal. There are more hooks in this song than in a tackle box. This is what power pop is all about. If I had to introduce someone to power pop, I would ask them to listen to #1 Record by Big Star and Straight Up by Badfinger.

All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. For a band that never charted a record that isn’t too bad. When their albums were finally discovered by later bands, they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Drummer Jody Stephens: “All of a sudden I’m playing with these guys that can write songs that are as engaging to me as the people I’d grown up listening to, so I felt incredibly lucky.” 

Paul Westerberg:  “I never travel far, without a little Big Star,”

Alternate Mix

Feel

Wondering what are you doing?
You’re driving me to ruin
The love that you’ve been stealing

Has given me a feeling

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

Wondering what are you doing?
You’re driving me to ruin
The love that you’ve been stealing
Has given me the feeling

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

I feel like I’m dying
I feel like I’m dying

Otis Gibbs

I came across Otis’s youtube channel and I think some of you would be interested. He is a singer songwriter but on his channel he has conversations musicians who have played or worked with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Waylon Jennings, just to name a few, and  his own stories about different musicians. For you music fans it’s worth your time. The guy doesn’t interview people…he lets people talk and tell their stories.  He is also a good story teller. I’m hooked on his channel.

He has stories about Jerry Reed, The Replacements, Dan Baird, Merle Haggard, Ry Cooder, Towns Van Zant, Bill Monroe, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, John Prine, Mike Campbell and more.

He lives in Indiana but interviews many Nashville connected musicians. Check this guy out…His music is VERY good as well. I’m just checking that out more as I go… his music is classified as alt-country.

I just picked a few random youtube videos from his page below.

This is his youtube page:

https://www.youtube.com/user/otisgibbs

Chuck Mead – 90s Alternative Country band BR5-49…talking about when he toured with Bob Dylan

Kenny Vaughn – Lucinda Williams  guitar player at the time talks about touring with Tom Petty

Chuck Mead again with Keith Richards

Dan Baird on the Replacements

Otis Gibbs Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Gibbs

New York Dolls – Personality Crisis

Glam Rock straight from the seventies. The Dolls were full of  attitude, raw music, drugs, and mascara. They would offend as many as possible and often sabotage their own career…but they made their mark in rock history.

This song was written by Dolls lead singer David Johansen and guitarist Johnny Thunders. It was on their self titled debut album. The song was released as a single in 1973 with the B side called Trash. The song sounds loose and rocking. They had a punk hard rock sound and they influence many bands such as KISS, Guns n’ Roses, The Replacements, Sex Pistols, and  The Smiths. Morrissey from the Smiths helped organize a reunion concert in 2004.

Todd Rundgren (Todd was everywhere in the 70s) produced this album and Jack Douglas engineered it…he would later produce and work with artists Cheap Trick and John and Yoko on Double Fantasy.

The album peaked at #116 in the Billboard album charts but never hit the top 100.

Jack Douglas on guitarist Johnny Thunders: “Johnny never played the same thing twice. Sometimes, playing with the rhythm section, he just got the feel and he nailed it. At other times, he would stop playing because he knew he wasn’t going to get into it and he’d want to redo it later. Suddenly, he’d be in the control room with me. Then, when he overdubbed his leads, I would do four or five tracks and just comp them like a vocal. He was totally, totally unpredictable, and that’s how he was in life.”

Personality Crisis

Well we can’t take it this week
And her friends don’t want another speech
Hoping for a better day to hear what she’s got to say

All about that
Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got
(That’s why they talk about Personality)

But now your trying to be some no you got to do some
Wanna be someone who cow wow wows
But you think about the times you did they took every ounce
When it sure got to be a shame when you start to scream and shout
You got to contradict all those times you were butterflying about

(You were butterflying)
All about that Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got
break

And your a prima ballerina on a spring afternoon
Change on into the wolfman howling at the moon hooowww

All about that Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got

Now with all the crossing fingers that mother nature says
Your mirrors get jammed up with all your friends

That personality everything starts to blend
Personality when your mind starts to blend
Personality impression of a friend,
Of a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend
Personality wondering how celebrities ever met
(Look and find out on television)

Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
Frustration and heartache is all you got, don’t you worry
Personality Crisis please don’t cry
It’s just a Personality Crisis, please don’t stop

Because you walk a Personality
Talk a Personality

Replacements – The Ledge

This song was one of the most pivotal songs in their career. MTV’s refusal to play it hurt the chances of the album Please To Meet Me… which The Replacements released in 1987. The album was critically praised as were most of their other albums. With no MTV or radio support, the single didn’t go anywhere.

This song had radio potential and their record company Sire was gearing up a campaign but the song is about suicide and MTV would not touch it. A month before the album was released, the Bergenfield Suicide Pact (4 New Jersey teens took part in a suicide pact) happened. It understandably got a lot of press. Paul Westerberg was not happy with the decision. “MTV feels the lyrics are detrimental to the youth of America,” said Westerberg  “But for them to play Mötley Crüe and not play our video … if it had a bunch of sexist bullshit, they would’ve played it. But if it’s something deeper, if it’s emotions, it’s taboo.”        

The song hinted at Paul Westerberg’s own teenage overdose attempt and the suicide of his high school friend John Zika. Sitting home in the fall of 1986, he wrote The Ledge in forty-five minutes, from the perspective of a jumper looking down at a gathering crowd below.

It was recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. The band worked as a trio as Bob Stinson was let go by this time. After the album was finished they would get Bob “Slim” Dunlap on lead guitar.

Paul Westerberg:  It’s written not necessarily out of personal experience because I’m still here. It’s an observation. And if anyone wants to read anything into it other than that, then that’s their problem. And the lyrics, they just came. I didn’t have to sit, I didn’t have to think. It was just wham wham wham, I turned on the little tape recorder, I had it on an ironing board. And it was partially out of the way I had felt at certain times in my life. I figure if you’re gonna kill yourself, you kill yourself, but I had tried to commit suicide once I think when I was younger and I can still feel how I felt then. I mean not like now that I’m totally a-ok and the happiest guy in the world, I’m doing fine, but I can feel for people that feel totally lost and have no one to turn to. So it was written sort of half of my own experience and half of maybe me trying to feel how it is to be up there on the ledge. And it’s not written in any way to condone that kind of stuff. Obviously it’s bullshit, it’s wrong, but to someone who does it…

The Ledge

All eyes look up to me
High above the filthy streets
Heed no bullhorn when it calls
Watch me fly and die, watch me fall

I’m the boy they can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge
Won’t reach the ledge

Wind blows cold from the west
I smell coffee, I smell doughnuts for the press (on their breath?)
A girl that I knew once years ago
Is tryin’ to be reached on the phone

I’m the boy she can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge…

(Repeat)

Priest kneels silent, all is still
Policeman reaches from the sill
Watch him, watch him try his best
There’ll be no medal pinned to his chest

I’m the boy they couldn’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure

(Repeat)

I’m the boy for the last time in my life

All the love that they pledge
For the last time will not reach the ledge…

Replacements – Color Me Impressed

***I have posted my 10 favorite covers of Beatle songs at Keith’s site nostaligicitalian ***

This song was off of the 1983 album Hootenanny. This was their third release and second album. The album was all over the place style wise but it works.

For the album cover they found a  1963 Crestview Records folk sample album and changed the type.

The original                                      The Replacements Hootenanny

Hootenanny (1962, Vinyl) - DiscogsHootenanny (The Replacements album) - Wikipedia

What first caught my ear was the unorthodox solo that Bob Stinson played. You can hear the feedback from the guitar before he starts it.

The band never sold many records but they influenced many musicians and as it turns out movie makers.

Daniel Waters wrote the black comedy “Heathers” movie in 1989. He was such a fan of their music that Waters peppered his script with Replacements references…from the school being Westerburg High (the spelling of Paul’s surname was changed at the urging of a film exec who felt that the name Westerberg seemed “a little too Jewish” for a Midwestern high school) to male lead J.D. (Christian Slater) and one of the Heathers saying, “Color me impressed.”

He also wanted to use a Replacements song in the credits but there was no money to buy the rights.

Paul Westerberg about Hootenanny: “You could hear me more or less trying to find my voice, or trying to find out where I fit in…a way of trying to fuse what I had been listening to growing up into what was happening at the time.”

Color Me Impressed

Everybody at your party
They all look depressed
Everybody dressin’ funny
Color me impressed

Stayin’ out late tonight
Won’t be gettin’ any sleep
Givin’ out their word
Because that’s all that they won’t keep

Put the party on the mirror
Oh shit, pass the bill to Chris
Intoxicated lover ending our french kiss

Can you stand me on my feet?
Can you stand me on my feet?

(Everybody)

Everybody at your party
They don’t look depressed
And everybody’s dressin’ funny
Color me impressed

Color me impressed
Color me impressed
Color me impressed
Color me impressed
I call it out

Replacements – Kids Don’t Follow

***Today I will be guest hosting a blog post featuring my top 10 favorite songs that the Beatles covered…with comments from Keith Allen (nostaligicitalian). Please come and visit if you can…Keith is the DJ I interviewed. Next week it will be my favorite Beatle songs that other people covered***

This Replacements song was inspired by U2’s  I Will Follow. Paul Westerberg had seen U2 perform on April 1981 at bar named Sam’s, where they actually played the song twice in their set.

He liked the sound of “I Will Follow,” but he balked at what he considered its unrealistic message. The kids he knew weren’t going blindly forth, their faith steadfast, their belief unwavering in the face of adversity.

They were still in their punk phase but on the next album they would start expanding their sound. I’ve been listening to their albums in order and the first three I wasn’t as familiar with but I’ll be posting at least one song off of each album as I go. 

The song was on their second release…an ep called Stink. It was released in 1982 on Twin/Tone Records.

The Replacements - Stink

The intro to the song was not made in the studio, it was a real party where the police was called because of the noise.

The Replacements were playing at a rent-party for visual artist Don Holzschuh, opening for the the band Warheads. It was a massive multi-keg affair attended by a lot of underage kids. The Replacements’ noise levels drew a visit and warning from the local police. Not long after they’d finished their set, the Minneapolis police decided to end the fun entirely.

As a uniformed officer took the microphone to disperse the crowd, Replacements’ soundman Terry Katzman pressed record on his tape player. “This is the Minneapolis Police . . . the party is o-ver,” he announced, to a collection of boos.

Future Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner was at the party and he was one of the kids harassing the police. He has taken credit for being the one to yell “Hey, f**k you, maaaan!” starting at around 7 seconds below on the song.

Don Holzschuh talks about the party where the intro came from…

Kids Don’t Follow

Go home…..this is the Minneapolis police….the
party’s over…if you all just grab your stuff &
leave there won’t be any hassle..the party’s been
closed….etc.

One, two, three, four

Kids won’t listen
To what you’re sayin’
Kids ain’t wondering
Kids ain’t praying
Mo says he’s worried
He says talk away
He says yeah I’ve been cured

I need some attention
No house of detention
I’d love some attention
Don’t start again

Kids don’t need that
Kids don’t want that
Kids don’t need nothing of the kind
Kids don’t follow

What you’re doin’
In my face out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re sayin
We can’t hear

Can’t stop looting
Can’t stop smoking
Kids ain’t wondering
Can’t stop choking
Kids won’t stand still
Kids won’t shut up
Kids won’t do it
You talk to ’em now

Kids don’t follow
What you’re doin’
In my face and out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
We can’t hear

Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
In my face out my ear
Kids don’t follow
What you’re sayin’
We can’t hear
What you say
Not tomorrow
Not today

The Replacements – I Will Dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

I Will Dare was released in 1984 as an independent single and then included on their Let It Be album. I loved this song in the 80s and after hearing it in the past weeks…it was like the first time I listened to it. Peter Buck from REM is playing the intro on this song.  Paul Westerberg wrote the song and plays mandolin.

Let It Be was the third full album by the band’s original lineup: lead singer and songwriter Paul Westerberg, guitarist Bob Stinson, bassist Tommy Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars.

This song should have cracked the top 40 but it didn’t…mostly because they were on a small  Minneapolis record label named Twin/Tone.

The song has been included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Paul Westerberg: ”I Will Dare” [From Let It Be] might have been an answer to ”I Will Follow” [by U2]. Part of it has to do with the band. We’ll dare to flop, we’ll dare to do anything. ”I Will Dare” was a good slogan for a Replacements single. Every song title, if it doesn’t apply to the band in some way, we cannot use it. On the other hand, it was a kind of love song. ”Ditch the creep and I’ll meet you later. I don’t care, I will dare.” 

I Will Dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Don’t count any of my advice

Oh, meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I might dare

Call me on Thursday, if you will
Or call me on Wednesday, better still
Ain’t lost yet, so I gotta be a winner
Fingernails and a cigarette’s a lousy dinner
Young, are you? Wo oo

C’mon meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare
Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now, I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

How smart are you?
How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Dumb am I

Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you would dare, I would dare
Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime
Now I don’t care, meet me tonight
If you will dare, I will dare

The Replacements – Skyway

I’ve been listening to the Replacement recently after I read a post on them by Aphoristical. I listened to them quite a bit in the eighties but lost touch at the end of the decade…

This song is on the band’s 1987 album Pleased To Meet Me. The band was formed in band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979. Skyways are one of Minneapolis’s signature features. They are second-story pedestrian bridges between buildings that are called skywalks or skybridges.

The album peaked at #131 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1987. It’s a gorgeous song…

Paul Westerberg: It’s our own little private song for Minneapolis. They’re basically the sidewalks above the streets, because it’s too cold in the winter to walk, and the businesses, y’know, feel they won’t get people to come downtown. It’s like you can walk for miles and not ever go outside. You can walk around the whole city through the skyway system. And it’s generally the people who are shoppers and [who] work. And so this song was sort of written from the point of a guy who’s like myself who — I don’t go up in the skyways, y’know. [laughs] What do I have to do up there? I never go shopping or anything. So I sit down there and watch the people walk by. 

Skyway

You take the skyway, high above the busy little one-way
In my stupid hat and gloves, at night I lie awake
Wonderin’ if I’ll sleep
Wonderin’ if we’ll meet out in the street

But you take the skyway
It don’t move at all like a subway
It’s got bums when it’s cold like any other place
It’s warm up inside
Sittin’ down and waitin’ for a ride
Beneath the skyway

Oh, then one day, I saw you walkin’ down that little one-way
Where, the place I’d catch my ride most everyday
There wasn’t a damn thing I could do or say
Up in the skyway

Skyway
Skyway (sky away)

Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums