Thursday, April 01, 2010

Unsung Heroes

"..I never travel far with a little Big Star.."
-The Replacements "Alex Chilton" 1987

From his blue-eyed soul roots in the mid/late 60's group the Box Tops, to his Brit Invasion-influenced rock foray with Big Star, Alex Chilton was the underrated underdog, painting a dark, nihilist backdrop to the bright and sunny cheer of the Fab Four; a cloudy style that foreshadowed 80's and 90's alt-rock, a bleak view of things to come. It's a pity how talent suffers from poor marketing strategy and personal frustration, which both befell the band. Which explains why, years later, Big Star would re-form, together with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, Chilton disciples from the band The Posies, tour and even record a live album.

Some bands are meant to be just cult favorites. They aren't built to shine brightly in the temporary spotlight of the mainstream. Fame seemingly eludes them, at times, on purpose. But everything happens for a purpose, as the saying goes. Big Star was meant for bigger things. Tagged as the quintessential Power Pop band, and, according to Rolling Stone mag, the creators of a seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations.
There must be a reason why their songs "September Gurls" and "Thirteen" grace the list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Or why bands like REM swear by them; The Replacements saw it fit to write a song about Alex Chilton (he even played backup on the track); and why Matthew Sweet loves them; so did the Db's and Teenage Fanclub. Or when "In The Streets" becomes a theme for a popular throwback TV show (recorded by no less than 80's Power Pop mega giants Cheap Trick).
When big name bands and performers as stellar as these all hail praise,
then Big Star must've done something right after all.


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