I Now Pronounce You

Under the Influence

Posted in Uncategorized by inowpronounceyou on April 5, 2007

I was having a fantastic conversation about one of my favorite topics today; Music. My conversation partner is a self professed Music Snob, which I can respect (She is also a Sox fan, which I can’t…but I digress) and we were firing off names of bands and songs that we love that don’t get enough…well…love.

Eventually the name of (in my humble opinion) one of if not THE best and most influential bands of the 70’s came up and, due to our intense love and respect for this group, our mutual admiration society was born.

That band, of course, is Big Star.

What? You say you’ve never heard of them? Are you kidding me?! How is that POSSIBLE?!

(notice I said Best and Most Influential…popular has nothin’ to do with it…sadly)

Well, I’ll tell you how it’s possible. There are bands that despite writing the hookiest, most bad ass ear candy you have EVER heard in your life cannot get arrested. Alex Chilton IS that guy. He was the Paul McCartney who never had a break. He was Elvis if he just stayed at home and Hound Dog’d to the mirror. In short, he was a fucking genius who was mismanaged, mishandled, and missed. (He was also in the Box Tops in the 60’s…you know..the Box Tops? Jeez!)

Big Star, god love ’em, came out of Memphis in the early 70’s and released 3 albums. 3 measley albums. #1 Record (ambitious title, gotta love that) Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers. Each is a gem in it’s own right. Who bought it? No one. Bread had massive hits in the 70’s, and Big Star struggled to pay rent. It makes me crazy. Ironically though, in the 80’s, suddenly every critic on earth was saying that these were the preeminent recordings of the 70’s. That Alex Chilton was a damned genius, and shame on you all for listening to disco and not owning #1 Record.

And just what is the big deal? All 3 of these albums were on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums. ALL. THREE. Ask every pop band that you consider “influential” from the 80’s and they’ll tell you. REM was a hard core disciple of their music when REM was still worth listening to…hell, the best early REM stuff is directly ripped off from Big Star half of the time. The Replacements? Ditto. Screw it…it’s maddening for me to even talk about this.

When I hear people talk about the Velevet Underground and how they were the most influential underground band and no one knows them and they made SUCH A HUGE IMPACT I think two things…

1) You probably don’t know who Nico is and you’re saying this because you read it. (As it’s inevitably some Hipster spouting off about music, but he learned it all in like Blender and Spin)


2) You don’t mean Velvet Underground…you mean Big Star.

If you like truly great pop…I mean, REAL POP…you simply owe it to yourself to hear this band.

There. I will now get off my soapbox.


13 Responses to 'Under the Influence'

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  1. average jane said,

    *makes mental note* 1) Steal his soap box the next time I see him, and 2) Never, ever tell him that I subscribed to Spin. Shoot.

  2. Erica said,

    I never travel faaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr…..

  3. AJ: Spin…grrr. I only ever read 1 magazine that the Gucciano family has ever had anything to do with….and Spin is defintiely NOT it.

    Erica: You know it! (this is the Sox fan Music Snob…she knows her stuff, folks)

  4. Great music suggestions are always appreciated. I’ll look into it – thanks!

  5. Jo said,

    Wow, even living with a music snob I’d never heard of them… I’ll have to check them out!

  6. LMNt said,

    Ah, I haven’t thought of Big Star in forever. I’m a huge Posies fan, though.

    For the non-music snobs: In the early 90s, Big Star got back together with two of the original members and two new ones — Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies, another awesome pop band (albeit from a totally different era) that didn’t get nearly enough recognition.

  7. Dupont said,

    heh heh. when I read the last line, I thought you said “you simply owe it to yourself to heart this band.” As in, “I heart this like woah”


    Yes, it’s been a long week. *grumble* But I have tomorrow off 🙂

  8. EDW said,

    I agree with you – I’ve long though that most people who claim to love the Velvet Underground can’t name you a song.

    Big Star…a band I have not thought about for a good ten years. I love finding out other people’s music obsessions…my personal unrecognized band is called Marah. I adore them and see them every chance I get before they decide to give it up because they need to both eat AND pay the rent. Critically acclaimed, loved by other musicians, rabid fan base…but radio play? Hell, no.

  9. KassyK said,

    I love this band!! Um, there is another band that is true bliss pop and one of the most influential bands as well in my humble opinion. And that band?


  10. virglekent said,

    The Cars…..

    fuck you

  11. Dagny & Jo; SO worth checking out.

    LMNt; Frosting on the Beater, baby. The tapes of those show with the Posies are really, really good. But honestly, Alex Chilton could play with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and it would be amazing. And why am I not surprised that you know Big Star? Rock on.

    Dupont; Now I wish I HAD written “heart” instead of “hear”

    EDW; i HATE it when people make that claim. HATE. IT. And I will check out

    Kassyk: LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Heart, and am giddy that you know Big Star!! I can listen to Dog and Butterfly and Dreamboat anytime, anywhere. “What About Love” I file under “guilty pleasures”.

    VK; The Cars are great…even at the end when they got a little cheesy (Hello Again?) it was still pretty damned good.

  12. Lady Tiara said,

    alex chilton is a god. and the replacements do rip off big star, but at least they paid homage to the master with a song. your post made me realize that big star is not on my ipod, a huge mistake that i’ll be rectifying shortly.

  13. Lisa said,

    I am so musically oblivious. I don’t know Big Star! Will have to check them out.

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