Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Big Star "Third" Demos

Big Star - Keep and Eye on the Sky
(listen) The acoustic demos for Big Star's Third are worth the price of admission; it feels like voyeurism to hear Alex Chilton sing "You Get What You Deserve" in his frailest falsetto, and how he tries to convince us and himself in "Thank You Friends" that

Without my friends I've got chaos
I'd be off in a beam of light
Without my friends I'd be swept up high by the wind

That beam of light is a rotating cone of illumination from a lighthouse that moves a little too quickly, making everything it catches blindingly bright for an instant and then plunging it in darkness. Its uncertain whether Chilton is the lighthouse or adrift in a flimsy little boat, but it doesn't really matter because you can't see shit in those conditions anyway. Or maybe he knew the threads between him and his friends were getting frayed and, as it sounds in these spare recordings, he was thanking the walls. Devastating stuff. It's like I've never heard "Blue Moon" before.

I'm a Big Star true believer, but I can see how one might judge the band as the new clothes of the Emperor of record store clerks. These tracks will bring you into the fold. I may be fresh in my renewed relationship with these songs, but in this setting they are Astral Weeks and Pink Moon good, even "Big Star" good.

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