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by Geoff Jaeger
posted 14/01/2014

Big Star Irony

In March 1992, Parke Puterbaugh wrote in Rolling Stone Reviews: “It’s safe to say there would have been no modern pop movement without Big StarBig Star dared to be poppishly offbeat when both pop music and nonconformity were being beaten back by the industry-driven push toward corporate rock and laid-back singer-songwriters.

Rolling Stone Magazine’s bio of the band Big Star describes how their combination of Beatles-style melody, Who-like punch, and Byrds-ish harmonies defined power pop before the term (or an audience for it) existed.” The official trailer for the movie, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, has all three Big Star Albums included in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

Album cover showing girls lying on sand in old-fashioned swimsuits.

Big Star’s Sister Lovers or Third

It sounds like a recipe for commercial success, but apparently wasn’t. Initially forming in Memphis, Tennessee in 1971, Big Star had disbanded by 1974. It seems their music was ‘out of sync’ with the commercial tastes of the early 1970s. Instead, success has come in the form of a serious influence on major alternative performers like R.E.M. and many others.

As part of this year’s Sydney Festival you can listen to a live, orchestrated performance of their third album, Sister Lovers or Third, depending on who you’re quoting. According to the festival notes for Big Star’s Third, “an all-star cast gather to perform one of the most iconic albums ever made.” 40 years after this influential band originally split, you can listen to orchestrations by the sole surviving member of the original line up, Jody Stephens.

Performed with its original string and wind orchestrations by Jody Stephens (Big Star), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies),Mitch Easter (Let’s Active) and Chris Stamey (the dB’s). For this orchestrated live performance, the core band is joined by internationals guest vocalists Cat PowerKurt VileEdwyn CollinsSkylar Gudasz and Brett Harris and local legends Tim Rogers (You Am I), Kim Salmon (The Scientists) andDave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus) – and backed by a 12-piece local ensemble of strings and brass.

What: Big Star’s Third

When: 23 January at 8pm

Where: Enmore Theatre

Tickets: Sydney Festival 1300 856 876 or Enmore Theatre 02 9550 3666

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