New Thing #336: Big Star

Big_StarWe're down to the last few Music Mondays of the year. So this week I once again turned to my friend Justin, so instrumental in helping expose me to new music (to me, anyway) this year, to see if he had any final Music Monday recommendations.

His almost-immediate response was Big Star.

Once I established that was a band, and not a song, I started doing some homework, listening to their music and reading up on their history.

They're an early '70s band that sounds exactly like you would think an early '70s band sounds like.

But I guess they were more of a ground-breaking early '70s act than other early '70s acts, because Justin says they inspired later bands like REM.

(Confession: I don't really like REM. I have their greatest hits. But I never listen to it. I like Man on the Moon, I like Orange Crush, and I like Nightswimming, but even with the songs I like I only like them for a minute or so before I get tired of them. I'm sorry to say it - I know they're very popular. But I'm just not a big fan.)

So you would think that maybe I wouldn't like Big Star, if you're drawing logical connections.

Well, I love their logo - my impression is that image above is what they had on the cover of their first album.

And I liked their music. I like some early '70s rock, and theirs is the kind of early '70s rock I like.

I guess I was most surprised that I'd never heard of Big Star before - they seem like they were a pretty big deal.

The original band only lasted a couple of years, then they continued to put out music with different members switching in and out. (That stuff always confuses me.) I didn't listen to any of the later stuff. The songs I heard were from the debut album.

I liked it - it may be worth buying down the line.

But, as with so much of the music I've heard doing 365 New Things In 2013, I'm glad I now know about a band which previously I had never heard of….and I enjoy texting back and forth with my brother and Justin about these bands.

I asked Justin why he recommended Big Star. I expected him to tell me it was just the last band he heard on his iPod before I asked. He told me that he liked that they were this under-appreciated group that was an influence on a lot of huge bands.

And then he added that the singer died recently and there was a big outpouring of appreciation then.

When I asked my brother about Big Star, he too knew that the lead singer had died recently. (I totally missed that one. He died in 2010.) Then he told me it was Alex Chilton, who was in The Box Tops, famous for their song The Letter.

See why I love doing this? I feel like that's great information that I wouldn't have otherwise known.

(Late addition: After I wrote this on Friday and Saturday I read through the Boston Sunday Globe Arts section and came across this review of a documentary on DVD about the band. That's pretty amazing, huh?)