Much like Nick Drake, the Velvet Underground, and other critically esteemed artists whose work only gained commercial traction long after its initial release, Big Star let loose their trademark mix — shimmering jangle pop with a side of elliptical melancholia — into a world that just wasn’t ready for it. In his liner notes, Robert Gordon muses that the band “fizzled before most anyone heard them, then when they seemed totally forgotten they began to exert more musical influence than most bands ever dream of — an unusual story … Big Star reminds us that great art lives, that immediate audience appreciation can’t be counted on and that it’s not about the brightness of the light but its beauty.”
Formed in 1971 by singer/songwriters Alex Chilton (1950-2010) and Chris Bell (1951-1978), drummer Jody Stephens (b. 1952) and bassist Andy Hummel (1951-2010), the Memphis-based group is now considered to be one of the most influential bands in modern music, having inspired some of the biggest alt-rock artists of the ’80s, ’90s and beyond. An underground core of fanatical enthusiasts kept the fire burning. The Replacements famously released “Alex Chilton,” a song that paid tribute to Big Star’s songwriting genius. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck said, “Big Star served as a Rosetta Stone for a whole generation of musicians.”
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