By John B. Moore
If not for Big Star—the late great Memphis band who ran from ’71 to ‘74 before finally calling it a day, only to reunite in ‘93—we’d likely never have groups like Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M., The Replacements, The Posies—hell, Ryan Adams would probably be in a metal band now if it weren’t for vocalists and guitarists Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, vocalist and drummer Jody Stephens, and vocalist and bassist Andy Hummel.
The foursome only released two albums in their prime. Completed in 1974, their third album wasn’t officially released until four years later, well after the band’s breakup. Third went on to be rereleased, renamed, and re-sequenced many times over the next few decades. After their 1993 reformation, Chilton and Stephens recruited bassist Ken Stringfellow and guitarist Jon Auer—both of The Posies—to help fill out the band for 2005’s In Space. Over the past couple decades, some live albums have surfaced—such as the fantastic Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93—as well as a slew of rereleases.
On Oct. 14, Omnivore Recordings, a longtime champion of the band, will release Complete Third, an amazing three-CD collection of all the recordings created for Big Star’s third album. The box set includes every demo, rough mix, alternate take, and final master from this historic recording session, totaling 69 tracks, almost half of which are previously unheard session recordings, demos, and alternate mixes made by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry. Along with the music—which is the true holy grail for many Big Star fans and completists—the set includes extensive liner essays from members of Wilco, the dB’s, R.E.M., The Dream Syndicate, and others, as well as those involved with the recording.
Big Star is dead. Long live Big Star!
Preorder Complete Third from Omnivore Recordings here!