Wednesday, March 17, 2004

#41) Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers (released in 1978, I bought the 1985 reissue on used CD from Arboria my junior year of high school. I'm thinking about trying to find it on vinyl since "Jesus Christ" is playing funny now and I don't want more bonus tracks. The few on my edition, save "Dream Lover," are gratuitous enough.)

Ironic as it may be, this album knocked me out immediately while I still can't figure out what the big deal about 1974's Radio City is. Where the latter always struck me as slack rather than quirky (save "September Gurls," duh), Third doesn't even pretend to "rock out" much, the music expressing tire and resign rather than just sounding flabby. The overdubs sound so haphazard on some tracks that I hesitate to even use the word arrangement when discussing them. Drums stumble, guitars and keyboard interject at off moments and if not for Alex Chilton's vulnerable yet commanding vocals, this album would be revealed for the mess it probably is (I love the uptempo numbers on the album even though they're far too sloppy for dance floor consumption).

The cover of "Femme Fatale" here is the finest version of the song that I've heard, and "Kanga Roo" is one of my favorite songs ever. The music aches with drunken splendor while Chilton's slurred lyrics and moans sound like someone trying to make sense of an awesome feeling while slipping into incoherent reverie. At three minutes, this glimpse of sense-shattering beauty is far too brief and I often find it impossible not to skip back to the beginning when it ends (you can imagine my disappointment when I found out that Jeff Buckley's 12-minute live version sucks complete ass).

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