The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for January 7th, 2015

Reviews: Two From Omnivore – Big Star, “Live in Memphis” and Roger Taylor, “The Best”

with one comment

Big Star - LiveWelcome to Part One of our two-part review round-up featuring some of Omnivore Recordings’ releases from late 2014!

Just when one thinks the Big Star well has run dry, Omnivore Recordings surprises with a treat of the magnitude of Live in Memphis (OVCD-107). On October 29, 1994 at Memphis’ New Daisy Theatre, Big Star founding members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, were joined by Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies for an overflowing set of Big Star classics and covers in front of an appreciative hometown audience. The debut of this band lineup on April 25, 1993 was preserved on the Zoo Records album Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93; the concert of October 29, 1994 was billed as Big Star’s farewell U.S. performance. It turned out to be anything but – the band continued to tour together for another 16 years until Chilton’s untimely death in 2010. Listening to the 20 previously unreleased tracks on the Live in Memphis CD, it’s easy to see why Chilton and Stephens resolved to keep going with their younger bandmates. (The concert is also available on DVD.)

This set of rocking guitar-driven pop – which features 14 songs also preserved on the Missouri album plus six more – is altogether a more confident, more swaggering and more rousing evening. Not only was the band tighter and more attuned to each other, but in Memphis, there was added frisson from all of the family and friends present; Jon Auer writes in the liner notes here about the thrill of singing Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos” in front of the late Big Star founder’s family. With confident riffs and hooks abounding, this doesn’t sound like the set of a cult band, but rather like the set of established pros singing beloved songs to a packed house. In addition to established Big Star classics like “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “In the Street,” “When My Baby’s Beside Me” and “September Gurls” – songs in which it’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to sing along – there are some surprises. Marc Bolan’s “Baby Strange” and Todd Rundgren’s “Slut” are reprised from the Missouri set, but there are also covers of The Boss (“Fire” – albeit around 30 seconds’ worth of it) and the bossa nova (a loose, tossed-off “The Girl from Ipanema”) plus the late sixties-vintage “Patty Girl” from singer-songwriter Dick Campbell as recorded by Gary and the Hornets.

After the jump: more on Big Star, plus Roger Taylor’s Best! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 7, 2015 at 11:10

Posted in Big Star, Reviews, Roger Taylor

Tagged with