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Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers Click here to see this CD at!

By Douglas Wolk

By the mid-'70s, Alex Chilton's glistening pure-pop group Big Star had hit the rocks, ignored by the public and beset by internal problems. Chilton, backed mostly by session musicians playing both rock and chamber-music instruments, responded with this wracked, bizarre collection of deeply personal songs, venting oblique visions of terror (the much-covered "Kanga Roo" and "Holocaust"), sarcastically envisioning an imaginary circle of supporters ("Thank You Friends"), and covering the odd rock & roll classic in his messed-up teen-idol voice. The album was eventually abandoned and released in unfinished form years later, but the weird gaps in its arrangements make it even stranger and more powerful.

1. Kizza Me11. You Can't Have Me
2. Thank You Friends12. Nightime
3. Big Black Car13. Blue Moon
4. Jesus Christ14. Take Care
5. Femme Fatale15. Nature Boy
6. O, Dana16. Till The End Of The Day
7. Holocaust17. Dream Lover
8. Kangaroo18. Downs
9. Stroke It Noel19. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
10. For You


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"Sister Lovers is a self-destructive mess that never fails to move and amaze me. Big Star's first two albums should have made them household names, and you can hear Chilton's sad bewhilderment in these songs. Recorded in a haze of booze and depression, this third album is frail and touchingly childlike.

It really isn't any wonder that Sister Lovers was shelved and remained unreleased for many years -- it's sloppy and undercooked, with zero commercial appeal. Yet Big Star fans rightfully rejoice its eventual release. More than just a curiosity, this album lays Chilton's tortured soul bare, and despite his attempts to sabotage the project, there are enough glimpses of genius to generate a whole new round of What If's.

Even the brightest moments on this album have the ghostly, listless quality of a talented soul cast adrift. Given half a chance, though, under-developed songs like "O, Dana," "Stroke it Noel," and "For You" could have been crafted into pop masterpieces.

Big Star's career was a string of frustrating missed opportunities, and Sister Lovers echoes that disaster like a slow-motion train wreck. It's a compelling, painfully honest, and disheartening collection of songs that manages to be essential listening 30 years later."


"The 'tuning-up' sounds, false starts, and (sometimes)abrupt endings and/or (sometimes) 'trailing off' endings of many songs give the listener a sense that this is a work in manuscript form, i. e. , not quite finished or, alternately, not yet ready for 'publication'. This only serves to enhance the magnificence of this recording, a true masterpiece of (a lost) art-rock-pop, perhaps the last real unabashedly , uncompromisedly brilliant album of the genre. There are few songs on 3rd that stretch past the three minute mark; most are short and gemlike, Chilton keeping a tight, disciplined hold on his muse, but not his demons."


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Artist: Big Star

Released: May 22, 1978

Availability: CD, Vinyl


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