Results for Big Star

specials

Summer Road Trip

What better way to round out the summer than with a Sound Opinions (virtual) summer road trip. Too often, New York, L.A. and Nashville get all the music industry attention. But, there are great rock scenes all across the country, so this week Jim and Greg check in with insiders in three music towns coast-to-coast. They talk to Sam Sessa, an entertainment writer for the Baltimore Sun and the host of WTMD's Balitmore Unsigned, Bob Mehr, a music critic at Memphis' Commercial Appeal and Casey Jarman, the music editor at Portland's weekly newspaper the Willamette Week.

Check out these local acts-old favorites and new ones recommended by our city guides.

Go to episode 248
classic album dissections

Big Star Radio City

Jim and Greg celebrate the 40th anniversary of Big Star's debut album by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection of the band's first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. #1 Record might be nearing middle age, but the pop sound Big Star pioneered in the seventies is as vibrant as ever. As Jim and Greg discuss, the band changed the history of American music, without selling very many records. With a sound that combined Memphis Soul with British Invasion rock, they laid the groundwork for American“Power Pop”and influenced bands including R.E.M., Wilco and The Replacements. The original Big Star lineup included former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jim and Greg's guest this week, drummer Jody Stephens.

Following their discussion with Jody Stephens, Jim and Greg each discuss and play a song. Greg chooses to highlight the opening track from #1 Record called "Feel." The song was written and performed by Chris Bell. While Alex Chilton is the name most people associate with Big Star, Bell really created it. Most of his incredible work didn't see the light of day until after his death at age 26, but Greg thinks songs like“Feel,”illustrate the power of his voice and lyrics-many of which convey the problems he faced in his short life.

Jim plays a song written and performed by Alex Chilton from the second album called "September Gurls." As he discussed with Jody earlier in the show, this was a breakout song for the band and one that was immediately adored by critics and fans including The Bangles, who later covered it. Jim's not sure what the song means, but for him it's more about the mood that Chilton created. With its sweeping melodies and“pan-sexuality”it's a power pop classic.

Go to episode 365
Radio CityRadio City available on iTunes

Big Star Radio City

During this episode Jim and Greg celebrate the legacy of Big Star with a Classic Album Dissection of their first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. Both albums have recently been re-released as a double album, and a new Big Star box set is due out next week. As Jim and Greg discuss, the band changed the history of American music without selling very many records. With a sound that combined Memphis Soul with British Invasion rock, they laid the groundwork for "Power Pop" and influenced bands including R.E.M., Wilco and The Replacements. The original Big Star lineup included former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jim and Greg's guest this week, drummer Jody Stephens.

Following their discussion with Jody Stephens, Jim and Greg each discuss and play a song. Greg chooses to highlight the opening track from #1 Record called "Feel." The song was written and performed by Chris Bell. While Alex Chilton is the name most people associate with Big Star, Bell really created it. Most of his incredible work didn't see the light of day until after his death at age 26, but Greg thinks songs like“Feel,”illustrate the power of his voice and lyrics–many of which convey the problems he faced in his short life.

Jim plays a song written and performed by Alex Chilton from the second album called September Gurls. As he discussed with Jody earlier in the show, this was a breakout song for the band and one that was immediately adored by critics and fans including The Bangles, who later covered it. Jim's not sure what the song means, but for him it's more about the mood that Chilton created. With its sweeping melodies and“pan-sexuality”it's a power pop classic.

Go to episode 198
dijs

Jim

“Alive”Dumptruck

It's Mr. DeRogatis' turn to visit the Desert Island Jukebox, and he ties the show up nicely with a selection from the band Dumptruck. Steve Wynn played with one of Dumptruck's founders, Kirk Swan, during the segment. Swan and his partner, Seth Tiven, put out their debut album D is for Dumptruck in 1994. It was heavily influenced by what Paisley Underground bands like The Dream Syndicate had been doing on the West coast. Dumptruck incorporated more folk rock and power pop into their music than contemporaries, and were also influenced by Big Star, Fairport Convention (who also count Greg Kot and Sound Opinions guest Colin Meloy as fans), and the band Television. Like Dumptruck, Television was comprised of two guitarist-vocalists: Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Jim explains that outside of Television, he has never seen two guitarists work as well together as they did in Dumptruck, as you can hear in Jim's DIJ pick, "Alive." Listeners desiring more Dumptruck should check out Haul of Fame: A Collection, for which our host provided liner notes.

Go to episode 21
lists

First Love Songs

Being such romantics, our hosts love to do Valentine's Day shows. However, sometimes the themes are less -than romantic-Unconventional Love or Love Stinks. But this year is all about the sweet, innocent and sometimes terrifying feelings of First Love. Here are their tracks:

Go to episode 324

Tearjerkers: Songs That Make You Cry

Feel a lump in your throat? Go ahead and let it all out as Jim and Greg play some of the greatest musical Tearjerkers. These weepies make you cry, no matter how strong your disposition.

Go to episode 439
features

Instrumental: Rickenbacker Electric 12-String Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string This week, we kick off a new feature called Instrumental where we examine the history of iconic instruments of rock. We start with the electric 12-string guitar and its most famous manufacturer, Rickenbacker. After the acoustic 12-string guitar was popularized by blues artists like Lead Belly and by the '60s folk revival, Rickenbacker began making an electrified version. After George Harrison used it on The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," a 12-string craze began. The most notable adopter of the instrument was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn , who used it to define the sound of The Byrds on tracks like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The Beatles and The Byrds set the template for countless bands in the ensuing decades who used 12-strings, from power pop acts like Raspberries and Big Star, to jangle pop bands like R.E.M. and The Bangles, to contemporary artists like Temples.

To help discuss and demonstrate the Rickenbacker electric 12-string, we're joined by Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange. Jim and Greg also offer their favorite examples of Rick-heavy songs: "Awaken" by Yes and XTC's "All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)."

Go to episode 601

Hooked On Sonics: Jody Stephens of Big Star

Hooked on Sonics is a segment where musicians share the songs that made them fall in love with music. Drummer Jody Stephens helped form pivotal Memphis rock group Big Star, alongside vocalist and songwriter Alex Chilton. Big Star, is, in many ways, more famous now than they were during their first 1970s incarnation. In the 1980s and 1990s, a whole new generation discovered the group after The Replacements and REM cited them as influences. Today, Jody works at the famous Ardent Studios down in Memphis; but as a kid, it was music from a completely different part of the world that got him Hooked on Sonics. That song was I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles. But, as you'll hear, it all came around full circle.

Go to episode 606
news

Music News

Universal Music, the home to U2, Eminem and Lil Wayne, has decided to drop its CD prices to $10 or less. These new prices will certainly be welcome by both consumers and retailers, but Jim and Greg wonder if this is a case of too little, too late for the music industry. CDs were nearly $20 a decade ago when physical music sales were at a high. Now that those sales are down, $10 may draw some consumers back in, but it's still a heck of a lot more expensive than an mp3.

Alex Chilton Next Jim and Greg remember musician Alex Chilton who died last week at the age of 59. Chilton first came on the scene as the 16-year-old singer of The Box Tops' "The Letter." He then joined Big Star, and as Jim and Greg explain, became hugely significant to musicians in the 1980's. Big Star was never a commercial hit, but everyone from REM to The Replacements has name-checked Chilton and the band's power-pop sound as an influence. The singer and songwriter died only days before a scheduled Big Star reunion at SXSW. The event turned into a tribute, one that Greg describes as one of the most memorable shows he's ever seen. To honor Alex Chilton Jim and Greg play a song from Big Star's third release Third/Sister Lovers called "Thank You Friends." For more Big Star love, check out the Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissections of #1 Record and Radio City.

Go to episode 226

Music News

Jim and Greg start off the news by discussing the Recording Industry's strategy to end illegal downloading. It was recently revealed that the RIAA spent over $64 million in legal fees on piracy lawsuits and extracted only about $1.4 million in damages. France has been equally unsuccessful in their anti-piracy campaign. Their“3 Strikes”law hasn't resulted in any actual penalties. Now legislators are backing away from the policy. Jim and Greg wonder if all this money and effort would be better spent paying back royalties to the likes of Robert Johnson.

There were a couple of deaths in the rock world last week. Big Star bassist Andy Hummel died at the age of 59 just four months after his band mate Alex Chilton died. Chilton and Hummel were to reunite at this year's SXSW Festival.

Also, poet and musician Tuli Kupferberg died at age 86. Kupferberg founded The Fugs in the 1960s and laid the groundwork for punk and underground bands to come. To honor the Beatnik activist Jim plays one of his“davening”style tunes, "Nothing."

Go to episode 243

Music News

Jim and Greg have been predicting this shift on Sound Opinions for years, but according to a new study, by 2010 digital sales will have eclipsed physical sales. Right now 65% of music sales are still compact discs, but the trend is going down quickly. Plus most of the CDs are sold at big box stores like Walmart, Targetand Best Buy. Anyone who has shopped at those places recently knows that the selection is not always impressive.

Last week guitar legend Les Paul died at the age of 94. Paul was a guitar innovator, best known for developing multi-track recording. He and his wife Mary Ford had many hits, and Paul influenced the next generation's guitar greats like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Beck, in particular, was very close with Paul. He was not only influenced by Paul's multi-tracking, but also his tone, which Greg explains was singing, sustained and steeped in melody. You can hear the influence in the 1968 track "Beck's Bolero."

Another obituary in the news is that of producer Jim Dickinson. His death hasn‘t gotten as much attention as Paul’s but Jim and Greg were very sad to hear of his passing. Dickinson recorded such artists as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder. He grew up in Chicago, but was really known as a Memphis producer. Jim and Greg both talked with Dickinson a number of times, and remember him as a great man and a living encyclopedia of music. To remember him they play Big Star's "Thank You Friends," which Dickinson produced in 1975.

Go to episode 195

Music News

It's been a sad couple of weeks for rock. Music lost Divinyls singer Christina Amphlett, P-funk bassist Cordell“Boogie”Mosson, and Woodstock singer Richie Havens. But the musician Jim and Greg are missing most is Scott Miller of the bands Game Theory and The Loud Family. Miller died last week at age 53. Jim remembers Game Theory as a Big Star revival band that played jangly pop with a literary edge. Albums like Real Nighttime and Big Shot Chronicles we sprawling, sophisticated constructions, he says. Jim plays "Regenisraen" from 1986 in tribute.

Go to episode 387