Friday, July 10, 2009

Hey Everyone - Happy July!  It's mid-July and I still haven't turned on the AC.  (I know, I know, the fact that the Earth has gotten cooler over the past decade and this is one of the coolest summers on record is just more proof that the Earth is getting warmer...just like the weak sales of the latest U2 album is proof that they're getting more popular...and Boston isn't a college town).  Just back from cleaning out 40 years of accumulated stuff from my wife's family home near Boston and it's been hard to concentrate on anything other than endless trips to the dumpster.  Driving back home I listened to the Beach Boys Today! / Summer Days and Summer Nights.  I'm not a good enough guitarist to be able to explain it in words, but I could definitely hear more of how Carl Wilson influenced Alex on guitar when I focused on his parts.  There's this subtle little flourish thing Carl did that Alex picked up and...well, I told you I couldn't describe it...

By now I'm sure you've perused the track list for the Big Star box set (link to Amazon below if you haven't – they're also starting to lower the price for pre-orders).  What's my take?  I'll be thrilled to get it.  My only concern before hearing it (CAVEAT!  PLEASE NOTE! I'm not one of those obsessive fans who freaks out and criticizes a recording / movie / whatever before they see or hear it.  This is just idle musing for entertainment purposes.  Got it?)  the use of alternate mixes for some of the tracks for #1 and RC to the exclusion of the LP versions (it appears that 3rd is presented intact).  There's an assumption made that you have the original recordings (and I'm sure that few who buy the box set won't have the originals).  But knowing at least some of the people involved, I'm sure there was good reason for the way things were done.  I'll probably just load all the discs into my Mac and then make discs that edit out all the original versions, not wanting to mess with the perfection of the original discs in my head.  Even if the alternate mixes are better (who knows?  they might be...) I'll still want to hear them separately rather than in the flow of the album.     

As I've noted before, Big Star fans are going to freak when they hear Alex's acoustic demoes for Life Is White and What's Going Ahn.  The only track not on the box that I would have lobbied to include would be an instrumental track for September Gurls without the vocals.  It's an absolutely stunning testament to the band as creative musicians and John Fry as a brilliant engineer.  Maybe a little too "inside" for some, but for anybody who's ever been in a band, it would be revelatory.  A textbook example of how it's done...




5 comments:

Andy said...

I am supremely excited for the box set, but with the same caveat -- but for different reasons. I'm looking forward to hearing those two discs REMASTERED well in all of their pristine glory. (Shuffling my iPod, "For You" just came on.) It sounds good now, but I know what a good remastering job can do.

I liked your book and found it to be a very enjoyable overview of not just 'RC' but the whole band' history (I've always liked '#1 Record' better, myself).

Also, the one acolyte to gain Chilton's approval is almost certainly Paul Westerberg. The Chilton-produced, "Nowhere Is My Home" is almost the definitive Replacements song -- amazing it was never released! Thank goodness for revisionist history and re-issues!

Thanks Again for the book, keep up the good work.

Larry said...

I think Alex did a whole demo session with the Mats, including early (and far more raucous) versions of Kiss Me on the Bus and Little Mascara. Probably available on "unofficial" releases and/or on the net somewhere - well worth hearing. I first heard those versions before Tim came out and the album versions always sound a little tame in comparison. In some ways, those demos are the quintessential Mats recordings - I think Alex really got what the band was about.

Larry said...

OK – after writing the last post, I checked further and discovered that KMOTB, at least, was from a demo session produced by Tommy Erdelyi, not Alex (and is available on the Tim reissue). (I know, maybe I should have checked this out before posting, but where would the net be without a little misinformation . . .) I’ve spent the last 20+ years assuming it was Alex’s production – it really seems of a piece with his work for The Cramps or even Like Flies – beauty from chaos and all that. Oh well – live and learn.

JefA said...

Bruce Eaton! Digging through stuff on the new Big Star box set and came across this blog. I used to be the bass player with the Tourists, Third Floor Strangers and Detours. I had no idea that you were back in BFLO, and writing about Big Star to boot! Can't wait to get a copy and read up. Best of luck to you with the book...Jef

Bruce Eaton said...

JEF ALLEN! What a cool surprise! When you get the book, check out the photographs from McVan's. There was some speculation that you took them (also the photo early in the blog of Brett Frey, Chilton, and me at Brett's apartment). I thought it was Bob Collignon but he said that the weren't his and thought maybe it was you. Let me know what you think and what you're up to these days. People will want to know. Bruce