Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Third/Sister Lovers - Big Star
Third, also (since 1985) issued as Sister Lovers, is the third studio album by American rock band Big Star. It was recorded in 1974. Though Ardent Studios created test pressings for the record in 1975, a combination of financial issues, the uncommercial sound of the record, and lack of interest from singer Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens in continuing the project prevented the album from ever being properly finished or released at the time of its recording. It was eventually released in 1978 by PVC Records.
After two commercially unsuccessful albums, Third documents the band's deterioration as well as the declining mental state of singer Alex Chilton. It has since gone on to become one of the most critically acclaimed albums in history and is considered a cult album. Rolling Stone placed the album at number 456 on its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.
After the commercial failure of Big Star's first two albums, #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974), Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens returned to Ardent Studios in late 1974—accompanied by what biographer Bruce Eaton describes as "a large and revolving cast of Memphis musicians"—to record, under producer Jim Dickinson, "a batch of starkly personal, often experimental, and by turns beautiful and haunting songs that were anything but straight-up power pop."Ardent's John Fry, producer of the first two albums and also involved with the third, recalled that the sessions were burdened by severe personal issues; Eaton tells how Fry "finally called a halt to the escalating madness" and the album was mastered by Larry Nix on 13 February 1975.
Different opinions exist regarding the categorization of Third as a Big Star album. According to Chilton, "Jody and I were hanging together as a unit still but we didn't see it as a Big Star record. We never saw it as a Big Star record. That was a marketing decision when the record was sold in whatever year that was sold. And they didn't ask me anything about it and they never have asked me anything about it." Stephens said, "I've seen it in different ways. To a great extent it is an Alex solo record ... It's Alex's focus, it's his emotional state of being but I brought in the string section for the one song I wrote and Alex hit it off with Carl Marsh ... and started using Carl and the string section for other things. What would that album have been like if it didn't have the strings?" According to Eaton, the mastering card identifies Chilton as the recording artist. Jovanovic, meanwhile, notes, "Whether the band was still called Big Star is debatable. The session sheets have the band name 'Sister Lovers' (Chilton and Stephens were dating Lesa and Holliday Aldridge at the time) clearly written on them. This may well have been a joke, although Chilton and Stephens did use the Sister Lovers name for a radio broadcast in early 1975." Lesa Aldridge, a cousin of photographer and Radio City album cover creator William Eggleston, contributed vocals and was, in the words of Dickinson, "a big, big part of the record". Dickinson said that Chilton, whose relationship with Aldridge was stormy, "reached a point ... where he started to go back and erase her—there was a lot more of Lesa on the album than there is now". During the sessions, Chilton recalled, "Jim and I did all sorts of weird things ... in off hours here and there". Steve Cropper contributed guitar work to a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale".
It was listed on David Keenan's "The Best Albums Ever...Honest" by the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Herald. In 2003, the album was ranked number 456 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
It was ranked #1 at the Top 30 "Heartbreak" albums of all time by NME.
"Kangaroo" and "Holocaust" were both covered by This Mortal Coil on the band's debut LP, It'll End in Tears. The 1992 Rykodisc CD release of Third/Sister Lovers includes a "thank you" to This Mortal Coil in the liner notes in acknowledgment of this.
All songs were written by Alex Chilton, except where noted.
"Kizza Me" – 2:44
"Thank You Friends" – 3:05
"Big Black Car" – 3:35
"Jesus Christ" – 2:37
"Femme Fatale" – 3:28 (Lou Reed)
"O, Dana" – 2:34
"Holocaust" – 3:47
"Kangaroo" – 3:46
"Stroke It Noel" – 2:04
"For You" – 2:41 (Jody Stephens)
"You Can't Have Me" – 3:11
"Nightime" – 2:53
"Blue Moon" – 2:06
"Take Care" – 2:46
"Nature Boy" [bonus track] – 2:30 (eden ahbez)
"Till the End of the Day" [bonus track] – 2:13 (Ray Davies)
"Dream Lover" [bonus track] – 3:31
"Downs" [bonus track]" – 1:43 (Chilton/Lesa Alderidge)
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On" [bonus track] – 3:20 (Dave Williams)