Big Star Small World

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Big Star, more than any other band, was responsible for perfecting the template that power-pop aficionados have been using for decades. The creamy harmonies, the sharp guitar hooks, and the starry-eyed tales rolled out by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, and Jody Stephens have seldom been surpassed in the years since Big Star's supernova flame-out -- but on this tribute disc, a passel of acolytes do a mighty fine job of replicating the trio's magic. Big Star Small World was initially slated for release way back in 1999 -- which helps explain the absence of new blood -- but the time on the shelf hasn't dulled its charms. The best of the contributions come from acts striving to...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Big Star, more than any other band, was responsible for perfecting the template that power-pop aficionados have been using for decades. The creamy harmonies, the sharp guitar hooks, and the starry-eyed tales rolled out by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, and Jody Stephens have seldom been surpassed in the years since Big Star's supernova flame-out -- but on this tribute disc, a passel of acolytes do a mighty fine job of replicating the trio's magic. Big Star Small World was initially slated for release way back in 1999 -- which helps explain the absence of new blood -- but the time on the shelf hasn't dulled its charms. The best of the contributions come from acts striving to capture the crystalline purity of Big Star's most yearning material, as Teenage Fanclub do on a spangled "Jesus Christ." TFC rank among what one might call "the usual suspects" in this lineup -- as do the Posies, whose leaders actually joined forces with Chilton and Stephens to form a latter-day Big Star. Their version of "What's Going On?" is one of the disc's more poignant moments, but it's even more intriguing to hear the interpretations of folks who haven't absorbed the gospel according to Alex from beginning to end. Kelly Willis's romp through "When My Baby's Beside Me" is one of the standouts from that category, as is "Nightime," which the Afghan Whigs spool out in suitably dislocated fashion. There's nothing here that'll make listeners forget the original performances, but plenty to reaffirm what made 'em so engaging in the first place.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
During their all too short lifespan, Big Star were a brilliant band who could not catch a break (their influence is still wildly out of proportion with the size of their audience), and for years this tribute album didn't seem destined for a brighter fate than the group who inspired it. Compiled by an independent label called Ignition Records with the participation of original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, Big Star Small World was scheduled for release in the spring of 1998, but Ignition went under before the album ever made it way into stores, and the project sat in limbo until Koch Records obtained the rights to the tapes in 2006. As a result, Big Star Small World features tracks from three bands who no longer exist (the Afghan Whigs, Whiskeytown, and Idle Wilds), while two others have managed to split up and reunite during the eight-year waiting period (the Posies and the Gin Blossoms). One can be excused for wishing that after such a long gestation Big Star Small World would be some sort of landmark in the land of the tribute album, but that isn't quite the case. While pretty much everyone onboard sounds pleased as punch to be paying homage to Alex Chilton and his partners in power pop, too many of the performances on Big Star Small World sound like slavish covers of the original recordings (especially Juliana Hatfield's "Don't Lie to Me," the Gin Blossoms' "Back of a Car," and "The Ballad of El Goodo" from Matthew Sweet). The best tracks tend to be the ones that put a new spin on the songs, such as the Afghan Whigs' ominous stroll through "Nighttime," Teenage Fanclub's sprightly and Byrds-ian take on "Jesus Christ," and a cover of "What's Goin' Ahn" from the Posies that suggests they remembered well the lessons on Frosting on the Beater. And while neither Kelly Willis nor Wilco add anything especially unusual on their contributions, they get over on the strength of their delivery, with Willis' gorgeous country pipes buoying "When My Baby's Beside Me," while Jeff Tweedy is all glorious wonder and confusion as he sings "Thirteen." Big Star Small World's anti-climax comes with what was supposed to be its most important moment -- Big Star cut a new song for this, their first studio material since their 1993 live reunion, but "Hot Thing" is an uninspired R&B pastiche that has little in common with the pop genius of the group's salad days. There's just enough good stuff on Big Star Small World to justify its belated release, but not enough to make it essential to anyone besides obsessive fans of either Big Star or the artists included.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/23/2006
  • Label: Koch Records
  • UPC: 099923999928
  • Catalog Number: 9999
  • Sales rank: 87,080

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Back of a Car (2:43)
  2. 2 Nightime (4:47)
  3. 3 Ballad of el Goodo (4:18)
  4. 4 Don't Lie to Me (3:05)
  5. 5 You Get What You Deserve (3:06)
  6. 6 Give Me Another Chance (4:14)
  7. 7 When My Baby's Beside Me (3:02)
  8. 8 Jesus Christ (2:53)
  9. 9 What's Goin Ahn (3:22)
  10. 10 Thirteen - Wilco (3:25)
  11. 11 Hot Thing - Big Star (4:12)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Kelly Willis Guitar, Vocals
Scott Johnson Guitar
Alex Chilton Guitar, Vocals
Matthew Sweet Guitar, Vocals
Chris Stamey Bass
The Memphis Horns Group
Juliana Hatfield Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Todd Phillips Drums
Jon Auer Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Jay Bennett Piano
Greg Dulli Guitar, Vocals
Jon Dee Graham Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar
Wayne Jackson Trombone, Trumpet
Mike Leahy Guitar, Background Vocals
Greg Leisz Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
Andrew Love Saxophone
Tony Maimone Bass
Raymond McGinley Guitar
Ron Pangborn Drums
Jody Stephens Drums, Background Vocals
Ken Stringfellow Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Jeff Tweedy Guitar, Vocals
Brian Young Drums
Phillip Rhodes Percussion, Drums
Jesse Valenzuela Guitar, Background Vocals
Paul Demyun Guitar
Bill Leen Bass
Erich Drew Luening Background Vocals
Adam McLaughlin Guitar, Vocals
Dave Boquist Banjo, Guitar
Rick Steff Piano
Jessy Greene Violin
Derek DiCenzo Hammond Organ
Joe Skyward Track Performer
Phil Wandscher Guitar, Background Vocals
Dave Woodman Bass
Ryan Adams Guitar, Vocals
Caitlin Cary Violin, Background Vocals
Doug Wolfe Drums
Todd Philips Drums
Norman Blake Guitar, Vocals
Technical Credits
Alex Chilton Producer
Duncan Cameron Engineer
Keith Cleversley Producer, Engineer
Paul DuGre Engineer
Greg Dulli Producer
John Hampton Producer, Engineer
Jeff Powell Producer, Engineer
Mike Scotella Engineer
Jody Stephens Producer, Executive Producer
Skidd Mills Producer, Engineer
Dave Cook Engineer
Lamar Sorrento Cover Art
Rob Strong Engineer
Tony Margherita Management
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