Big Star band photo

Big Star Dissection & Soundgarden Review

Jim and Greg celebrate power pop innovators Big Star. Plus they review King Animal, the new record from grunge godfathers Soundgarden.

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With Black Friday kicking off the official holiday shopping season, Jim and Greg offer gift recommendations for the music lover in your life. Jim's been known to rail against Capitol records' flagrant re-issuing and re-re-issuing of the Beatles catalogue. But even he's been seduced by the label's new Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set. If your giftee is more of a Pink Floyd type, consider the band's Reflections and Echoes DVD box set, chock full of rare interview footage. Greg goes literary with his first pick. In a year that saw big rock biographies from Neil Young and Pete Townshend, he recommends David Bryne's under-the-radar How Music Works - a book that's part memoir, part meditation on the musician's craft. As for music, he recommends the new Bill Withers box set, The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums.

classic album dissectionRadio City#1 Record available on iTunes

Big Star #1 Record

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.

reviewKing AnimalKing Animal available on iTunes

Soundgarden King Animal

"Been Away Too Long" is the first single off Soundgarden's new album, King Animal. As Jim points out, the title is an understatement. The grunge godfathers have been away for 16 years, ever since conflict between the group's two big egos - lead singer Chris Cornell and guitarist Kim Thayil - tanked the band. Jim and Greg haven‘t looked kindly upon Chris Cornell’s solo career. Has this former turkey redeemed himself on Soundgarden's latest? Jim and Greg say no. Greg was heartened by the album's first three tracks, but he says King Animal quickly devolved into a Chris Cornell solo album with backing band. As far as Jim is concerned, Soundgarden can stay away. He was never a fan and has no use for this record. Soundgarden gets a double Trash it.



“She's Not a Little Girl”Green

For his turn at the Desert Island Jukebox, Greg wants to add a song by one of his favorite“Power Pop”bands. The term was actually coined by Pete Townshend during The Who's pre-rock opera era. It now describes a slew of bands that use big melodies, tight arrangements, harmonies and prominent guitar riffs. The Midwest produced a lot of power pop bands, including Green. The band has had many incarnations, but it's the constant force of Jeff Lescher that gives the group its edge and puts them above the rest for Greg. He takes their song, "She's Not a Little Girl Anymore" with him to the deserted island.

Featured Songs

  1. Isley Brothers, Special Gift, The Soul Train Christmas Starfest Album, Epic, 1997 (0:22)
  2. The Beatles, I am the Walrus, Magical Mystery Tour, Capitol/Parlophone, 1967 (0:07)
  3. Pink Floyd, Hey You, The Wall, Harvest/EMI, 1979
  4. Talking Heads, Psycho Killer, Talking Heads: 77, Sire, 1977
  5. Bill Withers, Lean on Me, Live at Carnegie Hall, Sussex, 1973 (0:13)
  6. Big Star, In the Street, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:36)
  7. Big Star, My Life is Right, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:31)
  8. Big Star, Watch the Sunrise, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:38)
  9. Big Star, The Ballad of El Goodo, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:25)
  10. Big Star, The India Song, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:37)
  11. Big Star, The India Song (Alternate Version), Keep an Eye on the Sky, Rhino, 2009 (1:23)
  12. Big Star, When My Baby's Beside Me, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:20)
  13. Big Star, Back of a Car, Radio City, Ardent, 1974 (0:17)
  14. Big Star, September Gurls, Radio City, Ardent, 1974 (0:26)
  15. Big Star, O My Soul, Radio City, Ardent, 1974 (0:48)
  16. Big Star, ST 100/6, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (0:20)
  17. Big Star, Feel, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972 (2:04)
  18. Big Star, September Gurls, Radio City, Ardent, 1974 (2:21)
  19. The Replacements, Alex Chilton, Pleased to Meet Me, Sire, 1987 (1:12)
  20. Soundgarden, Been Away Too Long, King Animal, Seven Four/Republic, 2012 (0:29)
  21. Soundgarden, Rowing, King Animal, Seven Four/Republic, 2012 (1:31)
  22. Green, She's Not a Little Girl Anymore, Green, Ganggreen Records, 1986 (2:16)
  23. The Beatles, Any Time at All, A Hard Day's Night, Parlophone, 1964 (0:13)
  24. Kendrick Lamar, Money Trees, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Aftermath, 2012 (0:13)
  25. Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun, Superunknown, A&M, 1994 (0:18)
  26. Fiona Apple, Hot Knife, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, Epic, 2012 (0:12)
  27. Green Day, Nightlife, !Dos!, Reprise, 2012 (0:17)

Footnotes Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set

‘How Music Works’ > Bill Withers Box Set Big Star Jody Stephens“Feel”“September Gurls” Soundgarden Green“She's Not a Little Girl Anymore”