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Thursday, 18 March 2010

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John Emerson

Box Tops vs. Big Star: Jekyll and Hyde. We all know who he is, but most of us don't know it.

tina

I'm one of those most-of-usses to whom Mr. Emerson refers, and it sounds like I should remedy this. Meantime, do you maybe mean "a canned slacker response to" ADversity? (... This isn't exactly what I had in mind for my eventual de-lurking, but, well, hello there, love your blog.)

SEK

Meantime, do you maybe mean "a canned slacker response to" ADversity?

I did. That's what I get for writing the above and a bit about the sort of people who use the term "post-racial" at the same time. (And also, welcome!)

Anonymous

Why is it any time anyone hipsters or academics are supposed to like dies, they just so happen to be very important never-before-mentioned influences on your life? Are you really so needy that there's no death you won't use as an excuse to call attention to yourself?

John Emerson

Anonymous, if you give me some way to distinguish you from every other anonymous in the world, I will gladly celebrate your death rather than mourning it.

I really mean this, I'm not just saying it to make you feel good.

I do not speak for Scott, just non-anonymous me.

Anonymous

Because "mourning" and "writing about mourning to call attention to your mourning" are exactly the same thing, Dr. Emerson? Don't be a dick.

JPRS

Why is it anytime an anonymous reader comes across an academic blog that mentions something she doesn't know about, she feels the need to call attention to her ignorance as well as her yearning? I recognize that academics are the ultimate in prestige-without-class (i.e., respect without money) in America. But still! Some WWE dude dies and WWE fans mourn, and no one goes off the way anonymous does above. Even though class and education no longer align, Jude the Obscure lives...

gordsellar

SEK, d'ya think maybe covers by Big Star's admirers might have something to do with it? I know I first heard "September Gurls" as covered by Yo La Tengo.

Luther Blissett

Gordsellar is probably right. I know I discovered Big Star only after hearing This Moral Coil's covers of "Holocaust" and "Kangaroo." That's when I realized what The Replacements' "Alex Chilton" was about, connected the dots, and ran out to buy *Third/Sister Lovers*. That LP was clearly one of the missing links between The Velvet Underground and punk and later "indie rock," much like The Modern Lovers LP, the Stooges, Bowie, Can, and Eno.

So it's only when that sort of music broke big that Big Star could have the effect they were destined to have ('tho I think the first two LPs were actually pretty successful). Big Star's power-pop is a clear reference point for Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Squeeze, The Cars, and a good deal of New Wave music; while *Third* is a key influence behind twee and slacker rock.

In any case, while I had no hopes that Chilton would ever again do much of anything, this was a sad loss. (And yes, I do see the deaths of others as prime opportunities to talk about myself.)

SEK

Why is it anytime an anonymous reader comes across an academic blog that mentions something she doesn't know about, she feels the need to call attention to her ignorance as well as her yearning?

Because they get a little vicarious thrill every time they see some other "Anonymous" be a jerk?

I know I first heard "September Gurls" as covered by Yo La Tengo.

Absolutely, covers have everything to do with it. (Although you heard the Yo La Tengo before the Bangles? God, but I'm getting old.)

That LP was clearly one of the missing links between The Velvet Underground and punk and later "indie rock," much like The Modern Lovers LP, the Stooges, Bowie, Can, and Eno.

I unwittingly wrote this same comment in the other thread.

Ray Davis

Well, hell, since we're just here to call attention to ourselves, I'll take advantage of my status as the other old coot here to brag a bit: Radio City was the second pop LP I bought, mostly because it was only 99 cents in the cut-out bin. (Several decades later, I heartlessly sold it, much scuffed and barely playable, down the river.)

I second my fellow coot's recommendation of the Box Tops' greatest hits. Chilton had three careers, and the transition from his first (sixteen-year-old emitting a seasoned blue-eyed-soul baritone) to his second (Lennon-and-McCartney's damaged lovechild) was especially startling.

Ray Davis

By the way, you guys cannot believe how loudly the original LP jacket design screamed "Commercial Suicide"....

John Emerson

Dick? I'm terribly hurt, Anonymous.

SEK

Radio City was the second pop LP I bought, mostly because it was only 99 cents in the cut-out bin.

You shame me, Ray. The first album I bought was The Thin Red Line. Gah.

Chilton had three careers, and the transition from his first (sixteen-year-old emitting a seasoned blue-eyed-soul baritone) to his second (Lennon-and-McCartney's damaged lovechild) was especially startling.

What was the third? Drunken desolation spent in strumming in seedy bars? Or his late '90s tour with the Posies, in which they mostly played Big Star songs? I think of him as having two careers, then a long, sad something-or-other.

Ray Davis

For me Chilton's third career began with "Sister Lovers" (released so long after it was recorded and after I started listening to him) and continued as one would expect from the example of the Velvets and so on, and so for me the third career isn't so much sad as... well, maybe "inspirationally tragic," like Byron for Pushkin?

The first LP I bought was a 99-cent cutout of "The Great Lost Kinks Album," all of which I also still listen to. It's not your fault, though; I lucked out and the mid-1970s just happened to be the golden age of cut-out LPs as the 1960s was the golden age of 45s and the '00s was the golden age of downloads.

JPool

The late 1990s was the golden age of used cds.

I remember a great period where I wouldn't buy anything new and would only have to wait a couple of weeks for turn-around copies of new releases make their way back through. I picked up all of the import-only Belle & Sebastian EPs at $4 a pop before they were reissued.

I bought the "#1 Record/Radio City" reissue used over amazon, I believe. I take it this is the place to advance my controversial thesis that "September Gurls" deserves to be in every jukebox in the country, along with the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man." Of course, said jukebox really also ought to include "Thirteen" and "The Ballad of El Goodo." You can fill in the rest with whatever you want. Except it has it include some Al Green.

Luther Blissett

JPool, I think that, after health care, Obama might be up to mandating jukebox content. If so, I like your choices. Ten more:

1. The Buzzcocks, "Have You Ever Fallen in Love..."
2. Joy Division, "Transmission"
3. Kraftwerk, "The Model"
4. Can, "Vitamin C"
5. The Modern Lovers, "I'm Straight"
6. The Fall, "Spoiled Victorian Child"
7. The Raincoats, "Odyshape"
8. The Undertones, "Teenage Kicks"
9. The Eyes, "When the Night Falls"
10. The Kinks, "This Time Tomorrow"

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