Saturday, 4 February 2017

Pre Big Star - Rock City - Rock City 1969/70 (2003) mp3@320

While Alex Chilton has always been considered the great mind behind smart pop icon Big Star, some of the group's more obsessive fans (and Big Star hardly seems to attract any other kind) have in recent years began wondering just how much the group's other guitarist and songwriter, Chris Bell, brought to the picture, especially in the wake of Bell's superb posthumously released solo album, I Am the Cosmos. Well, Rock City finally allows listeners to hear what Big Star might have sounded like without Alex Chilton, since for all practical purposes Rock City was Big Star without Alex Chilton. Recorded between 1969 and 1970, Rock City was the self-titled debut album from a band fronted by Chris Bell, with Jody Stephens on drums, Thomas Dean Eubanks on guitar and bass, and Terry Manning on keyboards. Bell wasn't able to score a record deal for Rock City, and before long Eubanks left the group, Manning went back to his other job as a recording engineer, and Bell's high-school buddy Chilton, looking for a gig after leaving the Box Tops, joined up. After Andy Hummel came on board as bassist, Rock City changed its name to Big Star, and the unreleased Rock City album was lost in a tape vault, only to be found in 2002. Heard nearly 35 years after it was recorded, Rock City certainly sounds like a key precursor to what Big Star would accomplish with #1 Record, but it also falls well short of that album's brilliance.
The overall tone is significantly more Anglophilic than Big Star (which says a lot), with a great deal more pomp and pretension on the menu, and while the big-rock crunch of "Think It's Time to Say Goodbye" and Beatlesque melodicism of "Lovely Lady" prove Bell and company were heading in the right direction, the drippy sub-prog of "The Answer" and the meandering "The Preacher" make it clear they hadn't gotten there just yet. And the presence of three tunes that would later pop up in different (and superior) form on #1 Record makes it clear that what Chilton brought to Big Star, along with his songs, was a needed injection of grit and attitude that allowed the band's rock gestures to display a real credibility. Rock City is certainly fascinating as archeology, but as music, you're better off with the #1 Record/Radio City two-fer or I Am the Cosmos.(

Hello friends of pop, i needed a longer sleep last night and that's the reason why i have my first coffee only now. The first record i listened this morning (now lol) is Rock City, the pre band of Big Star. I know most of the Big Star fans here will know the record. But maybe the one or another don't have it.
Hope you like it as i do (except the band name. Sounds to me more like a hair metal band lol.)
I will have a shower now and post more later.
                                                                         Frank   mp3@320

1 comment:

  1. Frank, I had no idea this band or LP existed. What a great find! Fascinating to hear how much of the Big Star sound was there even before Alex arrived.