Big Star: Live on WLIR
If you’re a diehard fan of the Alex Chilton-led power pop vehicle Big Star, then you’ve undoubtedly been listening to this collection of 15 tracks for a long time: It was originally released in 1992 under the somewhat simpler title Live . And you know the backstory: By the time this session was recorded at Long Island’s Ultrasonic Studios in 1974, the band was down to just Chilton (guitar and vocals) and Jody Stephens (drums), with a new bassist, John Lightman, brought in to fill out the lineup for the tour, ostensibly in support of the previous year’s Radio City album. Tracks for that album, as well as the now-lionized first Big Star release, #1 Record, comprised the bulk of their set that day, with one lone cover, Loudon Wainwright III’s “Motel Blues,” tossed in. To anyone who happened to be listening to the radio when the show was first broadcast, Big Star would not have sounded like a band that was ready to fold its tent. From the opening “September Gurls”—by any measure one of their most treasured songs—the trio is strong on both the power and the pop. Other Radio City tracks, among them “Mod Lang,” “She’s a Mover” and “Way Out West,” take on even more of a spit-shine than the album versions, while holdovers from the first LP—like “In the Street” and “The Ballad of El Goodo”—reveal more depth, making one wonder how Big Star might have evolved had they not fallen apart soon after this music was recorded.