Big Star In Space

Big Star fans can be forgiven for feeling as though something sacred is being messed with here. After all, it’s been nearly 30 years since the release of the unit’s final studio album, Third, which, ostensibly, was already an after-the-fact solo effort by front-man Alex Chilton. But, rightly or wrongly, Big Star have always been more about Chilton than anyone else, including founding depressive genius Chris Bell, who split after the band’s brilliant 1972 debut. These 12 new songs find Chilton paired up with original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and Posies principals Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, who first played under the Big Star banner in 1993 at what was expected to be a one-off reunion gig. However, since that fateful show (later released as Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93) the same line-up have performed together sporadically, putting in at least as many shows as back in the day. If that’s not enough to assuage concerns, many of these new tunes ought to. Some sound as though they could’ve been outtakes from either of the first two Big Star records. Other tracks pay homage to Chilton’s long-standing partiality to early ’60s fare. Not surprisingly, at least a couple numbers come off sounding decidedly akin to disciple acts like Teenage Fanclub and (duh) the Posies. There is some feel-good filler here, though, like the disc-closing jam "Makeover,” which, despite spinning its wheels, offers a rare snapshot of the notoriously cantankerous Chilton having some adlib studio fun. (Rykodisc)