Big Star: In Space
So, by this point, anyone who has been reading my Big Star posts has stopped and at least gotten the first two albums. Right? … Well, even if you haven’t, the same questions might arise. First, why would a band that couldn’t get off the ground in the first place reform almost 30 years later? Second, would it be any good? Well the fact is that over those decades Big Star achieved cult status, and there was a certain amount of interest. Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens were asked to do a live gig, and they grabbed former Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow to fill out the group (not too shabby). So, the credentials check out, but could they do it again? The answer is yes.
Now, “In Space” does not pick up where “Third” left off. How could it? The next step after that was into the abyss. What we have here is more of a celebration of the legacy of Big Star, and it’s definitely the most upbeat of the four albums. As a matter of fact, what is most not like Big Star is the overall positive vibe. This does not mean it doesn’t sound like the same band, because it does. Alex Chilton was just happy at this point. Nor does this mean that the presence of Jon and Ken isn’t felt. They just incorporated their styles into the Big Star moitf.
As with most reunion albums, “In Space” is not a statement on par with would be classics. However, what may be lost in art is made up in fun. It is obvious that these guys had a great time making this album. “Dony” does sound like something that could have come from the “#1 Record” sessions, and “Aria Largo” is almost as messy as anything on “Third.” Those are the exceptions. “Turn My Back on the Sun” sounds Beach Boys inspired. The slow lamenting style of “Lady Sweet” belies the message of hopefulness. You can hum along with “Best Chance.” “Mine Exclusively” is a boppin’ rump shaker, and “Love Revolution” is just downright silly, tongue in cheek disco.
While “In Space” may not match up to the ‘glory days’ of Big Star, that doesn’t make it any less worthy. It’s a likeable album, and the good feelings aren’t limited to the songs themselves. I am happy that Alex and Jody got to do it again, and it seems as if it made them happy too. My guess would be that we probably wont see another Big Star album. It has been four years after all, but who knows. So enjoy it for what it is.
Alex Chilton – vocals, guitar
Jody Stephens – vocals, drums
Jon Auer – vocals, guitar
Ken Stringfellow – vocals, bass, keyboards