Friday, February 15, 2013

Big Star -- "In the Street" (1972)

Hanging out
Down the street 
The same old thing
We did last week 

I've previously written about Big Star, one of the most star-crossed bands of all time -- click here to read that post.  

Big Star is a band that has been compared to the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and even the Beatles . . . and whose music can more than hold its own in that august company.

Big Star started to fall apart when guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell left the band after the release of their very first album, #1 Record -- the critics loved it, but their record company marketed it so poorly that its title later seemed like a cruel joke.  Bassist Andy Hummel bailed out after their second album, Radio City, which also garnered great reviews but didn't sell.  

The #1 Record cover
I found #1 Record and Radio City in the cutout bin in a Harvard Square record store when I was in law school in the mid-seventies.  If life were fair, that would have never happened -- any more than Revolver or Let It Bleed or Who's Next would have ended up in a cutout bin, unloved and unwanted and sporting a $1.98 price tag.

Chris Bell died in a car accident when he was only 27.  Andy Hummel and the band's singer and primary songwriter, Alex Chilton -- a pop music genius of the first order -- died in 2010.  Let's hope that all of them realized just how good they had been, regardless of their lack of commercial success.

Alex Chilton
If "In the Street" (from #1 Record) sounds familiar to you, that's because a version of it was used as the theme song of That '70s Show.  The song perfectly captures the restlessness of bored teenagers who can't figure out what the hell to do to entertain themselves.

The record credits "In the Street" to both Bell and Chilton.  A lot of the songs on #1 Record were written by Bell or Chilton individually before Big Star was formed, but the album credits those songs to Bell and Chilton jointly.  The two were 13 years old when the Beatles came to Memphis in 1964, and they later decided to model their songwriting partnership on John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  ("In the Street" was one of Chilton's.)

Laura Prepon
Speaking of That '70s Show, I've made no secret of the fact that I've always had a big crush on Laura Prepon, the tall redhead who played the girlfriend of the doofus that Topher Grace played.  To steal a line from our most ex-president, Jimmy Carter, "I've committed adultery in my heart many times" with Ms. Prepon.

Can you blame me?  (I'm just a man . . . flesh and blood.)

Here's "In the Street":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:  

1 comment:

  1. How timely! Last night we had an Alex Chilton set at the Chaos weekly session at the Cinema. The most familiar tune for me was "The Letter", recorded under the Boxtops name (I was hoping for "Choo Choo Train", but "The Letter" was close enough). Adam and Evie are great admirers of Mr. Chilton. There was also a group of Monkees songs, including "Last Train to Clarksville" (one of my requests) sung by one of my favorite AMCB guest singers, Ms. Rachel Wolfe. Evie sang one of my favorite Sandsongs, "Don't Look Back (Don't Look Down), and one of the wind-up songs was "Then I'll Be Happy, with Adam using a slide on the guitar for part of the song.