Various Artists – KOCH Records, Big Star Tribute

Will Hermes

By Will Hermes

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A musical galaxy full of “Little Star”s

This charming tribute compilation to the revered and revived '70s power-pop band has been in the works for about a decade; why it's taken this long to come out is anyone's guess. But any excuse to revisit the songbook of main writer Alex Chilton — one of rock's best — is always welcome. Many of the recordings have been floating around for a while now — for instance, Wilco's gorgeous cover of "Thirteen," a missive from a schoolkid (or a pederast?) in love, turned up on an import version of their "Outta Site (Outta Mind)" single back in 1996, as well as the more recent Wilco bootleg compilation Outta Print, Outta Site Volume 1. And stirring versions of "Nighttime" (remade here as a darkly soaring rock anthem by the Afghan Whigs) and "Give Me Another Chance" (sweetly harmonized by Whiskeytown) are relics of now-defunct bands. If this labor of love by Big Star drummer Jody Stephens is flawed, it's only due to some artists (Gin Blossoms, Idle Wilds) being overly faithful to the originals, and that the 11-song set is too short. But with a little diligence, you can search out enough additional material (Elliott Smith's version of "Thirteen," the Bangles '"September Gurls," This Mortal Coil's "Holocaust," etc.) to expand this into the definitive Big Star covers comp.