Tuesday, August 27, 2013
the last book I ever read (33 1/3: Big Star’s Radio City by Bruce Eaton, excerpt five)
from 33 1/3: Big Star’s Radio City by Bruce Eaton:
Big Star’s reputation as a studio band is well-deserved. Ardent Studios was a de facto home away from home—for rehearsal, recording, or just hanging out—beyond which the band rarely ventured. The original four-piece lineup played a grand total of seven gigs. By the time Andy Hummel left the band late in 1973, well before the actual release of Radio City, the three-piece lineup had only played a handful of dates around Memphis (including the Rock Writers Convention) and performed two nights at Max’s Kansas City in New York. Certainly there was no chance for them to progress through the time-tested way of extensive roadwork. But for a band that existed only in the studio for all intents and purposes, Big Star could play live with a punch and precision that showed that they had tremendous untapped—and underestimated—potential. Listening to the basic band tracks for Radio City exploding out of the speakers, it’s easy to imagine that with a few hundred dates under their belt, a proper sound system, and perhaps one additional musician on stage to fill in the parts (much like The Who post-Keith Moon), Big Star could easily have been a potent live act.