Wednesday, August 28, 2013

the last book I ever read (33 1/3: Big Star’s Radio City by Bruce Eaton, excerpt six)

from 33 1/3: Big Star’s Radio City by Bruce Eaton:

In retrospect, it’s not one bit surprising that Big Star failed to make any commercial headway. They lacked full-time management and weren’t signed to a booking agency with clout. They were located in the middle of the country, about as far away from the rock music business power centers on the East and West coasts as you could get without leaving the continent (they never even played a gig more than a few miles west of the Mississippi River). They played music that at the time was considered to be somewhat anachronistic rather than innovative. And, of course, no one could buy a record that couldn’t be found in stores. Absent a smash single, Big Star was doomed.

Oddly perhaps, no singles were released from Radio City until well after its release. Ardent had made a decision early on to hold off on singles until the album had gained expected momentum that in the end never developed. As edited version (at 2:50 minutes, nearly two minutes shorter than the album version) of ‘O My Soul’ was mastered on April 5, 1974 and presumably released soon thereafter. ‘September Gurls’ wasn’t mastered for a 45 release until July 26. Whatever critical acclaim the album did garner didn’t carry over to AM radio and the singles went nowhere. By the time ‘Gurls’ was released, Big Star as a band in the traditional sense of being a defined and ongoing recording and performing unit was effectively over. After the spring tour ended in April, the group performed in Memphis in May, were idle for the summer, then played a swan song gig in Memphis in September with Alex Chilton as the only original member.

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