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on 1 May 2014
This is a wonderful, amazing book. Even if you're a Big Star agnostic, if you have any interest in music you will love this book. It has tragedy writ large through it, with the self-destructive Alex Chilton creating some of the greatest music ever made and then practically disowning it to noodle around with lacklustre solo and band projects (albeit ones that seemed to make him happy) whilst also being sucked down into a whirlpool of drink and drugs, eventually dying prematurely, like so many other people in this book. You feel sorry for his bandmates, who each contributed to the phenomenon that was Big Star, but were prey to the vagaries of Chilton's ornery decision-making. It's frustrating to read just how close to greatness they came, only to be thwarted by diabolical record company tactics or the band's own laissez-faire attitude.
Despite all this, your heart goes out to Chilton, negotiating one disaster after another, whether stranded on his roof during Katrina or entertaining a fan for a week while his cigarettes and booze were paid for, before abruptly sending him packing!
The author, Rob Jovanovic, has done a great job - he's unshowy and unobtrusive, never gushing despite (as we see in the postscript) being a huge fan. He relates the facts without judging the people involved or displaying sycophancy.
If you love Big Star you really need this book in your life - if you don't, you still won't be sorry you bought it.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2016
An exhaustive history and pre-history of Big Star and of Box Tops star Alex Chilton. They were very much 'the nearly men' of early 70's US pop. Stuck on a label with no real distribution, they stood little chance of mainstream success. Yet in recent years they have achieved a cult status, thanks to some covers of a couple of their songs (On the street by Cheap Trick and September gurls by The Bangles) and namechecks from influential musicians who cite them as an influence.

This book really needs to be accompanied by listening to their music to get the most from it. It's a sometimes harrowing rise-and-fall and trying-to-rise-again story. The writer shows a real passion for his subject and the book is a real testament to his doggedness and determination in his research. Big Star and Chilton enthusiasts will adore it.
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on 21 November 2004
In 1985 I had the opportunity to see a band called R.E.M. play in a little college town in Virginia, USA. Being a student then I had all the typical excuses for not getting my ticket and going - I HAD to study, I must do this, I must to that, etc. I was only missing one of the years best shows by a band who seemed to dominate "Alternative Rock" throughout the decade, and who's members had been influenced by the rock's forgotten band.
I love how this book opens with the rock group Big Star playing at their one and only gig in Oxford, Mississippi in 1972. Like the author, Rob Jovanovic, states: "The music world was full of contradictions. The previous months had seen number-one singles achieved by acts as diverse as Donny Osmond and Alice Cooper, Don McLean and Slade. Iggy Pop was holed up in a studio recording 'Raw Power' and David Bowie had just given birth to Ziggy Stardust..."<xv> Rock was severely missing the Beatles at this point and album rock and heavy metal was the underground cool. This one band, Big Star, came out with an album of guitar-oriented pop that tried to keep the Beatles legacy going. They wrote great music (especially between the two frontman Alex Chilton and Chris Bell)and despite Chilton being a teen star, they would only make another two albums (minus Bell) and disappear. Never to become "Big Star's". By the time the band was playing in Oxford, their albums, due to record company problems, are nowhere to be found. In fact the ensuing years would be a repeat. Needless to say, at that time in the music business, it spelled an early death.
...In 1978, when rock was turning punk and people were tired of the radio, someone rediscovered this band. The rest, as they say is history. Jovanovic writes with insight and amazing clarity: Impeccably researched and wonderfully documented, he leaves few stones unturned. For many years the history of this band was mentioned in two books that I know of, magazine articles, and word of mouth. Any fan of Alex Chilton, Big Star, Chris Bell, and the 70s Memphis scene will find it MUST reading. Die-hard fans won't be able to put it down in just one sitting. They are all there, plus Dickinson, Roseborough, Lightman, Lesa, and more. You say the revolution is over -we say it's just begun
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on 14 June 2017
Great book for hardcore fans. Guess I'll have to get the Chilton book too :)
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on 12 December 2014
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on 16 June 2015
Absolutely awful book full of spelling mistakes and inaccuracies. The author is also a crook and a conman. Avoid.
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on 2 December 2004
Rob has written a stunningly researched, hyper-thorough bio of one of the (at least) top ten most important bands of all time. The first book EVER published on the subject of BIG STAR and their unbelievable & pervasive influence. A fascinating read and mesmerizing in its details of Memphis in the 1970s, the Box Tops (Chilton's first band), the tragic career and life of Chris Bell, and the impact of their music beyond the 1970s. (Ever listened to the PLEASED TO MEET ME album by the Replacements? "Alex Chilton" is track two. Examples such as this just go on and on.) Compelling, insightful, thoughtful.
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