For some weird reason, things almost always seemed to work out for me when it came to Alex Chilton. I was at the Knitting Factory in 1997 when he played his legendary acoustic show during a power outage. I saw the reconstituted Big Star (featuring Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies) during one of their early tours. I caught the reunited Box Tops when they did a casino tour of Canada in 2001. I was even at the all-star SXSW memorial concert held just days after the Memphis icon (and iconoclast) died in 2010. In fact, there are only a couple of Alex boxes that remain unchecked for me: 1) I never interviewed him — though I suspect it wouldn’t have been much fun, given his notorious disdain for any and all facets of the music biz; and 2) I never saw the original Big Star — though they broke up when I was 11, so I can’t really be too bummed about that. Especially not when recordings like Live at WLIR are around. This 1974 radio broadcast — taped direct to two-track at a New York studio — captures a solid 50-minute set from Chilton, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist John Lightman. The sound is decent, the set list includes highlights like September Gurls, Don’t Lie to Me, The Ballad of El Goodo, Thirteen, In the Street, Back of a Car and more. There’s even a brief interview where a typically frank Chilton calls the music biz “scummy” (what did I tell you?). Granted, there’s nothing new here; this gig was first issued as Live back in 1992. But this version has been refurbished and remastered — and is being released on vinyl, unlike previous editions. So it’s definitely worth a listen. Preferably while you’re in the back of a car, with the music so loud you can’t tell a thing.
Big Star | Live on WLIR
A classic radio broadcast from Alex Chilton & co. returns in refurbished form.