Long ago, tribute records were cast as well-intentioned tributes (duh) to deserving but preternaturally obscure artists; nowadays, they're just jack-off projects serving the egos of the producers and participants. This Big Star hommage du fromage doesn't get let off the hook for having originally been assembled back in 1999 (for the apparently now-defunct Ignition label) either. Big Star hasn't been considered "obscure" in more than a decade, and when you consider how safe the contributors play it here only Kelly Willis' steel guitar'd, boot-scootin' version of "When My Baby's Beside Me" and the Afghan Whigs' atmosphere-draped "Nighttime" veer substantially past the Alex Chilton/Chris Bell comfort zone there's not much to recommend these "well-intentioned," note-perfect and utterly snooze-inducing renditions. Unless you're a completist desperate for everything ever recorded by Matthew Sweet, the Gin Blossoms, Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, Whiskeytown or the Posies, best to pick up the original three Big Star LPs instead. To add ignominy to insult, the contemporary, Chilton/Posies incarnation of Big Star also appears on BSSW ("Hot Thing," previously part of 2003's Big Star Story anthology), which is gauche in the same way that videotaping a self-eulogy to be played at your own funeral is gauche. Chris Bell must be rolling in his grave.
Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.