(This review first appeared in issue #70 of Shindig! magazine.)
Stax / Ardent CD/LP
Though commercial success evaded them in their lifespan, Big Star's influence and legacy endure. It's difficult to see who this collection is aimed at (Big Star inspiring devotion rather than casual interest), but the music remains timeless. This Best Of is released as part of Stax's 60 years retrospective campaign and draws tracks from all three of the band's studio albums. Its USP is the inclusion of rare single versions/edits including 'September Gurls' and 'Watch The Sunrise'.
Like Van Gogh's sunflowers, their studio albums are a case study in beauty, decay and fragmentation but the sequencing here favours flow over chronology. It works. From the opening guitar chime of 'In The Street' through to the soft landing of 'Thank You Friends' there's no let up in quality. Brash odes to teenage awkwardness sit easily next to ragged and frail melancholia. Argue all you like over omissions but the music here shines as brightly as ever.