Big Star's Third: Jody Stephens, Chris Stamey, Ken Stringfellow, Mike Mills, and others; Skylar Gudasz | Park West | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Big Star's Third: Jody Stephens, Chris Stamey, Ken Stringfellow, Mike Mills, and others; Skylar Gudasz 

When: Fri., June 28, 8 p.m. 2013
Price: $25
Alex Chilton’s recording career was a lot of things, but it wasn’t consistent: he released teenybopper R&B with the Box Tops, Beatles-indebted power pop with Big Star, entropic rockabilly with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, and an unironically faithful version of “Volare.” But Big Star’s 1978 album Third didn’t find common company even in that varied discography. Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens made it in ’74, on the heels of two brilliant but commercially unsuccessful LPs, and it’s steeped in bitterness, rage, and determined self-sabotage. But neither before nor after did Chilton write anything so naked or sophisticated; even the songs he tried to demolish with chaotic arrangements and cruel lyrics are gorgeous and affecting. Chilton, who died in 2010, didn’t have much time for Third after it was done; it seemed he’d rather play “The Duke of Earl.” But Chris Stamey of the dB’s, who played with Chilton in the late 70s, hatched a plan: he had Carl Marsh adapt the string arrangements he’d composed for the LP, then in 2010 realized the songs live with a 20-piece orchestra, a standing band (Mike Mills of R.E.M., Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, and Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow of Big Star), and a different roster of guest vocalists at each show. Since then the project’s material has expanded to include favorites from other Big Star records, and the singers for tonight’s performance include Brett Harris, Josh Caterer, Gary Louris, Ed Roeser, Tim Rutili, and Sally Timms. —Bill Meyer Skylar Gudasz opens.

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