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A Complete Triumph
on October 21, 2016
As a long-time admirer of all things Big Star, I was incredibly excited when I heard the news that Omnivore was planning to release the complete sessions for the Third album. If any album deserves the boxed set treatment, it's this one. The original Third project involved three distinct stages, and those stages are expertly documented across this three-CD set: stripped down solo demos (disc one), original band session rough mixes (disc two), and final master mixes with completed overdubs (disc three).
Alex Chilton's brilliant songwriting dominates the first disc, Jim Dickinson's perfectly idiosyncratic production approach dominates the second disc, and John Fry's mixing genius dominates the final disc. It is a tribute to all three men's talents that Third has become such a seminal influence on countless musicians (some of whom share passionate testimonials in the liner notes).
Furthermore, let's not forget the fundamental importance of Alex's muse at the time, Lesa Aldridge. Third as we know it would have never existed had she not entered Alex's life at that particular moment in history. She reinforced Alex's interest in the music of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, cowrote "Downs," and directly inspired such timeless songs as "Blue Moon," "Kanga Roo," and "Nightime." It is altogether fitting that her charming vocals are prominently featured here on covers of the Beatles' "I'm So Tired," the Velvet Underground's "After Hours," and the Kinks' "Till The End Of The Day." Lesa's presence was absolutely crucial to the masterpiece that Third has become.
I'm so thankful to now have the opportunity to explore all of the nooks and cranies of the Third sessions. I still don't know if it was ever really a true Big Star project, what the intended title should have been, or which running order of songs is definitive. All I know is that this music has always moved me, and now, thanks to this project, it moves me even more. Rest in peace, Alex Chilton, Jim Dickinson, and John Fry...