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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on March 24, 2017
I love big star.the first time I heard them i was amazed.i wish there was a set like this for all their cds.
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on January 6, 2017
As good a place as any to tell my Big Star 3rd story.

I was actually one of the band's contemporary fans. In the fall of '72 the new Boston alternative rag The Real Paper had asked a bunch of national critics to choose an overlooked LP to blurb, and one of the folks they asked was Jon Tiven, who made #1 Record sound nearly as great as it actually turned out to be.

And so it was that 18 months later, two friends and I (one of them Erik Lindgren, later of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic) were the only Big Star fans in the audience as they opened for Badfinger in Cambridge (3/31/74). We recorded the show with semi-pro gear (the tape was stolen in the 90's and ended up online) and talked to the band afterwards. This was the show where they had played with borrowed equipment (from Andy Paley's band The Sidewinders, not "The Snakes" as Jody Stephens remembers it) after their van was stolen. Curious about what kind of tour they were on, I asked Alex where they were going next. "I don't know about these guys, but I'm going back to Memphis to buy a guitar," he told me. (While the Big Star bio asserts they had a show the next night in Michigan, that's because they have the date of this show off by a week. The Alex biography confirms that he did exactly what he said he would.)

The next year I read in Billboard that a test pressing of a 3rd Big Star album was making the rounds. I kept on waiting for it to appear ... and at some point I learned that it wouldn't.

So when Alex played the Rat in Boston in 1977, Erik and I introduced ourselves (I don't believe we mentioned the prior encounter, since it seemed ill-advised to remind him of it). Alex was struck by Erik's personality and asked for his exact birthdate, whereupon he appeared to do an immediate in-depth astrological reading on him. He may have been faking it, of course.

I had a question I needed to ask. "What was the deal with the third album? How come no one would put it out?"

Alex replied instantly, with a gesture for illustration. "It had *snakes* coming off it."

To my surprise and gratification, I had to wait just another year to find out how perfect that description was.
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on January 4, 2017
awesome completion to any big star fan's collection.
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on December 20, 2016
One could spend many hours playing this set and I have done just that. The download includes extensive informative liner notes. I have also watched the Big Star doc several times. There are many reasons why this set is so acclaimed so get it and get started. Rich treasures are to be found the deeper you dig.
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on December 15, 2016
Truly awesome!
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on November 2, 2016
Alex Chilton in top form. A must have collection of rare demos and outtakes. A Big Star fan's dream come true.
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on October 29, 2016
While the music on these discs is indeed amazing to hear, Carnivore Records, time and time again, has made it their business (no pun intended) to milk the Alex Chilton and Big Star legends and legacies for as much money as they can make off of them. Whether it’s their rare and “limited” Record Store Day releases, or their ever perpetual deep dives into the vaults, this company above all has created a market whereby the real fans are perpetually needing to dig deeper in their pockets each time a new *treasure* is unearthed. Like Holly George-Warren’s book this, as always, is another soulless cash grab with the (of course) obligatory, future triple double LP vinyl releases dangling out there in the ether like the proverbial carrot(s) on a stick. How long after that will we be granted access to purchase the extremely limited, quadruple gold vinyl editions of these same recordings with, perhaps, one more song thrown in as a lure for the diehards.

Damn them, once again, for giving us fans yet another musical package that most of will end up buying yet will not give Alex, Chris or Andy another breath of life or truly benefit anyone but those making money off of these recordings, themselves.
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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...
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Big Star burned bright briefly and then flared out. Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens soldiered on without Chris Bell and Andy Hummel producing what is, arguably, Big Star's best but most harrowing album. Alex Chilton was In a very dark place during the choatic recording of the third album and, while a proper running order was never truly put together with Alex's input, the album became a cult classic when released with a mixture of brilliant but sad songs.

There are moments of transcendence on "Third" such as Alex's vocal performance on "You Can't Have Me" to the disappointment that runs through "Holocaust" and equal parts beauty, sadness and touches of insanity as Chilton drugged and drank as never before to try and relieve the anger and bitterness that he felt about his career and the disintegration of his band.

"Complete Third" gathers everything from a mono guitar and vocal demo of "Like St. Joan" (which would grow into Kanga Roo) to fuller demos that reflected of the genius of Chilton's vision for the tracks. Working with John Fry and Jim Dickenson (both, sadly, no longer with us), Chilton assembled a series of songs that reflect the raw emotional state he was in at the time. Guitarist Lee Baker, Jimmy Stephens, William Murphy and Dickenson fill out the sound of what had, essential, al out become a solo album (Jody Stephens doesn't appear on all the tracks).

The mastering here does improve on the tracks included in the "Keep an Eye on The Sky" boxed set released by Rhino which featured the same tracks. Here they are more dynamic with less compression applied. Cheryl Pawelski acts as producer for the boxed set and she does a good job of putting all the recorded material together and an exceptional booklet about the recording sessions.

The only thing that doesn't work for this set is the design of the set itself or, perhaps, the actual manufactured package. With heavier cardboard, better ways to se use the CDs, this set would survive transportation and wear & tear a lot better. As it is, the Omnivore has assembled a release of great music in packaging design that is interesting in theory but poorly executed.

This set will be see essential for fans of Big Star as it rounds up all the surviving recordings giving us a bigger, broader picture of the album sessions and Chilton's sprawling vision for the album. This is every bit as powerful as John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" or any of Lou Reed's comfessional slice of life albums.

Five stars for the music, two stars for the packaging. I'd suggest, if you buy this as a physical release, to create your own storage container for the music.

Recommended but make sure to check out your discs as soon as they arrive to make sure they are not scuffed or damaged.
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on October 17, 2016
I have to agree with the criticism of the construction of the box should have been better thought out. At least the CDs could have all been secured rather than one having to be slid into card board slip. The liner notes should have been detachable and bigger print. I am having a hard time reading these. That said the order and setup of the set show what this record could have been and show the deconstruction of the originals songs, that alone is worth the price. This is amazing, it its the alternate version(s) of the record as it might have been. The songwriting is matured and the cynicism is creeping in without trying to make this mess. I love the 3rd/Sisters Lovers but this elevates this record beyond the intentionally alienating/alienated sound it was left with.
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