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Third / Sister Lovers Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, February 21, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

By the mid-'70s, Alex Chilton's glistening pure-pop group Big Star had hit the rocks, ignored by the public and beset by internal problems. Chilton, backed mostly by session musicians playing both rock and chamber-music instruments, responded with this wracked, bizarre collection of deeply personal songs, venting oblique visions of terror (the much-covered "Kanga Roo" and "Holocaust"), sarcastically envisioning an imaginary circle of supporters ("Thank You Friends"), and covering the odd rock & roll classic in his messed-up teen-idol voice. The album was eventually abandoned and released in unfinished form years later, but the weird gaps in its arrangements make it even stranger and more powerful. --Douglas Wolk

From the Label

Finally, the definitive version of the stunning THIRD album from this seminal band; resequenced to Alex Chilton's and producer Jim Dickinson's original intentions, with two previously unreleased tracks.

Until THIRD, Big Star's sound was a hybrid of Anglo-pop and rough-edged '60s soul, the antithesis of the "progressive rock" trend of the period. Big Star distinguished themselves by foregrounding their dark side without sacrificing their pop appeal. Not only were they melodic, they were often disturbing.

Though THIRD (also known by the band's original title SISTER LOVERS) was released as a Big Star album, it is largely regarded as Chilton's solo effort. With Jody Stephens and producer Jim Dickinson, Chilton successfully conveyed to tape his wracked mental state -- torn by a girlfriend, abused by the music business, and doubtful of the future. It is an album of poetic depression, deservedly lauded for its honesty and brutal emotion. The album has appeared in numerous forms over the years, with confusing changes in song content and running order.

The rerelease of THIRD finally reconciles all of the album's material and sequences it with the use of the producer's notes from the sessions. Two cover tunes are unearthed for the first time: Their version of The Kinks' "Til the End of the Day" is a nod to Chilton's punk roots, while a cover of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" points in a very different direction. Excluded from many previous issues but solidly situated here is "Dream Lover," a lengthy and challenging track that Dickinson has called "the whole point of the album."

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Kizza Me
  2. Thank You Friends
  3. Big Black Car
  4. Jesus Christ
  5. Femme Fatale
  6. O, Dana
  7. Holocaust
  8. Kangaroo
  9. Stroke It Noel
  10. For You
  11. You Can't Have Me
  12. Nightime
  13. Blue Moon
  14. Take Care
  15. Nature Boy
  16. Till The End Of The Day
  17. Dream Lover
  18. Downs
  19. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 21, 1992)
  • Original Release Date: 1978
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B0000009OB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,979 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Big Star Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I was first introduced to Big Star unknowingly via the gorgeous (though admittedly lugubrious) covers of "Kangaroo" and "Holocaust" done on the first This Mortal Coil album. I was 14 (the year was 1988) when I discovered that album, and being immersed in late 70s and 80s new wave and goth and all that 4ad stuff, I hadn't a clue nor a care about who the hell Alex Chilton was. All I knew was that these were beautiful covers of songs I naively presumed to be dated folk or something, and that these covers must have improved greatly upon the obscure originals.

Fast forward to college, mid-90s: a friend stumbles on a copy of the Ryko "Sister Lovers" reissue and puts "Kangaroo" on a mix tape for me. I immediately assumed it was a cover that some contemporary indie band had done recently. Interesting and oddly familiar. Then my friend tells me it's Big Star, that this was the original version, and that it was recorded in 1974. Needless to say, my jaw dropped to the floor. This song sounded NOTHING at all like anything written or recorded in 1974. The feedback, the ultra-clear, wet, reverbed-out production, the singing, etc, ... A lot of revolutionary artists were making ground-breaking records in '74, from John Cale to Roxy Music to Brian Eno to Can to Faust, but none of it really anticipated this particular sound that so many bands would ape (sometimes without realizing it) in the 80s and 90s.

I soon got a copy of "Sister Lovers" and was immediately blown away by the seminal songwriting and arrangements. It was clear that bands like the Cocteau Twins took something from mellow, gorgeous, melancholic, atmospheric tunes like "Big Black Car," "Take Care," and "Holocaust.
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By A Customer on July 12, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I'm actually not sure if I want to recommend this album to anyone. The songs contained herein are the most powerful and tragic songs can get. Anyone who feels that their music does not do enough for them emotionally should buy this record. Big Star had two members when this album was made, and the music was essentially made by Alex Chilton and the producer Jim Dickinson. Rykodisc's release of this never-before completelyt seen album was a godsend. I know you probably think I'm crazy now, because you have probably listened to the audio tracks at Amazon and found them atonal and pathetic, but it is definitely true that one must listen to this album over and over to really get it. The album starts off happy with "Kizza Me" and "Thank You Friends" but soon enough plunges into realms of music which haven't been explored before or since. "Holocaust" is disasterously perfect, and "Blue Moon" (not a cover, an original) is the most moving song I have ever heard. The odd lyrics I can not interpret or even sometimes hear, but I wish I had written them anyway. The instruments also chime in perfectly to match the moods, from the beautiful strings in "Strike It Noel" to the chorus in "Thank You Friends" to the instrumental at the beginning of "Jesus Christ". Music for my darkest hour.
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Format: Audio CD
third/sister lovers is a beautiful and brilliant, unforgettable record but it's so much more than that. excepting nick drake's pink moon and lennon's "primal scream" lp, no recording has ever captured the deterioration of hope and optimism and the cancer of fatalism like this one has.
on its own, sister lovers is full of haunting and lovely material like "blue moon," "dream lover," and "nighttime" but when listened in context, keeping in mind the innocence and youthfulness of #1 record and the "we won't give up" mentality that permeates radio city, only then does this record reveal its harrowing true colors.
take chilton's "car" songs as an example. #1 record gives us "in the street," a youth anthem in which the characters spend much of their time happily driving around town in someone's car. radio city sees this changing for the worse with "back of a car," in which the "music's too loud" and the fun is dissipating fast as the innocence and youth seeps away. here, on sister lovers, there's "big black car," painful in its sorrow and melancholy, talking about driving around as if it's only a memory in the mind of someone who can no longer enjoy any facet of life, not even that which used to give so much; "nothing can hurt me" he says, but we don't believe him, "driving's a gas, it aint gonna last."
in context, third/sister lovers may very well be the most incredible document of giving up since the advent of sound. equally jaw-dropping and miraculous as #1 record and radio city. everything you've heard about big star is an understatement.
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Format: Audio CD
Alex Chilton is one of rock's most fascinating mysteries wrapped in an enigma. He has been worshipped by Paul Westerberg to the point of having a song written about him. According to a man I spoke to in a bar - a highly articulate, well-informed, and obviously intelligent man - Chilton was a janitor somewhere in Tennessee not too long ago. Most recently, this New Orleans resident was reported missing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, the reports of his possible demise were exaggerated. Musically, he was the teenage vocalist on the classic #1 single "The Letter", the unlikely producer for The Cramps, and a major influence on the folky, cryptic alternative rock of R.E.M., the trashier rock of The Replacements, and the more straightforward power pop of Teenage Fanclub. (And that's just to cite the ones who are keen enough to know that they were influenced by him and his band.)

Although Big Star is thought of as the quintessential American power pop band, you would never know it from their third CD, which I will hereafter refer to as Sister Lovers, because I like that title better. Granted, the disc contains "Thank You Friends", which is in the tradition of their classic "September Gurls". (Neither of which are, in my opinion, as perfect as the greatest power pop song ever, "Shake Some Action" by The Flamin' Groovies, who are also a strong candidate for the quintessential American power pop band.) Apart from that, almost all of the songs on Sister Lovers are stark affairs, ones which stick in your head not because they are catchy but because they're haunting.
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