Big Star: In Space (Omnivore) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, December 16th, 2019  

Big Star

In Space

Omnivore

Nov 28, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


In Space is the Big Star album released in 2005, when the band was composed of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens from the original Big Star along with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, who filled out the latter incarnation Big Star from 1993 until Chilton's untimely death in 2010. As such, the first thing to be said about In Space is that it cannot be thought of as a true Big Star album and, honestly, it sounds very little like one. The second thing that must be said is that it's not a particularly cohesive record. Third, however, is that In Space is a terrific, albeit scattered piece of work, and one that we were lucky to even get from Chilton and the Posies boys.

As a whole, In Space is something of a mix between a Posies/retro Big Star record and a 1990s Chilton solo album, with a leaning probably more toward the latter. Chilton's latter day proclivities are more than apparent on the silly, funky, horn-filled "Love Revolution," the '50s-esque "Whole New Thing," the other '50s-esque horn-y "Do You Wanna Make It," and the obligatory cover, "Mine Exclusively," originally performed by The Olympics in 1966. Chilton also includes his (and the band's) arrangement of Goerg Muffat's "Aria, Largo" instrumental. Auer and Stringfellow hew more toward classic Big Star, singing leads on the melodic pop gems "Lady Sweet," "Turn My Back On the Sun," and "February's Quiet."

Omnivore Records' reissue adds six bonus tracks to fill out the album proper. "Hot Thing," which didn't make the initial album release and previously saw the light of day on the Big Star Story compilation, fits the retro Chilton aesthetic to a tee and is a perfect addition to this reissue. A rough mix of the Chilton-sung "Dony" is a playful glimpse of the band in the studio. A Stephens/Auer demo of "February's Quiet" is a fly-on-the-wall look into the how the song came to be, and two Auer "sketches" of "Lady Sweet" are interesting but incomplete. An a cappella version of "Turn My Back on the Sun" is exquisite, reminding of isolated vocal takes of old Beach Boys tracks.

Almost 15 years on, In Space deserves to be reconsidered. As much as it is a mixed bag, it is quintessential Alex Chilton, backed by and working with one of the best bands he ever assembled. (www.omnivorerecordings.com

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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