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July 18, 2018

S-L-U-T — Todd Rundgren — BIG STAR

S-L-U-T — Todd Rundgren

BIG STAR "Slut"!

Live At Lafayette's Music Room, Memphis, TN, January 1973.

It's available on disc 4 of the Big Star box set called "Keep an Eye On the Sky" (Rhino)

See that girl, watch her dance
If I knew her name I wouldn't have to sit on my hands
If my mouth don't work I get some help
And she don't mind if I don't keep my hands to myself
You're all right
You put up such a good clean fight
I'm afraid that you lose tonight
She may be a slut but she looks good to me You're so clean, so refined
You don't care to get messy just to have a good time
She's got saggy thighs and baggy eyes
But she loves me in a way I can still recognize

Slut (Live at University of Missouri, Columbia, MO - April 1993)

When ornery Alex Chilton reunited Big Star

March 21, 2010| By Mark Caro | Tribune staff reporter
It wasn't quite Spinal Tap opening for Puppet Show, but the incongruity was striking:

A fabled band, seen by maybe hundreds in its original incarnation, was performing its first show in almost 20 years, and it was listed way down on the bill of a Missouri school's free SpringFest being held in a tent in a basketball arena's parking lot.
Bryan Adams would be headlining inside the arena that night in April 1993, but mid-afternoon in the tent, Big Star would be thrilling and occasionally mystifying a giddy cluster of fans who never thought they'd see this day, myself included.

I'd discovered Big Star in the mid-1980s, when punchy, jingly groups such as R.E.M., the Replacements, the Bangles, Let's Active, Our Favorite Band, and the dB's were touting and sometimes covering songs from the band's three barely distributed albums.

Big Star hadn't performed since 1974; had never mounted a true tour, and its leader, Alex Chilton, consistently dismissed the band's importance, while pursuing an erratic, highly idiosyncratic solo career.

So when I learned that Big Star would be playing a show at the University of Missouri-Columbia — with Chilton and original drummer, Jody Stephens, augmented by guitarist Jonathan Auer and bassist Kenneth Stringfellow from the Seattle power-pop band the Posies — I knew I had to make a pilgrimage.

Two Big Star fans working at the campus radio station had tracked down Chilton's home number in New Orleans, and the singer turned out to be, in student Mike Mulvihill's words, "really receptive" to the suggestion that the band reunite on campus.

The undergrads were stunned, as was Stephens, who said before the show that he had "no idea" why Chilton finally had agreed to a long-discussed revival.

In the parking lot before the show, people gave the floppy-haired Chilton, then 42, a wide berth.

When I asked why he'd decided to do this concert, he drawled:

"No good reason."

The show bristled with the kind of tension between craft and anarchy that had characterized Chilton over the years.

Some performances were stirring ("The Ballad of El Goodo"), some ebullient ("In the Street," "Daisy Glaze"), and some just perverse, such as Chilton's lecherous interjections of "Baby!" and "You know what I'm talking about!" during the aching youth love ballad, "Thirteen."

That last one didn't make the live CD that Zoo Records released later that year.

How did Chilton feel about the show afterward?

"I've felt worse."

Did he want to do more Big Star shows?


Fortunately for Big Star fans, the singer's orneriness wasn't consistent.

The four-piece lineup continued to perform occasionally over the ensuing years, including a 1994 set at Metro that was going swimmingly until Chilton dedicated a cover of Todd Rundgren's "Slut" to Stephens' wife, enraging the drummer.

There was even a new Big Star album, "In Space," in 2005.

Big Star was scheduled to play Saturday night at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, but Chilton, 59, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack in New Orleans.

I own albums that are closer to flawless than Big Star's "No. 1 Record," "Radio City" and "Third/Sister Lovers," but there are very few I play as often.

He (with the late Chris Bell on the first album) combined perfect pop craftsmanship and spontaneity, beauty and rawness in ways I've not otherwise heard.
As the band stepped down from the tent's stage in April 1993, engineer Jim Citronella asked Chilton whether the band could perform the rocker "Don't Lie to Me" a second time to get a better take for the live CD.

Chilton dismissed the suggestion with a phrase that could serve as his epitaph: