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Max’s Icon: Big Star

Max’s Icon: Big Star

In December 1973, Big Star performed for two nights at Max’s Kansas City. They had just finished their second album Radio City and played mainly to music writers on the first night. Billboard Magazine’s Sam Sutherland was there for it all.

The band opened with a solo slot by Chilton, singing “The Ballad of El Goodo” and “Thirteen”, two of the most evocative songs on the group’s first release. Chilton’s aura of fragility was perfect for those songs, one an anthem of self-realization, the second a bittersweet but loving re-creation of true teen first love that is parenthetically a eulogy for the innocent vitality of rock in the early 60′s.

From there, Big Star shifted into electric overdrive with full force. Chilton’s electric guitar taking command. Despite some rough edges–the band hadn’t played, except for a quick rehearsal, in months–the set was a triumph, covering some exciting bases with the new tunes.

With virtually no publicity outside the industry itself, the second night crowd was lean. Hopefully , this one group that won’t suffer the frustrating fate of the best critics’ bands: a second LP is due in January, and, with Chilton’s presence and some solid material, it would be sad indeed to see Big Star lost in the shuffle.

–Sam Sutherland, Billboard Magazine, Dec 22, 1973