Matthew Sweet recommends Alex Chilton and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet’s recommendation: “A band I really continue to dig is Big Star. I would suggest their Radio City album as a start, but also the off-the-rails followup, Third (also called Sister Lovers). #1 Record is also a classic, and features tremendous stuff by band mate Chris Bell. Alex Chilton had a commanding slant in the delivery of his various personal sides, and was as unafraid of extreme musical intimacy as he was delivering a raging rant. In this regard, Alex, to me, was like a John Lennon, someone who put all his feelings into song and had a great courage in his reaching. Beyond all this, crazy great guitars and drums are to be had throughout Big Star’s work. I highly recommend checking them out!”

Related: Paul Westerberg, Craig Finn and others on the passing of Alex Chilton

Matthew SweetAbout our guest author, Matthew Sweet: You simply cannot talk about ’90s alternative music without recognizing the impact of Matthew Sweet. Literally there from the beginning, he worked with Michael Stipe pre-R.E.M., was in a band with Stipe’s sister in the ’80s and then went on to put out THE definitive power pop album (a claim that is backed up by this AV Club article with more accolades at the bottom of this post), Girlfriend, in 1991. From there came excellent guitar driven follow-ups, but Sweet also collaborated on the harmony drenched Thorns record (with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins) and teamed up with Susanna Hoffs to record a pair of excellent cover records. In conjunction with the twentieth anniversary of Girlfriend, Sweet is back with a new collection titled Modern Art, an album that oozes with Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star flavors. Matthew is on tour now, supporting his new record and playing past favorites.

MP3: She Walks the Night by Matthew Sweet

More Praise for Girlfriend:
* Included in Rolling Stone’s Essential Recordings of the 90′s
* Included in Q’s list of the 50 Best Albums Of 1992

Paul Westerberg, Craig Finn, Carrie Brownstein and Patterson Hood carry a torch for Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton

Editor’s note: A day after Chilton’s death, these artists had plenty to say about the great frontman for The Boxtops and Big Star:

The Quote from Paul Westerberg of The Replacements: “In my opinion, Alex was the most talented triple threat musician out of Memphis — and that’s saying a ton. His versatility at soulful singing, pop rock songwriting, master of the folk idiom, and his delving into the avant garde, goes without equal. He was also a hell of a guitar player and a great guy.”

The Source: Statement to the AP, via post on Man Without Ties, 3/18/10

The Quote from Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney: “Musicians and fans have always passed around Big Star songs and albums like a secret handshake. When you found out someone hadn’t heard #1 Record or Radio City, you were so excited to provide that missing link, to pass on all the glimmer, the jangly guitar, the big chords, the melodies, the American anthems that let you keep your teenage self — for some of us long since faded — close, etched upon your skin. And suddenly, you realized that every great band or musician you love also loved Alex Chilton and Big Star; it’s certain.”

The Source:, 3/18/10

The Quote from Craig Finn of the Hold Steady: “…there are so many songs that just give me so much joy. Thank You Friends is one of my favorites. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about positivity in rock n’ roll, I think that’s about as positive a rock song as has ever been written.”

The Source: SXSW interview via Entertainment Weekly, 3/18/10

The Quote from Patterson Hood of The Drive By Truckers: “…It should have been next to the Beatles and the Stones in popularity as well as influence. A lot of it sounded like it came from Britain or something, although you couldn’t deny the southern soulfulness of it, too. That’s what made it so great. It combined that pop sensibility that came over with the British invasion with that southern soul and grittiness. That’s the key. It’s like the Beatles with booty.”

The Source: SXSW interview via Entertainment Weekly, 3/18/10

More on: Alex Chilton and Big Star

The Big Star Box Set:

Big Star: Keep An Eye on the Sky
Big Star: Keep An Eye On the Sky