First-to-CD reissue of Big Star's 1972 first album. Expected to come housed in a mini-LP type cardboard sleeve. The problem with coming in late on an artwork lauded as "influential" is that you've probably encountered the work it influenced first, so its truly innovative qualities are lost. Thus, if you are hearing Big Star's debut album for the first time decades after its release (as, inevitably, most people must), you may be reminded of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers or R.E.M., who came after – that is, if you don't think of the Byrds and the Beatles circa 1965. What was remarkable about #1 Record in 1972 was that nobody except Big Star (and maybe Badfinger and the Raspberries) wanted to sound like this – simple, light pop with sweet harmonies and jangly guitars.
By all rights, the album that came to be known as Big Star's Third should have been a disaster. It was written and recorded in 1975, when Alex Chilton's brilliant but tragically overlooked band had all but broken up. As Chilton pondered his next move, he was drinking and drugging at a furious pace while writing a handful of striking tunes that were often beautiful but also reflected his bitterness and frustration with his career (and the music business in general). Production of the album wasn't completed so much as it simply stopped, and none of the major figures involved ever decided on a proper sequence for the finished songs, or even a title. (The album was also known as Sister Lovers and Beale Street Green at various times.) And yet, Third has won a passionate and richly deserved cult following over the years, drawn in by the emotional roller coaster ride of the songs, informed by equal parts love, loss, rage, fear, hope, and defeat.
The Vienna Art Orchestra is a 15-member jazz orchestra that features the avant-garde arrangements and compositions of its leader, pianist Mathias Ruegg. This is a reissue of their 1980 debut, an important document in the post-modern jazz movement. The opening, title track is a joyous, folkish tango that's been cartoonishly toyed with, featuring three solo sections. The marimba section is also ornamented with vocalese from Lauren Newton, followed by an extremely playful horn lead that sounds like a toy instrument. The solo offering from violinist Rudi Berger has an electronically effected fusion sound. A tight, alto sax solo by Wolfgang Puschnig ties everything together neatly with a lengthy, unaccompanied performance.