Big Star, the Memphis rock band whose influence has grown ever greater in the decades since their heyday, will be honoured with the 21 April release of the multi-artist Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … And More. The 90-minute concert film on which it’s based will have its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on 16 March.
The Concord Bicycle Music title will be available in stores 21 April 21 as a 2-CD/DVD or Blu-Ray combo pack, and as a standalone, 2-CD album. All feature the performance, by a distinguished cast of modern-day musicians, of Big Star’s third album, recorded in the early 1970s when the group was largely a studio entity of guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens.
Third (or Sister Lovers, as it was also known) had never been performed live until 2010. Later in that year of Chilton’s sudden death at the age of 59 (just before a scheduled Big Star show at SXSW), friends and admirers gathered to play a fully orchestrated show in his honour in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Thereafter, the show toured internationally, playing material from not only Third but Big Star’s first two albums, #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974). Guest stars and orchestras in each city augmented the core band of sole surviving original member Stephens, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Chris Stamey of the dB’s and the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer.
The core group and a new cast of guests assembled at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California for the performance seen and heard in the Thank You, Friends package. They included Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson (Semisonic), Benmont Tench, Jessica Pratt, Brett Harris, Django Haskins and Skylar Gudasz. A full chamber orchestra was led by the Kronos Quartet and conducted by Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations for Third/Sister Lovers.
Film direction was by Benno Nelson of Yes Equals Yes, and the package has liner notes by Grammy Award-winning writer Anthony DeCurtis and Chris Stamey. The 16 March film screening will be followd by a Q&A with Benno Nelson, Jody Stephens, Mike Mills, Chris Stamey, Ken Stringfellow and Skyler Gudasz. An orchestrated concert featuring many of the participants will take place at the Central Presbyterian Church on 17 March.