There isn't much arguing that the three studio albums Alex Chilton cut with Big Star between 1972 and 1975 represent the creative high-water mark of his career, but it doesn't seem to be a period he looks back upon with much fondness. The man rarely plays songs from the Big Star catalog in his solo shows, and while he assembled a new version of the band in 1993 -- with Chilton and original drummer Jody Stephens joined by Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies -- the group has only played sporadic live dates since then (presumably when someone ponies up the right price for a gig), and it has taken 12 years for Chilton to work up the enthusiasm to make a new Big Star album. And to listen to 2005's In Space, it's hard to say if that's what he really wanted to do; In Space sounds a lot more like one of Chilton's likeably shambolic solo albums than a work of fractured but inspired pop genius in the manner of #1 Record or Radio City, with New Orleans R&B, garage rock, and even old-school funk taking as prominent a role in the mix as the Brit-informed guitar hooks of Big Star's glory days.
Since their final studio album in 1978, Big Star have built up a huge legacy - but largely without the help of leader Alex Chilton. His attitude to the pioneering power-pop band - whose short, fraught lifespan produced three albums that were largely ignored at the time - is so wryly antagonistic you wonder why he has reactivated the name at all. On board are original member Jody Stephens, plus Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, late of Big Star devotees the Posies, who have played with Stephens and Chilton since 1992.