Release Date: Jun 25, 2013
Record label: Omnivore
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Power Pop
Big Star weren't perfect. The word gets thrown around a lot, especially regarding to their debut, #1 Record, as if perfection were their triumph. They were a band of few, if any triumphs; theirs was a losers' history upgraded by the passage of time and the success of those they influenced. Big Star were marked by their lack of triumph.
This soundtrack to the fine documentary on the classic-rock era's greatest cult band makes Big Star's fame-fumble sting anew. The selections, all "previously unissued," include most of the band's best songs. If the alternate versions aren't all that different from the originals, they're no less dazzling, dense with harmonies and hooks whose perfectly turned imperfections make their aches leap out of the speakers.
Originally released as a limited-edition double-LP for Record Store Day 2013, the soundtrack to the Big Star documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me certainly does appeal to vinyl-besotted pop fanatics. Not one of these 20 songs are present in their familiar, original mixes: there's an occasional demo, many rough mixes from the time, and plenty of movie mixes dating from 2012, the year Nothing Can Hurt Me started screening at various film festivals across the United States. There are a couple of non-canonical rarities here -- the minor-key dirge "Better Save Yourself" and Alex Chilton's delicate acoustic "All We Ever Got from Them Was Pain" -- but this album is all about subtle differences from the well-known, well-loved mixes.
The soundtrack to the new documentary “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me” consists of rejiggered mixes of performances released on the band’s original albums. That makes it unessential, but it somehow reveals more new angles on the power-pop standard bearers’ perfect songs than 2009’s “Keep an Eye on the Sky” box set managed over four discs. Every song has some minor detail turned upside down; the focus of “When My Baby’s Beside Me” is shifted to the dry hitch of the guitars and insistent bass, while “My Life Is Right” buries the harmonies and 12-string acoustic and “Way Out West” foregrounds Jody Stephens’s vocal.