INCOMING: The Complete Big Star Third Sessions



MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After a nearly decade-long search for unheard session recordings from Big Star’s Third LP, the results are finally in. Recorded in 1974 but not released for the first time until 1978, Third would be subsequently re-released, renamed and re-sequenced many times over the years. While some demos and alternate versions and mixes of songs have dribbled out on various compilations, all extant recordings made for the famed album are presented for the first time on Complete Third, due out on Omnivore Recordings on October 14, 2016. Set includes every demo, rough mix, alternate take and final master known to exist, plus extensive liner notes from original participants and artists deeply influenced by Big Star, as well as many previously unseen photos.

The definitive collection boasts 69 total tracks, 29 of which are previously unheard session recordings, demos and alternate mixes made by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry. The set allows the listener to track the creation of the album from the original demos, through sessions and rough mixes, to the final masters of each song.

Besides the contextualizing main essay from journalist/A&R executive Bud Scoppa, extensive notes from original participants and artists influenced by Big Star are also included: Jody Stephens (Big Star), Mary Lindsay Dickinson (widow of producer Jim Dickinson), Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Adam Hill (Ardent staff producer), Elizabeth A. Hoehn, Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson (The Bangles), Peter Holsapple (The dB’s), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Cheryl Pawelski (Omnivore Recordings), Pat Rainer (Memphis photographer/friend of band), Danny Graflund (Alex Chilton’s bodyguard), Jeff Rougvie (former Rykodisc A&R), Pat Sansone (Wilco), Chris Stamey (The dB’s), John Stirratt (Wilco), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star), and Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate). Initially, the collection will be released in a 3-CD box set and digitally with three separate double LPs to follow at a later date, each vinyl volume representing a CD in the boxed set.

From Bud Scoppa’s liner notes: “The small but rabid cult of Big Star, composed initially of rock critics and hometown Memphis hipsters, coalesced around 1972’s #1 Record, which supercharged the legacy of The Beatles and The Byrds, and 1974’s Radio City, which brought additional attitude and poignancy to the recipe. The shimmering brilliance of Big Star’s sound and songs on those two LPs, along with its underdog allure, would have been sufficient to perpetuate the band’s legend. But there was a third album, and that strange beast of a record made all the difference for subsequent generations of fans—many of whom formed bands of their own—who turned each other on to this music as if it were a secret religion or a trippy new drug.”

Ardent Studios Adam Hill wrote: “Ask any of the original participants who made the record, and none of them would say they expected this album to even see a real release, much less end up on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 best albums of all time… It’s an amazing snapshot of the artists and the times and circumstances in which the recordings were made. It’s a great testament to Third that an album that almost nobody was interested in at the time of its pressing, is now loved and sought out by an ever growing legion of fans. I guess that’s called ‘ahead of its time.’”

And finally, surviving Big Star member Jody Stephens recalls the time and place: “At the time of the recording, everyone’s emotions were forefront… is uncertainty an emotion? We were responding to Alex’s mood both in song and conversation. All my time spent in the studio for Third was in the company of John (Fry) and Jim (Dickinson) as well as Alex. I heard stories of maudlin scenes that happened after hours but never really witnessed them. But I did witness Alex, Jim, and John, and the sometimes easy and sometimes uneasy interaction among us all. Through it all, Jim and John were brilliant and reassuring.”

CD/Digital Track List:

Vol. 1: Demos To Sessions To Roughs
1. Like St. Joan (Kanga Roo)* (Demo)
2. Lovely Day (Demo)
3. Downs (Demo)
4. Femme Fatale (Demo)
5. Thank You Friends (Demo)
6. Holocaust (Demo)
7. Jesus Christ (Demo)
8. Blue Moon (Demo)
9. Nightime (Demo)
10. Take Care (Demo)
11. Big Black Car (Demo #2/Acoustic Take 1)
12. Don’t Worry Baby
13. I’m In Love With A Girl*
14. Big Black Car (Demo #3/Acoustic Take 2)
15. I’m So Tired* – Alex & Lesa
16. That’s All It Took* – Alex & Lesa
17. Pre-Downs*
18. Baby Strange*
19. Big Black Car (Demo #1/Band)
20. Kizza Me* (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
21. Till the End Of the Day* (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal, Kept As Final Vocal)
22. Thank You Friends* (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
23. O, Dana* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
24. Dream Lover* (Dickinson Rough Mix)

Vol. 2: Roughs To Mixes
1. Big Black Car* (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
2. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
3. Take Care* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
4. Holocaust* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
5. Nightime* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
6. Thank You Friends* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
7. Nature Boy* (Dickinson Rough Mix)
8. After Hours* – Lesa
9. Stroke It Noel (Backwards Intro)
10. Lovely Day* (Fry Rough Mix)
11. Nightime* (Fry Rough Mix)
12. Blue Moon* (Fry Rough Mix)
13. Till The End Of The Day (Alternate Mix #1)
14. Big Black Car (Fry Rough Mix)
15. Holocaust (Fry Alternate/Rough Mix)
16. Downs* (Fry Rough Mix)
17. Kanga Roo (Fry Rough Mix)
18. Femme Fatale* (Fry Rough Mix)
19. For You* (Alternate Version/Alex Vocal)
20. Thank You Friends * (Fry Rough Mix)
21. Take Care* (Alternate Version/Alex Vocal)
22. Kizza Me* (Fry Rough Mix)
23. Till the End Of the Day (FRY Rough Mix #2) – Lesa
24. Nature Boy (Fry Rough Mix)
25. Mañana

Vol. 3: Final Masters
1. Stroke It Noel
2. Downs
3. Femme Fatale
4. Thank You Friends
5. Holocaust
6. Jesus Christ
7. Blue Moon
8. Kizza Me
9. For You
10. O, Dana
11. Nightime
12. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
13. Kanga Roo
14. Take Care
15. Big Black Car
16. Dream Lover
17. You Can’t Have Me
18. Till the End Of the Day
19. Lovely Day
20. Nature Boy

* Previously unissued