Perhaps this is a valid forum through which to ask if I should actually cast my fear aside and listen to the thing…
I’m a huge Big Star fan and borderline apologist for the Posies (who have filled out the Bell and Hummel-less BS lineup since the ’90s). “Borderline” because there’s no excuse for this goddamn thing. Terrible.
So, yes, you should listen to it, of course. Kill your idols.
Big Star - “Kangaroo” (Big Star Third/Sister Lovers)
As mentioned in this post, here’s the spectacular original version of “Kangaroo,” courtesy of Alex Chilton and producer Jim Dickinson.
Chilton supposedly recorded the vocals and twelve-string acoustic on a single track late at night, then dared Dickinson to do something with it the next day. Together, they added a little mellotron, a little feedback, some drums, and, oh yes, some prominent, off-time cowbell. Nothing says “this calm, ethereal facade is about to fall apart at any second” like someone banging on a cowbell.
"This Calm, Ethereal Facade is About to Fall Apart at any Second" could also serve as an alternate title for Big Star Third/Sister Lovers, but it’s probably okay with the two it already has.
"True power pop is rueful and celebratory at the same time, glorifying desire and frustration, which is why so many power-pop songs concern themselves with the subject of Tonight, or Tomorrow Night, or Saturday Night, or some other night that will only be perfect for as long as it can be deferred. Depression stalks the genre, from Brian Wilson and Emitt Rhodes to the dual suicides of Badfinger, Pete Ham and Tom Evans; from Big Star’s Chris Bell, who struggled with profound depression right up to the night in 1978 that he crashed his Triumph TR-6 into a telephone pole, to Material Issue’s Jim Ellison and to Doug Hopkins, the lead singer of the Gin Blossoms, suicides alike. All the clouds of power pop are worn inside out to show the silver lining."
Michael Chabon, writing on power pop, generally, and Big Star’s Keep an Eye on the Sky box set, specifically
An eloquent way of saying, “When it comes to depression, I’ll see your Joy Division and raise you a Badfinger.”
(Slight correction: Doug Hopkins was actually the guitarist for the Gin Blossoms, and part of his particular tragedy is that the band fired him and re-recorded all of his parts before releasing their label debut, which went on to massive success largely on the merits of his songs.)