A Big Star tribute album that was originally planned for release in 1999 will finally see the light of day this spring. “Big Star, Small World” is due May 23 via Koch and features contributions by Wilco, Matthew Sweet with R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, the Posies, Juliana Hatfield and Teenage Fanclub, among others.
The lone track that has been added to the original lineup is the Afghan Whigs’ cover of “Nightime,” replacing Sister Hazel’s take on “September Gurls.” Big Star itself appears on the album with “Hot Thing,” which was previously released on Rykodisc’s 2003 retrospective “Big Star Story.”
A number of the tracks here come off as note-for-note recreations of the original, particularly Sweet’s “Ballad of El Goodo” and Gin Blossoms’ “Back of a Car.” Elsewhere, Wilco affixes pedal steel, piano and strings to the classic “Thirteen,” while the Whigs pump “Nightime” up into a yearning power ballad.
In 2005, Big Star released “In Space,” its first studio album since 1978. The group, which features surviving members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens augmented by the Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, has a handful of spring/summer shows on tap, including May 5 at Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival, May 21 at Atlanta’s Centennial Park and June 3 at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
In addition, Big Star has shot a video for the “In Space” standout “Lady Sweet” with director Tim Sutton.
Here is the track list for “Big Star, Small World”:
“Back of a Car,” Gin Blossoms
“Nightime,” Afghan Whigs
“Ballad of El Goodo,” Matthew Sweet
“Don’t Lie to Me,” Juliana Hatfield
“You Get What You Deserve,” Idlewild
“Give Me Another Chance,” Whiskeytown
“When My Baby’s Beside Me,” Kelly Willis
“Jesus Christ,” Teenage Fanclub
“What’s Going On?,” Posies
“Hot Thing,” Big Star