Back in the seventies it was possible to be a minor big thing and unlike now, leave absolutely no vapor trail at all; as weird as it may sound, posthumously anointed legends such as Nick Drake and Gram Parsons had to be resurrected by fanatical devotees after years in the wilderness and out of catalogue.
Big Star went much the same way after releasing three records which typically you couldn’t even find due to a spaghetti shaped pile of issues with their distributors and everyone else. Formed in 1971 when former Box Top Alex Chilton returned home to Memphis and began writing with Chris Bell, they became a four piece with the additions of bass Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens. Fractious but with talent to burn, their debut album #1 Record got rave reviews but sold pitifully and Bell had already left by the time it’s follow up Radio City was released in 1974, the results for the band depressingly similar.
September Gurls illustrates the paradoxical nature of their appeal; too pop for the increasingly stoned rock fans, too clever and Anglicised for the bubblegum market, Chilton and co. were unfathomably complicated for the fame they craved. It wasn’t until more than a decade later that a cadre of fans like The Replacements Paul Westerberg gave them a profile once more, the 20th century finally noticing music that was being unearthed like treasure brought up from an archaeologist’s dig. At last vanishing back into obscurity was no longer possible.