Big Star - Kanga Roo
Much of Third’s mystery comes from its numerous permutations, much from Alex Chilton’s frazzled state of mind. But let’s be fair, this is an album that will never quite be unravelled. Remember earlier in the week when I said that Chilton sneers his way through ‘Thank You Friends’? Well, aside from his troubling cries of “I WANT TO WHITE OUT” on ‘Kizza Me’, it’s pretty much the only time he lets his emotions take charge of a song. The rest of the time, it’s down to the music.
On ‘Kanga Roo’ especially, he simply gets consumed by the sounds around him. The burning feedback, distorted guitars, illogical dribbles of strings (carefully recreated note for nonsensical note for those tribute concerts) and clayfisted acoustic strums all contribute to the most far-out track in the Big Star catalogue. Hearing this song alone, you can totally understand why it’s had such a direct stranglehold on another crop of bands - Graham Coxon allegedly listened to a lot of it while writing his parts for Blur’s self-titled record, while any album that sounds a quarter as trashed gets at least a glancing comparison.
But it’s also easy to forget that there are actually some glimmers of light here too. ‘Jesus Christ’ is a perfect secular hymn, while the bouncy ‘O, Dana’ and the spacey ‘Stroke It Noel’ (with the least enthusiastic “Do you wanna dance?” ever sung) are actually - dare I say it? - kinda fun. And maybe, y’know, your copy might also have the version of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ - that’s pretty damn loose too.
So yeah, Big Star’s Third. I guess it’s anything you want it to be.