Too Late to Stop Now
Complete Third (Omnivore)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Dec. 16, 2016
If any band outside of the Velvet Underground can lay claim to inventing indie rock, it's Big Star. The Alex Chilton-led Memphis act's first two LPs, 1972's #1 Record and 1974's Radio City, defined a style of American power-pop that reconnected British Invasion rock with its stateside R&B roots. Third (aka Sister Lovers) remains the Rosetta stone. Recorded the same year as Radio City, but posthumously released in 1978 and reissued in 1992, it blends heartfelt songs and drug-fueled experimentalism. "Nighttime," "Kangaroo," and "Holocaust" have been covered often, and everyone from the Replacements to Neutral Milk Hotel owes this album. Collecting all extant recordings from its chaotic sessions, Complete Third attempts a definitive version. Disc one includes solo Chilton demos, early roughs, and studio tomfoolery. Disc two splits more mixes between credited producer Jim Dickinson and Ardent studio owner/Big Star ally John Fry. Disc three puts together finished tracks from various sources to make the complete LP. Only hardcores will follow the path from conception to completion, but the compositions, even at their most skeletal, endure regardless of repetition. A masterpiece at any level.