Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Music - Big Star blast out "Ballad of El Goodo" (1993)

Years ago, my heart was set to live, but I've been trying hard against unbelievable odds. 

Alex Chilton's Big Star (v 2.0) blast out the gorgeous pained "Ballad of El Goodo" in University of Missouri on April 25th, 1993.

A bleak (''it gets so hard at times like now to hold on'') yet beautiful tale of a man right on the edge. A guy hellbent on a dire course of events who knows "there ain't no one gonna turn me 'round.''

Written by Alex Chilton (although co-credited to Chris Bell), the song was one of the highlights on Big Star's seminal debut LP #1 Record released back in 1972.

Big Star in  1993 - From left: Jonathan Auer, Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow.

After a hiatus of nigh two decades, Big Star unexpectedly reformed in 1993 with a new line-up. Guitarist Jon Auer and bassist Ken Stringfellow joined two of the original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens.

Original member Chris Bell had, sadly, passed away years earlier in 1974, while Andy Hummel elected not to participate in the reunion.

Stringfellow and Auer were playing in the wonderful Posies before hooking up with Chilton and Stephens for for what was supposed to be just a single show at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Auer and Stringfellow remain members of The Posies, founded by the pair in 1986. Stringfellow is also known for his work with R.E.M. and The Minus 5.

The resurrected band made its debut at the 1993 University of Missouri spring music festival. A recording of the performance was issued on CD by Zoo Records as Columbia: Live at Missouri University.

The concert was followed by tours of Europe and Japan, as well as an appearance on The Tonight Show.

Early material dominated the reformed Big Star's performances, with the occasional addition of a song from a 2005 album In Space.

Stringfellow recalled that at an early reunion meeting ...
 "We were working out the set list and we went to this little cafe. Little did I know we'd be playing that set for the next ten years".
Big Star performed for years after the supposed one-off reunion gig, until Chilton's death on March 17, 2010 brought an end to the band.

MU alumnus S. Clayton Moore, who as lucky enough to attend the momentous reunion gig, recalled ...
I don't know if "the ground rumbled," but it was a hell of a show. I was there, a student at the University of Missouri, Columbia (I don't know where the hell they got that Missouri University thing). 
Some details for you fans... The show was organized by MU's student radio station, KCOU, very nearly by accident. The station already had booked Alex for the annual Springfest, again organized by KCOU, and somebody there said - "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if.."! 
And history was made with just a couple of calls to Alex, Jody and the Posies. 
We were outside in a tent, of all things, because the Hearnes Center was booked with, if I remember right, a Bryan Adams concert. There couldn't have been 200 people in the tent, either. 
As always, it was a great performance by the best unknown band in the world. Alex was in fine form, and was a treat to see during his waking hours, versus some of the darker shows I've seen him do. 
And it was the only time I've seen him perform Chris Bell's work, which was nice.

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