My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: 3rd is, oddly enough, the third album by the Memphis band Big Star. The album was recorded in 1974, but the band couldn’t find a record label to put it out and broke up soon after. It was eventually released in 1978 as 3rd. Over the years it has been released with different tracks and songs orders as 3rd and/or Sister Lovers. The version linked to on Spotify is the 1992 Ryodisc release curated by producer Jim Dickinson which is supposed to reflect the original test pressing.
What I think: To my own disappointment, I’ve never been hooked in by Big Star. They have been such a huge influence on so much of the music I listen to, but just isn’t for me. That being said, I have never listened to this album before and while this isn’t some sort of revelation to me, I do like it much more than the first two albums. I think it’s that there is a real sadness mixed in the power pop that dilutes some of the sugar. In that sadness, there are also some wonderful backing vocals and a string section that would normally put me off, but fits these songs perfectly. It’s also a journey, starting on a more sweet and sad path and then going into a disturbing mental illness/depression path with Holocaust. If the songs were recorded in order they were placed on the album, then you can hear Chilton’s descent.
The songs that are the best here are the ones that proceed that descent in “Jesus Christ”, the wonderful cover of “Femme Fatale”, the poppy and sad “O, Dana” and the right turn and absolute anguish of “Holocaust”.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I’m glad it is here, it is a great recording and it has a compelling story.
Rating (Out of 5): 3.5/5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (318/416)