Saturday, 2 March 2013

GFF 2013: Glasgow Kizz

Glasgow Film Festival 2013's closing gala party features a tribute to Big Star, with DJ sets from Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and the good folks at Monorail. We take a look at some of the ways Big Star and Glasgow have connected over the years...

Over 4000 miles of Dixie and ocean separate Memphis, Tennessee from Glasgow, Scotland, but influence travels far without fatigue. As tonight’s closing gala tribute will underscore, the music of Big Star has had a pronounced impact on many of our city’s musicians, with the mercurial Alex Chilton particularly cherished thanks to time spent here and friendships made before his sad passing in 2010, aged just 59. Through a handful of songs, we consider some of the ways in which Glasgow has shown Big Star love over the years, and been shown it back.

Teenage Fanclub – Ret Liv Dead
The Fannies have never been shy about showing their indebtedness to Chilton and co, going as far as to name fourth album Thirteen after #1 Record’s wistful paean to adolescent romance. While Thirteen occupies a relatively lowly position in the band’s radiant discography, the fuzzy beauty of Ret Liv Dead pins down the influence: blissful melodies, vibrant guitar lines and a frequent, almost tangible melancholia.

V-Twin – Derailed
V-Twin’s Jason McPhail was a close friend of Chilton’s, putting him up on his visits to Glasgow and spearheading the Mono tribute concert held in mid-2010. This gently abrasive ballad combines a simple vocal-plus-guitar melody with creaking strings and pockets of feedback – a rough-with-the-smooth aesthetic suggestive of Big Star’s opus work Third/Sister Lovers.

Primal Scream – Star
According to Bobby Gillespie, Big Star influenced Primal Scream in ways “too many to mention” (with Chilton’s early tutelage of The Cramps also notably formative). We’ve singled out Vanishing Point’s oasis of calm Star –not because its title constitutes 50% of the act in question, but because its woozy lullaby reportedly found a fan in Chilton himself.

1990s – Take Me Home and Make Me Like It
V-Twin’s other core member Michael McGaughrin went on to drum with zesty rock and rollers 1990s, who have been known to perform this ramshackle slice of honky-tonk sleaze-pop live. First appearing on Chilton’s Bach’s Bottom LP, the track constitutes one of the more accessible moments in a sprawling solo career known to split Big Star devotees down the middle.

Teenage Fanclub & Alex Chilton – I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)
A second Teenage Fanclub appearance brings this mini mix-tape full circle. The Belshill band collaborated with their idol-cum-cohort on several occasions, with this soulful take on I’ve Never Found a Girl – recorded for mid-nineties Scottish arts show Don’t Look Down – particularly worth tracking down on your online video sharing site of choice.

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