Big Star's Classic 'Third' Receives Massive Reissue - Rolling Stone
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Big Star’s Classic ‘Third’ Receives Massive Reissue

Collection features 69 tracks, 29 unheard recordings plus demos, rough mixes, vocal guides

Big Star‘s classic record Third wasn’t released until 1978, four years after it was recorded and four years after Big Star had broken up. The chaotic recording sessions will be released as part of a huge 69-track reissue called Complete Third, charting the album’s genesis from demos to completed LP. The reissue is due October 14th on Omnivore Recordings. 

‘Volume One’ includes Chilton’s demos alongside vocals and rough mixes. ‘Volume Two: Roughs to Mixes’ boasts producers Jim Dickinson and John Fry’s early mixes for the Third tracks, including unreleased takes of Lesa Aldredge, Chilton’s girlfriend at the time and background singer on Third, covering Velvet Underground’s “After Hours.” ‘Volume Three: Final Masters,’ contains the 20 completed tracks. 

Regardless of track order, the album was named to Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time despite its tumultuous journey. “Ask any of the original participants who made the record, and none of them would say they expected this album to even see a real release, much less end up on Rolling Stone‘s list,” Ardent Studios’ Adam Hill writes of the album in the reissue’s liner notes. 

“It’s a great testament to Third that an album that almost nobody was interested in at the time of its pressing, is now loved and sought out by an ever growing legion of fans. I guess that’s called ‘ahead of its time,'” he said. 

The reissue also features unseen photos and essays penned by a diverse group of people either involved in the making of or influenced by Third, such as R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Wilco’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson, post-reunion Big Star member Ken Stringfellow and the band’s drummer Jody Stephens.

Big Star

“At the time of the recording, everyone’s emotions were forefront … is uncertainty an emotion? We were responding to Alex’s mood both in song and conversation,” Stephens writes. “All my time spent in the studio for Third was in the company of John (Fry) and Jim (Dickinson) as well as Alex. I heard stories of maudlin scenes that happened after hours but never really witnessed them. But I did witness Alex, Jim, and John, and the sometimes easy and sometimes uneasy interaction among us all. Through it all, Jim and John were brilliant and reassuring.”

Complete Third will initially be released as a 3-CD set, with a vinyl pressing of all three volumes as standalone 2-LPs also planned.

Complete Third Track List

Volume 1: Demos to Sessions to Roughs
1. “Like St. Joan (Kanga Roo)” * (Demo)
2. “Lovely Day” (Demo)
3. “Downs” (Demo)
4. “Femme Fatale” (Demo)
5. “Thank You Friends” (Demo)
6. “Holocaust” (Demo)
7. “Jesus Christ” (Demo)
8. “Blue Moon” (Demo)
9. “Nightime” (Demo)
10. “Take Care” (Demo)
11. “Big Black Car” (Demo #2/Acoustic Take 1)
12. “Don’t Worry Baby”
13. “I’m In Love With A Girl” *
14. “Big Black Car” (Demo #3/Acoustic Take 2)
15. “I’m So Tired” * – Alex & Lesa
16. “That’s All It Took” * – Alex & Lesa
17. “Pre-Downs” *
18. “Baby Strange” *
19. “Big Black Car” (Demo #1/Band)
20. “Kizza Me” * (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
21. “Till the End Of the Day” * (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal, Kept As Final Vocal)
22. “Thank You Friends” * (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
23. “O, Dana” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
24. “Dream Lover” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)

Vol. 2: Roughs to Mixes
1. “Big Black Car” * (Dickinson Rough Mix/Alex Guide Vocal)
2. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
3. “Take Care” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
4. “Holocaust” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
5. “Nightime” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
6. “Thank You Friends” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
7. “Nature Boy” * (Dickinson Rough Mix)
8. “After Hours” * – Lesa
9. “Stroke It Noel” (Backwards Intro)
10. “Lovely Day” * (Fry Rough Mix)
11. “Nightime” * (Fry Rough Mix)
12. “Blue Moon” * (Fry Rough Mix)
13. “Till The End Of The Day” (Alternate Mix #1)
14. “Big Black Car” (Fry Rough Mix)
15. “Holocaust” (Fry Alternate/Rough Mix)
16. “Downs” * (Fry Rough Mix)
17. “Kanga Roo” (Fry Rough Mix)
18. “Femme Fatale” * (Fry Rough Mix)
19. “For You” * (Alternate Version/Alex Vocal)
20. “Thank You Friends” * (Fry Rough Mix)
21. “Take Care” * (Alternate Version/Alex Vocal)
22. “Kizza Me” * (Fry Rough Mix)
23. “Till the End Of the Day” (FRY Rough Mix #2) – Lesa
24. “Nature Boy” (Fry Rough Mix)
25. “Mañana”

Vol. 3: Final Masters
1. “Stroke It Noel”
2. “Downs”
3. “Femme Fatale”
4. “Thank You Friends”
5. “Holocaust”
6. “Jesus Christ”
7. “Blue Moon”
8. “Kizza Me”
9. “For You”
10. “O, Dana”
11. “Nightime”
12. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”
13. “Kanga Roo”
14. “Take Care”
15. “Big Black Car”
16. “Dream Lover”
17. “You Can’t Have Me”
18. “Till the End Of the Day”
19. “Lovely Day”
20. “Nature Boy”

* previously unreleased

In This Article: Alex Chilton, Big Star


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