Posts Tagged ‘Ken Stringfellow’

Jordon Zadorozny has been releasing music as Blinker The Star since back in 1994. He has done almost everything an artist would want to do. He got a major label record deal. He’s written music with and for artists like Lindsey Buckingham, Chris Cornell, and Courtney Love. He’s played in some amazing venues and lived the rock and roll life.

You may think that over 25 years into his career, he might be satisfied with cranking out songs that sound like they were written in the mid-’90s. But that just isn’t the case. Jordon has been steadily writing and releasing fresh-sounding music for years. Case in point, Blinker’s new single “Cairo”,

The song has its influences in early ’80s Cure and New Order but with a grittier sound. That is partly Jordon’s writing, partly the people he collaborated with on the track. While Jordon does most of the heavy lifting, he gets some help from long time friends. Bob Wilcox plays the synths in the song, while Ken Stringfellow of The Posies sings backing vocals.

http://

The Band:
Jordon Zadorozny: Drums, bass, guitars, vocals
Chris Church: String arrangement, violin, viola, cello
Filippo Gaetani: Melotron
Jarek Leskiewizc: Ambient/drone guitars
Ken Stringfellow: Backing vocals
Bob Wilcox: Synthesizer and backing vocals

released July 31st, 2020

Big Star - In Space OV-338

October 25th marks the release of the latest in Omnivore’s ongoing Big Star series: an expanded reissue of the band’s 2005 album “In Space”. In four short years, Big Star created three cult classic albums. Their legend grew over the years, and in 1993 – nearly two decades after disbanding – Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens collaborated with The Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow for a one-off performance.

This led to a well-received tour, which led to years of concert performances. A decade later, they surprised everybody with a new studio album, 2005’s In Space. The well-received 12-song set included ten new originals and two covers and was recorded in the fabled Ardent Studios, where Big Star began. The album was originally released on Ryko and received a limited vinyl run on DBK Works. Now, the album will return to vinyl on translucent blue wax and will be expanded on CD to the tune of six bonus tracks. Among them are five unissued demos and alternate mixes, plus the 2003 reunion track “Hot Thing,” previously available on the out-of-print Ryko comp, Big Star Story. The packaging will include notes from Supermegabot’s Jeff Rougvie, formerly of Ryko A&R, plus recollections from Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow, Jody Stephens, engineer Adam Hill, and co-producer Jeff Powell (who also cut the new vinyl edition).

Released in 2005, Big Star’s reunion album In Space has been ignored by some fans, and derided by others. Now some 14 years on, Omnivore Recordings has decided to bring this album back into the spotlight for a much needed reappraisal.

In order to really get a handle on this album, I think it’s important to understand the context. After the group’s implosion in 1974 following the chaotic sessions that would eventually be released as the group’s third and final album, the group’s only two remaining members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens would part ways. While each would remain involved in music, there seemed little hope that in spite of the cult that had begun to sprung up around the music of Big Star that a reunion would ever happen. That all changed in 1993.

Sporadic reunion gigs followed over the ensuing years. But, other than a one-off track, “Hot Thing,” that the lineup cut for a somewhat ill-fated tribute album, Big Star, Small World, in 1997 (eventually the track ended up making it’s debut on the out-of-print Ryko compilation Big Star Story when the company behind the tribute went belly up), at any rate no one expected a new album. So when the notoriously contrarian Chilton suggested the group record some new songs, I can imagine everyone including his bandmates were somewhat shocked.

Convening in Memphis at the legendary Ardent Studios where Big Star recorded their 1970’s recordings; the plan was to write and record a song a day. At the end of the day, In Space featured 12 tracks (10 originals and 2 covers) with songwriting contributions from all members. I remember there was an almost immediate feeling of disappointment upon the albums’ release. Stringfellow later recalled: “The album was released in 2005 and a year later we found ourselves on the main stage of Primavera Sound, a prestigious music festival in Barcelona. Some 10,000 people in the crowd. Before we played ‘Hung Up on Summer’ Alex addressed the crowd: ‘Here’s a song from our latest album . . . you know, it totally bombed— just like the other ones! But don’t worry . . . 30 years from now you’ll be saying it’s the greatest thing ever!’”

In retrospect, I think perhaps we, as fans of the group might have been a bit harsh. Is it a record that scales to the heights that any of the first three Big Star albums do? The short answer is unfortunately, no. But that doesn’t mean the album doesn’t have some nice moments that do a great job of honoring the group’s prior work while pushing the group into some new sonic territory. In Space is a seriously frontloaded album with its first four tracks representing the best the album has to offer. Kicking off with “Dony,” a tune that boasts a crisp autumnal twin guitar groove with Chilton’s vocal delivery a sort of professor hulk amalgamation of all of his various personas from blue-eyed soul crooner, to lounge lizard to reluctant power pop icon.  “Lady Sweet,” drizzles a little bit of daisy glaze on the proceedings that recall some of Radio City‘s hazier moments, “Best Chance,” is classic Jody Stephens power pop optimism in the same mode as Big Star’s 3rd standout “For You.”  While “Turn My Back on the Sun,” is a pitch perfect Beach Boys pastiche. Which makes perfect sense given Chilton’s affection for America’s band, and Big Star 2.0’s penchant for covering “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” live.

After those first four tracks (which would have made a killer EP on their own, mind you), let’s just say your results will vary based on your level of fandom and affection for some of Chilton’s more subversive impulses such as the disco romp, “Love Revolution,” or quirky covers of The Olympics’ “Mine Exclusively” and French baroque composer Georg Muffat’s “Aria, Largo.” While the jam oriented album closer “Makeover,” is a bit of a half-baked commentary on consumerism.

In some ways, it was impossible for Big Star to ever make an album equal to that untouchable trio of 1970’s releases. Those were different times, after all. The guys who recorded In Space were different people in some cases literally, and other cases metaphorically. That doesn’t diminish some of the great music you might discover on here if you open your mind, and adjust your expectations a bit.  It’s still Big Star, and although no one knew it at the time, this was their last time to shine.

Buy the album via Omnivore Recordings.