Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

9. Big StarThird/Sister Lovers

Sister Lovers is one of the most beautiful records. It’s probably the record I’ve listened to more than any other. It’s just a damaged and fractured, beautiful, plaintive, poetic record. And it still retains its sense of mystery. When we first went to Memphis we met Jim Dickinson [producer] and I asked him loads of questions on how he recorded Sister Lovers. We actually went to the studios where they recorded the album twice. We were absolutely obsessed by that record. Dickinson told stories about the recording process and allowing Alex Chilton to be himself. There’s no one like them in the rock canon. There’s a lot of pain in the record, a howl, anguish and pain. It’s the sound of defeat. But there’s also a duality of victory and defeat too, which is really rare in music but it makes it so appealing and attractive. Alex Chilton could go from The Box Tops to Big Star – the first two albums were pop rock, Byrds-y commercial songs. Then, he made Sister Lovers, which was like an art record. Pure art. There’s nothing commercial about it. No one would release it. It was recorded in ’74 to ’75 and was released in 1978, after punk. This was because he was ahead of his time. It’s only in the last 15 to 20 years that people have picked up on Sister Lovers. A record like no other.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Cate Le Bon, Ed Harcourt
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