"A shambling wreck of an album, Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers ranks among the most harrowing experiences in pop music; impassioned, erratic, and stark, it's the slow, sinking sound of a band falling apart. Recorded with their label, Stax, poised on the verge of bankruptcy, the album finds Alex Chilton at the end of his rope, sabotaging his own music long before it can ever reach the wrecking crew of poor distribution, indifferent marketing, and disinterested pop radio; his songs are haphazardly brilliant, a head-on collision between inspiration and frustration. The album is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, each song smacking of utter defeat and desperation; the result is either one of the most vividly emotional experiences in pop music or a completely wasted opportunity, and while the truth probably lies somewhere in between, there's no denying Third's magnetic pull — it's like an undertow. Although previously issued on a variety of different labels, Rykodisc's 1992 release is the initially definitive edition of this unfinished masterpiece, its 19 tracks most closely approximating the original planned running order while restoring the music's intended impact; in addition to unearthing a blistering cover of the Kinks' "At the End of the Day" and a haunting rendition of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," it also appends the disturbing "Dream Lover," which distills the album's messiest themes into less than four minutes of psychic torment. " - Allmusic.com
1.) Kizza Me - 3.5/5
The album starts off with in my opinion one of the weakest tracks on the album, Kizza Me. It start's immediatley with a powerchord, before going into a verse which is mainly led by a wreckless piano line, loose drums, and Chilton's voice. The song is fairly catchy, and has a nice guitar break, but the vocal delivery is not one of my favourite's from Chilton. It's really hard to describe the song as it's not like anything else most people have heard. The it's a very raw, and wreckless song.
2.) Thank You Friends - 5/5
And now we move on to one of the best tracks on the album! It start's off with a catchy power-pop riff, which is quickly followed by the group singing with the riff "do-do," a few times before the guitar turns to a strum and Alex Chilton delivers a moving vocal performance thanking his friend's. The song is very catchy especially the chorus" "Ohh the ladies and gentleman, woah the ladies and gentleman, who made this all so probable, thank you friends." There's also lot's of great backing vocals. This is just a kick-ass blend of power-pop and rock n' roll. Some great drumming as well, most Big Star's song's do have great drums.
3.) Big Black Car - 5/5
This is where the slow and depressing song's start out. This song is really slow and goes straight into the verse "Driving in my big black car, nothing can go wrong" the verse musically is driven by a piano and a slow guitar part. The vocals in this song are very heart-felt and the music is really beautiful to listen too. Chilton sing's the song like his in a haze, which describes the mood of the song. The chorus or hook is delivered very nicely "Why should I care, driving's as gas, it aint gonna lasttt" and he slurs the the end of the word last. The song end's with some falsetto vocals (I can't make out any word's he's saying), with a light piano playing behind it.
4.) Jesus Christ - 5/5
This is Alex Chilton's attempt at a christmas song, and it's a very nice attempt! It starts out with a weird sounding piano, which turns out just to be an intro, as when we get to the actual song it's a guitar riff that turns out to be imitating the vocal melody. The song's melodies are very strong, and the chorus will be stuck in your head "Jesus Christ was born today, jesus christ was born." There's also a christmas bell in the background of the song that make's it really feel christmasy. There's also some type of brass instrument solo, that Chilton leads into from the chorus "Jesus christ was born today, yeah and were gonna get born today!" This is a really great pop song, and a perfect Christmas song.
5.) Femme Fatale - 5/5
This song was originally done by The Velvet Underground with Nico on vocals. I've heard that version too, but I prefer this one. Not only does this one have a better singer than a russian woman who sound's like a man (too be fair, Chilton sound's femine here) there is also some great guitar work in the background that was not on the original. Besides the male singer, and the great solo guitar work, the vocal melody and everything else is the same. Oh and also in the chorus in the Velvet Underground version Nico sings "Cause everyboyd knows," then Reed and the rest of the band go "She's Just a femme fatale" but in this song it's Chilton singing Nico's part and a female singer singing the "She's just a femme fatale," but she sing's it in what appears to be spanish.
6.) Oh, Dana - 4.5/5
One of the more up-tempo song's on this album, this song starts out sounding a little country/folkish. Then Chilton's vocal's come in with a great melody singing "We'll I'd rather shoot a woman than a man, I worry that this is my last life." The chorus is extremley catchy "Oh, Dana, Oh, Dana come on." There's lot's of instruments in this one, as usual there's piano, guitar, drum's, and there's also some brass instruments in buried deep in there somewhere. And like the other song's the pian is very wreckless, and it sound's like there just making it up as they go.
7.) Holocaust - 5/5
One of the slowest and most haunting song's on the album, it is driven by a more polished sounding piano, and a haunting feedback sound effect. The vocal performance is chilling, as the verse begins "Your eyes are almost dead, can't get out of bed, and you can't sleep." The music remains the same for most of the song, but that's okay because the song is emphasized on the emotional vocal performance, as he spills out depressing lines describing someone who is a "wasted face, a sattelite, a holocaust."
8.) Kangaroo - 5/5
This is another haunting sound, it starts out with an acoustic guitar, with a distorted guitar effect, and some other weird instrument. Again the main focus is the strong melodic vocal delivery, this time Chilton is telling a story of about a girl "I first saw you, you had on blue jeans." The song is very haunting with lots of instruments coming in as the song progresses, and Chilton's voice is dripping with emotion, as it sound's like his voice could give out at part's off the song. As the song get's about halfway, there's a feedback effect that add's to the errie sounding track.
9.) Stroke It Noel - 4.5/5
Starts out with a violin line, and shortly after the verse starts out, mainly driven by an acoustic guitar, and drums. The verse has a strong melody, and so is the chorus. The violin comes back in the chorus and makes the song sound really polished, and beautiful. The chorus is "Do you wanna dance, do you wanna dance," which like most Big Star lyrics don't seem like much, but the way they are delivered with strong melodies, and beautiful musical arrangements makes them much more then they are on paper.
10.) For You - 5/5
This is a song that sound's like it could have made it onto one of the first two Big Star records. It's a more happy love song driven by the acoustic, drums, and orchestra instruments. Alex Chilton sound's very sincere as he delivers line's like "Sometimes I can't help but worship you..." the vocal melodies as usual are strong throughout the whole thing, and the orchestra arrangement makes the song sound really good.
11.) You Can't Have Me - 5/5
This sound's like a Radio City/#1 Record song that has been changed to fit in with the rest of the song's on Third. It's probably the most hard rocking song, with a great rock n' roll chorus featuring Chilton belting out the words "You can't have me, you can't have me, you can't have me, you can't have me, not for free." The drum work is good with lot's of fills, and this song features a distorted guitar which rock's hard and sound's melodic at the same time. There's a bit of a drum solo at about 1:40 into the song, with the other instruments heard only faintly in the background. The best part of the song is the insanely catchy chorus.
12.) Nighttime - 5/5
This is a beauitiful acoustic ballad, Chilton's vocal performance is incredible. Sound's very sincere as he sing's a tale of love "ANd when I set my eye's on you, you look like a kitty, and when your in the moon, oh, you look so pretty," Chilton's the only one who could get away with a line like that simply because the emotion in his voice sells it really well. This song is basically just an acoustic guitar, with some sound effects in the background. The main focus is the flawless vocal performance, my favourite part is when he sings the lines "get me out of here, get me out of here, I hate it here, get me out of here." That part really hits me by the way he sings it.
13.) Blue Moon - 5/5
Following in the same vein as Nighttime this is a more mellow acoustic love song. With another amazing vocal performance, it sound's like Chilton is really feeling what he sing's. And I really like the lyrics in this one too "Let me be your one light, and if you'd like a true one, take some time to show your mine, and I'll be blue and in your eyes." This is my favourite track on the album, it's just a really well written song, and a classic love song IMO. Everything about it sound's great, from the beautiful acoustic arrangement to the other instruments, and I can't stress how great Chilton's vocals are on this track.
14.) Take Care - 5/5
This song is basically a goodbye, it starts out with a string arrangement before going into the verse. Which has a great melody, but the hook does its job and get's stuck in your head "Take care, Please Take Care, Oooo wooo," the vocal delivery in this song is also really great, but in a different way than the previous two. Chilton show's off his falsetto voice in the part's off the chorus. Some of the line's are really chilling with a backing vocal in a deeper voice echoe's him "This sound's a bit like goodbye, and in a way I guess it is." This is a perfect end song for this album, with Chilton leaving us with the words, Take Care.
*The Bonus Tracks*
Since Alex intended Take Care to be the last song and rightfuly so, I won't go into to much detail on the bonus tracks. Another reason is because the bonus tracks are not as solid as the actual album tracks. The highlight is the cover of Nat King Coles NatureBoy, adn the low point is the cover of Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On. The cover of the king's Till The End Of The Day is a pretty sweet rock n' roll cut. The two originals Dream Lover and Downs are very good. Dream Lover is a piano driven song, with vocals and music that fade in out and of tune, it's a little reminescent to Holocaust. Down's is a short and weird tune, with a latin sounding beat starting off the song, and a weird vocal track.
Overall - 5/5
This album continues Big Star's excellent track record! But also totally moves away from the first two record's and find's it's own sound, that has not been reproduced since. It's an album full of haunting harmonies, moving instrument arrangements, emotional vocal deliveries, and classic rock, pop, and acoustic songwriting. This is a very original album, and a very great album, that deserves more recognition than it get's.