Free Again

I vaguely remember this coming out, and thinking I should listen to it. Seven years later I’ve finally gotten around to it, and it’s great. Recorded at Ardent after Box Tops and before Big Star, it’s loose and fun, but not as sardonic or weird as his later solo stuff. I’ve been streaming it, but am hunting it down on Discogs.

Crossing fingers for Renfield stories in the comments.

5 Replies to “Free Again”

  1. Ok, here’s a ramble.

    I was in 6th grade when these songs were recorded, so I wasn’t out and about yet. I did get to see Big Star live in 10th and 11th grades. I first met Alex as a senior, and in the next few years got to know him and some others involved in those Free Again sessions, but no one ever talked about them. They happened at a time when he was knocking around between Memphis and NYC, living off his parents, girlfriends, and whatever BoxTops money would come in. They remained unreleased for many years, but I did hear them in the mid to late 70’s because they were getting handed around town via cassette. I had a terrible-sounding copy of a copy of a copy at some point. I liked most of it, and we nerds passed this stuff around enthusiastically, but not many people cared, as he was generally considered a wash-up by the time of Big Star’s third album and beyond. He seemed to enjoy giving people that impression. He was very much self-destructing and re-creating himself. His rebirth as a legend didn’t happen until around the mid-80’s or so, after he’d straightened up and started touring consistently.

    I never heard him mention any of these songs, as he had a low opinion of pretty much everything he did prior to the late 70’s, including most of Big Star. I never played in a proper band with Alex, but we often played unrehearsed one-off songs live, almost always covers. The ony Big Star song we ever played was Kanga-Roo, and only once that I can remember. He just had no interest in any of his previous songs. He had even lost interest during Big Star: When Van Duren auditioned to play guitar for them, poor Van went and learned all of Big Star’s first two albums for the audition, but when it happened Alex just wanted to play T. Rex songs and “Slut” by Todd Rundgren.

    However, when he first wrote and recorded the song “Bangkok” (1978?) he was as excited as an eight-year-old on Christmas. It was one of the first songs (maybe THE first) of his that he was proud of.

    I lost touch with him sometime in the mid-80’s after he moved to New Orleans and I to Knoxville. I was surprised when the Big Star reunions started happening in the 90’s, given his apathy about all things Big Star, Box Tops, etc. I’m guessing that for him the reunion was all about money. Nothing wrong with that, the guy had to live, and the reunion shows made many people happy.

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