Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2012)
Directed by Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori
As somebody who is fascinated by the Memphis music scene right from the 1920s up to now (or 10 years ago) the Big Star documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me, fits right in. That the film is already ten years old is salutary in itself, it's easy to lose sight of sheer brilliance in the mist of modern mythmaking.
Big Star are legendary, of course, for their crystalline and perfectly crafted pop confections, that teetered on the cusp of transgression, and too perhaps, for their maddening reputation for combining extreme commercial failure and massive and enduring critical acclaim. Theirs remains one of the most influential and alluring American pop stories of all time.
Big Star got their start in Memphis in 1971, with an original line up featuring Alex Chilton on vocals and guitar, Chris Bell also vocals and guitar, bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens. Signed to legendary Stax Record label, their debut LP, #1 Record, was released in 1972 to critical acclaim and commercial disdain. How did it happen? Alex Chilton had been the virtual child star - he’d hit the top of the charts as a member of The Box Tops in 1967 with The Letter. That might have warranted some interest but the marketing of Big Star’s #1 Record and subsequent releases, it’s agreed, was wholly bungled by their various record labels.
Within a few years the band had disintegrated.
Chris Bell was tragically killed in a car accident at 27.
Nothing Can Hurt Me is a great and insightful film, with maybe too many talking heads who weren't actually there, attempting to justify Big Star’s reputation, trying to justify the making of the movie and their burnished reputations by appearing in it.
The film is shot through with a slight melancholy, for a number of reasons, notably how many of the main players are no longer with us. Most band members too had were gone before the film was made. Bell died in 1978, Alex Chilton and Andy Hummel passed away in 2010.
Despite the few shortcomings to be nitpicked with, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, serves as both a tribute to both the band and the wonderful music they made.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is on Youtube, at least for now.
DJ Fuzzyfelt is a part time intinerant farm worker, sharing their time between Portugal and Wales where there is a lot of farm work... Lover of music, megaliths, and magick.
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