After reading Bruce Eaton's 33 1/3 book on Big Star's Radio City this weekend, I wondered if a Big Star-like cult band could ever happen again. Eaton couldn't write the book without mentioning his connection to the Big Star story - playing with Chilton years later - and the personal connection to Big Star seems like an essential part of their story. The liner notes for the upcoming Rhino box, Keep an Eye on the Sky, include a section on the touchstone the band became partially due to the scarcity of their albums, which meant finding one used was always a jackpot moment. When you finally got your own copy and heard it, you were already inclined to listen generously because you'd worked so hard. Third became an even greater source of fascination for me once I discovered that it was unstable. When I found a cassette copy of the album, it had a different song sequence than the vinyl, and Rykodisc's reissue of it as Sister Lovers resequenced it radically.
Because the band itself had a shimmering blink-and-you-missed-it quality - did it ever actually exist? - it's readymade for a cult, but could a Big Star exist today? Is it possible for anything semi-pop to be truly rare? I think of the role Piracy Funds Terrorism played in establishing M.I.A.'s name and suppose it must be possible on some level, but I find it hard to imagine.