Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Art and soul: Big Star magic captured on film.

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It’s difficult to fault this sparklingly poignant documentary about one of the greatest bands never to receive their rightful acclaim at the time of their existence.

Even over 40 years since they were forged at Ardent Studios in Memphis, the opening chords of Big Star classics such as September Gurls or Kangaroo still send a tingle down the spine, while a lump forms in the heart that only drummer Jody Stephens now survives to enjoy the inimitable adulation and recognition this glowing tribute now brings.

Written and directed by Drew Denicola, with co-director Olivia Mori, the DVD adds another vivid dimension to the just-released Big Star and Chris Bell box sets. It all begs the question of why it had to be more than a decade before the band broke out of the cult following which sprang up in the wake of 1972’s Number One Album, 1974’s Radio City and the belatedly released masterpiece Sister Lovers/Third.

The film covers the band’s story from Chilton’s teenage fame with The Box Tops, through the Big Star years, while also encompassing his later solo exploits and Panther Burns antics, along with the tragic early departure of Bell.

While gaining extra Memphis depth through the inclusion of key characters such as Tav Falco, legendary photographer William Eggleston and late studio force of nature Jim Dickinson (the footage of his widow at home is particularly moving), the star is still that unearthly music; magical, timeless and now, once and for all, given its overdue place in history, along with the characters who honed it.

Absolutely recommended to anyone with a heart and soul. It includes some fantastic extra features, too./o:p


Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!