Okay, onto the re-release of Big Star: Live On WLIR (which originally came out in 1992 on Ryko as Big Star Live): first, the “featured image” is with Andy Hummel, not John Lightman – there aren’t enough photos available with that brief line-up. So let’s get that cleared up and out of the way.

Second, most people are aware this is not a “new” album – this is a return to availabilty, after Ryko ceased business. The good people at Omnivore have lovingly resurrected this important document with new artwork and better sound quality. It’s the same 15-track set, so this isn’t an expanded edition; this is simply an improved-upon reissue. Nonetheless, it’s an important document in the Big Star story, since it’s the only known work to feature John Lightman’s bass playing (he’d only joined the band a few weeks before this show, replacing Andy Hummel). This new package features an interview with Mr. Lightman, as well as liner notes from the renowned Memphis writer/filmmaker Robert Gordon.

The sound of audience interaction is sparse, but enthuastic; some of the performances, as stripped down as they are, are powerful and eye-opening (such as the rendition of “The Ballad Of El Goodo”). Equally important – if you’re an audiophile – this is the first time this collection is available on vinyl.

Again – a critical piece in the timeline of this band (which would, of course, splinter in the next year while recording Third) and a welcome addition to completist’s collections.

Big Star: Live On WLIR is currently available

By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!