Definitive feature-length documentary on the out-of-time Memphis powerpop legends who influenced a thousand bands and define the term “cult”
BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME
And there we were, worrying about the minutiae. With such a paucity of ’71-’74 Big Star footage, it seemed that the film-makers might have the Dickinson of a job to immerse us in the upsetting, if belatedly redemptive story of Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel (RIP, all three) and surviving original member, Jody Stephens. However, the comparative dearth of tangible substantiation is apt for a memoir with absence and obscurity at its heart. Not only is this a soulful, affecting tribute to an invisibly pivotal band, but it’s also a wider disquisition on the psychogeography of Memphis and the consequent birthmark upon its musicians. More than this, it’s about the stuff that consumes us all: aspiration, confliction, perceived failure, hard-won achievement, transience.
Not that you’ll feel shortchanged for Big Star content. The band’s photo archive is seamlessly interwoven with eerily recent-sounding studio chat and uncommonly perceptive interviews (including Stephens, Hummel, former Ardent label staffers, justifiably besotted rock critics, the poignantly sweet-natured family of Chris Bell and, via archive clips, producer Jim Dickinson and fellow iconoclast, Alex Chilton).
And then, of course, there’s that pluperfect music, so much of it expressing a visceral yearning that tips headlong into the metaphysical. The heart bursts when ‘The Ballad Of El Goodo’, ‘Thirteen’, ‘Daisy Glaze’ and ‘September Gurls’ crop up on the soundtrack: and that’s before you even get to the cadaverous and disquieting Third/Sister Lovers, or Chris Bell’s beyond-bereft ‘I Am The Cosmos’, dragging its heavy soul. As Lenny Kaye sagely observes: “Sometimes lack of success forces you deeper within yourself”.
Nothing Can Hurt Me trailer