Big Star – Stroke It Noel

• “Stroke It Noel” set to a Big Star slideshow. Thanks to edumota.

8.3 “Fantastic Songwriter from the USA”

From their album “Third” (PVC Records PVC-7903) released in 1978.

Their “#1 Record” long-player of ’72 may have been highly-rated but was a bit of a soft-rock snooze-fest for me. “Third”, six years later, was a big improvement, although it’s generally dissed as the sound of a band falling apart, which just goes to show – you can’t trust my reviews.

The set has a bit of a hodge-podge history, a stop-start, on-off background with a great deal of uncertainty as to whether it would actually see the light of day at all. A good 3 or 4 years had passed since the first seeds were sown, before it was finally issued.

The spine-tingling majesty of “Kangaroo” was the top-dog on this one, but since I already had that you’ll need to make do with the next-best new one to me, namely the exquisite “Stroke It Noel”.

Jim Dickinson’s liner notes for the Rykodisc reissue of the album in 1992 praise Carl Marsh’s string arrangements, and these are central to my enjoyment. On today’s track, the “Noel” of the song is Noel Gilbert, violinist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, who was playing on the session. As Dickinson relates, it was the off-the-cuff remark at the end of the second chorus – “Stroke it Noel” – that inspired Alex Chilton to change the song’s title and, according to Dickinson, scrap the original lyrics.

A wonderful track, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

You can read my favoured album reviews from ’78 here.

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