Big Star

Nothing Can Hurt Me

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Originally released as a limited-edition double-LP for Record Store Day 2013, the soundtrack to the Big Star documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me certainly does appeal to vinyl-besotted pop fanatics. Not one of these 20 songs are present in their familiar, original mixes: there's an occasional demo, many rough mixes from the time, and plenty of movie mixes dating from 2012, the year Nothing Can Hurt Me started screening at various film festivals across the United States. There are a couple of non-canonical rarities here -- the minor-key dirge "Better Save Yourself" and Alex Chilton's delicate acoustic "All We Ever Got from Them Was Pain" -- but this album is all about subtle differences from the well-known, well-loved mixes. To Big Star obsessives -- who are unapologetically the audience for this collection -- there are enough slight, interesting alterations from the known to make this worthwhile: certain vocals are unpolished, some guitars are pushed to the front of the mix, a few sections feel slightly extended, chatter is added to the beginning of Chris Bell's "I Am the Cosmos," which is given a slightly bigger, cinematic mix. Nothing changes or illuminates history but it's just enough to thrill diehards, the kind of fan who knows the original by heart so any deviation will be noted and appreciated. Maybe it's not enough to warrant an enthusiastic recommendation, but it's easy enough to discern whether this is an album you should hear: if this collection of alternate mixes and variations sounds like something you need to hear, it is; if it sounds like a mere curiosity, that is also true. Know yourself well enough to know which camp you belong.

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