Did Big Star secretly record an album of delicate acoustic guitar instrumentals for pioneering new age label Windham Hill? They most certainly did not — but Christopher Idylls by Gimmer Nicholson is about as close as we’ll get to such a dream project. Recorded in the late 1960s (but not released until the 1990s), the album is seeing its vinyl debut soon, thanks to the good people at Light in the Attic.
The Big Star connection is explicit: Nicholson made Christopher Idylls at Ardent Studios with Big Star associate Terry Manning, and the cover photograph is by William Eggleston, well known for his #1 Record and Radio City shots (as well as much more legendary work). But even without knowing those details, the shimmering sound of Nicholson’s guitars, fed beautifully through delay effects, instantly call to mind Big Star’s acoustic reveries (“Thirteen,” “Watch the Sunrise,” “Blue Moon,” etc.) One can imagine a young Chris Bell in the Ardent control room, furiously taking notes as the Christopher Idylls tracks were laid down. Totally gorgeous, totally great — and though I’ve focused on the Big Star links, this is an album that can stand completely on its own. words / t wilcox