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Big Dipper

A great band that never quite fulfilled their enormous potential, Boston's Big Dipper had impeccable indie credentials and an excellent line in crunchy post-post-punk guitar pop, but their later albums were no match for their early work.

Big Dipper was formed in 1985 when guitarist Gary Waleik and bassist Steve Michener left the original lineup of Volcano Suns, which they'd formed with drummer and vocalist Peter Prescott after the breakup of Prescott's earlier band Mission of Burma. Both uncomfortable with the idea of taking lead vocal chores, Waleik and Michener recruited singer/guitarist Bill Goffrier, who had moved to Boston after his former band, the Lawrence, KS-based indie pioneers the Embarrassment, had split up in 1983. Completing their lineup with local drummer Jeff Oliphant (formerly in an early lineup of Dumptruck), Big Dipper gigged around Boston and Cambridge for a while before recording their first EP, 1987's Boo-Boo, at the soon-to-be-famous Fort Apache Studios. Leading off with the killer "Faith Healer" (a song Goffrier had brought with him from the final days of the Embarrassment that would prove to be one of Big Dipper's most popular tunes, even getting covered by Shonen Knife), Boo-Boo was well-received on both the local and national indie scenes. Later the same year, the full-length Heavens was released (with no overlap from the EP, which was included on the CD issue) to even greater acclaim. An excellent synthesis of sunny power pop, neo-psychedelia, and indie rock angst featuring gems like "She's Fetching" and "All Going Out Together," Heavens is one of the finest American indie albums of its era.

Unfortunately, 1988's Craps is a comparatively weaker effort, with less sharp songwriting and a more sedate vibe. (Goffrier at this point was dividing his time between Big Dipper and a temporary Embarrassment reunion, which might account for his less striking contributions.) After that release, Big Dipper surprisingly signed with Epic Records. Like their Boston compatriots O-Positive, who had signed with the same label around the same time, Big Dipper's one and only major-label release is a major disappointment; 1990's Slam features far-too-slick production, with intrusive brass sections and too much emphasis on the rhythm section. Demoralized by the lack of critical and popular success for the album, Big Dipper broke up shortly thereafter. Michener moved to California and briefly worked with Barbara Manning before retiring from music to become a nurse. Other than the short-lived supergroup Crush, Sr., which released one album in 1993, Waleik also retired, becoming a producer for National Public Radio. ~ Stewart Mason
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology

Disc 1

1. Faith Healer

2. San Quentin, CA

3. What In Sam Hill...?

4. Wrong In The Charts

5. Ancers

6. Loch Ness Monster

7. She's Fetching

8. Man O' War

9. Easter Eve

10. Humason

11. Lunar Module

12. All Going Out Together

13. Younger Bums

14. When Men Were Trains

15. Wet Weekend

16. Mr. Woods

Disc 2

1. Meet The Witch

2. Ron Klaus Wrecked His House

3. The Insane Girl

4. Semjase

5. Stardom Because

6. Bonnie

7. Hey! Mr. Lincoln

8. Bells Of Love

9. A Song To Be Beautiful

10. Golden Shame

11. Lou Gehrig's Disease

12. You're Not Patsy

13. San Quentin, CA

14. Which Would You Rather

15. He Is God

16. Guitar Named Desire

17. Ron Klauss Demo'd His House

18. Life Inside The Cemetery

Disc 3

1. Wake Up The King

2. Edith

3. The Beast

4. Restaurant Cloud

5. Missing Time

6. Beginning Of The End

7. Lifetime Achievement Award

8. Dead River

9. Silentium

10. Approach Of A Human Being

11. Mineral Man

12. The Ghost Of Emily

13. Winsor Dam

14. Nowhere To Put My Love

15. Extraordinary Worm

Comments

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my favorite band ever. all their stuff is great when compared to other bands. A weaker Dipper song is still brilliant.
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traylyne
love this band. I have 6 of their albums hanging on my wall.
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choettic
i dunno, i jumped on board when craps came out, a great album, too.
Report as inappropriate
GREAT band!
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far-too-slic k production. sigh. so many of the local bands i would see in Boston-area clubs from this era and earlier - incredible live shows and demo independent recordings - all went to shite when the big labels got their claws in them.
Report as inappropriate
Did"Mr.Woods " p r e d i c t the future for Tiger Woods?Listen to the line about Cars crashing and wonder what he's doing there and the Mr.Woods and his wife?
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magsatellite
gawd I love this band. They had several albums and eps, btw.
also, check out the Embarrassmen t , a precursor band from some of these guys.
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jshadley9
I'd never heard of these guys before. Too bad for me! "Bells of Love" showed up on my playlist...w o w . . . s o r r y I missed them! Great sound.
Report as inappropriate
Awesome band! Saw them a few times from '88 to '90 or so when I lived in Northampton, MA. Supercluster is a good collection of their stuff, it's worth picking up. Great indie pop/rock.
Report as inappropriate
Correction: Though very active in Lawrence, The Embarrassmen t were based in Wichita, KS
Report as inappropriate
NVM...much better than I thought...cr a z y that these guys played in tandem with the Pixies. Probably a good album's worth of stuff here
Report as inappropriate
too bad they only had one album, cuz i like it

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