CD Review: Big Star

Big Star
#1 Record/Radio City
By David Chiu

Every power pop fan has Big Star’s two masterpiece albums, #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1973), somewhere in their collections. Back then those first two Big Star albums hardly dented the charts or sold millions, but over time Big Star would prove influential to groups such as Teenage Fanclub and the Posies. Now those two albums have been reissued again as a single package, which means over an hour’s worth of pure delight. It’s kind of understandable why these records never set fire because they were so unique from the more popular music at the time. Aside from the obvious Beatles iand strong pop influences, Big Star seemed so different from the other pop bands in a lyrical and somewhat noncommercial sense. #1 Record really reflected the great chemistry between singers/songwriters Alex Chilton and Chris Bell and the results were magnificent with rockers such as “Don’t Lie to Me” and “In the Streets,” which is most familiar to people today as the theme from That 70s Show. And yet there is also the poignant side to the band on ballads including “Give Me Another Chance,” “Thirteen” and “The Ballad of El Goodo.” Even Bell’s departure after the debut didn’t affect the group dynamic on the next album, the equally magnificent Radio City where the brilliance of Chilton takes firm hold with the ambitious pop epic “O My Soul,” “Back of a Car” and “Life Is White.” Radio City’s greatest track is “September Gurls”—with its sense of yearning and aching, not to mention its great pop hook, it’s hard to believe that song was never a big hit. Having these two great albums in one disc is a worthy package deal for fans of great melodic rock music.

Watch a video of September Gurls by Big Star:


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