The great indie power-pop combo, Big Star, made two classic albums in the early ’70s: #1 Record and Radio City.
An incredible third album, Third/Sister Lovers was also recorded but that was basically an Alex Chilton solo record.
The first two albums have been major influential — R.E.M. were just one of numerous bands that fell under the sway of Big Star.
Now the first two albums have been remastered and after many years as a twofer, will be available as single CDs.
The new discs include liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills.
Says Mills says Big Star was “a band who had gotten it right, who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs.”
Mills told Rolling Stone: “Songwriting has always been, for me, the most vital gauge of a band’s quality, and these guys were clearly masters. Big Star gave you something satisfying to listen to, no matter how many times you heard them.”
The timing is right for the reissues. Holly George-Warren’s superb bio of Alex Chilton, A Man Called Destruction, was published earlier this year. A solid documentary on the band, “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” was released in 2012. A four-CD box, Keep An Eye On The Skyline, was released in 2009, and a soundtrack to the documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me, was released in 2013.
Here are some quotes from artists who were either in a later version of Big Star or knew Alex Chilton. These quotes were part of a press release sent out today.
Artists talk about the influence of Big Star:
“To me, the power and purity of #1 Record and Radio City are undeniable. From the first moment we heard these records we felt compelled to spread the word about them as far and wide as possible. The fact that we eventually became a part of keeping this music alive by performing with the reformed Big Star still fills me with a sense of pride, that this music is constantly being rediscovered and more known with every passing year. There’s a reason for that: it deserves it.” —Jon Auer of the Posies, who doubled as a member of Big Star with Chilton, performer on Big Star’sThird shows.
“For me, Big Star’s music is not only superb listening, it’s a litmus test for the human spirit. That this music’s appeal and notoriety has grown over the years is certainly related to its undeniably high level of quality; yet … it almost didn’t get heard. And here’s where it gets interesting. The fact you are listening to this now is due to the actions of a kind of underground railroad of listeners who just wouldn’t take the music industry’s incompetence as the final say on this music. It had to be shared, painstakingly copied to cassette, passed on with love. And by this hand-to-hand action, Big Star was elevated into the canon. Barely. Enjoy.” —Ken Stringfellow, The Posies and 17-year member of Big Star, performer on Big Star’s Third shows.
“Big Star’s records as instantly changing the landscape, redefining with every listen what it could mean to be a Southern rock musician. They were like beacons in the distance, beckoning, pulling us all in, one by one. . . . At a time when rock music was for the most part all bluster and lies, they shocked by trying to be straightforward, honest, and truthful.” — Chris Stamey of The dB’s, who produced some Chilton recordings in the ‘70s and has performed in the Third shows
“The one-two punch of #1 Record and Radio City knocked me out as an impressionable Southern teen musician in the 1970s, and it still does. Much as I love Big Star’s 3rd, it really was the first two albums’ sheen and shimmer that confirmed in me that there might be a melodic pop-rock world for me and my guitar-playing friends to inhabit in my future.” — Peter Holsapple of The dB’s
Listen to Radio City:
And if you haven’t heard it, check out the NOT-REMASTERED version of #1 Record:
Album Track Listings:
1. Feel 3:34
2. The Ballad of El Goodo 4:21
3. In the Street 2:55
4. Thirteen 2:34
5. Don’t Lie to Me 3:07
6. The India Song 2:20
7. When My Baby’s Beside Me 3:23
8. My Life Is Right 3:08
9. Give Me Another Chance 3:27
10. Try Again 3:31
11. Watch the Sunrise 3:45
12. ST100/6 0:57
1. O My Soul 5:40
2. Life Is White 3:19
3. Way Out West 2:50
4. What’s Going Ahn 2:40
5. You Get What You Deserve 3:08
6. Mod Lang 2:45
7. Back of a Car 2:46
8. Daisy Glaze 3:49
9. She’s a Mover 3:12
10. September Gurls 2:49
11. Morpha Too 1:28
12. I’m in Love With a Girl 1:48
[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.
Or watch an arty video with audio of me reading from the novel here.
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