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Big Star

Big Star Radio City

Big Star Album Reviews

Formed around former Box Tops lead singer Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, Big Star existed for a brief period of time in the early 1970s and were spectacularly unsuccessful during their lifetime due to poor promotion and distribution. But their influence has spread far and wide – the group have earned a deserved cult profile due to their influence on 1980s and 1990s alternative bands such as R.E.M., The dB’s, Wilco, and The Replacements.

While their guitar based sound doesn’t sound revolutionary, it was unusual in the context of the early 1970s. Their debut album #1 Record revisited the mid 1960s, musically bringing a slightly harder edge to mid 1960s recordings such as The Beatles‘ Rubber Soul and The ByrdsMr Tambourine Man, but emphasising tunefulness and bringing back a wisful and youthful innocence to songs like ‘Thirteen’ and ‘In The Street’.

Chris Bell left before the more rock oriented Radio City, and the band’s final album, the slow and mournful Third languished in the vaults before finally seeing release in 1978. Each record has a distinct flavour, although Radio City is the clear standout for me, and is high among my all-time favourite albums.

While Chilton and Bell were the leaders, the rhythm section also contributed; bassist Andy Hummel co-wrote half of Radio City while drummer Jody Stephens has a recognisably busy and splashy style, and also contributed songs and lead vocals.

Ten Favourite Big Star Songs
September Gurls
Back Of A Car
The Ballad of El Goodo
Life Is White
Daisy Glaze
Mod Lang
Give Me Another Chance
I’m In Love With A Girl
Way Out West

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Big Star #1 Record

#1 Record – Big Star

1972) 8/10. #1 Record revisited the guitar groups of the 1960s, bringing a harder edge to the 1965 sound of The Beatles.

Big Star Radio City

Radio City – Big Star

1974, 10/10. Radio City shows Big Star subverting their influences into compelling and unique rock music.

Big Star Third Sister Lovers

Third/Sister Lovers – Big Star

1978, 8/10. Third/Sister Lovers is sloppy, but it’s a compelling and surprisingly pleasant listen.

Chris Bell I Am The Cosmos

I Am The Cosmos – Chris Bell

1992, 7/10. More than just a tragic footnote to Big Star, I Am The Cosmos is a satisfying recording in its own right.

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