Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Star- #1 Record (1972) / Radio City (1974) MP3 & FLAC -R.I.P. Alex Chilton-

"I like this love but I don't know. All these girls, they come and go."

In 1989, I bought a copy of the legendary Rainy Day covers album, a collective effort by various members of the Paisley Underground, which featured, among other jewels, Opal's Kendra Smith covering "Holocaust" from Big Star's amazing ramshackle swan-song, 3rd. This is how I discovered Big Star, a band that practically defines (or rather were the original inspiration for) the term "lost classic." I can still remember hearing these albums for the first time and what a revelation they were to me. Some have argued in the years since that the actual music doesn't quite live up to the legend, but nothing could be further from the truth. No one sounded like this in the early seventies; yes, Badfinger is often cited, but they neither had the creative restlessness nor the the moody edge of Chris Bell, Alex Chilton and co. Big Star's debut, the ironically titled #1 Record, documents a band desperately trying to serve the visions of two musical auteurs, and while the artistic tension between Bell and Chilton is palpable at times, it is also what inspires them to greatness. Opening with one of the best four-song sequences of the seventies, "Feel," "The Ballad of El Goodo," "In the Street," and "Thirteen," #1 Record is a pristine mix of power-pop purity and Rock 'n' Roll decadence. Radio City is a very different album, due, in part, to Chris Bell's exit after the commercial failure of the debut as a result of their label's inability to properly promote the album. Now Chilton's band, Big Star abandoned the studio polish, adopting a slightly noisier and scruffier sound. As with the first album, Radio City is a stunning artistic success, but this time around, it is art teetering on the brink of dissolution. On songs such as "O My Soul" and "What's Going Ahn," Chilton takes the group's power-pop sensibilities into darker realms, while the inimitable "September Gurls" recalls the pop perfection of #1 Record. It is impossible to overestimate the influence of these albums on the Alternative and Indie scenes that followed in Big Star's wake. To my ears, this approaches Holy Grail status.

#1 Record / Radio City (2009 Remastered Edition)

#1 Record
 1. Feel  (3:30)
 2. The Ballad of El Goodo  (4:17)
 3. In the Street  (2:53)
 4. Thirteen  (2:34)
 5. Don't Lie to Me  (3:08)
 6. The India Song  (2:18)
 7. When My Baby's Beside Me  (3:20)
 8. My Life Is Right  (3:03)
 9. Give Me Another Chance  (3:23)
10. Try Again  (3:32)
11. Watch the Sunrise  (3:41)
12. ST 100/6  (0:56)
-Bonus Track-
13. In the Street (Single Mix)  (2:53)

Radio City
14. O My Soul  (5:35)
15. Life Is White  (3:17)
16. Way Out West  (2:46)
17. What's Going Ahn  (2:38)
18. You Get What You Deserve  (3:05)
19. Mod Lang  (2:43)
20. Back of a Car  (2:43)
21. Daisy Glaze  (3:50)
22. She's a Mover  (3:10)
23. September Gurls  (2:47)
24. Morpha Too  (1:28)
25. I'm in Love with a Girl  (1:46)
-Bonus Track-
26. O My Soul (Single Mix)  (2:47)


  1. I won't download it, being part of my "physical" records from a long time ago. But I agree and congratulate!

  2. by the way, I will be posting the rest of Big Star's discography (and Chris Bell) in the coming weeks

  3. I think I miss something from them...and anyway thank you for the Scott Walker's discography.

  4. i can't listen to third/sister lovers soon enough!

  5. Thanks voixautre. Btw, Fairport Convention is also a great album for those who do not own it.

  6. haikus, you're welcome. The Scott Walker series was great fun to do. I'm glad you enjoyed it

  7. baby, it will be up in the near future

  8. Alright, just what I needed. Thanks.

    As far as people saying Big Star doesn't live up to the legend, as far as people my age goes (tail end of gen X/early gen y), a lot of us were introduced to Big Star in the '90s by the same people (or at least the same type of people) who turned us on to bands like Television, Can, and Wire. The radical quality of those bands' sounds hits you right away, which really isn't the case with Big Star. Like you said, there was nothing else like Big Star in the early '70s, but I think that since their influence has been so enormous, later generations have taken it for granted, which is a shame because this music still holds up as well as The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, or any other more universally acknowledged early influence on alternative and indie rock.

  9. A couple of years back a friend dragged me to a concert of a guy called Alex Chilton I'd never heard of before. Only with time have I realized what a legend the guy was. I still don't know Big Star's work that well, although I adore Holocaust and September Gurls. Thanks for the opportunity to listen to this albums!

  10. wolfspider, I'm in complete agreement. Holy Grail indeed

  11. kibuki, great story, and thank you!

  12. I was turned on to Big Star by This Mortal Coil. I didn't realize (possible didn't care) that Holocaust was a cover until I bought the TMC box set with the the CD of the original versions of all their covers. I bought 3rd almost immediately after that and #1 Record/Radio City shortly thereafter. I can hear Big Star's influence in bands like The Replacements or R.E.M. and also in proto-shoegazer bands like This Mortal Coil. People often also forget to mention Chilton's work as a producer for bands like the Cramps. People who think Big Star is overrated are simply failing to see the larger picture which is the enormous scope of their influence.

    Great post. I really should register.

    B&B man

  13. Paul Westerberg turned me on to these guys - at least, The Replacements did on their record Pleased to Meet Me. Which makes me think of Let It Be, great record that that is.

    So much to listen to and so little time! Nice up, voixautre.

    And maybe I need a spirit guide for Big Star's #3, so if you post that, encourage people to comment. Maybe B&B Man knows why I should like it.

    And go listen to The Cramps' 1st record. Nice work, Alex!

  14. B&B, I'd be honored if you did register :)


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