ARTIST: Big Star
TITLE: #1 Record.
YEAR RELEASED: 1972
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: In the Street, Don’t Lie to Me
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A lot of indie people know this now. Maybe Thirteen was a song that was covered and you know.
LINEUP: Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel, Jody Stephens
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Almost perfect power-pop record with soaring songs, impeccable singing, and a sense of fragility and wonder. Thanks to record company bungling, and the times, it didn’t sell.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A lot of biographies of indie artists and bands, especially those who favor guitars with harmonies and pop melodies, list Big Star as an influence. This is for good reason; all you need to do is listen to this record.
The songs of Chris Bell and Alex Chilton are from a time, but are also timeless. Bell loved the Beatles and was a studio rat. Chilton knew about stardom first hand from the Box Tops, and wanted to be creative and sing what he wanted to. Those two created 11 songs (with bassist Hummel adding one) of beauty, tenderness and when needed, attitude. The guitars ring, the melodies flow, the harmonies awe, and the production nails it.
It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I feel I need to hear it at least once a month to get myself grounded. I hear new things in it all the time .
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “In the Street” was covered by Cheap Trick to use as the theme for “That 70’s Show”.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: It was released on CD with their second album.
GRADE: A+: I’m cynical about the hype given to the influences of indie musicians, as sometimes they play “top this obscurity”. Here, the hype matches reality. A must have.