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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Big Star – #1 Record (1972)/Radio City (1974) (Ardent/Stax/Fantasy CD)

Big Star – #1 Record (1972)/Radio City (1974) (Ardent/Stax/Fantasy CD)


Sound: B     Music: B+



It is bad enough that great bands like T-Rex and The Sweet are becoming lost in time and a sea of both pop trivialization and huge tons of bad current releases, but when it comes to great bands that hardly got a chance like Big Star, reissues become necessary more than ever for their to be rediscovery.  With less film and even video then, a CD like Big Star – #1 Record/Radio City becomes a key reissue and a very welcome back title set indeed.  The two albums just fit on one CD.


#1 Record was issued in 1972 and a Power Pop/Rock classic had arrived, but it did not have the commercial success it could or should have.  The twelve tracks here hold up incredibly well and though I liked both albums very much, the first one just has a bit more edge to it.  Expectations were high at the label since lead singer/guitarist Alex Chilton had just come off of his great success with the band The Box Tops, their The Letter became a Vietnam-era touchstone and Cry Like A Baby had also hit big.


The songs include:


1)     Feel

2)     The Ballad Of El Goodo

3)     In The Street

4)     Thirteen

5)     Don’t Lie To Me

6)     The India Song

7)     When My Baby’s Beside Me

8)     My Life Is Right

9)     Give Me Another Chance

10)  Try Again

11)  Watch The Sunrise

12)  St 100/6

13)  In The Streets (single mix)



With so many great hits that year like The Rolling Stones’ Tumbling Dice, Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, Paul Simon’s Mother & Child Reunion, Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, Yes’ Roundabout, The Eagles’ Witchy Woman, Elton John’s Honky Cat, Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now Steely Dan’s Do It Again and Nilsson’s Without You for a few examples, why no song from this album managed to find it sway to the charts.  Not even enough to make them a one hit wonder.  Distribution issues also killed the album at the time.  Instead, it become a hitless influence like The Velvet Underground & Nico and a classic of the Rock genre; diverse, smart, original and still ahead of its time.


Radio City arrived two years later, despite the band breaking up after what happened with the first release.  Drummer Jody Stephens and Bassist Andy Hummel decided to reform the band and they were back.  Unfortunately, Singer/Guitarist Chris Bell had a huge falling out with Hummel and left the band.  Bell had also co-written most of the songs, so with the pressure to have a hit album and even a hit single, Chilton was left writing most of the material.  Some Bell material had been left behind and survived on the final release.  However, Hummel felt the band was finished and quit before this album arrived.


The songs include:


1)     O My Soul

2)     Life Is White

3)     Way Out West

4)     What’s Going Ahn

5)     You Get What You Deserve

6)     Mod Lang

7)     Back Of A Car

8)     Daisy Glaze

9)     She’s A Mover

10)  September Girls

11)  Morpha Too

12)  I’m In Love With A Girl

13)  O My Soul (single mix)



No matter what was happening behind the scenes, it was another fine album and proved to be one of those great bands that still had it and so much to offer. Sadly, they would only make one more album after this pair and that was the end of what could have been one of the biggest bands of the time.  However, these are great albums and we cannot encourage you to grab a copy enough.


This CD version has the usual PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo sound and it is just fine for the format, but audiophiles might want to seek out the reportedly dynamic Super Audio CD (SA-CD) version with superior audio reproduction.  I expect this CD comes from the same high-definition DSD remaster.  The CD case has a paper foldout with illustrations and key text on the band.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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