[97] Big Star – #1 Record / Radio City

13 Feb

Talk about a band ahead of their time.  Big Star sounds like everything I listened to and loved in the late 80s and early 90s, but they couldn’t get a break in the 70s so are criminally underexposed.

Big Star

Big Star

This double album – containing their first two recordings from 1972 and 1974 – opens with the power of Zeppelin, flows into the mystery and mastery of of REM, touches on moments of hair metal excess, all the while channeling the melodic and harmonic control of the Beatles.

Needless to say I love every moment.

There is a reason Big Star were adored by critics, cited by REM and covered by The Bangles at the height of their popularity.

This is pop rock at its tuneful, catchy, magnificent finest.

(Incidentally, The Bangles’ Different Light would certainly be a part of my 1,000 – though more for the cover of Big Star’s “September Gurls” and the perfect pop of album tracks like the amazing “Watching The Sky” than the bland ubiquity of “Eternal Flame”.)

Don’t forget that Big Star was chosen as the voice of the decade when, in a move of utter genius, That 70s Show poached “”In The Street” as its theme song, even if it was a cover by Cheap Trick.

Hell, even Katy Perry’s misspelling of “California Gurls” is purportedly a tribute to Big Star . . .

These are just a few of the examples of the influence and impact of these two albums, which are a constant joy to listen to.

I am sure we can all think of beloved bands, seemingly on the precipice of stardom, who never quite broke through.  Dan Reed Network and The Wildhearts are two that leap to mind as my poster children, but no doubt you could an name many more.

And as we get older – perhaps wiser but certainly more cynical – we start to see the reasons for these oversights.  More often than not a lack of promotion, an almost inexplicable lack of belief from a label which has already put its faith and money behind an act at least to the tune of recording their music, is at least partly to blame.

It seems clear that this is what happened to Big Star, and it is a shame.  I would love to have heard what other great rock standards could have come from this talented group had they stayed together, survived into maturity.

In the meantime, these two classic if lesser known albums will remain in my play rotation for a long time to come, and I’ll wonder what might have been as I sing along.

Next Week:  Georges Bizet – Carmen

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 97 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (14 of 97 = 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (79 of 97 = 81%)

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