Sunday, September 21, 2014

CD Review: Stax Records Breathes New Life Into Big Star Albums

Back in 1971, American rock band Big Star created the alternative rock music even before there was that sub-genre. Their albums were not huge blockbusters, but their music had a huge influence on today's modern alternative rock. Bands like R.E.M., The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Wilco and Whiskeytown have all mentioned Big Star as early influences on their music.

Big Star released their debut album, "#1 Record" in 1972 and although it did very little on the album charts, it has since become a huge cult hit amongst fans. The CD version of the album has been long out-of-print, until now. On September 2nd, Stax Records released a remastered version of Big Star's first two albums, "#1 Record" and "Radio City." Also included with these releases are newly written liner notes from R.E.M.'s Mike Mills. The music sounds exceptional on these new releases. The seventies glam of "In The Street" and the hard rock of "Don't Lie To Me" both present the diversity in the band's sound and really pop from the speakers. The gentle acoustics and vocals of singer Alex Chilton in "Thirteen" puts you right in the studio with him with the clarity on this new release. While the band's hunger to succeed is certainly felt on the first album, "Radio City" has a more raw feeling to the music as Big Star tried to record the songs live, yet still adding layers to their sound. At this point, the tension between the band and their record label is more evident as they were looking for the band to produce a more pop friendly sound. But the guitar rock of the opener "O My Soul" is exactly what turned Big Star into a cult sensation. Two of the band's most well-known songs "Back Of A Car" and "September Gurls" are featured on this album and sound much clearer on this new remastered release. The music sounds more spread out and allows the instruments to breathe. The acoustic strumming of "I'm In Love With A Girl," feels as if you are getting a personal concert from Chilton as if he is singing in the room with you.

It is great to finally have these album's on CD and in the finest quality. To find out more about these releases, please visit

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