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Big Star’s “#1 Record” and “Radio City” Reissued in Individual Remastered Versions

Big Star: #1 Record & Radio City Reissues

Let a bassist break down why Big Star was so important.

The bassist, by the way, is R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, who penned liner notes for the reissues of two of the power pop trailblazers/originators’ albums — its 1972 debut, #1 Record and its 1974 followup Radio City.

Big Star was a band “who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs,” says Mills, who also tours with a group, Big Star’s Third, which performs music from the original lineup’s third and last album as well as some of the band’s other songs.

For years, the group’s first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City were released together on one CD, but the reissue restores them to being separate albums, remastered from the original analog tapes in standard, Mastered-for-iTunes and 24-bit high-resolution audio. The individual albums have been available on vinyl for several years.

Big Star was one of those bands that is always cited as an influence on other musicians, but whose music never really sold well. The Rolling Stone obituary of bassist Andy Hummel, who died in 2010 at age 59 of cancer after essentially giving up music and working at Lockheed, sums up the band’s financial success with a Hummel quote: “Universal sends me a [royalty] check every six months or so,” Hummel said. “And it’s enough to take my wife out to dinner.”

Hummel was also a songwriter for the band, with several credits, including ones for co-writing favorites “Back of a Car” and “Daisy Glaze” from Radio City. The group’s primary songwriters on the debut were Alex Chilton (The Box Tops) and Chris Bell, who left the group before work on Radio City began. Drummer Jody Stephens is the only surviving member of the band, which has two of Rolling Stone’s Top 500 songs to its name — “Thirteen” from #1 Record and “September Gurls” from Radio City.

John Fry, who engineered the original albums and worked on the reissues is happy with the current release. “I think fans will be pleased by the sound and the packaging. They may have to turn the volume up a bit, since we did not want to remove the analog dynamic range. Sit back and enjoy the definitive digital versions of #1 Record and Radio City, two of my three favorite albums.”

#1 Record Track List:

  1. Feel
  2. The Ballad of El Goodo
  3. In the Street
  4. Thirteen
  5. Dont’ 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. 110/6

Radio City Track List:

  1. O My Soul
  2. Life Is White
  3. Way Out West
  4. What’s Going Ahn
  5. Mod Lang
  6. Back of a Car
  7. Daisy Glaze
  8. She’s a Mover
  9. September Gurls
  10. Morpha Too
  11. I’m in Love With a Girl

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