Pop & Rock
VOICES Notes and news on Pop & Rock releases
02 JUL 09 DAVID VIENNA
Long before Nirvana or Teenage Fanclub or even The Replacements hit the scene, there was Big Star. In the early-'70s, the group crafted a unique blend of radio rock and Brit pop, making them pioneers of the alternative rock genre. The band's albums #1 Record and Radio City were recently remastered and re-released, a blessing for music historians and fans of alt. rock.
Listening to tracks like "The Ballad Of El Goodo," you might even have a hard time not thinking it's Teenage Fanclub, one of the bands most influenced by Big Star. They even named their album Thirteen after a Big Star song. The band's impact can also be heard on TV. You'll recognize parts of "In The Street" from Cheap Trick's theme to That '70s Show.
Named after a southern supermarket chain, Big Star was fronted by former blue-eyed soul singer Alex Chilton, who joined the band after leaving the Box Tops. Critics dug both #1 Record and Radio City when they came out, but sales were slow and the band slipped in relative obscurity. The indelible songs, however, remained in heavy rotation on the turntables of music aficionados, reaching cult status by the early-'90s.
Infighting spelled the group's demise and, after Big Star finally imploded, Chilton went on to produce other bands, most notably The Cramps. There have been a few reunions (sans guitarist Chris Bell, who died in 1979). No incarnation had as great an impact as the original, however, which is why bands like Wilco and R.E.M. continue to cite Big Star as an inspiration.
The Ballad Of El Goodo
Big Star, from #1 Record/Radio City