Big Star - #1 Record LP

(Ardent Records, 1972)

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Many bands have claimed The Beatles as an influence, but I doubt anyone has ever taken that inspiration, shaped it into their own sound, and then influenced countless other bands as much as Big Star. The band’s founders, Alex Chilton and Chris Bell were so directly inspired by Lennon and McCartney’s writing style that they had most songs on #1 Record credited to “Bell/Chilton” to mimic their heroes.

#1 Record is as strong a statement of purpose as you’re likely to find on any band’s debut album. It’s the only Big Star album to officially include Bell as a band member and co-songwriter. Bell is often credited with giving the album its polished sound, as drummer Jody Stephens recalls, “Alex would come in and put down something rough and edgy and Chris would come in and add some sweet-sounding background vocals to it.” As strong as their subsequent recordings were, #1 Record is still the quintessential Big Star album

Big Star’s music was unfairly neglected upon its original release, mostly due to near non-existent distribution from Stax Records (who held the distribution rights to Ardent Records), but the band’s standing among rock royalty has steadily risen since. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who has tried to put melody to rock music since 1972 who doesn’t cite Big Star as a favorite.