Big Star: #1 Record (1972)

Big Star
#1 Record
Ardent/Stax; 1972

My Rating: 100/100

Just what can be said about this record that hasn’t already been said, especially in the last few weeks? It’s brilliant, no doubt. And while it was legendarily ignored upon its initial release, it has since become the universally recognized stepping off point for all things power pop. You don’t need me to tell you any of that. All I can really say is that for every year that my youth fades into the rearview mirror, this record gets a little sadder and a little sweeter, all at the same time. With the record’s two chief songwriters having since departed for Indias all their own, even the sunny, powerhouse optimism of lines like “You give me life/And that’s right” come off as bittersweet at best. Over the years, I’ve come to love the song “When My Baby’s Beside Me” most of all, but there is no denying the overpowering nostalgia of “Thirteen”, a song so fragrant and pacifying you’ll feel like you’re slowly slipping into a Downy commercial. God, can any other song make a grown man cry? Whenever I hear it, I visualize all of my childhood friends, bridging the gap between innocence and experience, naive and childish, without a clue and all the better for it. Who wouldn’t want to capture that era forever? Chilton did it in that single song, but the full set of twelve manages to grab all the other angles as well. As I close this review, I’m struck by my utter inability to communicate all that this album means to me. I’d rather just let it speak for itself…

Once I walked a lonely road
Had no one to share my love
But then you came and showed the way
And now I hope you’re here to stay...”

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)


1. Feel (5/5)
2. The Ballad of El Goodo (5/5)
3. In the Street (5/5)
4. Thirteen (5/5)
5. Don’t Lie to Me (5/5)
6. The India Song (5/5)
7. When My Baby’s Beside Me (5/5)
8. My Life Is Right (5/5)
9. Give Me Another Chance (5/5)
10. Try Again (5/5)
11. Watch the Sunrise (5/5)
12. ST 100/6 (5/5)

I Heard the News Today: Alex Chilton Dead at 59

Children by the millions sing for Alex Chilton…,39312/

So sorry to hear this – music fans have lost a true rock and roll legend, one whose influence can be heard everywhere from R.E.M. to Cheap Trick. The entire genre of “alternative” music is basically a result of a few years of songwriting by this guy. Somewhere, the angels are singing “The Ballad of El Goodo.”

Be sure and give #1 Record/Radio City a listen today in memoriam…

Tracks of the Decade: “Funny Little Frog” by Belle and Sebastian

“Funny Little Frog”
by Belle and Sebastian
from THE LIFE PURSUIT (2007)

belleandsebastian_brm_052109“Funny Little Frog”
by Belle and Sebastian
from THE LIFE PURSUIT (2006)

When Belle and Sebastian briefly figured front and center in the 2000 film HIGH FIDELITY, they were instantly harangued by record store clerk Barry (played by Jack Black) as “sad bastard music.” I don’t know if Stuart Murdoch took those fictional words to heart or not, but what I do know is that the band’s subsequent post-millenial output has taken a northern trajectory in mood and tempo. The culmination of that trajectory is “Funny Little Frog,” arguably the greatest power pop song of the decade, one so good that Stuart Murdoch decided he needed to record it with two different bands (see GOD HELP THE GIRL). Simultaneously muscular and hilarious, Murdoch proclaims such lyrical inanities as “You’re the funny little frog in my throw-ette!” with the same conviction that Chilton had when he belted “When my baby’s beside me, I don’t a-worry!” Nope, nothing too complicated here. This is feel good music, just a few marks short on the smile-o-meter from Barry’s counterpoint, Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine.” It’s a celebration of finding acceptance in someone else, a song to lift your spirits coming from a decade the seemed to crush them time and again.