Thursday, 21 August 2014

"No. 1 Record/Radio City" by BIG STAR (2004 Stax/Fantasy 'HYBRID SACD' with George Horn Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Finest In The World…"

I'm amazed this sonic nugget seems to have eluded so many - especially given the reputation these two stunning Seventies albums have. But if you're on the fence as to how good a CD (or SACD) can sound - then look no further.

USA released April 2004 - "No. 1 Record/Radio City" by BIG STAR on Stax/Fantasy/Universal SXSA-60025-6 (Barcode 025218732369) offers 2LPs onto 1CD - 
a 'HYBRID MULTICHANNEL SACD/CD' Reissue that will play on standard CD players as well as those encoded with Super Audio CD Playback (73:38 minutes).

1. Feel
2. The Ballad Of El Goodo
3. In The Street
4. Thirteen
5. Don't 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 100/6

13. O My Soul
14. Life Is White
15. Way Out West
16. What's Going Ahn
17. You Get What You Deserve
18. Mod Lang
19. Back of A Car
20. Daisy Glaze
21. She's A Mover
22. September Gurls
23. Morpha Too
24. I'm In Love With A Girl

"No. 1 Record" (tracks 1 to 12) was USA released June 1972 on Ardent Records ADS-2803 while "Radio City" (tracks 13 to 24) followed in January 1974 on Ardent ADS-1501. Neither LP received an original UK release at the time - but both were clumped together as a budget-priced double-album package on Stax SXSP 302 in 1978. There have been various CD reissues of the albums ever since - most notably by England's Ace Records on their subsidiary label Big Beat and Rhino's superb 2009 American 4CD Box Set "Keep An Eye On The Sky" which features outtakes and alternates from both of these recording sessions.

But back to 2004 and the big news here is the beautifully sensitive GEORGE HORN remastering that has brought a warmth and delicacy to already gorgeous music. The bass, acoustic guitars and sublime harmony vocals on "The Ballad Of El Goodo" are thrilling to hear as is the sweetness of "Thirteen" - surely one of the loveliest Alex Chilton songs. The jangling power-pop guitars of "When My Baby Needs Me" sound fantastic and "Try Again" reminds me of a band I loved called SMITH-PERKINS-SMITH who made only one album (a self-titled debut) in 1972 on Island Records (yet to make its way onto CD) - a sort of CSYN alternative. In fact the musicality on display here brings in mind that other tragic band BADFINGER.

"O My Soul" opens "Radio City" with rocking guitars while pretty melody returns with the oddly titled "What's Going Ahn". "September Gurls" and "Back Of A Car" set the template for THE JAYHAWKS and so many harmony rock bands that have followed in Big Star's illustrious footsteps. But for me the huge song here has always been the showstopping "I'm In Love With A Girl" - used to devastating effect in umpteen modern-day growing up movies with an Indie leaning. I'll bet it makes men of a certain age weep and tingle - and think about that one who stole your heart when you were 16 and bright-eyed (lyrics from it title this review).

BIG STAR were always a little bit special and hold a cult status to this day that grows with the passing of time - like NICK DRAKE, JUDEE SILL or JOHN MARTYN.

A beautifully realized transfer and a CD you need in your home...

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