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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

#1 Record

Big Star

1972

#1 Record
Album Summary

#1 Record is the debut album by the American rock band Big Star. It was released on April 24, 1972 by Memphis-based Ardent Records. Many critics praised the album's vocal harmonies and songcraft but #1 Record suffered from poor distribution and sold fewer than 10,000 copies upon its initial release. However, #1 Record gained wider attention in the late 1970s in the UK when EMI reissued it with Radio City as a double LP package due to increasing demand. The same combination was used when the album was released on CD in 1992. It is now widely-regarded as a seminal work in pop rock and power pop. In 2020 it was ranked number 474 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone also ranked the song "Thirteen" as number 406 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was voted number 188 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).

Wikipedia

Rating

3.23

Votes

8793
Genres
Rock
Pop

Reviews

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Fri May 19 2023
3

It's like... They're almost good. The elements are there. There's egg, sugar, and flour, but it's not a cake. Close, but no cake.

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Wed May 31 2023
5

Wow, what a surprise this was. Didn't expect anything going in and was blown away by a great album. Every song is a jam and belongs on there, great runtime and an feel-good sound that is very reminiscent of CSNY, Eagles, Byrds and other greats

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Tue Aug 22 2023
5

The most underrated overrated band of all time. The Velvet Underground of power pop. Call them whatever you want, this was lightening in a bottle that only found its way to the likes of R.E.M's Peter Buck and Mike Mills upon release. Who knew the singer of The Box Tops could pull off something as magical as this? Eventually, more of the world caught up to Peter Buck - or rather, R.E.M. hit it big and Buck and Mills praised Alex Chilton and Big Star in damn near every interview he sat down for. Those of us who knelt at the R.E.M. altar were all in. Big Star didn't stick around long enough to build any sort of following, but the three albums they left us are close to pop perfection. Every track here works, and truth be told, the album warrants a 5 for the timeless beauty of "Thirteen" alone. A halfway decent record label would have pushed at least two songs from this album into the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. But at least we got R.E.M. from this, and we'll always have this music.

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Sun Nov 19 2023
5

Between songwriting, performance and production, #1 Record should be considered among the greatest debut albums of all time. Sadly, Big Star didn’t see much success in their time, but their influence can’t be understated. This is truly a record you need to hear before you die and while you’re at it, give Radio City a listen - It should really be on this list.

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Sun Oct 22 2023
5

Nice finding, even my dad didn't know this band... Or he forgot about it... It's hard to remember stuff when you've been partying since the 70s

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Thu Jul 27 2023
5

I love Big Star and I love this album. The songs where Alex Chilton sings lead are my favorites, but they’re all good. The standouts for me are “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “Thirteen,” and “Give Me Another Chance.”

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Sun Dec 03 2023
5

Big Star fully deserve their reputation as a key progenitor of power pop. The first four tracks of this debut alone justify the inclusion of the whole album in such a list, from Alex Chilton's ballads "Thirteen" and "El Goodo", heartfelt and evocative, to Chris Bell's edgier "Feel" and livelier "In The Streets" -- of *That 70's Show* fame.  So the songwriting is good, but one of the assets of this album, not praised enough in my sense, is its pristine, dynamic production, with a lot of sonic details that go over your head on first listens, but then shine on the next ones. John Fry (and Chris Bell) can be praised for that. The only (minor) issue I have with this record is that there are too many ballads on the second side. They're good, some of them are even excellent, but the succession of songs in a similar mode hurts the album's momentum. I would have taken one of those slower cuts out, and added one more straightforward rock number such as "When My Baby's Beside Me" to this second side. I guess I could even have taken out a point to this debut because of this, yet I didn't, because of the thematic cohesiveness of those songs. You really feel like this record is the soundtrack of a movie about teenagers living in "Smalltown, America" during the early seventies. That line about "Paint It Black" and how the father of the singer's girlfriend is always on his back cracks me up every time. Simple, at times almost *simplistic*, lyrics. Yet lyrics that are so effective in conveying the mood of a time and place. A dozen of albums released in 1973 were probably better than this one. Yet this debut was "#number 1" when it comes to how "evocative" a record can be.  4.5/5 for the purposes of this list of essential albums (rounded up to 5), which translates to a 9.5/10 grade for more general purposes. Number of albums left to review: less than 400 (I've temporarily lost count here) Number of albums I'll include in my own list: half so far, approximately (including this one) Number of albums I *might*  include: a quarter, approximately Number of albums I'll never include: another quarter (many others are more important to me).

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Thu Dec 07 2023
5

10/10 men will hear this and say ‘hell yeah!’

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Fri Jun 16 2023
4

This is like the textbook definition for a 7/10.

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Wed May 31 2023
3

Not a bad rock album. Good songwriting but is missing something to make it more memorable.

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Fri Aug 25 2023
5

Of the 3 original Big Star albums, this is actually my least favorite but it's still amazing. Great songs, great production, great energy, great variety. It's a classic. 5 stars.

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Sun Sep 24 2023
5

Good ole fashioned Americana 9/10

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Mon Oct 16 2023
5

This is near perfect. One of the greatest albums of all time by one of the greatest bands of all time, which most people will never know.

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Fri Dec 01 2023
5

Este disco representa como ninguno la razón de por qué quería escuchar esos 1001 discos. Para descubrir joyas como esta. Un absoluto diez de diez. ¿Dónde has estado toda mi puta vida?

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Thu Dec 21 2023
5

This album is a Rock'n'roll classic. Every song just bleeds heart and groove and energy. There isn't a lot more to say, because it should be heard and studied by anyone that likes rock music and is nearly perfect. I think there are a couple flubs in the flow of the album, but it doesn't take away from an overall 5 star score.

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

This is very much within the realm of what I would think of if you told me to think of early 70s rock. So even though I didn’t recognize anything on this album it felt familiar, although I feel like I have heard Thirteen maybe somewhere before? Big Star has great harmonies, some good rock, some moving ballads, and they feel like something I really should be more familiar with. I really enjoyed this album! Nice song variety, interesting performances, great lyrics. An excellent representative of its era for this list!

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

Reading the description of this album, I was prepared to be wowed. I wasn't immediately but by the time we got to When My Baby's Beside Me, I was into it. When it ended, I started it over and enjoyed the whole thing the second time. Rounding up from 4.5.

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

I very much enjoyed this album. The groove of the 70s felt extremely satisfying today.

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Mon Jan 08 2024
5

Fantastic album, highly recommend. Beetly mixed with zepp.

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Tue Jan 09 2024
5

It takes a certain confidence to name your unknown band Big Star. It takes some next level audacity to then call your debut album "#1 Record." These are guys who know they're good. Sadly, the band's star would crash rather inauspiciously in the end, but what they left behind was nothing short of a musical treasure. You can hear echoes of Big Star in all kinds of bands that came after them - in power pop, alternative, jangle pop, Indie. For an album that came out over 50 years ago, this album sounds as fresh and vital as the day it was made. #1 Record is an album full of hooky, bittersweet melodies and masterful guitar work that can turn from jangly and ethereal to muscular and hard rocking on a dime. Lyrically, the songs range from the easygoing slacker anthem "In the Street" to the sweetly intimate "Thirteen." For every moment of raw and earnest vulnerability, there are nearly as many full-tilt, cruising with the windows down rockers, and somehow the band makes this all work. Essentially this is an album that speaks to the essence of being young - innocent but headstrong, freewheeling but frustrated, awash with feelings you don't quite understand. I can't really think of another album that captures that feeling better and it's a true joy to listen to. If you enjoyed this, I strongly recommend taking the time to listen to the albums Radio City and (Complete) Third. Also, the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me is a must see. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): Thirteen, The Ballad of El Goodo, Try Again, Watch the Sunrise, Give Me Another Chance, In the Street, My Life Is Right, Feel, Don't Lie to Me, When My Baby's Beside Me, ST 100/6, The India Song

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Wed Jan 24 2024
5

Where would indie rock be without their #1 Record?

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Thu Feb 15 2024
5

Dug this rock album - solid!

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Fri Feb 16 2024
5

A masterpiece. A band and album too few people know about.

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Sat Feb 24 2024
5

Oh this was great. This is always an album I had been recommended but never checked out. Right up my power pop alley.

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Thu Feb 29 2024
5

Best album I have on this site yet!

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Sat May 20 2023
4

Chilled, upbeat, will listen again, a gateway album into 70s rock

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Thu May 25 2023
4

Can't go wrong with 1970's classic rock

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Tue May 30 2023
4

Jongens, wat een hippieplaat. Iedereen is 'my friend', slaggitaar en fluit, samenzang. Af en toe een pietsie steviger nummertje tussendoor. Een paar jaar later trokken ze allemaal een pak met stropdas aan en gingen ze geld verdienen, maar hier zaten ze nog rondom het kampvuur. Of een echtscheidings-LP maken. Al met al best een lekker lome plaat voor een zonnige donderdagochtend.

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Thu Jun 01 2023
4

Just catchy and fun enough to nab 4 big stars; it really is ahead of it's time

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Fri Jun 02 2023
4

thirteen is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. it perfectly captures the most pure, innocent, and true kind of love. in the street is perfect. its like these are great totems to remind one of how vital life can be. side 2 falls off but even in banality this record shines with simple but effective tunes, rhythms, production and alex chiltons beautiful voice. watch the sunrise is gorgeous, resplendant. i admit i am a card carrying member of the cult but despite the all the hagiographies and my personal bias it still just ever so slightly clinches a 4

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Tue Jun 06 2023
4

Good album! And as far as power pop goes it is very tame and I really like that about it.

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Wed Jun 14 2023
4

A solid album and still leagues better than the vast majority of radio-friendly rock that followed it. More of a 3.5 but rounded up partially due to the strength of Thirteen.

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Fri Jun 16 2023
4

8/10. Pretty good, reminded me a bit of Todd Rundgren. Not sure these guys needed two whole albums on this list, but I've liked them both so I'm not too upset.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
4

El naixement del power pop, un génere tan maleït com la pròpia banda que el va inaugurar. El disc és excel.lent, però. Tota una lliçó de melodies, guitarres, composicions que s'adhereixen a qui les escolta, i el carisma sense comparació d'Alex Chilton

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Thu Jun 22 2023
4

(4+) Отличный рок-альбом, который очень приятно слушать. Мне кажется, что акустическая гитара придаёт этому альбому больше шарма, чем другим альбомам. Единственная проблема у меня была с вокалом на некоторых песнях. Хочу ли я вернуться к этому альбому? Да.

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Wed Jun 28 2023
4

This is an early power pop record characterized by emphasis on vocal melody and harmony. There are elements of glam rock in places and folk rock. The influence of the Beatles and the Byrds are obvious but this music sounds a lot like what would come later in the form of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and even college rock with their emphasis on vocals and jangly guitars. It's a shame this album wasn't promoted the way it should have been.

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Thu Jul 06 2023
4

I've never heard of Big Star and #1 Record was all new music except that I've heard a cover of "In the Street". This album had a mix of styles. There were tracks using electric intruments that that reminded me of the retro sound that Space Hog has used and tracks that sounded like a pre-cursor to glam-rock. There were acoustic tracks that reminded me of Fleet Foxes, or the vocal delivery and overall tone of Elliot Smith. The middle zone between the more electrified and more acoustic tracks reminded me of the Bay City Rollers, and I could hear the influence of the Beatles. There was a lot of variety in the tracks from the start. My favorite track was "Feel" which drew me in with the the overlap of horns, guitar and keys. "The India Song" and "My Life Is Right" were also good tracks. I could come back to this album again to find out what I missed the first time.

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Fri Jul 07 2023
4

Had listened the first part or so before, neat chance to listen it fully, and thankfully so, really cool album, great songs and a nice and calma finisher

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Wed Jul 19 2023
4

It feels like so much was shaped by this album that on its own it sounds a little like a wild collection of 70s music sounds, for better or worse. 3.5, rounded up. BT - Feel - The Ballad of El Gordo - The India Song - St 100/6

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Thu Jul 20 2023
4

This almost rocked my socks off. It came really close at times, but it never just hit cruising altitude and stayed there. It threw some cool Zeppelinisms at at me then descended into Beatlesy wuss-rock, or even a more folky US flavour kinda thing... but you know what? I'll give it a 4/5 anyway. plus it has a song called "the India song" and as it happens, I'm in the middle of a 5-week work trip... in India! Shame it isn't a total banger or I'd make it the theme song to my SLIDESHOW NIGHT when I get home lol.

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Tue Jul 25 2023
4

I don't have the reverence for this album that many others have. It's a very good pop album with some excellent songs. I don't particularly like , I guess it is Chris Bell's voice, which is one thing that keeps me from loving the album rather than just respecting it. Anyway a solid album that was basically ignored for 25 years. 4 stars

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Thu Jul 27 2023
4

It's interesting to have this juxtaposed with my album of yesterday, the Stooges' Raw Power. Same era, but although this arguably comes off as pushing a more conventional rock sound, I think it's the more innovative album.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
4

At first I used to think it's fine. They're fine. Ever since I first heard* of this band I thought "I should love them." So many of the bands they influenced is music I either really like or love; e.g. the so-called "power-pop" groups like Jellyfish, Cheap Trick, etc. I just never heard the killer single to draw me in. *which - I'm of the age, so I guess I probably *should* have heard of them yet nobody I knew had their albums in the 80s as far as I knew... but it was The Replacements' song "Alex Chilton" of course that brought them into focus for me which is a fantastic cut and an obviously direct homage to AC/Big Star and in fact is one that I like better than any actual Big Star song... This album? It's ... yeah it's pretty good. And yet I couldn't ever get these songs to sink in until today... I played it 3x until the melodies, great harmonies, accessible hooks... they finally started to hit. "Thirteen" is probably the closest (and obviously a big Replacements/Westerburg influence) to a quick hit - capturing a simple chord progression with nice harmonies and is just really sweet. I think I'd just always rooted for more - I wanted to be a fan of Big Star and i think it took me a while because they don't have The Big Song™ (or Songs) but it's such a listenable album from start to finish with more melodic twists than I'd initially given it credit for (it also sounds so clean for 1972). The fact that you can put this on many times in a row - as I just did - and it's not only not tiring but starts to reveal more is what puts it in keeper category. I'll keep listening. 7/10 4 stars.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
4

The first time I listened I think I just let it play in the background but I actually listened again which is something I never do, and that’s when I real ex I really liked it. There’s a strong rock vibe in it that’s exactly what I like. Just a good good album.

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Thu Aug 03 2023
4

Infinitely listenable - power pop at its finest!

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Sun Aug 13 2023
4

This is a very respectable early-to-mid-70s rock album. It sounds exactly like I imagine it was supposed to: somewhere between the Beatles and the Stones. Unfortunately, they got lost somewhere in the middle and the result is a mostly middling album. It never pushes any boundaries. It's totally serviceable but, ultimately, just... alright. Upgraded a star because the production is truly fantastic for an album from '72. Just really great. Chris Bell knew what he was doing in a studio.

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Sun Aug 13 2023
4

The rock songs are perhaps mediocre Attempts considering what it felt this album should have aspired to. This recording is regarded so highly that it’s hard to approach with an open mind. I came thinking the rock would pull me in, but I was more surprised by the slower, acoustic tracks. This is where the magic lives. These guys just spread themselves too wide, re-envisioned as a folk album this thing really shines.

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Sun Aug 13 2023
4

rock and roll with lots of pop hooks.

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Wed Aug 16 2023
4

7.5, not bad not earth shattering

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Sun Aug 20 2023
4

While listening this record I went all Leonardo DiCaprio when In The Street came on. I never knew it came from here. I’ve seen the cover countless times but never really listened to it. And it’s a shame, it’s a power pop great record filled with lots of beautiful harmonisation and hooks that make you hum along. I learned that the band did not live on much longer and that is too bad. I think these guys really had something special here. 8,5 out of 10

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Mon Aug 21 2023
4

#1 record gets a lot of hate for being one those albums people over-list as being “sooo good” which sucks because it is to me “pretty good”

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Wed Aug 23 2023
4

Familiar sounds, chill album and even includes some noisier rock songs!

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Fri Aug 25 2023
4

Appreciate that this album is incredibly influential to a lot of the music that i like. I like this album, but for whatever reason it doesnt click with me. It's very good, but not one I come back too.

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Wed Sep 06 2023
4

Classic rock, forgettable but pleasant, feels like perfect road album

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Wed Sep 27 2023
4

I quite liked this one, but I didn't really LOVE it the way I love a lot of artists that are similar.

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Mon Oct 02 2023
4

I had never heard of this band but I quite enjoyed it,

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Wed Oct 04 2023
4

There are some lovely Beatlesque moments on this album, sweet harmonies and lush chords. A kind of missing link between the Fab Four and Fleetwood Mac.

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Wed Oct 04 2023
4

A great record. I enjoyed the well written songs and easy going nature of it all. The one famous song caught me by surprise, as I thought I'd never heard a Big Star song before.

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Wed Oct 04 2023
4

Man, this album is so close to a five star that it hurts, as the first four tracks and final four tracks are all fantastic pieces of folk-y power pop that scratches that itch the way a calmer Led Zeppelin song does. My issue is that three of the four middle tracks lean a little too heavy into the rock part, and feel bland due to it, as it sounds like a poor imitation of admittedly acts that would come after this, but I still don't enjoy the style. However, none of that should detract from the fact that I think this is an excellent record. This is a glorious debut where you can see inspirations like George Harrison, T. Rex, and as mentioned before, Led Zeppelin, yet this is definitively all Big Star's, with tracks like Thirteen and the Ballad of El Goodo being master class power pop pieces that I will never forget. It is a shame this group didn't take off, because I think they really could've blown the music world open. I suppose they did inspire R.E.M., but I'll just say this is better than anything that group put out by a mile. Just an awesome album, wish I could give it that five, but I gotta be fair to my system. Perhaps one day it'll get there.

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Fri Oct 06 2023
4

Imagine my surprise when i hear 70’s show theme music lol. Banger album

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Sat Oct 07 2023
4

I didn't go into this album with any expectations, which thankfully meant that I was pleasantly surprised by yet another 70s rock album and wasn't holding it in total contempt. This sounds like every single pop rock band of the 70s from steely dan to tom petty to the eagles but still delivers enough fun songs to be worth the listen despite falling off somewhat in the second half. I really liked feel, in the street, and thirteen. I'm assuming that this is the unknown progenitor of the entire pop/power rock movement in the 70s and 80s which would make a lot of sense just based on the music. Another surprise was hearing the origin of the That 70s Show theme song, and they were smart to cover a song from the most 70s-sounding album ever.

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Sat Oct 14 2023
4

First time listener. Excellent!

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Mon Oct 16 2023
4

Enjoyable album with some great songs.

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Wed Oct 18 2023
4

All the Big Star albums were a big part of the soundtrack to my college years, but this one in particular is their best. The dynamic between Bell and Chilton had a certain irreplaceable magic. They capture beautifully what it feels like to be young.

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Wed Oct 18 2023
4

Really like the crisp, muscular guitar-driven sound. Even though they wear their influences on their sleeve (Beatles, Stones, etc) they definitely bring their own unique thing to the table. Sad to hear that label incompetence may have contributed to their demise after just a few years. I was caught by surprise to hear the original version of "That 70's Show" theme with "In the Street." Also noteworthy, a funny and bizarre choice to name themselves after a grocery store chain.

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Mon Oct 23 2023
4

Nice easy listening. Great melodies and harmonies.

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Mon Oct 23 2023
4

Solid classic rock album. Good for what it is. Laid back clean riffs. Not my usual but enjoyable regardless.

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Tue Oct 24 2023
4

Nice 70s rock. Kind of a hidden gem for enthusiasts because the sound is nice for some songs

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Thu Oct 26 2023
4

Onbekende artiest met karakteristieke jaren 70 sound, heel erg prettig om naar te luisteren, maar geen blijvende topper.

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Fri Nov 10 2023
4

So cool hear famous songs that I didn't know the origin. Good power pop

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Sun Nov 12 2023
4

Really Like this, takes me back to high school! Love it 4 stars!

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Tue Nov 14 2023
4

Dangerously close to being a full 5 stars.

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Sat Nov 18 2023
4

Can't believe I've never heard of these guys. Nice amalgamation of the 70s style. And...that 70s show theme song?!

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Sun Nov 19 2023
4

Super fed lyd, super gode sange. Jeg er ked af at måtte melde ud af den her plade faktisk ikke var #1 men solgte rigtig dårligt.

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Sun Nov 19 2023
4

Jeg ved godt vi kun er 4% igennem, men det er vist ikke for tidligt at sige at 70’er-, 80’er- og 90’errock er overrepræsenteret på denne liste. Det er lidt ærgerligt for mon ikke der er meget jazz/hiphop/metal/r&b der så bliver forbigået Når det så er sagt kunne jeg vildt godt lide denne her og er glad for at jeg hørte den inden jeg dør så det er vel i orden den var med

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Mon Nov 20 2023
4

I liked it a lot The first half was much better than the second half though

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Wed Nov 22 2023
4

The timeline where The Beatles went to Rehab rather than Rishikesh in 68. But do we want more Helps or do we want more Revolvers?

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Wed Nov 22 2023
4

This album is a mix of classic rock with hints of glam. I liked it. 3.5 stars

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Wed Nov 29 2023
4

Most of this was pretty good. A few songs were not exactly what I wanted from the album, but the others songs were strong. Thirteen is, like, a perfect song, so I definitely appreciate the album more because of that one song. I'm excited to listen to their other albums! My favourite song was Thirteen.

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Thu Nov 30 2023
4

#1 Record bursts in entirely in itself, and Big Star nearly perfect. If there's any distance, it's in the band lightly imitating, carving gracefully the walls of pop instead of taking a straight shave or brand new course.

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Thu Dec 07 2023
4

A very vague sound of good 70s rock. Never turning this off, but I wouldn't turn it on, strangely.

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Thu Dec 07 2023
4

Wait a minute... Is that the That 70s Show song?

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Thu Dec 07 2023
4

I really want to love it, but there's something missing. I like every single song, but nothing here ever hits me hard, nothing above an 8/10. Still v good, and one to look at again, but I wish I liked it more. 06/12/23

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Fri Dec 08 2023
4

I did not know this band until now and I would have really enjoyed hearing this kind of music on the radio back in the day.

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Mon Dec 18 2023
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: The ballad of el goodo, When my baby’s beside me

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Wed Dec 20 2023
4

Rollicking pop rock - progenitor of the power pop sub genre! I was introduced to this album via a record club I used to attend. I gotta say "Thirteen" set some alarm bells off because a fair few entries on this list have had some very questionable songs lusting after the underage, but reading around, the consensus seems to be that it's a sweet and earnest tribute to adolescence, wholesome all round, so that was a relief! Fave tracks - "In the Street" for uptempo, "Give Me Another Chance" for the more ballady offerings...

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