Number 1 Record
|Studio album by Big Star|
|Recorded||Summer–Fall 1971 at Ardent Studios, Memphis|
|Big Star chronology|
#1 Record is the debut album by the American power pop group Big Star. It was released in 1972 by Memphis-based Ardent Records. Many critics praised the album's elegant vocal harmonies and refined songcraft but #1 Record suffered from poor distribution and sold fewer than 10,000 copies. However, #1 Record has more recently attracted wider attention, and in 2003 it was ranked number 438 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone magazine also ranked the song "Thirteen" as number 396 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
#1 Record is the only Big Star album on which group founder Chris Bell is officially credited as a member. Bell had a major hand in the record through songwriting, vocals, and guitar work. The polished sound of #1 Record, in contrast to the messier styles of the band's subsequent albums, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers, is attributed by producer John Fry to the presence of Bell: "When Chris Bell was still in the band, he took more interest than anybody in the production and technology end of things. He had a good production mind...the reason why the second album is rougher, with fewer harmonies, is due to the absence of Chris's influence in the studio."
Composition and recording
Eight years earlier in 1964, when their home town of Memphis, Tennessee became a tour stop for The Beatles, primary songwriters Alex Chilton and Chris Bell were thirteen years old. Heavily influenced by the UK band, the pair—Bell in particular—wanted to model their songwriting on the Lennon–McCartney partnership, with the result that they credited as many songs as possible on Big Star's debut album to "Bell/Chilton". In practice, they developed material incrementally in the studio, each making changes to the other's recordings. Drummer Jody Stephens recalled, "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." The pair also each contributed songs individually composed before Big Star was formed, Bell bringing "Feel", "My Life Is Right", and "Try Again", and Chilton, "The Ballad of El Goodo", "In The Street", and "Thirteen".
On its release in June 1972, #1 Record immediately received widespread acclaim, and continued to do so for six months, although an inability by Stax Records to make the album available in stores meant it sold fewer than 10,000 copies. Record World called it "one of the best albums of the year", and Billboard commented, "Every cut could be a single". Cashbox described it as one where "everything falls together as a total sound" and one that "should go to the top". The River City Review's reaction to the album was to state that "Big Star will be around for many moons".
- Side one
- "Feel" – 3:34 (Lead: Bell)
- "The Ballad of El Goodo" – 4:21 (Lead: Chilton)
- "In the Street" – 2:55 (Lead: Bell)
- "Thirteen" – 2:34 (Lead: Chilton)
- "Don't Lie to Me" – 3:07 (Lead: Bell)
- "The India Song" (Andy Hummel) – 2:20 (Lead: Hummel)
- Side two
- "When My Baby's Beside Me" – 3:22 (Lead: Chilton)
- "My Life Is Right" (Bell, Tom Eubanks) – 3:07 (Lead: Bell)
- "Give Me Another Chance" – 3:26 (Lead: Chilton)
- "Try Again" – 3:31 (Lead: Bell)
- "Watch the Sunrise" – 3:45 (Lead: Chilton)
- "ST 100/6" – 1:01 (Lead: Bell & Chilton)
- Big Star
- Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
- Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
- Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
- Jody Stephens – drums
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