12 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

At a time when prog-rock bands were stretching the vocabulary of guitar-based music to absurd ends in hopes of finding the future, Big Star looked back, refashioning the sound of the British Invasion into something catchy, eccentric, and genuinely new. Building on 1972’s #1 Record (their first album, definitely not its chart position), Radio City tied together gospel (“O My Soul”) and country (“September Gurls”), pre-psychedelic Beatles (“Back of a Car”), and pre-concept Kinks (“Way Out West”) with an offhand vulnerability that seemed uniquely their own. The result was pop that recaptured its potential to be alternative, even underground—a blueprint for bands as varied as The Cars and R.E.M., The Replacements and Elliott Smith, not to mention a generation of weirdos who just liked the old stuff best.

EDITORS’ NOTES

At a time when prog-rock bands were stretching the vocabulary of guitar-based music to absurd ends in hopes of finding the future, Big Star looked back, refashioning the sound of the British Invasion into something catchy, eccentric, and genuinely new. Building on 1972’s #1 Record (their first album, definitely not its chart position), Radio City tied together gospel (“O My Soul”) and country (“September Gurls”), pre-psychedelic Beatles (“Back of a Car”), and pre-concept Kinks (“Way Out West”) with an offhand vulnerability that seemed uniquely their own. The result was pop that recaptured its potential to be alternative, even underground—a blueprint for bands as varied as The Cars and R.E.M., The Replacements and Elliott Smith, not to mention a generation of weirdos who just liked the old stuff best.

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