Likely one of the most underrated rock bands to come out of the ‘70s, a decade that inexplicably made everyone from Journey to Styx famous, Memphis-based rockers Big Star always seemed on the edge, (but just not quite there yet) of making it big. Their debut, 1972’s #1 Record, arguably their best, boasting songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “Don’t Lie to Me” and “In the Street” (sadly, best known as the intro theme to That 70’s Show, which was oddly re-recorded by Cheap Trick) all hold up remarkably well four decades after they were first committed to tape. The follow up, 1974’s Power Pop classic Radio City (the other “best” Big Star album), is nearly as strong with songs like “September Gurls” and “Back of a Car.”
This bulk of the songs from this Playlist collection include tracks from those first two records, as well as some live songs and an early rehearsal version of “September Girls.” It does include “Stroke it Noel” and “Kanga-Roo” from 1978’s Third/Sister Lovers album, but the band was already falling apart by that time.
There have been a couple of Big Star compilations over the years, but this one is the most complete at 14 tracks, culling songs from the first three proper records, 2005’s In Space (featuring a partially reunited band) and their two live albums, Columbia: Live at Missouri University and Nobody Can Dance. This is a stellar primer for the uninitiated and for all others, a perfect reminder of just how great a band Big Star were.