#1 in so many damn ways… Big Star – #1 Record

History is fluid and changes with interpretation and the times that follow. So, something that was once dismissed or missed can be re-examined and pulled into the light in a way that perhaps it wasn’t before. Such was, is and may forever be the story of how Big Star and their debut #1 Record are considered.


It is one of the planets greatest rock ‘n’ roll records, and still almost no one beyond critics and hipsters has truly given it the time of day. Sure Rolling Stone has it in their 500 Greatest Records of All-Time, but that doesn’t really result in the kind of record sales and recognition that should be afforded this band.

Obviously, the information is out there, in different formats and many stories told; so I’m just going to point out a few in hopes that you see an opportunity to get yourself some great music.

First, if you have access to Netflix than you can catch the Big Star biography Nothing Can Hurt Me. It is a great examination into the history of Big Star, and also offers an awesome soundtrack of alternate takes from Big Star and their principle songwriters Chris Bell and Alex Chilton.


Next there is a new biography on Alex Chilton named A Man Called Destruction. It is pretty eye opening and well worth the read.


Finally, the one album I was here to tell you about on this day, #1 Record. While it would be easy for me to sit here heaping praise, it is easier to just point out its influence. Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Lemonheads, Wilco and much of the 90’s alt rock pantheon were influenced by #1 Record.

Some of the songs you may recognize from are:

“In The Street” – It became the theme song to That 70’s Show.

“The Ballad of El Goodo” – Has been covered numerous times by acts such as Evan Dando, Mathew Sweet, Counting Crows, Zeus, Wellspring and Wilco.

“Thirteen” – Picked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, and I’ll just add, one of the most amazing songs ever.

Anyway, your opportunity is that as vinyl goes, there have been some recently released re-masters that are available. First a little company called 4 Men with Beards was given permission to re-release #1 Record on 180 gram black vinyl. I haven’t found an exact number printed, but it must be at least sizable enough to fill demand.

The second release is a little more exclusive, Newbury Comics with permission of Big Star’s record label Ardent have released 1000 copies of #1 Record on translucent gold vinyl. Trust me when I say, it is awesome!


In fact, that is kind of my point; #1 Record is one of the greatest albums one can have in their collection. If I printed my version of the top 10 records of all time it would be among them. More importantly, if I was to take off my critic hat and just list my favourite 10 records, again it would sit amongst the top. In fact, it just might be a contender for number one.

I Really Want This! Big Star Neon Sign

Anyone who collects anything has that one object that is simply unattainable. Usually it is either a cash problem… or it just isn’t available to buy. In my case, it falls into both categories. You see, I have this dream of having a bar that has a single neon sign just off to the side.

This sign

 big star sign

It isn’t just a sign. It is major history in the world of one of my favourite rock bands. It is a story hanging on my wall. It is the ultimate geeky altar to music people who are ‘in the know.’ A way to instantly tell people we worship awesome music in this home.

The sign first shows up on the cover of Big Star’s #1 Record. In fact, it is pretty much the cover.

bs 1

Then it shows up again on a tree for the cover of Big Star Live,

bs live

and once more on the movie poster for the Big Star biography Nothing Can Hurt Me.


It is gorgeous and glorious and the ultimate fan possession.

The cool thing was that a couple years back, some official replicas were made around the same time Omnivore was putting out a special edition of Third/Sisters Lovers for Record Store Day. It was out of my price range.


bs third


But I still want it… it is one of the coolest memorabilia items in existence… but alas, I haven’t won the lottery yet. Guess a poster might have to do.