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Big Star was an American rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel.The group broke up in 1974, and reorganized with a new line-up nearly 20 years later.Before it broke up, Big Star created a "seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations" in the words of Rolling Stone, Big Star's first album—1972's #1 Record—was met by enthusiastic reviews, but ineffective marketing by Stax Records and limited distribution stunted its commercial success.Frustration took its toll on band relations: Bell left not long after the first record's commercial progress stalled, and Hummel left to finish his college education after a second album, Radio City, was completed in December 1973.Like #1 Record, the album contains a mix of rock, power pop, and acoustic reflection, but is more pop-oriented than either #1 Record or Third.This song is an example of the band's most highly acclaimed power pop.Like #1 Record, Radio City received excellent reviews, but label issues again thwarted sales—Columbia Records, which had assumed control of the Stax catalog, likewise effectively vetoed its distribution.After a third album, recorded in the Fall of 1974, was deemed commercially unviable and shelved before receiving a title, the band broke up late in 1974.
To the resulting power pop, Big Star added dark, existential themes, and produced a style that foreshadowed the alternative rock of the 1980s and 1990s.I mean we hoped it would be played on the radio a lot, making it "radio city". Stephens recalled: "Radio City, for me, was just an amazing record.Being a three-piece really opened things up for me in terms of playing drums.This was probably pretty lame, but in those days putting any word in front of the noun "city" to sort of emphasize the totality and pervasiveness of it was just a way of talking people had.If someone suggested going to a store but you had gotten a bad deal there you might say, "Oh no, that place is 'rip off city'." Calling an LP Radio City would be kind of wishful thinking.