Their debut, #1 Record, released in 1972, alternated between gentle acoustic numbers like “Thirteen,” and guitar driven rockers such as “Feel,” all laced with Byrds-like guitars & Beatles-esque harmonies. The album essentially set the template & direction for the power pop genre of the 70s, and beyond. Reviews were universally ecstatic, but the band’s label had financial & distribution issues, so people couldn’t find the album, much less buy it. The frustrating experience caused tensions within the band; Bell quit the group, rejoined, then later quit again. Their second album, Radio City (1974), was another strong effort, with wonderful songs like “September Gurls” and “I’m In Love With A Girl” showcasing the group’s polished pop song craft. But continuing issues with the band’s label doomed this release as well. Reviews were positive, but this record also had little or no distribution. The band's label was having issues after being purchased by Columbia Records, who did nothing to promote the group. Still, something about their music stuck in the minds & hearts of the people who did manage to hear their albums, or got to see them perform.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me charts the band’s history through the recording of both of those records, as well as their third album, Third/Sister Lovers, which was recorded in 1974, but unreleased until 1978. The group is seen in archival footage, and there are in-depth interviews with colleagues, friends & family members, as well as famous fans of the group, including Matthew Sweet, Cheap Trick, The Replacements and Mike Mills of R.E.M. The film also follows the paths that Chilton & Bell (who were like the Lennon & McCartney of the group) took after the band’s breakup, and discusses their solo work. There's also coverage of the eventual reformation of the band by Alex Chilton & Jody Stephens in 2003, and the growing appreciation of their music thru re-releases of their albums. While the group had little success in their original incarnation, a funny thing happened: people began to discover their records; bands like The Bangles, Cheap Trick and The Posies covered their songs, and cited them as an influence. Rolling Stone included all three of their original albums in their list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
"I never travel far, without a little Big Star." Lyric from The Replacements song Alex Chilton, a track from their 1987 album, Pleased To Meet Me.