Big Star's influential first two albums, 1972's #1 Record and 1974's Radio City, which have been bundled together as a #1 Record/Radio City two-for-one album for years, will once again be available to purchase as separate albums on September 2nd. Stax Records, which distributed the LPs via audio engineer John Fry's Ardent Records label, has remastered both albums from their original analog tapes and will also be offering the records digitally in Mastered for iTunes and high-resolution audio formats. Former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who is an outspoken fan of the power-pop group, has also contributed new liner notes to the releases.
"Songwriting has always been, for me, the most vital gauge of a band's quality, and these guys were clearly masters," Mills said in a statement. "Big Star gave you something satisfying to listen to, no matter how many times you heard them."
Mills also performs with the all-star group Big Star Third, along with members of the dBs's, the Posies and original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, the only musician who played on the first two albums who is still alive.
Guitarist-vocalist Chris Bell, who played only on #1 Record, died in a car accident in 1978. Guitarist-vocalist Alex Chilton and bassist Andy Hummel, who kept the band going with Stephens on Radio City, both died in 2010 of a heart attack and cancer, respectively.
"Very glad to see these two coming out with the sonic approval of John Fry," Stephens said in a statement about the reissues. "Grateful for Chris, Andy and Alex and for Jon [Auer, guitar and vocals] and Ken [Stringfellow, bass and vocals]. The music's journey continues."
"All I can say is that these were the best projects I have ever worked with and the best artists and friends I have ever had the pleasure to know," Fry said. "I love the music and the cast of characters: Chris, Alex, Andy and Jody. I think fans will be pleased by the sound and the packaging. They may have to turn the volume up a bit, since we did not want to remove the analog dynamic range. Sit back and enjoy the definitive digital versions of #1 Record and Radio City, two of my three favorite albums."