My Top 1000 Songs #273: You Get What You Deserve
I'm trying to be selective and not overload this list with every song Big Star recorded--which, c'mon, would be kinda justified--but at some point I have to relent and throw in another one. "You Get What You Deserve," off 1974 sophomore LP Radio City, is a master-class in both power pop songwriting and studio production. While the first album rightfully gets a lot of attention for the band's obsessive fixation on production perfection--mostly attributed to Chris Bell, who was gone by the second album--"Deserve" sounds simply spectacular. As on the first album, the jangly guitar sound is mesmerizing, but let's give due credit to that Hummel-Stephens rhythm section, the supple bass and Jody Stephens' tasteful restraint accented by attention-demanding Moon-like fills in peak form.
And Alex Chilton truly shines here; his vocals are magical, and some dramatic fretwork confirms he was an underrated guitarist. The verse/chorus dynamics are riveting, gentle lead-ins to frenetic (yet melodic) release, the resignation of the lyrics bridging sadness and anger. Like much of the band's catalog, it's a brilliant wrapping of bittersweet sentiment in a shiny, uplifting musical package.
[And if you haven't already, check out my recreation of an imaginary Big Star second album that combines Radio City with Chris Bell's solo work.]