Big Science (Laurie Anderson album)

Big Science is the 1982 debut album by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson and the first of a seven-album deal she signed with Warner Bros. Records. It is best known for the single "O Superman", which unexpectedly reached No. 2 in the UK. The work is a selection of highlights from her eight-hour production, United States Live, which was itself released as a 5-LP box set and book in 1984. United States Live was originally a performance piece, in which music was only one element. After Big Science music played a larger role in Anderson's work.[9]

Big Science
LaurieAnderson BigScience.JPG
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 19, 1982
June 18, 2007 (reissue)
RecordedThe Lobby, The Hit Factory, New York City
GenreAvant-garde, art pop, electronic
LabelWarner Bros.
Nonesuch/Elektra Records (reissue)
ProducerLaurie Anderson
Roma Baran
Laurie Anderson chronology
You're the Guy I Want To Share My Money With
Big Science
Mister Heartbreak
Singles from Big Science
  1. "O Superman"
    Released: 1981
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Blender4/5 stars[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[5]
Spin4/5 stars[6]
Uncut4/5 stars[7]
The Village VoiceA−[8]

Although considered her debut album, Anderson had previously recorded one side of a 2-LP set titled You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With, a collaboration released on Giorno Poetry Systems with William S. Burroughs and John Giorno. She had also contributed two pieces to a 1977 compilation of electronic music.


Track 8, without the tango or the horns, was released as a flexi disc in the February issue of Artforum earlier in 1982.[10] A sleeve for the disc could be cut out from the magazine and assembled.

A newly remastered version of the album was released on 18 June 2007 by Nonesuch/Elektra Records with new liner notes, and, in the data portion of the CD, the bonus track "Walk the Dog" (B-side of the original "O Superman" single) and the "O Superman" video.

Slant Magazine listed the album at #44 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s."[11] In 2018, Pitchfork listed the album at #22 on its list of the "200 Best Albums of the 1980s."[12]

Laurie Anderson enjoyed a surprise popular hit in the United Kingdom with "O Superman" in 1981. Her subsequent albums Big Science and Mister Heartbreak each sold between 100,000 and 125,000 copies domestically, and even the five-record United States - Live sold 40,000, according to Elliot Abbott, Anderson's manager and the executive producer of Home of the Brave. [13] As of 1983, the album had sold 150,000 copies worldwide.[14]

Track listingEdit

All words and music by Laurie Anderson

  1. "From the Air" – 4:29
  2. "Big Science" – 6:25
  3. "Sweaters" – 2:18
  4. "Walking & Falling" – 2:10
  5. "Born, Never Asked" – 4:56
  6. "O Superman (for Massenet)" – 8:21
  7. "Example #22" – 2:59
  8. "Let X=X/It Tango" – 6:52

"O Superman" mixed at The Lobby; for Massenet; originally released on One Ten Records
"Example #22" special thanks to Paranormals Medeline Vester, Gerhard Rozhek, Coretta Atteroc, Shelley Karson
"Let X=X" original version appeared in ArtForum February 1982


Additional personnel

"Special thanks to Patty Anderson, Lester Bangs, Robert Coe, Anton Fier, Charles Holland, Geraldine Pontius, Greg Shifrin and Gail Turner".


Year Chart Position
1982 Billboard 200 124[15]
1982 New Zealand Albums 8[16]
1982 UK Albums 29


  1. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Big Science – Laurie Anderson". AllMusic. Retrieved August 31, 2005.
  2. ^ "Laurie Anderson: Big Science". Blender. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  4. ^ Klein, Joshua (August 2, 2007). "Laurie Anderson: Big Science". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
  5. ^ Holden, Stephen (June 10, 1982). "Laurie Anderson: Big Science". Rolling Stone (371). Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2006.
  6. ^ Hermes, Will (September 2007). "Reissues". Spin. 23 (9): 124. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  7. ^ "Laurie Anderson: Big Science". Uncut: 89. [T]he broader themes of alienation and disconnection, as voiced in deadpan manner on 'From the Air' still resonate ...
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 1, 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  9. ^ McClary, Susan (2001). "Laurie Anderson". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.
  10. ^ "".
  11. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s - Feature - Slant Magazine".
  12. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s - Page 9". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  13. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. "MAINSTREAM CATCHES AVANT-GARDE".
  15. ^ Big Science - Laurie Anderson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 March 2006.
  16. ^