Monday, August 28, 2017

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Re-Issues Chris Bell's Solo Output "I Am The Cosmos"

Singer/songwriter Chris Bell was one of the founding members of the alternative rock band Big Star, before pursuing a solo career after the release of Big Star's first album, "#1 Record." He worked as a solo artist through the mid-seventies, recording only one album "I Am The Cosmos," which was not released until 15 years following his untimely death in 1978. Bell was only 27 when a car accident claimed his life.
 
On September 15th, Omnivore Recordings is re-issuing his album as a deluxe 2CD set. It includes the original 12-track album, with an additional 23-tracks (8 previously unreleased). The songs that made up the original "I Am The Cosmos" album combines elements of blues ("Better Save Yourself"), folk ("Speed Of Sound") and rock ("You And Your Sister") and showcases this bright, young, energetic spark in the music industry. An additional four bonus tracks are added to the first disc. They feature acoustic mixes of the title song, "I Am The Cosmos" as well as "You And Your Sister," "Look Up" and a beautiful, 2-minute untitled piece.
 
The second disc is where we find the treasure trove of recordings that went into this album. Although all of the original recordings were produced by Chris Bell, this new compilation includes the help of Alex Palao, Cheryl Pawelski and Adam Hill. Digging through the vault of recordings, we get alternate mixes of songs like "Get Away" and "Make A Scene." The highlights of the second disc feature duets with Keith Sykes on "Stay With Me" and Nancy Bryan on "In My Darkest Hour." The 35-song set finishes up with an untitled electrifying instrumental rock track and the gentle acoustic movie mix of "Though I Know She Lies."
 
This new set also includes a full-color 28-page booklet that includes updated lines notes from Memphis author/journalist Bob Mehr and previously unseen photos of Chris Bell. This set also leads the way for a 6-LP set titled "The Complete Chris Bell," which arrives this November. To find out more about this newly released expanded edition of "I Am The Cosmos," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

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