MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After co-founding Big Star, Chris Bell released only two tracks of new music during his lifetime — a 1978 single on the Car Records label run by Chris Stamey (The dB’s, Sneakers) titled “I Am the Cosmos” b/w “You and Your Sister.” He would lose his life in a car accident later that same year. However, those were not the only tracks Bell had recorded in his post-Big Star years.
In 1974-1975, Bell worked in the famed Château D’Hérouville near Paris, France, and later recorded at both Shoe Studios and Ardent Studios in Memphis. Some of that material arrived in 1992 as I Am the Cosmos to great acclaim. An expanded 2009 release nearly doubled the track listing, adding alternate mixes, as well as some of Bell’s pre-Big Star recordings.
With those early recordings now taking their proper place on Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star (released by Omnivore Recordings in July, 2017), it is now time for the definitive version of I Am the Cosmos. Street date is September 15, 2017.
In addition to the bonus material found on the 1992 release and 2009 reissue, this new two-CD/Digital set adds 10 more tracks, eight of which are previously unissued; two make their CD debut. The packaging contains updated liner notes from set co-producer Alec Palao as well as Memphis author and journalist Bob Mehr and features previously unseen photographs. Also available the same day, the original 12 track “album” — first pressing on clear vinyl (with download card for the album tracks). All Chris Bell projects are being approved and overseen by Chris’ estate run by his brother, David.
With renewed reverence for his work in Big Star, as well as a look back at his earlier work, and an upcoming biography from Rich Tupica, the stars have aligned. This expanded edition of I Am the Cosmos arrives at the perfect time for long-time fans, as well of those who are just discovering the magic of Chris Bell.
The early Chris Bell-related recordings were compiled by Omnivore in a CD/Digital release titled Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star, released in July 2017. Those recordings now make their vinyl debut in the first two (of six) vinyl LPs of The Complete Chris Bell as Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star and Rock City — See Seven States. Street date is November 24, 2017.
Bell’s post-Big Star recordings have long been well known as an album first compiled by Rykodisc in 1992, and titled I Am the Cosmos. In September 2017, Omnivore issues the original I Am the Cosmos tracks on LP, newly remastered and cut at Ardent Studios. Also released at the same time will be a comprehensive two-CD/Digital deluxe edition of the album, including all known post-Big Star recordings. The freshly remastered I Am the Cosmos vinyl is included in The Complete Chris Bell as the third LP with the additional recordings from the two-CD deluxe edition making up the two volumes of Outtakes & Alternates as LPs 4 & 5 with all the material making its vinyl debut.
Rounding out The Complete Chris Bell is an exclusive sixth LP that will only be available in the boxed set. It includes a never-before heard 1975 interview with Barry Ballard. Ballard interviewed Bell in London, and has graciously allowed the use of his original tape for the transfer and restoration so it could be included in this set. Bell’s remarks on everything from his solo recordings to Big Star are revelatory!
The Complete Chris Bell was produced and compiled by Grammy Award winner Cheryl Pawelski, Ardent Studios’ Adam Hill, and Grammy-nominated producer Alec Palao. It was freshly remastered by Grammy-Award winning engineer Michael Graves, and the vinyl cut on the original lathe at Ardent Studios in Memphis by Chris Jackson and Adam Hill.
Liner notes are by co-producer Alec Palao and Bob Mehr (music critic for the daily Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal, and author of The New York Times bestseller Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements. The booklet also features previously unseen photos and memorabilia, plus a special excerpt from the forthcoming HoZac Books release There Was a Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of Big Star by Rich Tupica.
The Complete Chris Bell boxed set will be a one-time pressing with individual volumes potentially broken out in the future as demand warrants (excluding the 1975 London Interview LP which will be exclusive to the boxed set).
The entire project was developed with the oversight of the Estate of Chris Bell and should serve as the definitive collection of the massively influential Chris Bell!
For complete track listing for both titles, see Omnivore’s press release page: http://omnivorerecordings.com/music/the-complete-chris-bell/