Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chris Bell- I Am the Cosmos (1992) Deluxe Edition (Bonus Disc) MP3 & FLAC

"So it goes, on and on, my love grows, and yours is gone."

Chris Bell's exit from Big Star after the commercial failure of #1 Record  has, over the decades, become shrouded in speculation and mystery. His brother, Dave Bell, has suggested Chris quit his own band due to feeling overshadowed by Alex Chilton, whose celebrity extended beyond Memphis as a result of his stint in The Box Tops. There are also stories of Bell falling into a crippling depression as a result of the ill-fated fortune of Big Star's debut album, which he had worked on obsessively for nearly two years, but whatever the reason, Bell's departure was a bitter one, and featured, according to speculation, fights with other band members and spitefully erased master tapes. While Bell would eventually mend fences with his Big Star band-mates, he never again officially rejoined the band that he had originally started. In the aftermath, Big Star became Chilton's band and continued to languish in vastly undeserved obscurity, while Bell began work on a solo career that sadly would not come to fruition until 14 years after his tragic death, at 27, in a car accident. On one level, I Am the Cosmos is a compilation of the various studio sessions and demos that Bell had worked on throughout his post-Big Star years, but on another level, it functions as a cohesive and often brilliant reminder that Bell (even in absentia) played a big role in crafting Big Star's singular brand of Power-Pop. Nowhere is this more evident than on the gorgeously dark title track, which is easily the equal of anything he recorded in Big Star. With lyrics such as "Every night I tell myself I am the cosmos / I am the wind / But that don't get you back again," the song is a stark and unforgettable reminder of Bell's personal demons and his tortured pop genius. Another lush descent into romantic despair is the open-tuned ballad "Speed of Sound," which features some of the most beautifully recorded acoustic guitar you're ever likely to hear. Once again, Bell is preoccupied with the apparent hopelessness of connecting with others, but the song is dressed in such beautiful textures (including some Moog toward the end), that it refuses to succumb to the inconsolable desolation conveyed in the lyrics. Bell's is one of the more tragic stories in the annals of rock music, and while I Am the Cosmos carries some of this weight (it is his epitaph after all), it is also a great piece of pathos-soaked Power-Pop that demands to be heard.

I Am the Cosmos (2009 Rhino Handmade Remastered Deluxe Edition)

Disc I:  I Am the Cosmos (2009 Remaster)
 1. I Am the Cosmos (Original Single Mix)  (3:50)
 2. Better Save Yourself  (5:15)
 3. Speed of Sound  (5:15)
 4. Get Away  (3:30)
 5. You and Your Sister (Original Single Mix)  (3:14)
 6. I Got Kinda Lost  (2:45)
 7. Look Up  (3:18)
 8. Make a Scene  (4:12)
 9. There Was a Light  (3:21)
10. I Don't Know  (3:25)
11. Fight at the Table  (3:38)
12. Though I Know She Lies  (3:35)

Disc II: Bonus Disc
1. Icewater- Looking Forward  (3:39)
2. Icewater- Sunshine  (1:45)
3. Rock City- My Life Is Right  (3:08)
4. I Don't Know (Alternate Version)  (4:18)
5. You and Your Sister (Alternate Version)  (3:03)
6. I Am the Cosmos (Extended Alternate Version)  (5:07)
7. Speed of Sound (Alternate Version)  (5:13)
8. Fight at the Table (Alternate Mix)  (4:11)
9. Make a Scene (Alternate Mix)  (4:11)
10. Better Save Yourself (Alternate Mix)  (4:29)
11. Get Away (Alternate Version)  (4:21)
12. You and Your Sister (Acoustic Version)  (3:00)
13. Stay With Me (W/ Keith Sykes)  (2:49)
14. In My Darkest Hour (W/ Nancy Bryan)  (3:01)
15. Clacton Rag  (3:30)


  1. Thanks for the post. I'm looking forward to hearing the bonus disc!

    IMHO, I am the cosmos (the song) is an untouchable - one of the best songs of all time

  2. Ralph Dodger, the bonus disc is nice, some great alternate version with clearer vocals. I'm in complete agreement with your statement about "I Am the Cosmos"

  3. I missed the whole Big Star scene. I don't know why either. But after reading this totally depressing Bell review I simply must download this and give it a good listen. Thanks for posting and writing the review.

  4. An exceptional pick! I have the old Ryko CD... never knew about the deluxe edition. Thank you!

  5. scurfie, if you like the Big Star stuff, you'll like this. Bell was quite a talent, but had some considerable personal issue that overwhelmed him. The music is sublime

  6. Anon., enjoy! This came out in 2009 and features lovely remastered sound

  7. yep, this is like Big Star's #1-and-a-1/2 Record.

  8. przyzwoitosc, yes, and maybe a little bit darker

  9. A masterpiece! Another is a looooong series of lost gems. Thanks for sharing. Kurt

  10. Thanks, Voixautre, for providing the link to Will Rigby's account. Very illuminating indeed! From '78 on, I was in a circle of friends who were schoolmates and close acquaintances with members of the dB's, so my being introduced to Big Star then was a no brainer. One thing that sticks out in my memory of what Peter Holsapple once said was that (for Peter himself) the greatest peaks of creativity came during/following periods of tragedy and misery in life. I think Chris Bell's "I am the Cosmos" is a testament to that thought.

    I would urge readers to check out the comments made to Will's account as well to get the "Big Picture".

    BTW, you wouldn't happen to have the S/T "Rock City" would you?

  11. cudawaver, thank you for the great comment. It's such a tragic story, but I completely agree with what Holsapple said. Art is definitely born out of struggle/pain (at least the kind of creativity that I tend to gravitate to). I do have the Rock City CD and plan to post it along with a few other Big Star-related things in the coming weeks

  12. I keep gravitating back to this album. It is currently resonating with me on a very personal level.

    I am the Cosmos.

  13. Jeff, I tend to do the same thing with this album. It really connected with me way back in 92 when it was first released and has been a staple for me ever since

  14. Thanks voixautre. This sounds way better than my previous copy. Awesome.

  15. ALTCERF, you're welcome! I agree, this one was remastered the right way

  16. a hard one to find. now out of print. re-upping would be most appreciated.

    thanks and keep up the great work.


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