Every Day We Grow Closer (Original Mix)(Alex Chilton)
Try Again (Early Version) (Rock City)
The Preacher (Rock City)
The Ballad Of El Goodo (Alternate Mix)
In The Street
Thirteen (Alternate Mix)
Don't Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby's Beside Me (Alternate Mix)
My Life Is Right (Alternate Mix)
Give Me Another Chance Alternate Mix)
Gone With The Light (Chris Bell)
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6 (Alternate Mix)
In The Street (Second Recorded Version)
Feel (Early Mix)
The Ballad Of El Goodo (Alternate Lyrics)
The India Song (Alternate Version)
I Got Kinda Lost (Demo)
Motel Blues (Demo)
Track Listings (25) - Disc #2
There Was A Light (Demo)
Life is White (Demo)
What's Going Ahn (Demo)
O My Soul
Life is White
Way Out West (Alternate Mix)
What's Going Ahn
You Get What You Deserve (Alternate Mix)
Mod Lang (Alternate Mix)
Back Of A Car (Alternate Mix)
She's A Mover
Morpha Too (Alternate Mix)
I'm In Love With A Girl
O My Soul (Alternate Version)
Back Of A Car (Demo)
Daisy Glaze (Alternate Take)
She's A Mover (Alternate Version)
I Am The Cosmos (Chris Bell)
You And Your Sister (Chris Bell)
Blue Moon (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Femme Fatale (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Thank You Friends (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
You Get What You Deserve (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Track Listings (28) - Disc #3
Lovely Day (aka Stroke It Noel)(Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Downs (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Nighttime (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Jesus Christ (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Holocaust (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Take Care (Demo)(Alex Chilton)
Big Black Car (Alternate Demo)(Alex Chilton)
You Can't Have Me
Stroke It Noel
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
Big Black Car
Thank You Friends
Till The End Of The Day
Track Listings (20) - Disc #4
When My Baby's Beside Me (live)
My Life Is Right (live)
She's A Mover (live)
Way Out West (live)
The Ballad Of El Goodo (live)
In The Street (live)
Back Of A Car (live)
The India Song (live)
Try Again (live)
Watch The Sunrise (live)
Don't Lie To Me (live)
Hot Burrito #2 (live)
I Got Kinda Lost (live)
Baby Strange (live)
There Was A Light (live)
St 100/6 (live)
Come On Now (live)
O My Soul (live)
KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY-arriving September 15-spans 1968 to 1975 and the collection uncovers a trove of unreleased demos, unused mixes, alternate versions of songs, and a 1973 concert recorded in Memphis. The lavish packagi... more »ng includes extensive liner notes, rare and never-before-seen photos, and insightful essays about the cult of Big Star and the band's history. Spotlighting the band's roots, the box set opens with several songs recorded before Big Star formed, including 'Try Again,' one of the first songs Bell and Chilton wrote together. Big Star inspired a fevered allegiance among fans of power pop, giving rise to a cult of believers who spent decades spreading the gospel. Their enthusiasm turned this obscure Memphis pop band-one that got little airplay, sold few records, and only played a handful of times-into a remarkable rock and roll resurrection story. Big Star's trek from obscure Memphis band to standard bearers for an entire genre of music has never been fully mapped-until now.« less
KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY-arriving September 15-spans 1968 to 1975 and the collection uncovers a trove of unreleased demos, unused mixes, alternate versions of songs, and a 1973 concert recorded in Memphis. The lavish packaging includes extensive liner notes, rare and never-before-seen photos, and insightful essays about the cult of Big Star and the band's history. Spotlighting the band's roots, the box set opens with several songs recorded before Big Star formed, including 'Try Again,' one of the first songs Bell and Chilton wrote together. Big Star inspired a fevered allegiance among fans of power pop, giving rise to a cult of believers who spent decades spreading the gospel. Their enthusiasm turned this obscure Memphis pop band-one that got little airplay, sold few records, and only played a handful of times-into a remarkable rock and roll resurrection story. Big Star's trek from obscure Memphis band to standard bearers for an entire genre of music has never been fully mapped-until now.
Thrilled to have this, but with some disappointment
Justin Cole | 09/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I can't believe I would ever see a box of Big Star, let alone see it given the usual high standards one has come to expect from Rhino. The packaging is fantastic, combining layout, fonts and design into a seemless, immersive experience. The book that comes with the set is the best I have read so far about the band, surpassing even the 33 1/3 book on "Radio City" by a hair. There are a ton of photographs (which was startling, since the same four or five photos of them have been endlessly recycled over the years) and the text is broken down into appropriate sections, including one regarding how they acquired a cult following.
Then there's the music, four discs crammed to capacity with remastered original album tracks, alternate mixes and demos. There's even a whole disc devoted to live tracks. The sound is as pristine as one would expect. No complaints so far.
But then there's the matter of those original albums, as presented here. In lieu of simply having the remastered albums, many of the tracks are alternate mixes or versions, and inserted into the original running order. While I am grateful for these alternates, it seems odd to have them mixed in with original tracks, and in the order they were on the albums.
Even stranger, some of these alternate tracks are then presented in additional alternate versions outside of the running order. And some of the alternate tracks are almost indistinguishable from the original versions. Even worse, some of these tracks only appear in fairly radically different versions--the most notable of which is "Mod Lang" which is here only in a version fouled-up by annoying overdubbed ad libs.
And some of the previously unreleased tracks are a bit misleading. "Manana" is an extended version of the opening of "Jesus Christ". It is nice to have this track, but to label it as something other than the intro to the song seems a bit dishonest.
The live material is good to have, though not crucial The most startling discovery here is "ST 100/6", expanding it from its original one-minute length to almost four, through the interweaving of the song with Rock City's equally brief "The Preacher". That is, indeed, a fascinating new find.
I hate to split hairs over this set, since it is amazing to have this at all, and the packaging and sound are impeccable. Alas, I would have been happiest if the set left the original albums alone, and put all of the bonus material on the offsides."
Ralph from Brooklyn | 09/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best rock'n'roll is created on the margins. It doesn't matter if you sell a dozen or a million records, it's all about heart and soul and guts. The Kingsmen, The Seeds, Television, The Castaways, The Velvets are just as important as any trillion seller you can think of because they felt what they did and they did it very well indeed.
That's a long lead in to say that there is another very imortant box set out this month and it's made by a truly American band. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, Big Stars "Keep An Eye On The Sky" is much more cause for joy than the Beatles boxes. And I daresay that anyone who has been touched by this truly magnificent band would agree with me.
Now, going into the history of this band is not something I want to do. Suffice to say it's the stuff of movies and legend. But no matter what tragedy or sadness befell these guys (and the story of Chris Bell, guitarist and songwriter is indeed very sad), the music will always stand. Heart wrenching, exhilarating pop music from the heart and soul of 4 (then 3) guys from Memphis in the early seventies. These discs are filled with classics, even if you never heard them. "Way Out West", "September Girls", "Ballad Of El Goodo" I can't think of a bad one in the bunch. All 3 albums ("#1 Record", "Radio City" and "3rd") are represented in full with the occasional alternate take, all sound the best I've ever heard(and I'm including the original vinyl in this assesment) with "3rd" trouncing the Ryko release. There are amazing Chilton demos here, and you have not lived until you've heard him alone on an acoustic singing "Femme Fatale". And the live disc will knock you out. Excellent fidelity, recorded in '73 with the remaining 3 original members (Chilton, Hummel, Stephens) it proves that they could bring it live just as well as they could in studio.
I've gone on too long here, and instead of going song by song, I've tried to convey they joy that this band has brought me for the past 35 or so years. You can listen to the samples, and, like the best pop songs, 30 seconds is all you need to see how great these tunes are. A friend of mine had some Big Star t shirts made around 1975, just because of band love. It was a cool shirt and I wore mine until it was in tatters. When you're feeling alone, sad, stressed, ready to cry, this music will wrench you, touch you and make you feel more than alive, it will make you feel free. A thousand stars for a band that is finally getting the treatment they deserve after all these many years."
Daniel E. Winslow | Wichita Falls, TX | 09/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The box set we have all been waiting for. I admit I dived in and was not immediately blown away by the early tracks or the remastering or alternate takes on disc one. Then along comes the series of demos with just Alex and his 12 string and the entire project gels and comes into focus. It's all here, and in fuller fidelity. The heart-on-the-sleeve anthemic pop songs, introspective ballads. Popping joy and aching melencholy. Music simply doesn't get any better. This item is worth every dollar you can throw at it. God bless Big Star forever."
They were this close to being called The Sweden Kreme
E.I.E.I. Owen | Philadelphia, Pa United States | 09/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To tell the story of Big Star one has to look at the history of Ardent Studios in Memphis Tennessee. Owner and founder John Fry started a recording studio that prided itself on professionalism and quality work, which was an ethic he passed down to those who worked for the company. He even came up with the novel idea of letting artists engineer and work their own sessions if they took his audio engineering course. This led to a total freedom unheard of in the recoding industry at the time. It also saved John Fry the occasional 3am phone calls involving someone not hooking up a piece of equipment properly.
One of those musicians was a young Chris Bell and once graduating from Fry University, he was unstoppable in the studio and the result of years of tinkering ended up being Big Star's first album.
The box set puts all the available material that Big Star recorded over their too brief career starting with one of Chris Bell's first forays into recording called "Psychedelic Stuff" as well as tracks by Icewater and Rock City. There are also tracks for a proposed solo Alex Chilton who had recently left the Box Tops.
The first disc also contains the tracks from the first album with some in alternate mixes and demos. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of outtakes from this era of the group because Chris Bell erased the sessions reels in a fit of depression because the album was not a success.
The second disc contains everything that is available from "Radio City" with demos, alternate mixes, and rehearsal takes. There are also some solo tracks from Chris Bell.
The third disc opens the dark night of the soul that would eventually become Big Star's third and final album with demos, alternate takes, and studio chatter.
The fourth disc is really a revelation. It was recorded in 1973 and features the "Radio City" line up live at the Lafayette's Music Room, which really shows just how good a live band Big Star was.
Some of thee tracks on this set are repeated from "Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story" on Big Beat which focuses more on the other artists and history of the label but is just as important as this set.
As a bonus on the last disc there is a video for "Thirteen" featuring very brief film of the original line up rehearsing and recording at Ardent. This footage was shot by Chris Bell and Andy Hummel during the sessions for "#1 Record" and is the only footage of Chris Bell with the band.
The set also features a nice and detailed book on the band and the atmosphere that exited at Ardent at that time and the sound quality is an improvement over the previous CD release. Although the SACD version of "#1 Record/Radio City" would trump anything on this set due to the format. If you are a fan of Big Star then this is the best way to immerse yourself in their greatness.
Karen L. Kilpatrick | huntsville, al United States | 09/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply a great set, beautifully packaged with informative notes and stories, and sounds fantastic. Finally, a more of less complete set from this terribly underrated band.
To the customer above who was underwhelmed by the set, they are missing the point. The superior sound quality ALONE makes the set a worthwhile addition to your music collection. And the ephemera in the book and package make this one a delight.
"Keep An Eye On The Sky" collects all of the best of Big Star, plus a more than generous helping of the demos and alternate mixes that give yet another view of something most music fans know little about. The final disc contains a distillation of the 3 sets Big Star performed in Memphis for a rock writer's convention...long-rumored to have been recorded.
Of particular interest is the selection of Alex Chilton solo demos for all three released Big Star records. Chilton's voice is in fine form here, and could've conceivably been released in this form originally!
As for the packaging, the slipcover closely resembles a 1/4" tape box, and the photos inside the beautifully-designed book have been largely unseen. Great photography by Bill Eggleston abounds, as well as shots from original Big Star producer and Ardent owner John Fry make this set a priceless document for even the casual Big Star fan.
Rhino's done it again. Great, great work on a body of work that still moves musicians and fans 35 years after it was recorded. And another example of the stunning rock'n'roll that continues to emanate from Memphis, Tennessee."