Big Star guitarist Chris Bell was one of the unsung heroes of American pop music; despite a life marked by tragedy and a career crippled by commercial indifference, the singer/songwriter's slim body of recorded work proved... more » massively influential on the generations of indie rockers who emerged in his wake. Lyrically poignant and melodically stunning, this lone solo album is proof of his underappreciated pop mastery. 180 gram vinyl. Original artwork.« less
Big Star guitarist Chris Bell was one of the unsung heroes of American pop music; despite a life marked by tragedy and a career crippled by commercial indifference, the singer/songwriter's slim body of recorded work proved massively influential on the generations of indie rockers who emerged in his wake. Lyrically poignant and melodically stunning, this lone solo album is proof of his underappreciated pop mastery. 180 gram vinyl. Original artwork.
"I'll start off by saying i'm glad that at least 14 other people own this record. Music this good does not deserve to be so obscure but alas... The other thing I must say is that I want more. I want more original Big Star stuff, more Chris Bell stuff but that's only a wish. This album of mostly unreleased material is all that's left of Chris Bell music-wise and it's a shame. Recorded in pieces between his departure from Big Star and his death in 1978, this album is full of hook laden power pop and emotional accoustic and mid tempo songs. To me,the album's best track is "I Got Kinda Lost". If life was fair this would have been a hit-it's one of my favorite songs recorded during the 70's. It's an urgent song that nearly jumps out at you and it all comes together in such an amazing way. Another great "rocker" is "I don't know why". Stick with me on this but it's a song Aerosmith COULD have recorded somewhere around this time (it even has a cowbell). Of course, being inferior in every way, they never found a way to create a song this interesting or flat out good. The heavier songs are a nice fit against the reflective,slower songs. "Though I Know She Lies" is just stone beautiful. It's like a number of the songs on this album and in the Big Star catalog (both with and without Bell), they have a sadness built into them. The tittle track, "There Was A Light", "You And Your Sister" and "Better Save Yourself" all share it. They are all great songs but also bittersweet. "Better Save Yourself" in particular is so sad that it would have been perfect for Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers. The slower songs are peppered with insightful lyrics and good music plus Bell's passionate (if high pitched) vocals. The album has a few weak tracks but as they say, the weakest moments here are are better than most others best stuff. That said,I think this album is better than any Alex Chilton solo album(not including Third)-it's more focused and inspired. I don't care about which one was the better artist really, I'm just glad I became fans of both. Chris Bell IS the best singer/songwriter you've new heard of. As others have said-the liner notes by his brother David are about the best around. Read with dismay about how a man this talented ended up managing his father's restarant shortly before he died. Discover I Am The Cosmos. (p.s I'm sorry I mentioned Aerosmith)"
The Majestic Sound of Big Star - Almost
dev1 | Baltimore | 05/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For fans of Big Star, Chris Bell's `I Am the Cosmos' is a must have. Bell writes sugar-sweet love songs (Speed of Sound, You and Your Sister, Thought I Knew Her) with infatuating melodies that stand well against the best of Paul McCartney. Love lost is seldom heard with such despair. Of particular interest, `I Am the Cosmos' overwrites a beautiful melody with some ripping guitar chords emphasizing the composition's aura of futility.The rockers (Get Away, Make a Scene, I Don't Know) remind me not so much of Big Star, but of John Lennon's rebellious Plastic Ono Band period: fiery but chaotic.Those familiar with Big Star songs such as `The Ballad of El Goodo,' My Life Is Right,' Try Again' and `Give Me Another Chance' shouldn't be surprised with Bell's spiritual affirmations. `Better Save Yourself,' Look Up,' and `There Was a Light' clearly seek the heavens for inspiration.I wouldn't rate `I Am the Cosmos' on par with Big Star's first two albums, but Chris Bell's influence on the band's majestic sound is profound."
Great piece of history for Big Star and power pop fans
Perry M. Koons | Crownsville, MD United States | 09/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Chris Bell was always the underappreciated half of Big Star - while critics and fans raved over Alex Chilton's intense, brooding pop songs (deservedly so), Chris Bell was somewhat lost in the shuffle. His songs are often chilling and desperate in the same mold as Chilton, but his voice is not quite as powerful or accessible as Chilton's - which never detracts from the songs. This CD is a worthy companion to the essential Big Star albums, and fortunately is widely available. Nothing here approaches the anthemic status of "In The Street" - Bell's one contribution to mainstream culture, from That 70's Show - but the more low key songs make this work well as a cohesive record.Best Tracks:
"I Am The Cosmos" - Soul-searching, lonesome, and an all time power pop classic. Would have sounded just as good on Third/Sister Lovers.
"Speed Of Sound" - Runs a little long, but this emotionally fragile tune is one of the best on the CD.
"You And Your Sister" - Chilton's backing vocals and the sweeping arrangement make this one of the greatest love songs nobody has ever heard. Truly a keeper, in any of the 3 versions that appear here (they aren't TOO different, but all worthy).
"There Was A Light" - I'd describe this as George Harrison and Mitch Easter jamming on a soul-pop theme."
A tragically overlooked pop visionary
Perry M. Koons | 08/01/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Chris Bell (along with Alex Chilton) formed the critically praised, but commercially unsuccessful, group Big Star in the early 70's. Bell left the group during the recording of their 2nd album. He recorded many demos for a planned solo album that never saw release during Bell's lifetime (he died in a 1979 motorcycle accident). This CD brings together Bell's recordings with touching liner notes by his brother. "I Am The Cosmos" is the song that gets most of the praise and it certainly is a powerful piece of work, but my personal favorites are "Look Up", a beautiful and highly spiritual ballad, and "You And Your Sister" an acoustic pop masterpiece which reunites Bell and Chilton. Bell also proves he can rock on "Got Kinda Lost" and "Fight At The Table". The remainder of the songs are competent, but meander a bit in places, which is what causes me to give a 4-star rather than a 5-star rating. Nevertheless, while many rockers tend to get vastly over-rated in death (Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur to name a few) Chris Bell remains virtually unknown except to a fortunate few. I strongly recommend that you purchase this CD. I am confidant that your purchase will make you a member of the small, but expanding, circle of Chris Bell fans!"