• SibLINGSHOT

chris bell: i am the cosmos


More ethereal Beatles fare of a sort. With the accent on vulnerability.

From the excellent solo LP Big Star\’s Chris Bell was in the process of recording when he died behind the wheel in a road traffic accident in December, 1978. The album was not released until 1992 when Rykodisc released it posthumously with recently uncovered alternative takes – and eloquent liner notes from Chris\’s elder brother, David – although \”I Am The Cosmos b/w You And Your Sister\” was released as a 45 in Bell\’s own lifetime; on Chris Stamey\’s Car label.

It is tempting after reading Scott E. Miller\’s article on Bell to conclude that his departure from Big Star, prior to the release of \”Radio City\”, in some way mirrors Syd Barrett\’s exit from the Pink Floyd. I don\’t know. It does seem wholly fair to agree with Miller – and David Bell – that Chris\’s depression was aggravated by his failure to convince Chilton to let him back on board.

And cruelly exacerbated by having his contributions to \”Radio City\” go uncredited, if indeed that is the case; most notably \”Back Of A Car\”, which allegedly was a Chris Bell composition without any contribution from Chilton or the rest of the band.

\”I know you\’re mine He treats you nice It\’s suicideI know, I tried it twice.\”

Chris Bell, \”Better Save Yourself\”.

Assuming that some of you out there may have never heard this LP, it is very hard indeed to whittle down a fragmentary selection to entice you with. Essential.


Listen to all fifteen tracks on \”I Am The Cosmos\” and there is little doubting Bell\’s skewed and shimmering talents as a performer outwith the Alex Chilton franchise which is Big Star – rightly and wrongly – a group always greater than the sum of its parts. It would be criminally unfair to compare Chilton\’s own post Big Star solo output with Bell\’s, retrospectively, and churlish even to contrast \”Third / Sister Lovers\” with those previous Big Star records; but, outstanding though that album is in part, punctured and emotionally drained, it remains unavoidably clear to what degree the group was diminished by Chris Bell\’s absence. An account of those missing in action and every inch the record of a somehow inevitable car crash in excruciating lingering detail.

In its own way, \”I Am The Cosmos\” is every bit a lost Big Star classic.

CHRIS BELL: I AM THE COSMOS from \”I Am The Cosmos\” CD (Rykodisc) 1992 (UK)

CHRIS BELL: BETTER SAVE YOURSELF from \”I Am The Cosmos\” CD (Rykodisc) 1992 (UK)

CHRIS BELL: YOU AND YOUR SISTER (ACOUSTIC VERSION) [BONUS] from \”I Am The Cosmos\” CD (Rykodisc) 1992 (UK)

PURCHASE I AM THE COSMOS THE SAD LIFE OF CHRIS BELL: ARTICLE BY SCOTT E. MILLER

#1978

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