“The first time I met Chris, I walked into my office and he was sitting in my chair, with his feet up on my desk, smoking a cigarette,” says Fry, laughing. “I thought: Now, who in the heck is this?”At the end of a journey that has lasted more than 40 years, from that first moment until now, Rhino Records has announced that it will be re-releasing Chris Bell’s collection of solo material, I Am The Cosmos, via its Handmade division on September 28th. Bell was, of course, a founding member of Big Star, the second band to release a record (entitled #1 Record) on the Stax distributed Ardent Records in 1972. The record was a critical success (garnering praise from Rolling Stone, Fusion and Phonograph Record Magazine) and a commercial failure (amidst distribution complications with a sinking Stax Records label). Bell did not take the latter well.Having poured his heart and soul into that first record, Bell became disillusioned with the band. He left Big Star and spent the next several years as a rolling stone, traveling all over Europe with his brother David, eventually returning to the states and settling into the family business. It was during those years that Bell would record his solo material, including the only material of his released during his lifetime (the I Am The Cosmos/You and Your Sister 7″, on Chris Stamey’s Car Records Label). His remaining solo work wouldn’t see the light of day until well after Bell’s death in a tragic car accident in 1978. When they did, it was on the 1992 Rykodisc CD release, entitled I Am The Cosmos.The re-release will be the definitive collection of Bell’s work. It will of course include all the material on the original release, but it will also contain a second disc with previously unreleased alternate versions and mixes, as well as never before heard material from earlier Bell projects. The first 1000 units sold on Rhino Handmade’s Web site will be accompanied by a recreation of that very special 7″ Car Records release, remastered and recut on the very same record lathe as the original. In the picture above, John Fry oversees that very process with mastering engineer Larry Nix. Alec Palao, producer of the reissue, is seated in the background.The record will release on September 28th, shortly after the Big Star Box Set, Keep an Eye on the Sky. The tracklisting is below. Click here to read the re-release announcement at Pitchfork.The album is available for pre-order now at http://www.rhinohandmade.com/.Disc 11. “I Am The Cosmos”2. “Better Save Yourself”3. “Speed Of Sound”4. “Get Away”5. “You And Your Sister”6. “I Got Kinda Lost”7. “Look Up”8. “Make A Scene”9. “There Was A Light”10. “I Don’t Know”11. “Fight At The Table”12. “Though I Know She Lies”Disc 21. “Looking Forward” – Icewater*2. “Sunshine” – Icewater*3. “My Life Is Right” – Rock City4. “I Don’t Know” – Alternate Version*5. “You And Your Sister” –Alternate Version*6. “I Am The Cosmos” – Extended Alternate Version*7. “Speed Of Sound” – Alternate Version*8. “Fight At The Table” – Alternate Mix*9. “Make A Scene” – Alternate Mix*10. “Better Save Yourself” – Alternate Mix*11. “Get Away” – Alternate Version*12. “You And Your Sister” – Acoustic Version13. “Stay With Me” – with Keith Sykes*14. “In My Darkest Hour” – with Nancy Bryan*15. “Clacton Rag” – Instrumental**Previously Unissued
Longevity, it would seem, is elusive at best in the business of music. So many acts come and go, so many songs in our ears for just a day or a week, only to be shifted into obscurity to make room for the Next Big Thing. It's a phenomenon that's been around for a long time (think back to the first era of singles, via 45's & radio DJs), having at least somewhat recently resurfaced (think 99 cents at The iTunes Store). So what is it, then, about the ones that stick around? How is it even possible to exhibit any type of longevity in a market where consumers have the attention spans of mayflies and the Big Machine, so to speak, is chasing the long tail?
The answer, above and beyond simple merit, is reinvention. Variety in output so extensive that sometimes the only thing in common from product to product is a name - and sometimes, not even that. In the past it was Bowie. In the present it is Radiohead. And in the very near future (yet again) it will be Jack White.
There is at this point little doubting his status as an icon. Between the efforts of The White Stripes (whose 2005 Grammy winning release Get Behind Me Satan was mixed here at Ardent by John Hampton) and The Raconteurs (whose 2006 release Broken Boy Soldiers was nominated for a Grammy and received the same Hampton/Ardent treatment), White has released 8 full length records over the last 10 years. All this, mind you, while running his own record label (Third Man), producing records for acts as varied as Loretta Lynn (Van Lear Rose, 2004) and Dex Romweber (The Wind Did Move/Last Kind Words, 2009), and playing with everyone from Alicia Keys to The Rolling Stones.
You can't call him lazy.
White's third and most current band project is The Dead Weather, which is somewhat of a supergroup, if you'll forgive the term. The band features Alison Mossheart of The Kills on vocals, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age on guitar, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes on bass, and of course Jack White on drums and vocals. We are honored to say that when choosing a studio and engineer to mix a recent live set in anticipation of their debut release (Horehound, out July 14th on Third Man), Jack once again returned to Ardent and to John Hampton. The mixes are being finished up this week in Ardent's Studio B, with Adam Hill assisting.
There is more information on the new project at their Web site (http://www.thedeadweather.com), and Horehound is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
Taking-over.com has reviewed Jump Back Jake's debut release, Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle, which was released on Ardent Music's newly revived secular music label late last year. From the review:
Retro bands have always been cool, but also a bit of a novelty. The current wave of metal bands with a huge 80s influence may be fun for a time, but I doubt they’ll have any lasting value. When swing came back in the 90s, its popularity barely lasted a year. But then there’s a band like Jump Back Jake that does it in just such a way that has me saying, “This is really really good. If they make the right appearances, maybe people will actually grab a hold of them as something more than another little trend.” And the reason Jump Back Jake stands out is because they offer not just a rehashing of an old sound but a complex melding of a diverse range of sounds. In just one album, I can pick out elements of blues, ska, classic rock, gospel, country, 90s alternative, jazz, punk, Southern rock, and funk. If that hasn’t sufficiently confused you, keep reading.
Read more at the blog entry, or check out JBJ's Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle on Amazon.com!