Chris Bell – You and Your Sister

When people think of Big Star…when people do think of Big Star…Alex Chilton comes up more often than anyone else. That is not an over sight really because he was on all of their albums. The sound Big Star had largely originated from founding member Chris Bell. Alex and Chris wrote most of the first album and they modeled themselves after Lennon and McCartney. Their first album  was praised by practically everyone but not distributed…people wanted the album but the album was not in the stores so it failed. Chris left the band not long after that failure.

Chris went into a depression but Alex carried on with Big Star making two more albums.

Chris visited and stayed in England off and on and recorded some solo material but a record deal never materialized while he was there. He brought some recordings over that he made in Memphis and Geoff Emerick mixed it for him. Geoff was the engineer for the Beatles. The song that he mixed was I am the Cosmos. Chris would continue to record some in Memphis through the mid to late seventies.

In fall of 1978 he got a call from Car records and they wanted to release a single with a song called  I am the Cosmos with You and Your Sister as the B side.  It was the only solo release Chris would see in his lifetime. Unfortunately, Chris didn’t get to enjoy it long. He died in a car wreck on December 27, 1978. He was only 27 years old.

When he recorded You and Your Sister he got Alex Chilton to sing harmony vocals with him.

By the way…if you haven’t heard I Am The Cosmos give it a listen. It’s a layered, lush,  almost perfect pop song. I hope you enjoy this song.

14 years after his death in 1992  Rykodisc released Chris Bell’s solo album from the songs he recorded including the two songs on this single.

You and Your Sister

They say my love for you ain’t real
But you don’t know how real it feels
All I want to do
Is to spend some time with you
So I can hold you, hold you
Your sister says that I’m no good
I’d reassure her if I could
All I want to do
Is to spend some time with you
So I can hold you, hold you
Plans fail every day
I want to hear you say
Your love won’t be leaving (Run run, run run)
Your eyes ain’t deceiving (Run run, run run)
Fears will soon fade away
Smile now, don’t be afraid
All I want to do
Is to spend some time with you
So I can hold you, hold you
And let me whisper in your ear
Don’t you worry, they can’t hear
All I want to do
Is to spend some time with you
So I can hold you

Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos

Alex Chilton’s songwriting partner in power-pop legend Big Star, Chris Bell was an overlooked member of an overlooked band. In London, he teamed up with longtime Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick at AIR Studios, where the final touches and mix were completed. Bell would spend the next two years engaged in a frustrating attempt to get a record deal in the U.S. and Europe. With those prospects dimming, he eventually abandoned his career and took a job with his family’s fast-food chain back home.

Just another sad story that came from Big Star. In 1978, amid when Big Star started to get a  cult following, “Cosmos” was released as a single by fan and fellow musician Chris Stamey, on his tiny North Carolina-based Car label. The song (backed with the “You and Your Sister”) would be the only solo work released during Bell’s life. Just a few months after the record was pressed, Bell would die in a late-night single-car accident near his home in East Memphis on December 27, 1978. He was 27.

The B side…You and Your Sister

 

 

I Am The Cosmos

Every night I tell myself,
“I am the cosmos,
I am the wind”
But that don’t get you back again
Just when I was starting to feel okay
You’re on the phone
I never wanna be alone
Never wanna be alone
I hate to have to take you home
Wanted too much to say no, no,
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Never wanna be alone
I hate to have to take you home
Want you too much to say no, no
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
My feeling’s always happening
Something I couldn’t hide
I can’t confide
Don’t know what’s going on inside
So every night I tell myself
“I am the cosmos,
I am the wind”
But that don’t get you back again
I’d really like to see you again
I really wanna see you again
I’d really like to see you again
I really wanna see you again
I’d really like to see you again
I really wanna see you again
I never wanna see you again
Really wanna see you again

 

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Documentary

A friend of mine knows I’m a Big Star fan…he dropped this documentary of Big Star off for me to watch and I wasted no time.

Such a great band but a frustrating story. Someone in the documentary remarked, “Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1972 but didn’t arrive until 1985.” That is a great way to explain them. They made three of the best albums of the decade that were not heard until much later. When they were finally discovered they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, Matthew Sweet, and more.

The first album got great reviews…you couldn’t ask for better. When the label called radio stations trying to get them to play it…the stations would say it’s not selling. When someone actually heard the songs on the radio they couldn’t find the record to buy it. This was basically the same story with all of the albums.

Distribution problems and just bad timing. Stax didn’t do a good job of distribution…they made a deal with Columbia before the second album to distribute the album…problem solved right? Nope, Clive Davis who made the deal was then fired at Columbia. The deal fell through and then Stax disintegrated.

Chris Bell who was key in creating the sound the band had quit after the first album. He came back but then quit again. Chris had depression problems and wanted badly to do something on his own. Alex Chilton continued and finished the second and third album with a new bass player on the third album.

After that, it follows Chris and Alex’s career to the end of both. It also covers  Jim Dickinson’s role on the third album. Family members, fans, and rock writers also share their love of Big Star and memories of the band members.

In May of 1973 Ardent Studios where Big Star recorded invited a 100 rock writers down to Memphis to hear Big Star live. They all loved Big Star and it went over great…but that wasn’t the band’s problem…it was the business side. What would have happened if they would have signed with a label more suited to them?

Before watching this documentary I didn’t realize Chris Bell was so instrumental in developing their sound. I knew it wasn’t the Alex Chilton band but Chris was invaluable and started the ball rolling. All 4 members did contribute writing and singing but Chilton and Bell were the Lennon and McCartney of the group.

It’s a good documentary about a great band that had the talent but not fate.

My recommendation? Get this and watch it…