Big Star Keep an Eye On the Sky (4-CD)
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Format: CD (4 Discs)
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- Number of Discs: 4
- Released: November 24, 2014
- Originally Released: 2009
- Label: Rhino
Entertainment Weekly - p.70"The spare demos, crystal-clear concert recordings, and handsomely produced liner notes are a fan's delight..."
Billboard (p.37) - "[A] treasure trove of rare gems, including material by pre-Big Star groups Rock City and Icewater..."
Q (Magazine) - p.1224 stars out of 5 -- "Exhibiting strong Anglophile leanings, and pick'n'mixing the usual '60s suspects, their brisk, guitar-encrusted power-pop was an unlikely product of a city better known as the home of Southern soul."
Uncut (magazine)4 stars out of 5 -- "KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY is particularly good at showing up the darker aspects of Chilton's personality....A brilliant demo of Loudon Wainwright's 'Motel Blues' provides a suitably bleak counterpoint to 'Thirteen.'"
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Psychedelic Stuff - (Original Mix)
- 2.All I See Is You
- 3.Every Day as We Grow Closer - (Original Mix)
- 4.Try Again
- 6.The Ballad of el Goodo
- 7.In the Street - (Alternate Mix)
- 8.Thirteen - (Alternate Mix)
- 9.Don't Lie to Me
- 10.India Song, The - (Alternate Mix)
- 11.When My Baby's Beside Me - (Alternate Mix)
- 12.My Life Is Right - (Alternate Mix)
- 13.Give Me Another Chance - (Alternate Mix)
- 14.Try Again
- 15.Gone with the Light
- 16.Watch the Sunrise
- 17.St 100/6 - (Alternate Mix)
- 18.The Preacher
- 19.In the Street - (Alternate Single Mix)
- 20.Feel - (Alternative Mix)
- 21.The Ballad of el Goodo
- 22.The India Song
- 23.Country Morn
- 24.I Got Kinda Lost
- 25.Back of a Car
- 26.Motel Blues
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.There Was a Light
- 2.Life Is White
- 3.What's Going Ahn
- 4.O My Soul
- 5.Life Is White
- 6.Way out West
- 7.What's Going Ahn
- 8.You Get What You Deserve
- 9.Mod Lang - (Alternate Mix)
- 10.Back of a Car - (Alternate Mix)
- 11.Daisy Glaze
- 12.She's a Mover
- 13.September Gurls
- 14.Morpha Too - (Alternate Mix)
- 15.I'm in Love with a Girl
- 16.O My Soul
- 17.She's a Mover
- 18.Daisy Glaze
- 19.I Am the Cosmos
- 20.You and Your Sister
- 21.Blue Moon
- 22.Femme Fatale
- 23.Thank You Friends
- 25.Take Care
- 26.You Get What You Deserve
Tracks on Disc 3:
- 1.Lovely Day
- 3.Jesus Christ
- 5.Big Black Car - (alternate take)
- 7.Jesus Christ
- 8.Femme Fatale
- 9.O, Dana
- 10.Kizza Me
- 11.You Can't Have Me
- 13.Dream Lover
- 14.Big Black Car
- 15.Blue Moon
- 17.Stroke It Noel
- 18.For You
- 20.Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On
- 21.Kanga Roo
- 22.Thank You Friends
- 23.Take Care
- 24.Lovely Day
- 25.Till the End of the Day - (Alternate Mix)
- 26.Nature Boy - (Alternate Mix)
Tracks on Disc 4:
- 1.When My Baby's Beside Me - (live)
- 2.My Life Is Right - (live)
- 3.She's a Mover - (live)
- 4.Way out West - (live)
- 5.Ballad of el Goodo, The - (live)
- 6.In the Street - (live)
- 7.Back of a Car - (live)
- 8.Thirteen - (live)
- 9.India Song, The - (live)
- 10.Try Again - (live)
- 11.Watch the Sunrise - (live)
- 12.Don't Lie to Me - (live)
- 13.Hot Burrito - (live)
- 14.I Got Kinda Lost - (live)
- 15.Baby Strange - (live)
- 16.Slut - (live)
- 17.There Was a Light - (live)
- 18.St 100/6 - (live)
- 19.Come on Now - (live)
- 20.O My Soul - (live)
- 21.Thirteen [Alternate Mix Video] - (live)
Personnel: Andy Hummel (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards); Alex Chilton (vocals, guitar, keyboards, background vocals); Chris Bell (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, background vocals); Jody Stephens (vocals, drums, percussion); Steve Rhea (vocals, drums); Thomas Dean Eubanks (vocals); Jim Dickinson (guitar, keyboards); Lee Baker, Steve Cropper (guitar); Charlie Owen (steel guitar); Noel Gilbert (violin); Peter Spurbeck (cello); Carl Marsh (reeds, woodwinds, synthesizer); Andrew Love, Wayne Jackson (horns); William Eggleston (piano); Ken Woodley (organ); Terry Manning (keyboards, drums, background vocals); Morris "Tarp" Tarrant, Richard Rosebrough (drums); Lesa Aldridge (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Geoff Emerick; John Fry .
Audio Remasterers: Daniel Hersch; Andrew Sandoval.
Liner Note Authors: Robert Gordon; Bob Mehr; John Fry ; Alec Palao.
Recording information: Air Studios, London, England; Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN; Shoe Studios, Memphis, TN.
Photographers: Roni Hoffman; David Bell; Carole Manning; Maude Schuyler Clay; Michael Dale O'Brien; William Eggleston; Lisa Margolis; Maldwin Hamlin; Michael O'Brien; Andy Hummel.
As the object of intense devotion for so many fans, it's fitting that Big Star receive a box set designed for the intensely devoted: four discs containing every song the band cut in the '70s, often present in slightly alternate mixes or versions in addition to the originals, a clutch of solo songs from both Chris Bell and Alex Chilton, as well as a handful of pre-Big Star cuts by Icewater and Rock City, all topped off with a live disc culled from a three-set stint at Memphis' Lafayette's Music Room in January of 1973, not long after Bell left the band. Excepting subsequent reunions in the '90s and 2000s, no corner of the band's career remains untouched on KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY and rarities are abundant, with 55 of its 98 tracks previously unreleased. This is a staggering statistic but it's also misleading, for 20 of those cuts are from the live disc and the rest are either alternate mixes, alternate versions, or demos -- there are no unheard songs, aside from an excerpt of Rock City's "The Preacher." Of these, only a handful are markedly different either in their lyrics or attack, with all finding the songs and even arrangements essentially intact, even in their demo form. Consequently, KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY contains fewer revelations than it initially appears, which isn't to say it lacks any: the earliest demos for BIG STAR 3rd are by and large lighter in tone than the album (although there's no way "Holocaust" ever could seem cheery), a testament to how much a song can change during the recording process.
In a way, all of Big Star's career is a testament to the recording process. They were a creature of the studio, not stage, having free rein at Ardent Studios, where they stayed up into the next morning tinkering at the same set of songs. This resulted in the crisp, sterling sound of #1 RECORD and the deliberately looser RADIO CITY, as well as the sliding, sprawling mess of 3rd, but it didn't result in outtakes -- it resulted in alternate mixes and instrumental scraps, the stuff that enthralls fetishists, sometimes justifiably so. Those are the listeners who will find KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY most rewarding, but anybody who has loved the band will find something to cherish here, whether it's the crackerjack live show -- which provides roaring covers of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Hot Burrito #2," T. Rex's "Baby Strange," and Todd Rundgren's "Slut" (revived 20 years later on their reunion concert), as well as a startlingly effective take on "The India Song" -- or merely the context of the set, which tells the story of America's greatest cult band this side of the Velvet Underground in a complete and affecting fashion.
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