I Am The Cosmos
Leaving Big Star after #1 Record, Chris Bell never released another full length record during his lifetime; his only release was the ‘I Am The Cosmos’/’You And Your Sister’ single which appeared in 1978. Later the same year, Bell drove into a tree on the way home from rehearsal with a new band, dying instantly. The I Am The Cosmos album was pieced together from miscellaneous sessions by his brother, finally appearing on CD in 1992 and forming a surprisingly coherent record. Hearing Bell separate from Chilton here, it’s obvious which songs from #1 Record belong to Bell; Bell’s voice is thinner and rougher than Chilton’s and easily distinguishable.
The title track is the keeper from I Am The Cosmos, launching straight into its heartrending opening statement (“Every night I tell myself/I am the cosmos/I am the wind/But that don’t get you back again”) before launching into a memorable guitar solo; the first half is so overloaded with greatness that the last couple of minutes are almost redundant, but it’s a classic nonetheless. My other favourite is the closing ‘Though I Know She Lies’, with a delicate melody and even more delicate solo. Chilton guests on the pensive ‘You And Your Sister’, while ‘Get Away’ would have fitted beautifully onto #1 Record. As very much a two style record – tender acoustic balladry or pounding mid-tempo rockers – the lesser examples of each genre do stray close to mediocrity. On the other hand, ‘There Was A Light’ and ‘Better Save Yourself’ bring diversity to the record, with a pleasant gospel influence.
It’s limited in scope, but nevertheless I Am The Cosmos the only solo recordings from a talented man; more than just a tragic footnote to Big Star’s commercial failure, it’s a satisfying recording in its own right.