Keep an Eye on the Sky

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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 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" (later 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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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/15/2009
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227985875
  • Catalog Number: 519760

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Psychedelic Stuff - Chris Bell (3:04)
  2. 2 All I See Is You - Icewater (3:29)
  3. 3 Every Day as We Grow Closer (2:27)
  4. 4 Try Again - Rock City (3:37)
  5. 5 Feel (3:32)
  6. 6 The Ballad of el Goodo (4:18)
  7. 7 In the Street (3:02)
  8. 8 Thirteen (2:36)
  9. 9 Don't Lie to Me (3:08)
  10. 10 The India Song (2:23)
  11. 11 When My Baby's Beside Me (3:27)
  12. 12 My Life Is Right (3:17)
  13. 13 Give Me Another Chance (3:27)
  14. 14 Try Again (3:32)
  15. 15 Gone with the Light (2:44)
  16. 16 Watch the Sunrise (3:10)
  17. 17 St 100/6 (0:54)
  18. 18 The Preacher - Rock City (0:56)
  19. 19 In the Street (3:00)
  20. 20 Feel (3:33)
  21. 21 The Ballad of el Goodo (4:29)
  22. 22 The India Song (2:09)
  23. 23 Country Morn (3:12)
  24. 24 I Got Kinda Lost (4:03)
  25. 25 Back of a Car (2:47)
  26. 26 Motel Blues (3:03)
Disc 2
  1. 1 There Was a Light (3:43)
  2. 2 Life Is White (3:18)
  3. 3 What's Going Ahn (2:13)
  4. 4 O My Soul (5:38)
  5. 5 Life Is White (3:18)
  6. 6 Way out West (2:50)
  7. 7 What's Going Ahn (2:41)
  8. 8 You Get What You Deserve (3:06)
  9. 9 Mod Lang (2:47)
  10. 10 Back of a Car (2:47)
  11. 11 Daisy Glaze (3:49)
  12. 12 She's a Mover (3:13)
  13. 13 September Gurls (2:47)
  14. 14 Morpha Too (1:28)
  15. 15 I'm in Love with a Girl (1:48)
  16. 16 O My Soul (5:09)
  17. 17 She's a Mover (3:17)
  18. 18 Daisy Glaze (3:52)
  19. 19 I Am the Cosmos - Chris Bell (3:43)
  20. 20 You and Your Sister - Chris Bell (3:10)
  21. 21 Blue Moon (2:08)
  22. 22 Femme Fatale (2:50)
  23. 23 Thank You Friends (2:46)
  24. 24 Nightime (2:13)
  25. 25 Take Care (1:35)
  26. 26 You Get What You Deserve (3:20)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Lovely Day (1:51)
  2. 2 Downs (1:26)
  3. 3 Jesus Christ (2:28)
  4. 4 Holocaust (3:36)
  5. 5 Big Black Car (4:41)
  6. 6 Manana (0:46)
  7. 7 Jesus Christ (2:20)
  8. 8 Femme Fatale (3:29)
  9. 9 O, Dana (2:35)
  10. 10 Kizza Me (2:43)
  11. 11 You Can't Have Me (3:18)
  12. 12 Nightime (2:52)
  13. 13 Dream Lover (3:33)
  14. 14 Big Black Car (3:37)
  15. 15 Blue Moon (2:06)
  16. 16 Holocaust (3:48)
  17. 17 Stroke It Noel (2:06)
  18. 18 For You (2:44)
  19. 19 Downs (1:51)
  20. 20 Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On (3:23)
  21. 21 Kanga Roo (3:46)
  22. 22 Thank You Friends (3:06)
  23. 23 Take Care (2:48)
  24. 24 Lovely Day (2:07)
  25. 25 Till the End of the Day (2:13)
  26. 26 Nature Boy (2:38)
Disc 4
  1. 1 When My Baby's Beside Me (3:28)
  2. 2 My Life Is Right (3:24)
  3. 3 She's a Mover (4:06)
  4. 4 Way out West (2:41)
  5. 5 The Ballad of el Goodo (4:20)
  6. 6 In the Street (2:50)
  7. 7 Back of a Car (2:40)
  8. 8 Thirteen (3:01)
  9. 9 The India Song (2:24)
  10. 10 Try Again (3:18)
  11. 11 Watch the Sunrise (4:01)
  12. 12 Don't Lie to Me (4:09)
  13. 13 Hot Burrito (3:49)
  14. 14 I Got Kinda Lost (2:56)
  15. 15 Baby Strange (4:10)
  16. 16 Slut (3:34)
  17. 17 There Was a Light (3:24)
  18. 18 St 100/6 (3:55)
  19. 19 Come on Now (1:53)
  20. 20 O My Soul (5:42)
  21. 21 Thirteen
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Big Star Primary Artist
Chris Bell Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Alex Chilton Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Background Vocals
Steve Cropper Guitar
Terry Manning Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Lee Baker Guitar
Tommy Cathey Bass
James Luther Dickinson Guitar, Keyboards
Noel Gilbert Violin
Andy Hummell Bass, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Wayne Jackson Horn
John Lightman Bass
Andrew Love Horn
Carl Marsh Synthesizer, Reeds, Woodwind
Tommy McClure Bass
Richard Rosebrough Drums
Peter Spurbeck Cello
Jody Stephens Percussion, Drums, Vocals
Morris "Tarp" Tarrant Drums
Ken Woodley Organ, Bass
Charlie Owens Steel Guitar
Lesa Aldridge Background Vocals
William Eggleston Piano
Charlie Owen Steel Guitar
Unknown Strings, Background Vocals
Thomas Dean Eubanks Bass, Vocals
Danny Jones Bass
William Murphy Bass
Danny Jones Bass
Steve Rhea Drums, Vocals, Guitar (Leslie)
Tommy Cathay Bass
Ken Woodley Organ, Bass
William Eggleston Piano
Steve Rhea Drums, Vocals
Tarp Tarrant Drums
Noel Gilbert Violin
Thomas Dean Eubanks Bass, Vocals
Lesa Aldridge Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Loudon Wainwright III Composer
Chris Bell Composer, Producer
Big Star Producer
Alex Chilton Composer
Gram Parsons Composer
Lou Reed Composer
Todd Rundgren Composer
Robert Gordon Liner Notes
Marc Bolan Composer
Ray Davies Composer
Bill Cunningham String Arrangements
James Luther Dickinson Producer
Chris Ethridge Composer
John Fry Producer, Engineer, Liner Notes, Cover Photo
Dan Hersch Remastering
Andy Hummell Composer
Carl Marsh String Arrangements
Cheryl Pawelski Producer
Richard Rosebrough Composer
Andrew Sandoval Producer, Remastering
Jody Stephens Composer
Warren Wagner Engineer
Eden Ahbez Composer
Lesa Aldridge Composer
Chris Gage Composer
Alec Palao Producer, Liner Notes
Robert Gordon Liner Notes
Bob Mehr Liner Notes
George McWilliams Art Direction
Steve Rhea Composer
Warren Wagner Engineer
Tom Eubanks Composer
Steve Rhea Composer
David "Curly" Williams Composer
Lesa Aldridge Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Best Boxed Set This Year? Keep An Eye On It...

    Like The Stooges and The Velvet Underground, Big Star was either ridiculed, villified or just outright ignored in their lifetime but when that lifetime was over, people realized how great the band really was and their popularity only increased with the passing of time. It's been a long time coming but Big Star finally got a boxed-set out called, "Keep An Eye On The Sky", which is a must-hear for those who wonder where groups like R. E. M. and The Replacements (just to name a few) got the idea to make aching, all-too-personal ballads. And the edgy, near- collapsing rockers? Well, let's just say that bands like Nirvana learned something from that as well.

    This Southern-based band was led by two brilliant singer-songwriter-guitarists. One was Alex Chilton, who got a good taste of fame with The Box Tops; his song "The Letter" went to Number One when he was 16 years old. The other was Chris Bell, a talented musician who struggled with conflicting emotions and substance abuse. They shared one thing in common---even though it was the early 1970's, they loved British Invasion bands of the 1960's. Yet, when they formed Big Star, it was clear that their music was not only catchy, it was fiercely heartbreaking at times.

    The set features every song off their first two excellent albums, "#1 Record" and "Radio City" and it's amazing how the songs seem to zig-zag between the gorgeous ("Thirteen") to the furious ("Don't Lie To Me"), from the yearning ("Try Again") to the hopeless ("Give Me Another Chance"). When Bell left the group after "#1 Record", Chilton seemed to throw songwriting convention out the window with "Radio City". Not only is the material more emotional but it's more loose musically, from the brilliant start-off of "Oh My Soul" to the beautiful simplicity of "I'm In Love With A Girl". What sunk Big Star, though, was the poor record distribution deal that Argent made with the majors and as a result, these marvelous records just came and went in the blink of an eye.

    Still, Chilton managed to trudge on, even when bassist Andy Hummell left the band. What emerged after that was the often-talked about third album, which goes by a series of different titles depending on who you ask (like "Sister Lovers" or "Third"). An Alex Chilton solo album all but in name, the third record took the fatalism of the first two albums much to heart and the result was a stammering collection of songs full of sudden stops and harrowing outbursts. If you don't believe it was that fatal, check out "Holocaust", which was originally called "Your Mother's Dead". And for an even more fatal reminder, the album throws in Chris Bell's solo cuts, "I Am The Cosmos" and "You and Your Sister", which he recorded before his car accident death in 1978---but wasn't released until 1992. Finally, there is a fourth CD features a live performance of Big Star, post-Chris Bell, proving that even as a trio they still worked a great, functioning outfit. But by 1975, Big Star was history.

    For those who wonder about the legacy of this band, it's important to remember that The Replacements wrote a song called "Alex Chilton" back in 1987. Now, you can hear this marvelous boxed set and see for yourself what all the fuss was about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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