So there have been a few occasions where I had been asked to write about Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos album – and I’ve done it. Having bought the Ryko version when it was released in 1992 and then the Rhino Handmade edition in 2009, it could be said I’m rather fond of this album. Now – once again – the good people at Omnivore Recordings have remastered the original album and have expanded it even further – with 10 more tracks added on from the 2009 reissue; two of these tracks make their first appearance on CD. And it’s all done simply out of a very deep love and appreciation for this artist’s all-too-brief works. The need for this music – this man’s music – needs to be heard and to be available.
Simple. Listen once. There are many, many songs one can take to heart but without question, you will completely be absorbed by the power; the emotion in these songs. “I Am The Cosmos” itself will stop you in your tracks upon that first listen. Majestic guitars, otherworldly production, melodic on so many levels and vocals that reach deep inside anyone with a soul, this song defies description. “Better Save Yourself”, while a straight-up rocker carries a very weighty spiritual message, as does “Look Up”, which will reduce you to tears – if you don’t believe in a God, you will come very close to feeling it when you hear it – it’s just that beautiful. “You And Your Sister” is the other heart-stopping, heart-rending track; the harmonies between Chris Bell and Alex Chilton are on a higher plane than those they did with Big Star. “Speed Of Sound” is an exercise in melody, structure and meeting the balance between music and lyrical deftness. But I’ll stop there as I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you haven’t heard this album before.
I can only think (as so many have) what may have been for this talent, especially if these songs had seen the light of day while he was still alive. All the tracks, including the ones that had been previously unaired, are worth more than their weight in embraceable pop genius. Yes, there’s a lot of hyperbole that many have offered but it isn’t empty rhetoric. Every warm, loving, even worshipful word written and spoken about Chris Bell and I Am The Cosmos is true. And if you don’t believe, the proof is right here for you to experience. It really is that simple.
ESSENTIAL LISTENING – A MUST
I Am The Cosmos will be released on Friday, September 15th, 2017