Four discs, tons of
rarities, “best ever” live recordings, and more. Wow.
By Fred Mills
Now this is a great way to start the holiday weekend off: with
Big Star news.
Although the topic of the long-rumored Big Star box set has
been cropping up on blogs and message boards for a couple of years, there’s
really been no official confirmation, leading to much speculation as to what
might be included (e.g., what stuff has been lurking in the vaults of Ardent
Studios). Even drummer Jody Stephens, in an interview earlier this year with
RockSellOut.com, remained mum about the subject, as the following exchange
Records is releasing a Big Star box set in 2009. Any insight of what’s still in
the vaults that will be shared?
Stephens: Don’t really know what will be included. There was some interesting
BS stuff on the Ardent Records Story.
Well, no confirmation until NOW.
Word already hit earlier this week, via Bruce Eaton’s most excellent Big Star blog (Eaton is the author of the equally most excellent new 33 1/3 book on Big Star’s Radio City), that Ardent’s John Fry indicated that, indeed, a box was en route on September 15.
Today a source close to the project confirmed to BLURT that
the box is definitely a “go” and is slated for a Sept. 15 release from Rhino.
Clocking in at four discs, the box (title not yet known)
will reportedly cover the years 1968-75, which means that a number of pre-Big
Star outfits the members – Stephens, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, and the late
Chris Bell – were in will also be represented. The bulk of the actual Big Star
material will comprise “mostly rarities and previously unreleased material,”
advises our source, material that, indeed, has been kept well away from prying
eyes and ears in the Ardent vaults all these years.
There’s also to be a good chunk of live material, including
a Memphis concert circa 1972 or ’73 shortly
after Bell left
the band, leaving Big Star to perform as a three-piece. “This might be the
best-ever live recording” of the band, we’re told, and it’s worth noting that
Bell’s departure was apparently still fresh enough that the trio was still
performing Bell-penned material, with Chilton handling vocals.
A fat book in the 100-page range, loaded with rare photos,
natch, will round things out.
Worth noting is that there won’t be massive overlap with the
recently announced CD from Concord, a slightly expanded reissue of their Big
Star twofer that contained the first two albums, Number One Record and Radio
City, due June 16.
There’s also talk of a related release from Rhino imprint
Handmade for a limited edition expanded reissue of Bell’s I
Am The Cosmos solo collection. Originally compiled by Rykodisc for a
posthumous CD release in 1992, it will reportedly be a two-CD set featuring
outtakes and alternate versions.
An official announcement from Rhino is still forthcoming,
but the news is expected to be announced early next week.