Sunday, September 20, 2009

O My Soul! Big Star box set now available at the Stax Museum

While Stax is best known for the classic soul music that it churned out in the '60s and '70s, there were also a few rock and roll bands and artists that recorded for Stax and its sister labels. One of the most celebrated and critically acclaimed bands from that era is the subject of an impressive new CD box set, which is now available at the Stax Museum Online Shop.

Big Star inspired a fevered allegiance among fans of power pop, giving rise to a cult of believers who spent decades spreading the gospel. Their enthusiasm turned this obscure Memphis pop band – one that got little airplay, sold few records, and only played a handful of times – into a remarkable rock and roll resurrection story. Big Star’s trek from obscure Memphis band to standard bearers for an entire genre of music has never been fully mapped – until now.

Keep An Eye On The Sky spans 1968 to 1975 and shows the progression of Big Star through selections from such studio precursors as Rock City and Icewater; music from Big Star’s acclaimed albums (the Ardent/Stax releases #1 Record and Radio City, as well as Third/Sister Lovers); and relevant solo work by group principals Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, who formed Big Star in 1971 with bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens.

This four-CD collection mixes classic Big Star tracks with a trove of unreleased demos, unused mixes, alternate versions of songs, and a 1973 concert recorded in Memphis. The lavish packaging includes extensive liner notes, rare and never-before-seen photos from William Eggleston and others, and insightful essays about the cult of Big Star and the band’s history.

Check out some of the reviews:

4 1/2 Stars
- "The four CDs of Keep An Eye On The Sky are the last word on Big Star's first, ultimately glorious lifetime." - Rolling Stone

4 1/2 Stars - "Anybody who has ever loved the band will find something to cherish here, whether it's the crackerjack live show... 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." -

A - "Anyone who still needs convincing will find the case for Big Star's legendhood made beyond a reasonable doubt on Keep An Eye On The Sky." - Entertainment Weekly

9.3 (out of 10) - "Big Star aren't just rock's greatest cult band; they were arguably rock's first cult band. Keep An Eye On The Sky sounds like the one reissue that finally gets Big Star right." - Pitchfork