Sunday, 6 December 2015

First & Second nights of Chanukah: Big Star - I Got Kinda Lost 8 CD "box set" with live bonus.

Welcome to Chanukah.  The first gift is a doozy - so much so that it's qualifying as not merely one night but two.  More importantly, this will be available for...

ONE WEEK ONLY! 

Where do I even begin with this one?   First and foremost, here's the general basis behind this whole mondo ball of menorah candle wax.  The 162-song I Got Kinda Lost is not a physical product (despite the jewel-box thumbnails depicted a little further below).

Initially prepared in 2007 by an obsessive Big Star adherent(s) as a four disk compilation, IGKL represented a parallel version of the band's catalog with all material represented in the form of demos/alternate takes/mixes/outtakes and the like.  It was expanded to double that length some six years later, coincidentally or not after, the release of the official 2009 Big Star box set, Keep An Eye on the Sky, and in 2013, the Nothing Can Hurt Me documentary soundtrack.  In essence, the premise of IGKL was to corral every abandoned take or mix of every Big Star song known to exist that didn't carry over to the group's original three albums: #1 Record, Radio City, and Third/Sister Lovers, circa 1972-75.  For an even better frame of reference, this collection serves the same function as Bob Dylan's recently released omnibus, The Cutting Edge - not a single note left behind.  Additionally, it excavates the prehistory of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell prior to joining forces in Big Star.  For a more "together" wrap of what this set entails here's a blurb from the liner notes (included in disk one).

This is the expanded 'I Got Kinda Lost' unofficial Big Star box set. Previously this set contained four discs and was jam packed with all kinds of Big Star related tracks.  Like the previous incarnations of 'I Got Kinda Lost', this expanded 2013 release attempts to tell the story chronologically of Big Star through their studio outtakes and alternate versions by keeping it more Big Star-centric through the prism of Chris Bell and Alex Chilton - the architects of the band.

The tracks are split up between the CD's to a timeline that carries the listener from 1965 to roughly 1975.

This massive compilation is what one would call a 'fantasy release'. It's designed to look 'official' but clearly it is not.  In fact, this box set carries a fake catalog number - ST100/6 which is a direct homage to Chris Bell and Andy Hummel who briefly had the idea (as a joke) that if Ardent/Stax didn't release their completed #1 Record they were going to do it themselves (à la bootleg it) and give it the mythical catalog number ST100/6. Their little idea has now come full circle back to that very same idea, like a bridge to the past.

With that out of the way you're likely to want to see the tracklist NOW.  You can do so in pictures of the sleeve art here.  Each disk contains a folder of all scans specific to that CD. I have provided a brief disk-by-disk synopsis' below, however I offer all of this to you with a few vital caveats to bear in mind before diving into the well.
  • If you're new to Big Star, this rabbit hole is waaaaaay to deep of a pit to plunge into.  IGKL is designed for completists and is bound to alienate neophytes, or for that matter even casual fans.  Not everyone in the world is going to benefit from six different iterations of "The Ballad of El Goodo."
  • Secondly, and even more significantly, Jody Stephens and the respective estates of Alex Chilton, Chris Bell and Andy Hummel, not to mention Ardent Records mainstay John Fry are not receiving any money from this hypothetical release.  You only have your own conscience to wrestle with, but if you opt to partake in any or all of this collection, my hope is that you've supported Big Star in the past or plan to do so, preferably via album purchases.
  • The majority of this material is unreleased...then again some of it may be commercially available again.  I present all of this to you on a wing and a prayer that no one objects.  
Onto the disk-by-disk summaries.  Links to both MP3s and lossless FLAC are provided.

Disk 1. An all pre-Big Star affair beginning with four cuts from the short-lived Memphis combo The Jynx, featuring Chris Bell on guitar.  A bit further in our some psych guitar workouts from Chris, as well as recordings from his collaboration with singer/songwriter Terry Manning.  The latter half of disk consists of alternate takes from Alex Chilton's 1970 Sessions.  23 tracks total.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 2.  Commences with five tracks with Terry Manning teaming up with Alex.  Among the tunes is the irrepressible bubblegum chestnut "Sugar Sugar."  The bulk of the disk is all Chris, and his two immediate precursors to Big Star, Rock City and Icewater (yep, all one word).  I prefer Icewater'a tunes to Rock City's by a hair.  Early versions of "Feel" and "My Life is Right" make appearances.  20 tracks in all.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 3.  Here's where the first ladle of gravy meets the plate.  Alternate takes and mixes for the first half of #1 Record, including a fairly radical alternate recording of "The India Song" with different lyrics.  Other songs represented include "Feel," "Ballad of El Goodo," "In the Street," "Thirteen" and "Don't Lie to Me."  21 tracks.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 4. As you might expect, outtake incarnations of the remainder of #1 Record, featuring "When My Baby's Beside Me," "My Life is Right," Give Me Another Chance," "Try Again," "ST100-6," and no less than three versions of the non-LP charmer "Gone With the Light."  45 seconds of studio banter and jamming to boot.  22 cuts.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 5.  This one kicks off with some alternates of Chris Bell solo classics, with no less than five different versions of "I Got Kinda Lost."  A bit further in we encounter the makings of Radio City, with solo Chilton demos of "Life is White," and "What Goin' Ahn" clearly still works in progress.   "O My Soul" makes the cut four times, and "Way Out West" turns up with a vastly different vocal track.  18 songs.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 6.  Part two of the Radio City-era recordings.  It's an overkill onslaught of "Get What You Deserve" and "Mod Lang," with "Back of a Car,", "Daisy Glaze," "September Gurls," and "Morpha Too" also present and accounted for in various different mixes.  Great stuff, but again, these disks cater to the most dedicated among us.  20 tunes.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 7.  We roll into the Third/Sister Lovers sessions, packed with revealing demos of "Holocaust," "Nightime," and "Thank You Friends."  Surrounding these prototypes are alternates of "Jesus Christ," "For You," "Big Black Car," and "Kanga Roo."  23 cuts.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Disk 8.  Here's where the bottom of the barrel meets the scraper.  The eighth bag of tricks kicks of with no fewer than five version of "Lonely Day," a song that was eventually massaged into "Stroke it Noel" from Third.  There's outtakes of deeper album cuts including "Downs" and "Nature Boy," and we even get an alternate version of "Hot Thing," the "new" B/S song that appeared on the bands own tribute album Big Star, Small World.  The disk concludes with Chris Bell having the final say with a clutch of solo rarities.  15 tracks.  MP3 or  FLAC.

bonus: Till the End of the Day, 1974.  A live Big Star performance in Cambridge, MA, March 31, 1974. I don't have a wealth of details to impart on this one.  A very solid set that's either a soundboard tape or a fantastic audience recording.  "Femme Fatale" is covered.  Given the lineup of Alex, Jody and John Lightman, the only #1 Record song making the eleven track setlist is "In the Street."   This is a beaut.  MP3  or  FLAC.

Enjoy, and remember, this is a one-week only proposition. 

Original Content: First & Second nights of Chanukah: Big Star - I Got Kinda Lost 8 CD "box set" with live bonus.

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