“I never travel far without a little Big Star,” Paul Westerberg sang in “Alex Chilton,” a track from The Replacements 1986 gem Pleased to Meet Me. The line speaks for the cult of fervent listeners of Big Star, the 70’s Memphis act that over the course of three LPs defined the term “power-pop” while suggesting the blue-print for what would come to be labeled “alternative rock,” melding Stax soul, folky poignancy and a perfectly skewed lyrical sensibility.
A commercial failure during their time, Rhino Records seeks to give the band their due, with the massive 98 song collection Keep An Eye On The Sky. Over the span of four discs, the boxed set features alternate mixes of classic tracks, demos, pre-Big Star cuts from Alex Chilton and band founder Chris Bell, and a live set, recorded at Lafayette’s Music Room as the band puzzlingly opened for Archie Bell & The Drells.
Disc One is available for your streaming pleasure at NPR’s Exclusive First Listen, and will be available at brick and mortar record stores (Remember those? Phoenix has some great ones!) on September 15th. For now enjoy these teaser jams, a rare demo take of Chilton singing the Chris Bell composition “I Got Kinda Lost” and “All I See is You,” a cut from Chris Bell’s pre-Big Star group Icewater.