Review by David Bowling
Since the death of Alex Chilton, everything Big Star and anything associated with the band has been or is being released. Latest in the Big Star sweepstakes is Looking Forward by Chris Bell.
Chris Bell’s time with the band was short. He contributed to their terrific debut album #1 Record. His solo career showed promise but he was killed in a car accident in 1978 at the age of 27, leaving him as a “what if” of rock music.
Looking Forward gathers together his unreleased and rarely found pre-Big Star material. His participation in bands such as Rock City, Icewater, and the Wallabys explore his development and thus the roots of Big Star.
Seventeen of the 22 tracks are finished, well-recorded songs by the aforementioned bands. They may sound a bit primitive by today’s standards but Bell’s melodic approach and tight harmonies are present.
The best tracks are from his time with Rock City. The ten tracks have a cohesive feel and should have been placed chronologically on the CD. “The Wind Will Cry For Me,” “I Lost A Love,” “The Answer,” and “Think It’s Time To Say Goodbye” are fairly mature and have a finished feel. The six Icewater and Wallabys contributions find him not as settled and travelling in a number of directions, including several bluesy vocals.
Bell never really enjoyed any large commercial success during his lifetime. While his post-Big Star material is more polished and focused; Looking Forward is an eclectic look at his early career and is well worth a listen.