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Studio Owner John Fry Engineers First Sessions Since the Eighties.

Pictured at Ardent Studios in Memphis are assistant engineer Adam Hill, Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, and mix engineer John Fry.

Ardent Studios owner John Fry has returned to the mixing console for the first time in 20 years to mix six tracks for the much anticipated release of Big Star’s box set: “Keep An Eye On The Sky” for Rhino Records. Fry worked on the original releases of the band formed in 1971 with vocalist Alex Chilton, guitarist Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens. Ardent’s Adam Hill, resident Big Star historian, assisted on the mixes.

Fry commented on the band and the experience of mixing again, “Of course I enjoyed working with Big Star back in the day, but I had forgotten what a momumental work we had created until I put up those old 2-inch tapes and listened to the individual multitracks. It was like opening a time capsule and finding all sorts of forgotten treasures. We are all very lucky to be able to relive those days and bring Big Star’s legacy to full circle completion.”

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 is for the first time mapped out in this ambitious 4-disc collection due out September 15.

The lavish packaging for “Keep An Eye On The Sky” includes extensive liner notes, rare and never-before-seen photos, and insightful essays about the cult of Big Star and the band’s history. In the notes, Stephens reflects on the band’s belated triumph. “Sure, it would’ve been nice to have been huge at the time. But, here we are, 30 years later, and Big Star is still playing, our music is turning up in movie soundtracks, and young people are still excited to discover the records. I mean, if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.”

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