Chris Bell: I Am The Cosmos (1978/1992)
But for all the sadness, he did leave behind one posthumous album, and what a great album it is. As it wasn't finished during his lifetime (recorded in the mid-70s and finally released in 1992), it's a little rough and DIY sounding in spots, but elsewhere is as polished and stunning as #1 Record. (The deluxe edition includes a number of alternate takes, many of which I prefer to the versions on the "original" posthumous release.) And as with his contributions to #1 Record, he vacillates between gorgeous ballads and surprisingly boisterous hard rockers.
The opening title track is a masterpiece, beautiful and spiritually moving, an absolute stunner of a love song. Nearly is great is the acoustic ballad "You & Your Sister," particularly the version which includes a duet with Chilton, making it the great lost Big Star song. (There's a really pretty cover of the song by the goth/dream-pop project This Mortal Coil, with Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly handling the vocals.) "Speed of Sound" is dark and dreary and lovely; and "Better Save Yourself" and "Look Up" see Bell exploring his spiritual side with what sound like pop gospels.
While I'm less partial to the rockers, which can be a little abrasive in spots, they're often great as well, seeing Bell approaching Cheap Trick territory. "Get Away" has a killer riff, the sound of Bell exorcising his plentiful demons; "I Don't Know" is cut from similar cloth, noisy and aggressive but catchy as all hell (and at times reminiscent of Chilton's own cathartic post-Big Star recordings).
It's hard to listen to this without imagining what might have been if Bell had stayed on with the band, and you can mash this up with Radio City and cobble together an even better follow-up to #1 Record; but even stripped of history, it stands well on its own as a powerful, great lost power pop classic with an atypically religious edge.
Here's an audio rip of "I Am The Cosmos":