I was really pleased with last week’s entry. That surprised a few people because they know how much I can’t stand Aerosmith. But, a good album is a good album. Jon has been traveling and Eugene has had work things to take care of. As I told them, it’s for fun. So, we’ll get their reviews in due time. Now it’s time for this week’s entry.
#15 – Attention Shoppers! by Starz.
Although I had heard of Starz, I had never heard anything from them. I had heard of them because they were one of the bands in the Bill Aucoin stable. Bill Aucoin was the manager of KISS that pretty much got them rolling like the huge rock mastodons they were. He got them signed to Capitol Records. Good job Gui!
There’s not a lot of info out there about the band, really. It sprouted from what was Looking Glass after their lead vocalist left. Add Rex Smith’s brother Michael Lee Smith on vocals and a guitarist (Richie Ranno) from Stories and you pretty much have Starz.
But I can say that this is power-pop beautifully done. It’s a lot like hard rock meets 50’s early rock. It does remind me a lot of Cheap Trick, which can never be a bad thing. The twin guitars of Ranno and Brendan Harkin are melodic and harmonic all at the same time. Pete Sweval’s bass lines aren’t just mimicking the guitars, either. There are some gritty and nasty bass runs and riffs on this album. I love when drummers aren’t afraid to be hi hat heavy and Joe X. is certainly that. I think a drummer that can tastefully make the hi hat more than a time keeping device, that’s most impressive.
The real star(z) on this record, though, is Michael Lee Smith. The guy has some serious chops and a great rock and roll voice. He can get gritty, he can be velvety, he can have oomph, he can have tenderness and probably most importantly, his range is wide. It’s all there. And the harmonies on this record are amazing. Listen to the opening track. “Hold On to the Night,” and you know you’re in for a fantastic vocal journey and the music isn’t bad either. Other faves of mine are “She,” “(Any Way That You Want It) I’ll Be There,” “Good Ale We Seek” and “Johnny All Alone.” My absolute favorite on the album, though, is “Third Time’s the Charm.” I just love that song.
I really don’t know why this band didn’t get farther than they did. It wasn’t like the 80s when there was an overabundance of musical acts to choose from. There were a few dozen handfuls of bands to choose from in the 70s. I know that’s really a stretch but I am just disappointed they weren’t more popular. Perhaps Cheap Trick cornered the rockin’ pop market and cornered them out? Now, I do understand that their previous albums were a little more raw and that after this album a few members were “relieved of their duties” because they thought they should have stayed this course, whereas the remaining members wanted to go back to the more raw sound. I did briefly touch on Violation, the album prior and it was okay, but this is more my speed. If you like
good great power pop music that seems to have just about all the elements you need for a darn-near perfect album. This is it. Thanks Eug, for this one. Can’t wait to hear your and Jon’s take on this. I know Jon heard a few bars of the opening track in the studio and he seemed to dig it.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“If you miss it on the first one, you’ve got to be strong, my son. Get up and try it again and again until the pieces fit right in. The third time is the charm. Don’t you know the third time is the charm?” – “Third Time’s the Charm” (Starz)