Starbuck: Rock n Roll Rocket

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61kiRNAH0QL._SX425_Bruce Blackman’s indelible melodies and Bo Wagner’s pecussion highlight Starbuck’s second album, which suggests that “Moonlight Feels Right” and “I Got to Know” were not flukes. True, the overwrought musicianship and lyrical inanities of “Little Bird” and “City of the Future” don’t bode well, but the bulk of these tracks find the septet doing what it does best: wedding snappy pop hooks to delightfully silly, eminently catchy lyrics. Starbuck will probably always be too lightweight to make a dent on FM radio but if they keep turning out numbers like “Everybody Be Dancin'” and “Don’t You Know How to Love a Lady,” I’ll keep believing that AM has its merits.

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  1. This second offering from Starbuck (and the last to include Bo Wagner), is actually better overall than their debut which, of course, includes the very Legendary title track of that LP, “Moonlight Feels Right”. The released single from this album is its opening track, “Everybody Be Dancin'”, which pales in comparison to MFR. Perhaps its the belching robo voices out of an old beat-up Framptonizer (“DOUNCE-in’!”) and farting interlude synths that may have rubbed some as being ‘campy’ thus inspiring them to not purchase this LP at the time. I don’t know, I think the track’s catchy enough and it DID crack the Top-40 which I find not surprising. That repeated synth-riff between verses, though very simple, and guitar (both together sounding a bit like music for a late-’70s or very-early-’80s TV show) do it for me, at least.

    Their loss for the very next track, “Call Me”, I find to be ahead of its time! The synth-work sounds more like something that would come out years later (reminds me of “Crime Pays”, the second track from Hall & Oates’ ‘H2O’). Yes, nothing too unusual in the ’70s when considering Kraftwerk, Stevie Wonder, and David Bowie’s ‘Low’ amongst some examples, but still. Also, Bo does a couple solos on the track as well.

    The third track, “City of the Future”, is – yes – a bit ridiculously comedically overly-optimistic lyrically but also offers up yet another fine example of ahead-of-its-time synth-work; the bit-creepy, ‘futuristic’ sounds actually contradicting such ultra un-gloomy lyrics.

    Two of my favorite SB tracks are on this album, which assists in making me like this album better than their debut. The pair include the sort-of M “Pop Muzik”-precursor along with being a bit psychadelic, “Fat Boy”, and the chill slick R&B jazzy “Fool in Line” (both with breathtaking marimba-work by Bo as well).

    The ELO-like “Little Bird” is a track that likely made Jeff Lynne proud as well as Jethro Tull with the brief flute solo applied. I also like the nice touch at the end of the LP, allowing the “Little Bird/Reprise” to seque from the also musically ambitious (w drum solo) title track. I take back what I said in the ‘Searching for a Thrill’ review about Blackman being the only one who should do lead vocals. SB tracks without Blackman at lead-vocals did offer good change-up.

    Starbuck being “too lightweight” for FM-rock? Perhaps, but nothing at all to apologize over as Blackman obviously never felt he had to do. Chief examples of this are “Sunset Eyes” and “Benny Bought the Big One”.

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