Album review: RADIO STARS – Broadcasting To The Nation

RADIO STARS

Easy Action [Release date 3.12.21]

Cherry Red’s superb 2017 “Thinking Inside The Box” set appeared to be the final word on Radio Stars, compiling both albums, singles/rarities and BBC sessions.  The emergence of an unreleased third album on Easy Action therefore comes as something of a surprise, having languished in a vault for 42 years!  It’s now being released ahead of Andy Ellison’s forthcoming autobiography.

With bass player and main songwriter Martin Gordon (ex-Sparks) having departed, Trevor White replaced him at Ellison’s request despite having never previously played bass!  The line-up was completed by guitarist Ian McLeod (his playing on this release is stunning) and the band’s original drummer Steve Parry.

The ten tracks intended for the album were recorded in a small eight track studio in Herne Bay.  Radio Stars were always a hard group to classify, with elements of glam, punk, new wave and power pop in their sound, and that continues to impressive effect on these recordings.

The album kicks off in style with the fiery ‘Back In Your Town’ – reprised at the end by the joyous ‘Back In Your Town Again’.  The infectious ‘Let’s Play Dirty’ is easily on a par with some of the band’s earlier tracks, as is the jaunty reggae-tinged ‘Wall Of Death’.  Album standout is the tour de force that is ‘Blame It On The Young’.

As well as the self-penned material, there’s also an almost proto-metal take on Marc Bolan’s ‘You Scare Me To Death’ (Ellison had worked with Bolan in the 60’s group John’s Children).  Sound quality throughout is excellent, with the tracks sounding as fresh and powerful as the day they were recorded.  This would have been a fine follow up to 1978’s “The Holiday Album” had it been released at the time.

To complement the studio recordings, there are eight additional tracks from a lively sounding London show in 1979.  Two of the new songs are given an airing – ‘Accident’ and ‘Wall Of Death’ – while the classic debut album “Songs For Swinging Lovers” is represented by ‘Good Personality’ and ‘Nice Girls’.  In addition, there are live versions of ‘Radio Stars’, ‘Horrible Breath’ and ‘Johnny Mekon’, along with a previously unrecorded track entitled ‘Understood’.

This is a fine addition to the Radio Stars’ legacy, and the 16-page booklet includes notes by Andy Ellison, along with archive images and memorabilia.  ****

Review by Jim Henderson






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