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Shooting Star - 1979 Shooting Star

ARTIST: Shooting Star
ALBUM: Shooting Star
LABEL: Virgin UK
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1999, V&R Distribution, 1024-2 * 2007, Renaissance (USA), RENA-331


LINEUP: Gary West - vocals, keyboards * Van McLain - vocals, guitars * Charles Waltz - violin, vocals * Ron Verlin - bass * Bill Guffey - keyboards * Steve Thomas - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 You Got What I Need * 02 Don't Stop Now * 03 Higher * 04 Just Friends * 05 Bring It On * 06 Tonight * 07 Rainfall * 08 Midnight Man * 09 Stranger * 10 Last Chance


My first exposure to this legend of AOR goes right back to my school years. January 1980 was when this album first appeared, though it was recorded in 1979. I won't go into too much details about the bands history, you can read a good summary of it over at WikiPedia. In short, the band became the first American band to be signed to Richard Branson's Virgin label. Looking to break into the USA, the label, who were already strong in Europe with a number of punk/new wave and electronic artists on their roster, needed fresh blood. Shooting Star were part of a three-way bidding war back in 1978 for their services, Virgin winning out against Atlantic and A&M Records. Produced in England with Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm, the band laid down some innovative symphonic rock for its time, with obvious comparisons being made to Kansas because of the violin parts provided by Charles Waltz. Their sound was far more accessible, and less stricken by complex structures than what Kansas were attempting, and therefore made it easier for people to digest. Certainly during my high school years, Shooting Star's debut was never too far away from my turntable, and thankfully because of the Virgin Records connection, the album was readily available in New Zealand at the time.

The Songs
'You Got What I Need' is possibly the best introduction the band could've made. A lovely slice of melodia with terrific keys and a scorching solo at the tail. 'Don't Stop Now' is played with a power-pop angle, not surprising considering 1979 was a boom year for that genre. The next track 'Higher' is a punchy number, with a strutting bass line and a tirade of vocal harmonies. 'Just Friends' is one of two predominant acoustic numbers, the other is 'Rainfall'. Both are glorious affairs, again the vocal harmonies are a standout. 'Bring It On' is a high-energy workout, a great live sounding track judging by its qualities, while 'Tonight' ebbs and flows in symphonic fashion, with the violin and guitar interplay working well together. Another up-tempo number combining acoustic and electric guitars is 'Midnight Man', the guitars are swinging all over the place on this one! 'Stranger' has all the hallmarks of harder-edged southern AOR, a style that a guy like Johnny Van Zant would do so well at in the next few years. The closing song 'Last Chance' is without doubt one of the best songs they've ever written. The epitome of symphonic rock, the extended playing time, soaring violin and booming drums (sounding at times like kettle drums) make this track a hands-down classic!

In Summary
With America sitting up and taking notice, the band hit the road buoyed by radio airplay of their songs culled from this album. This would continue on over the next few years, with another four albums worth of tunes being generated, and a schedule of live performances right up unto 1985. The band have been in semi-retirement for some time, but as of the current day, they are still in existence. 2006 will see a new release scheduled, with new singer Kevin Chalfant onboard. Still the legend marches on.

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#1 | Jez on January 27 2007 12:06:36
Another very good debut album, and probably the finest release of their catologue, although 'Silent Scream' & 'Burning' also come highly recommended. Everyone seemed to rate 'Last Chance' as the choice track on here and i totally agree with that, although there are some other choice cuts namely the excellent 'Bring It On' 'Midnight Man' 'Don't Stop Now' & 'Tonight'.
#2 | gdazegod on February 11 2008 22:58:18
This album was available as a domestic release in New Zealand back in the day. Virgin Records catalog was widely available, due to the influence of bands playing in the new wave style that were signed to Branson's label. These bands were quite popular down under, as a result, Shooting Star and prog trio Tangerine Dream came along for the ride.
#3 | rostoned on June 20 2008 17:52:10
'Last Chance' is an epic which combines the best of Kansas progness and Angel magniloquence.
#4 | richardb on June 20 2008 21:52:39
I seem to remember a bit of naff promotional blurb when the debut was released in the UK. They were billed as the 'first heavy metal band' signed to Virgin in the UK or something similar - it didn't exactly help promote their cause probably might have encouraged some music fans to steer clear of the band(!)

Richard B
#5 | gdazegod on February 17 2011 12:09:41
Does anyone have the 2007 Renaissance reissue of this album? What is the quality like? I think I would prefer to track down the 2fer1 reissue bundled with 'Hang On For Your Life'.. I do not have a predilection towards Renaissance CD's I'm afraid..
#6 | gdazegod on February 17 2011 12:11:55
YouTube Video:
#7 | gdazegod on February 17 2011 12:18:34
YouTube Video:
#8 | swazi on February 19 2011 15:24:39
"Predilection ..." Wow! That's one word I've never heard before! Learned something again today ... lol! Smile
#9 | gdazegod on February 19 2011 22:39:57
Its meaning is similar to 'tendency', or 'inclination', or 'inclined towards..'
#10 | rkbluez on November 27 2011 03:05:29
Love to see Rock Candy do this album and Hang On For Your Life...they could really use RC treatment...great band great album.
#11 | super80boy on August 09 2014 16:15:59
What a killer debut for this band. The drumming on the closer 'Last Chance' is outstanding, along with the big sweeping arrangements. 'Tonight' is another gem of a track and of course the single 'You've Got What I Need'.

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