ALBUM: Knee Deep in The Hoopla
CD REISSUE: 1985, RCA, PCD1-5488 * 1999, RCA, RCA 07863 67811 2 * 2008, BMG (Japan), BVCM-34446
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Grace Slick - vocals * Mickey Thomas - vocals * Craig Chaquico - guitars * Pete Sears - bass, synth bass * Donny Baldwin - drums, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 We Built This City (On Rock 'n' Roll) * 02 Sarah * 03 Tomorrow Doesn't Matter * 04 Rock Myself To Sleep At Night * 05 Desperate Heart * 06 Private Room * 07 Before I Go * 08 Hearts Of The World Will Understand * 09 Love Rusts
After a lengthy career known as Jefferson Starship
, the band decided after the release of 1984's 'Nuclear Furniture' to drop the 'Jefferson', and become simply known as Starship. Also gone was long time stalwart Paul Kantner, annoyed at the move to commercialism. Kantner also came out with a lawsuit asking for the band to dissolve. The parties agreed in March 1985 to drop the name Jefferson Starship, now retired for all time. The changes allowed the band to take a few chances in name, image and direction, and in 1985, during the era of synth-pop and MTV, Starship embraced it all as if it were born to it, much to the annoyance of Kantner. Producer Peter Wolf also contributed greatly with keyboards, and with Mickey Thomas having done some background vocal work on Survivor
's 'Vital Signs' the year before, both saw the kind of direction in which to navigate Starship through successful waters. 'Knee Deep..' also saw RCA/Tuneworks head honcho Dennis Lambert join the fold as Executive Producer, and his involvement also saw Player
alumni Peter Beckett and J.C Crowley contribute backing vocals (along with Kevin Dubrow, Martin Page, Simon Climie, Siedah Garrett and a whole host of others).
Of course the big hit off the album is' We Built This City'.. an anthem for the eighties if ever there was one. The bright near chirpy arrangement became the clarion call for youth to take and make a stand. The other big hit was the ballad 'Sara', the sombre but deeply melodic tune no doubt well remembered by all the teenagers growing up during that time frame. Both those songs made No#1 on the charts. The drum machines and synth beat rule the roost on 'Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight', kinda hard to ignore it's 1985 when listening to that tune. 'Rock Myself To Sleep' is another anthem of sorts, though it sounds positively inoffensive when compared to an anthem band like Helix
for instance. 'Desperate Heart' is the same tune which appeared on Michael Bolton
's 'Everybody's Crazy' the same year, though Starship's version isn't quite as good unfortunately. We get more hi-tech hi-jinx with 'Private Room', a song I'm led to believe is all about lap-dancing! Yeah right! The arrangement on 'Before I Go' is so eighties, halfway between something that Prince
or Corey Hart
came out with. The cheesy drum-machines sound awful on 'Hearts Of The World (Will Understand)' and the near rap-excursion from Grace Slick halfway through doesn't help, but the song is saved by a great chorus and a timely guitar solo. The closer 'Love Rusts' is a dreamy ethereal piece which is top heavy with lush synclavier patches and a joint vocal effort by Thomas and Slick.
Looking back in retrospect, it is easy to decry this album as a victim of eighties pop/rock culture, and in a way I guess it is. 'We Built This City' was mocked and parodied by many in mainstream media, but I guess that happens when a song like that goes to No#1, I call it tall-poppy syndrome. Paul Kantner thought the song sucked, but he would say that, since he was no longer enjoying the profits of the renamed band. And wouldn't just about any prom night during 1985 be best remembered for 'Sara' being played ad-nauseum in countless high school halls across America? Perhaps that is a sign when you know you've made it big. Despite the obvious criticisms, the CD still stays entrenched in my collection, more as a reminder of where I was, and what I was doing in 1985. Interesting recollection indeed..
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