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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Starship - 1985 Knee Deep In The Hoopla
Starship - 1985 Knee Deep In The Hoopla

ARTIST: Starship
ALBUM: Knee Deep in The Hoopla
LABEL: Grunt
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1985, RCA, PCD1-5488 * 1999, RCA, RCA 07863 67811 2 * 2008, BMG (Japan), BVCM-34446


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).

The Songs
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.

In Summary
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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#1 | Jez on June 13 2008 10:06:10
The first album to be released under the 'Starship' moniker, so i suppose a change in sound should be expected. At the time, 'We Built This City' was all over the radio, and isn't a bad track, the Michael Bolton 'Desperate Dreams' is also good along with 'Sara' . The rest was a disappointment, and compared to the glories of 'Freedom At Point Zero', 'Winds Of Change' and 'Modern Times' you can honestly say this is pretty average Pop/Rock stuff.
#2 | george_the_jack on July 01 2008 15:19:32
Agree. Pop/Rock stuff is what we have here under a very commercial touch. 'We built this city'' has been playing on the radio since I remember myself walking!! Smile An AOR poppy superhit indded
#3 | Danielovich on December 20 2009 10:25:25
I recently read that Grace Slick was embarrassed with "We built this city", as was chosen the "worst rock song of all time" by a website. Firstly, that web has a terrible bad taste in music. Secondly, maybe Slick could give away all the money that she earnt with the song, as she is so "terribly embarrassed" with it.
What a stupid era we live in. Long live Starship!
My favorite is "No protection", which has more edge in the sound.This "Knee deep" has a terrible and bland production.
#4 | Eric on December 20 2009 13:33:37
Slick is notorious for dumb comments.
#5 | trillion1999 on October 19 2011 15:34:16
I love Sara.I have never had anything against We Built This City.I like the song and can stand the video.I blame it on Bernie Taupin why I tolerate the song at all.
#6 | jeffrey343 on October 19 2011 16:27:14
This was pretty different from the stellar AOR on the first part of "Nuclear Furniture" - more high-tech. There are some good songs here - "Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight" and "Desperate Heart" are great, and I like "Sara" too. "We Built This City" is OK whenever I hear it on the radio (as long as it's not more than a couple of times a month). But my favorite Starship tunes are definitely before this album. Their sound became, to me, more generic starting here. Still good, but not too different from what lots of other bands were doing.
#7 | gdazegod on June 26 2013 05:26:34
YouTube Video:
#8 | super80boy on October 10 2014 23:36:54
Although lightweight at times, this still gets the job done for the mid 80's commercial radio rock cravings.
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