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Groundstar - 1978 Forced Landing

ARTIST: Groundstar
ALBUM: Forced Landing
LABEL: Stellar
YEAR: 1978
REISSUE: 1980, Stellar, reissue LP, SR 2549


LINEUP: Sharon Jordan - vocals, strings * Doug Watkins - vocals, strings * Chris Smith - guitars * Gilbert Jones - guitars * Sam Arnold - bass * Ron Holt - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 It's All The Same * 02 Maiden And The Knight * 03 Dreamin' * 04 Mountain * 05 Settle Down * 06 Westwood Park * 07 New World * 08 Wat'cha Gonna Do * 09 Aquawings * 10 Party

Probably the most mysterious band in all of AOR-dom. What do we know about these guys and gals? Not a lot, apart from the fact they were from Fresno, CA, and played a most compelling brand of pomp rock. We didn't actually know a lot about the band line-up either, until erstwhile AOR fanatic Carl Noonan revealed all in Issue #8 of AOR Classics during August 1995 - but just who is playing the keyboards remains a further mystery. Originally released in 1978 on their own Stellar label, the band even re-released the thing two years later with a different cover jacket and a re-jigged track listing. What the heck? Take a hefty doses of Toronto and Jet like pomp and cross it with Lynx like quirkiness and you might get an idea as to what Groundstar are about. With two lead singers (female and male) there is contrast throughout. Believe me, your attention span won't diminish.

The Songs
The opening sequence is straight out of a sci-fi movie.. captain on the bridge, failed hyperdrive engines etc.. All great stuff, then before the ship crash-lands we are transported straight into the first track 'It's All The Same'. Tremendous melodic pomp of the first order. 'Maiden And The Knight', a tale of yesteryear romance is played on a bed of Roadmaster styled pomp a la 'Sweet Music' and 'Hey World'. The vocals are shared on this one. Pompous keyboards abound on the pulsating 'Dreamin' while Sharon's vocal soars on top of the acoustic gem 'Mountain'. Continuing in a lighter vein is 'Settle Down', full of sweeping strings, vocal cascades and a brief cameo spot featuring some Boston like lead guitar work. 'Westwood Park' sounds like a pomp rock version of Canadian outfit Reckless, particularly the Steve Madden like guitar lines and the overall rollicking approach. Doug Watkins leads the way on 'New World', a stirring and tightly structured affair - one of the better tracks onboard. The band revert to a party-pop anthem with 'Watcha Gonna Be' then change hats completely for the mid-tempo ballad - the strangely named 'Aquawings'. In another era this could've been an attempt at symphonic prog. The album finishes up with another upbeat number the appropriately titled 'Party'.

In Summary
Sharon Jordan went on to join The Heritage during the 90's, alongside Jerry Leal (formerly of Electric Eels, a band that combined the sound of Def Leppard and The Scorpions. Not having heard that band I can't make any comment. She also hooked up with a band called Eve's Burden who it seems had an album ready for release during 2007. However, Groundstar should be acquired at all costs, a wonderful slab of vinyl, and an album that is as legendary and commands cult status for the reason that we know bugger all about them. If one of us manages to track down any of the band members for a chat, then we'll endeavour to clear up this years-long mystery once and for all.

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#1 | syzygybear2003 on October 27 2006 03:55:14
Saw them twice in Fresno back in the day. Once in what used to be a movie theater - Warners and once at a Halloween show put on by a radio station at the Selland Arena.

At the Warners show I met one of the guitarist who was a friend of a friend I was with that night. But it is not one of the names listed. I believe it was Jeff. Maybe he was just filling in because I don't remember one way or the other if he played at the Halloween show.

Lost touch with the one friend, so no way of comfirming my memory.

I would love to hear this again if anyone has files to share.

#2 | gdazegod on May 03 2007 07:06:46
As at 2007, Sharon is now playing with a new band Eves Burden, though they are not strictly melodic rock by the looks of things. They have a 14 track CD due for release during 2007. Eves Burden also includes Sharon's running mate on guitar: Jerry Leal, ex Electric Eels, The Heritage, and also at one stage.. Groundstar. clap
#3 | rostoned on June 28 2008 12:36:31
Very very peculiar space pomp release, I like it a lot. yummy
#4 | reyno-roxx on January 01 2009 19:39:33
One of the quirkiest AOR/Pomp releases released to be sure. I have both versions of the album. Not sure which has the better of the running order. Will have to give them another spin.
#5 | swazi on February 16 2012 14:14:12
Finally this one is reissued on CD by Retrospect Records, available on their website.
Btw., according to the credits the keyboards are played by Sharon Jordan and Doug Watkins.
#6 | super80boy on May 19 2013 19:27:17
Very glad to have been able to snag this obscurity on clean vinyl. From the opening sequence of the sci fi movie quirkiness to the pompy melodies and futurisitic arrangements, this is a down right cool private press AOR rocker.

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