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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Starz - 1977 Violation
Starz - 1977 Violation

ALBUM: Violation
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST-11617
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 1991, Metal Blade (USA), 9 26559-2 * 2005, Rykodisc (USA), RCD 10672


LINEUP: Michael Lee Smith - vocals * Richie Ranno - guitars * Brendan Harkin - guitars * Peter Sweval - bass * Joe X Dube - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sing It Shout It * 02 All Night Long * 03 Rock Six Times * 04 Subway Terror * 05 Violation * 06 Cherry Baby * 07 Is That The Street Light Or The Moon? * 08 Cool One * 09 S.T.E.A.D.Y


Long regarded as one of the biggest influences on North American hard rock are Starz, who recorded four albums in the late seventies, the second of which was 'Violation'. The pundits have lauded this for decades now as influencing a generation of 80's rockers like Poison, Tesla, Ratt etc. Starz were formed by Harkin, Dube and Sweval in 1975 and enlisted Ranno and Smith, recording their 'monumental' debut a year later. It remains an average set of rock at best, paling to the energy of the Montrose 1973 debut, the real start of the American genre. One year later they were at it again, with better results, far heavier, but still not entirely convincing.

The Songs
Compared to what Kiss were doing at the time with 'Love Gun', Starz' 'Violation' seems dated by comparison, a by-product of its era. Stock 1970's production at fault. Starz have been described as the bridge between hard rock and metal, although I would opt for the former. 'Cherry Baby' sounds like something Kiss would have recorded in 1974, not 1977. The guitar sound had not been updated and fits uncomfortably into an early to mid 70's groove. The chorus is pop orientated which Starz themselves have admitted to preferring. 'Rock Six Times' raises the staunch riffing a notch or two, more convincing. The title cut is closer to 70's metal, an almost Black Sabbath type riff being the offender. 'Subway Terror' is a serial killer ode, later replicated by Thin Lizzy with 'Killer On The Loose' and Iron Maiden's 'Killer'. The music and lyrics have the disturbing vibe of such a theme. Good freaky riff. The latter half of 'Violation' never catches steam, subdued almost. Where a rocker like 'All Night Long' or 'S.T.E.A.D.Y.' have the riffs, they fail to deliver the X factor. It sounds acceptable but leaves one feeling cold. Good music should elicit a reaction. This doesn't.

In Summary
I concede a great many people have been conned. Or maybe myself. Opposed to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, even Aerosmith, this is vaguely amateurish. Harsh words. Perhaps. But Starz never made it like many thought, so there was a problem. Whether it was that final touch, the vocals or melody, 'Violation' earns a tag as an overrated rock classic.

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#1 | sabace on March 23 2006 14:11:57
Interesting review. I've been a Starz fan for years but they don't seem to bring out the mania that Thin Lizzy & Kiss does, strange never really thought about it until I read this review.
#2 | Jez on January 27 2007 11:36:28
Another Re-issue iv'e just updated from vinyl, and my favourite Starz release of the 4. I remember playing to death my nice gold 7' single of 'Sing It, Shout It' at the time (still have it too). When i finally got the LP - Blew my tiny young mind. 'Violation' still sounds great today, and with the nice remastering job done to it, it is even better. Bloody Marvellous.
#3 | Eric on December 22 2007 04:33:24
Alun, Very much disagree here. Starz of course were not in the same leaugue as Deep Purple or Zep but filled a big gap with U.S. teenagers in a time that was pretty bleak for those about to rock. In the era of disco, punk and the pre-Van Halen debut, these guys were a saving grace. 'Cherry Baby' and Sing It Shout It' pre- dated the Poison's and Bon Jovi's ten years earlier.....
#4 | reyno-roxx on December 22 2007 13:15:40
I think 'Love Gun' is a poor comparison when talking about dated production. 'Love Gun' suffered from one of the lamest production jobs of all the 70s Kiss albums. The songs deserved better. Which is why they stand up so much better as live tracks. I agree with Eric's comments. Starz were a brilliant band and way ahead of their time. They began to go in a poppier direction with this album (which is why the debut will forever be my favourite) in order to break through at radio. The only way to get ahead in the US market for decades. Sadly, Capitol let them down in terms of doing what was necessary to really break 'em. The UK branch of Capitol didn't help much either. Spending promo money on sponsoring a Formula Three car to carry the band logo in a little watched racing series has to go down as one of the shabbiest moves by a record label ever.
#5 | dangerzone on February 06 2008 01:34:28
In hindsight 'Love Gun' was a poor example. I still believe this isn't as strong as many other late 70's hard rock albums. That Diamond Reo album walks all over this.
#6 | rostoned on May 29 2008 19:56:20
This was released at the time in the US (only?) as a yellow/gold vinyl LP, not sure if all copies were like this or it was a limited edition (I don't think it was a promo edition since my copy doesn't have any promo mark or stamp or whatever, mint perfect cover). Anyone?
#7 | gdazegod on May 29 2008 21:25:46
I am thinking it was a limited edition. Certainly my vinyl copy was a standard Capitol LP logo (pinky orange color). It was the logo they had before the black middle and rainbow colored outer ring.. which was a nice logo BTW. Someone closer to home in the US may have a better idea.
#8 | Nick C on August 23 2008 11:12:51
I'd struggle to pick my fave Starz album as even the much maligned Attention Shoppers has some great moments. This was the 1st Starz I bought though and I loved it....and subsequently grabbed the rest immediately.

I taped it onto cassette and had it on repeat play in my dads garage while I built a bass cab for two speakers I had bought one hot Summer's day .... I must have played it through about 100 times that day hahaha! Plus the cab worked just fine and served me well for a year or so until I could afford a proper one ....jeeeez I should say something about the album really...I don't half waffle.
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