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DC Star - 1985 Rockin' In The Classroom

ALBUM: Rockin' In The Classroom
LABEL: Mirage
SERIAL: 90251-1
YEAR: 1985


LINEUP: Kenn Taylor - vocals * Dave Simmons - guitars * Jeff Avery - guitars, keyboards * Henry Farmer - bass * Glenn Jones - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Wanna Rock Tonight * 02 Rockin' The Classroom (Smokin' In The Boys Room) * 03 Do You Know What I Mean * 04 Feeling Good To Me * 05 Fortune Teller * 06 Come Back To Me * 07 Tell Me Like It Is * 08 They Call Her The Wild * 09 The Miller Song * 10 Livin' In A Rock & Roll Whirl


The late 70's scene in Baltimore might have been prominent for the likes of Face Dancer and The Shooz (who would late go on to become Kix), but there's one other band that deserve a mention from this era: DC Star. Formed as far back as the early 70's, the band were a popular draw all over the Eastern Seaboard. So the story goes - the band were in fact called Starz, but a certain other band from New Jersey 'stole the name', according to lead singer Kenn Taylor. They've actually released a ton of indie material during the early 80's on cassette and vinyl, but it wasn't until 1984 that the DC boyz secured a deal with Atlantic subsidiary Mirage, that a full blown LP became available. The image of DC Star might conjure up visions of sleaze and glam, but no, these boys put down their own variation of melodic party metal. The International Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal described them as being similar to Def Leppard. I'd go along with that comparison for part of the way. Singer Kenny Taylor is the glue to this outfit, his Tony Mills like warbling piercing the soundscape like a pin-prick through a balloon.

The Songs
'Rockin' In The Classroom' is one part studio tracks, the second part live tracks. It makes for an inconsistent listen all round, but you can see what direction they are headed in. The opener 'I Wanna Rock Tonite' is a tight affair, sort of like Billy The Kid and Agentz, but without the same sort of power. The title track 'Rockin' In The Classroom' is a re-hash of the Brownsville Station staple 'Smokin' In The Boys Room', a track that Motley Crue would garner success with a few years later. 'Do You Know What I Mean' has a riff/motif that also sounds familiar but I just can't place it. The party/anthem rock is continued however. 'Feeling Good To Me' starts out like a Rick Springfield number, and stays within that pop/rock zone for the duration. DC Star get a bit more expansive with 'Fortune Teller', one of the better tracks here, Taylor sounds a lot like Tony Mills on this one, with his vocal heading off into the stratosphere.

From here on in (tracks 6-10), the material is all live. Admittedly DC Star sound great, and much of these tracks can be found on their Vol1 and Vol2 CD's which have recently been reissued by Retrospect Records. 'Come Back To Me' is a fiery number, lots of guitar noodling and OTT vocals. I enjoyed the rather excellent 'Tell Me Like It Is', though I think I would've preferred to hear a studio version of this. 'They Call Her The Wild' is the highlight of the LP for me, with some glorious guitar work amid the big party metal sound. 'The Miller Song' is a brief excuse to play what was an obvious commercial for the big U.S beer brand. The finale 'Living In A Rock & Roll Whirl' is another party romp, which just goes to show what an impressive live band these guys must've been!

In Summary
During 1985, Taylor was involved in a serious car accident which prevented him from performing. Steve Whiteman from Kix stood in as cover, but when Taylor returned, he only stayed on for a short term, and left the band before the year was up. DC Star have reconvened for the odd reunion show, the last being back in 2002. Good on Retrospect Records for locating those earlier DC Star releases and putting them out as digital CD's. You can find them on the Retrospect site. A good band worth investigating.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on January 24 2010 17:57:12
I used to own this and a couple of the vinyl Eps...didn't impress me that much over time, so they went in my 90s purge. Sure I have a version of the band covering 'Dear Prudence' on tape somewhere. Now that was impressive.
#2 | gdazegod on January 24 2010 23:16:30
What about that STARZ reference Reyno? Any truth to that story I wonder?
#3 | Nick C on January 26 2010 12:30:14
I grabbed this from Shades back in the day and it popped thru the post on a miserable wet day....I remember because the card packing was damp on one corner and I thought the sleeve might have been soaked wasn't.
But it didn't brighten my day any I'm afraid...and as Dave did above, I sold it but way before the 90's kicked in heh!
Just found it boring and nothing really out of the ordinary even back then.
#4 | reyno-roxx on January 26 2010 19:30:17
George, I must admit to not having heard that Starz story..I reckon that's more spin on Mr Taylor's part. Bill Trainor from Face Dancer might know. He knows everyone in DC from that period!
#5 | super80boy on November 01 2015 00:00:09
I'm based in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, so I see this record a bunch in the local stores. Personally, I have the Escape Records version of it, which doesn't have the Brownsville Station cover. 'I Wanna Rock Tonite' has a fairly catchy chorus that keeps things interesting. The standout is 'Fortune Teller', the guitar riffs and operatic vocals are killer. Side B's live versions are good, but studio versions would have definitely had better listening impact. 'Come Back To Me' and 'Tell Me Like It Is' are top cuts with fiery guitar work, but again, I can only imagine what a fully produced studio version would have sounded like. It's disappointing DC Star split this with live and studio versions…should have been all studio versions.

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