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Dark Star - 1981 Dark Star

ARTIST: Dark Star
ALBUM: Dark Star
LABEL: Avatar
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2009, Krrescendo, KRECD43 * 2013, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY183 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Rik Staines - vocals * Dave Harrison - guitar * Bob Key - guitar * Mark Oseland - bass * Steve Atkins - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Kaptain Amerika * 02 Backstreet Killer * 03 The Musician * 04 Lady of Mars * 05 Louisa * 06 Rockbringer * 07 Lady Love * 08 Green Peace

Much like the recently reviewed Chevy album 'The Taker', English band Dark Star are also nearly identically cast from the same metallic forge of the NWOBHM era. There are a few similarities, especially signed to the same label Avatar Records, the style of early metal that they played, and also (though years later), seeing their LP's reissued on CD by Rock Candy Records. Birmingham based Dark Star had been there or thereabouts during the late 70's. First named as Berlin, they had to change handles due to the American band beating them to the punch. A single of their best known track 'Lady Of Mars' was released, plus it was issued on the 1980 EMI compilation 'Metal For Muthas II', which at least put their name in lights. Now signed to Avatar, the original recording for 'Dark Star' was self-produced in tandem with Pete Chalcraft, and was recording during sessions between Jan and Feb 1981.

The Songs
The LP contained just the eight tracks, of which 'Lady Of Mars' was the standout. All of the tracks are really likeable in their own way. The band had played at least six of these songs quite regularly, so were able to bash them out quite quickly during the brief recording window afforded them. According to Malcolm Dome's liner notes in the 2013 Rock Candy reissue, singer Rick Staines stated that 'Lady Of Mars' was not re-recorded, so the version on the single, the 'Metal For Muthas II' release as well as this LP are one and the same. Dark Star's sound lean toward the metal side of the fence, though it has melodic touches and gritty delivery. The two songs which provide the contrast is the acoustic 'The Musician', and the slow-tempo 'Green Peace'. The Rock Candy reissue contains seven bonus tracks, so you get great value for money on the CD.

In Summary
Unfortunately, Dark Star did not kick on after the 1981 LP. Staines left the band due to internal disagreements about their future direction. As he was the catalyst for holding things together, the band eventually dissolved. The band did release a reunion/follow-up six years later. 'Reel To Reel' (issued by Fm Revolver) was definitely an album borne of the studio, as Dark Star didn't get out into the pubs, bars and venues to promote it. It was pitched at the AOR audience, so it might interest some of the GDM regulars who might want to follow it up. As at August 2016, 'Real To Reel' gets an official CD release on Greek label No Remorse Records. Of course, this Dark Star s/t album got an official Rock Candy CD reissue in 2013, so it should be easy to pick up on CD now.

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