1980, Stellar, reissue LP, SR 2549COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
Sharon Jordan - vocals, strings * Doug Watkins - vocals, strings * Chris Smith - guitars * Gilbert Jones - guitars * Sam Arnold - bass * Ron Holt - drumsTRACK 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
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 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'.
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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