CD Review of Greatest Hits Live by Starz

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Greatest Hits Live
starstarno starno starno star Label: GB Music
Released: 2004
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Who the hell were Starz? That’s a good question, and if you fancy yourself as much of a rock fan as I do, especially the classic rock vintage, then don’t feel too bad. Apparently these guys could have been the next big thing at the time, but record label promotion and the usual sort of goof-ups prevented this from actually happening. The band released four studio albums during its time, including the hilariously titled Attention Shoppers! and Coliseum Rock. The CD we have here, Greatest Hits Live, is, of course, a posthumous release.

So let me just start off by saying this in regards to the album’s cover art: Bwaaaahahahahaha! No, seriously. This thing looks like one of those terrible bootleg albums you’d find being sold at a dumpy flea market. The dudes in the band are all rocking out ‘70s style, chest hair exposed, complete with a mix of pained, distracted, tough, and just plain bored looks on their faces. The back cover photo is smoother, and Starz looks menacing! Now let’s listen to this baby. It’s gotta be rocktastic!

Ugh. What’s with this horrible sound? Oh, I see. It was recorded with a four-track recorder. Are you serious? These guys, on a major label at the time, could only muster up a four-track to record their live shows? Ah, but the opening bit is priceless! They’re opening with a song called “Fallen Angel” while the drums do a little thing, and then the guitar. The lead singer screams “Eeeeyeah! It’s gonna be ALL RIGHT!” as the riff begins. And then, from outer space, comes the announcement: “Cleveland, Ohio! This corner! That corner…there, in that corner…weighing in at 32,000 pounds, we have the next heavyweight champion of the world…STAHHZZZZ!”

Christ, this sound really is muddy and distorted, even though they managed to squeeze some decent stereo separation out of the mix. But who wants their music to sound like it’s being blasted out of pair of three-inch speakers? This is typical cornball ‘70s hard rock schlock. For what it’s worth, these guys were represented by Bill Aucoin, who also had KISS on his platter. Now you tell me which band you’d rather be dealing with if it was the late ‘70s.

But let’s get back to the between-song outbursts. They’re the best thing on the album, bar none. If you get this CD, you will be able to enjoy such moments as:

“WOO! Yeah!”

“Whoa! How you feelin’ tonight Cleveland?! YEAH! You ready to do it with us tonight?! HEEYEAH! I’ll tell ya just so you know who you’re cheerin’ fah! My name is Michael! This is Peter back heah! C’mon, let’s hear it for him! YEAH! C’mon you can yell all you want to tonight, this is your pahty! That’s Dube up there! DUBE! This is Bren-dannn! And ovah heah…on lead guitar, this is Richie! And he’s gonna touch your thing…to LIVE WIAHHHH!” (“Live Wire” is then cranked out.)

“ALL RIGHT! How many of y’all (indiscriminate) rock and roll women out here tonight? We got anyuhyuh SWEET YOUNG THINGS out theyuh?! Yeah! Well that’s good, cuz this fuh you.” (An ungodly rawk cheeseball called “Detroit Girls” is then played. Clichés, anyone? Oh wait, they switched it up and made it “Cleveland Girls.” How obvious.)

“ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT! HOWYOO LIKE IT?! EEYEAH! WOOO! Now we got one for the boys! It’s called…’Night…Crawluh.’”

“Are you READY TO ROCK?!” (“Boys in Action” is then destroyed.)

That’s the first half of the album. Suddenly, it’s another Starz show and this half sounds a lot better, production-wise. Sounds like the band moved up to eight tracks. They open with “She,” another rote fluffer that Sweet could have decimated. Cheap Trick could have made this song a thousand times better as well.

And now back to the between-song patter.

“You know, I’ve been readin’ all this stuff in the sports pages in the newspaper about how…Kentucky’s number one. But, we found that out the first time we ever came and played here. We didn’t need no newspaper to tell us that. When we like a town, we come back for more and more and more, so…I wanna sing this song especially for Louisville tonight, everybody who’s here and everybody who’s listenin’ on the radio. And everybody who’s gonna hear y’all on the album. This one’s called ‘Any Way That You Want It.’ I’ll be there.” (Said song is finally kicked into gear and it’s a semi-slower one with no steam. So tender.)

The band then plays “Cherry Baby,” which was apparently a tune that got some decent airplay, but again, it sounds like a tired copy of more popular stuff at the time. Then, after 1:04 of noodling we hear that the show is now being relayed from the El Mocambo. Great. A mishmash of live shows. “Rock Six Times” ensues, and it’s competent bar band boogie. No one seems too excited. They then cut into “Coliseum Rock.”

“Well all riiiggght! Well all riiggght! Let ‘em hear ya, c’mon now, you’ll be on the radio, let’s go!” (No one gives a shit and remains quiet.) “(Indiscriminate)…FUCKIN’ RIGHT!” (Yeah, that will surely ensure radio play. Great move, Einstein.)

“Let’s take a little trip to New York City for some ‘Subway…TERRORRRRRRR!’”

“We gonna do one! It’s about! There’s two things I love in this world it’s fast motorcycles and fast women and I’ll get on any one any time andgotoitthisiscalled…’TAKE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!’”

“Ow! Take me, baby! Thank you, Toronto! You’ve been fantastic, man. Good night, thank you!”

And thus ends a really mediocre live disc from a really mediocre ‘70s band. Sure, you can read up on these guys and see how they influenced much bigger stars, but the fact remains that these guys were cookie cutter rock at its most flaccid and it’s no real surprise that they never really went anywhere major.

Apparently Cleveland and Louisville really dug ‘em, though.

~Jason Thompson