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Star People

Black Tie & Tails

Review by Gary Hill

I've been a fan of Star People since they originally made their presence known. They had an unusual schtick - or perhaps several. For one thing they were said to be extraterrestrials visiting Earth and bringing their musical magic to the world. The other part of the schtick was the fact that while they were overall a prog rock band, one of their two lead singers, William "The Teacher" Olland was essentially a crooner - or lounge singer, depending on how you look at it. Schtick or not, it really worked.

Star People released two albums before hanging it up way back when. I was fortunate to get to see them live a couple times while they were still around. The thing is, they actually recorded a third album at the time. It was just never released, until now. That album makes up the first disc of this set, and I have to say that I think had it been released it would have been their crowning achievement. As good as the other two albums were, that one definitely surpasses them.

There is a second disc here, of even newer recordings, put together in 2021. It's almost as good as the first disc, or perhaps on an equal footing. That makes this double disc set their best release to my mind. It's just so strong. Unfortunately, since Olland has passed away, it's also likely to be the final music we'll ever get from this great band.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
                     
Nine original 2001 songs newly remastered
                             
I, Starman

Synthesizer brings this up with style. Other instruments join after a time, and we're off into a cool prog groove. The combination of two different vocal styles works well. The violin adds some real magic to the piece. The climbing movement makes me think of a prog version of Zeppelin's "Kashmir" just a little. There is some seriously heavy stuff at times on this cut. A smoking hot instrumental break later has a proggier version of old school Deep Purple vibe at times. The bass driving it is so cool, and there is a bit of an (appropriate) space rock edge to the number. The dueling solos on guitar and violin work so well.

Twister
The bass that starts this is tastefully psychotic, fast-paced and so cool. As the other instruments join, this drive out with a real ferocity. Yet it's about as proggy as you can get with rapid fire twists and turns. There are a few vocals on this, but it's more or less an instrumental piece.
Space & Time
A mellower approach is on the menu at the start of this. It grows as a ballad. This never really grows far beyond its origins, but it works well.
Marriage In Space
A trippy atmospheric musical texture serves as the backdrop for a spoken vocal as this epic piece gets underway. After that section, some bass rises up to lay down cool lines and hint at a new direction. Female vocals by Lorenza Ponce take over from there. The cut evolves into a more rocking jam from there. It drops back down beyond that movement for a reprise of the female vocal section. We get another rocking journey that combines male and female vocals. Then it powers out into a fast-paced jam with some tastefully theatric and almost sci-fi-like vocals. There is a great space rock jam with some fusion elements at the core of this section. The cut continues to evolve with some really soaring movements from there. This keeps twisting and turning as it continues. After some great exploration, a droning, hard-rocking movement serves for another theatrical vocal bit. Ponce's non-lyrical soaring vocals come over after that. Then she answers with her violin from there. The closing movement is a real powerhouse extension of what we've heard before.
Queen Of Space
There is some serious funk on the menu here. There is a definite jazz vibe to this to some degree. Still, it's proggy and so tasty. This is less crazed in terms of the changes than some of the other cuts are, but it's also strong. I love the guitar solo on the tune.
The White & Black
I love the jazz vibe on this. It still has plenty of proggy elements, but this has an almost musical theater thing in place. There is also some crunchy guitar built into this thing.
Where Did My Life Go
A mellow and symphonic backdrop serves as the backdrop for balladic crooner-styled vocals. This song is less than a minute long.
A Trillion Miles To Hollywood
There is a cool bluesy, jazzy vibe at play on this cut. Yet, there is also a trippy space rock vibe. This number just oozes cool.
Move Nearer The Sun
A cool music groove serves as the backdrop for a largely spoken part at the beginning of this. The cut grows outward from there for a sung chorus. The spoken voice returns to deliver lines here and there. This has a real Beatles-like vibe at play a lot of the time. It's melodic, proggy and so cool. Teacher gets a longer vocal section that comes closer to sung further down the road. Harder rocking stuff emerges later as this continues to evolve.
A Day In The Life
Speaking of the Beatles, here they do their own version of the classic song from the fab-four. Parts of this are played pretty faithfully, while they turn the space-out later much proggier. This works so well. There is some strange radio signal type stuff at the end.
Disc 2
                           
Ten new songs recorded and mastered 2021
                       
Hot Blue Star

This comes in heavy and hard rocking. There is a real glam rock turned prog vibe to this thing. It's potent and theatrical and so cool. It has some really screaming moments. The cut gets really crazed, but then shifts to a tasty funky groove that becomes the closing movement.

Twisted
A driving opening section that is rather metallic gives way to some almost freeform fusion jamming. The number combines those two elements as it continues. This instrumental piece is a real powerhouse jam.
Regal
I love the interplay between synthesizer and violin as this thing gets underway. This is another effective instrumental piece. It has a different flavor than the one that preceded it, but it's every bit as strong.
Quantum
I really dig the cool groove and vocal arrangement on this tune. The number has plenty of great instrumental moments. It's another that seems to have both glam rock and prog elements at play. There are so many twists and turns and varied movements on this thing.
Wild Granny
Heavy and rather metallic as it gets underway, this has a mellower, almost jazzy prog arrangement at times along the road. The track is very dynamic with all kinds of different movements and elements at play. It's dramatic and powerfully theatrical.
No More Stars
Another powerhouse rocker, this has hard edges, prog shifts and changes and such a sense of cool. It's space rock meets glam rock meets more pure prog and a lot more.
The Pact
There are some decidedly melodic moments here. This cut has some great prog grooves and a lot of style and charm. While it's overall not as heavy as some of the rest, there are some moments that bring some crunch. I really dig the space rock sort of vibe to this number so much. The extended guitar solo really soars and explores some great sonic territory. 
The Morning Star
There is a soulful feeling to this cut early. The number works out to more of a driving, space rock turned prog approach as it continues. The soulful section returns later. This cut turns out to a smoking hot, driving space rock styled jam at the end to eventually take the piece to its ending.
Exit, Stage Left
An old-school jazzy piano brings this in with some bluesy angles. Vocals come over the top, lending an authenticity to that format. That holds the cut for almost a minute-and-a-half. Then a cool proggy space rock jam enters to take the track in new directions. This has some great science fiction textures added by sounds like theremin. This continues working through various twists and turns. It gets decidedly funky for a while. The cut drives in some amazing directions as it continues to paint a spacey vibe. It (and the album) ends with a short acapella section.
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