- Album name: Starland Vocal Band
- Group name: Starland Vocal Band
- Year: 1976
- Number of discs: one
- Label: Windsong Records
- Collection: Selman
- Buy it on Amazon: $3.00
Level of familiarity before listening
I had vaguely heard of Starland Vocal Band before, but was not sure where or how. My parents told me three things about it:
- Starland Vocal Band was responsible for the song Afternoon Delight.
- John Denver was associated with Starland Vocal Band in some way.
- Starland Vocal Band was from the Washington DC area (where I grew up and where my parents lived for half a century) and my mother might have seen them perform at the Cellar Door.
And I realized a fourth thing:
- The names on the back of the album, including Bill Danoff and Taffy Danoff, sounded awfully familiar to me, and it seems that I reviewed Welcome To Fat City by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert (1972) seven weeks ago. It was pretty good.
What I expected
Soft rock with some country and folk.
What it was actually like
Listening to Afternoon Delight now intentionally for the first time, it was difficult for me to believe that this song was ever popular at all, let alone so wildly popular. It wasn’t bad, either, so I also couldn’t understand why so many people consider it the worst song ever made. I felt the same way about it when I watched PCU (possibly for the first time since the 1990s) a few months ago and the movie used Afternoon Delight as a plot device to torture the baddies, while the goodies got to listen to a P/Funk concert. My assumption at the time was just that it was a low budget movie and they needed to choose a song whose record company would negotiate an inexpensive fee – not that anyone seriously considered it that awful.
Anyway, mostly this record was about vocal harmonies, which was also a recurring theme on Welcome To Fat City.
I liked the harmony a lot on Baby, You Look Good to Me Tonight, a great country song with banjo and some Dylan style vocals. It was also strong on California Day, a soft rock song that sounded very 1960s. Ain’t It the Fall was another song that was all about the vocal harmonies, but was pretty boring otherwise.
A few of the songs started out sounding one way, and then sounded like something pretty different by the end. War Surplus Baby, for example, started as easy listening, but by the time the electric guitar kicked in, it was more of a rock song, and Starting All Over Again was another that started pretty bad, but picked up much more as the energy got more charged.
American Tune reminded me a little bit of a Xmas carol, and I couldn’t quite place the sound of Starland, but it sounded at times like a lullaby, or possibly the theme song of a television program (and I did not like its harmonies very much).
I liked the steel guitar on Boulder to Birmingham, but it didn’t have enough of a country sound to rescue it from easy listening hell.
Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll! was the most unusual song on the record and probably my favorite, a tribute to 1950s rock and roll (and Chuck Berry in particular) in a medley format and in the “fauxldies” style that I coined when reviewing Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture.
4/5: would listen again
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