For those who like their music laid back, Stark And McBrien is filled with aural images of dusty roads, blowing winds across the prairie and the love left behind, this series of heartfelt vignettes is a crowd pleaser.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Stark And McBrien
ALBUM: Big Star
SERIAL: APL1 1065
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Fredrik Stark – vocals * Rod McBrien – vocals
Additional Musicians: Andy Munson – bass * Rick Marotta, Christopher Parker – drums * Don Grolick, Kenny Asher, Arthur Jenkins – keyboards * Al Gorgoni, Sal DiTroia, Hugh McCracken – guitars * David Spinozza – guitars, backing vocals * Warren Bernhardt – synthesizers * Hubert Laws – flute * Randal Brecker – trumpet * Mike Brecker – tenor sax * Katie Irving, Kay Colman, Tina Kaplan, Dave Mani – backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Big Star * 02 Brand New Life * 03 Yesterday Forever * 04 They Up And Died * 05 We’ve Got Time * 06 Isn’t It Lonely Together * 07 The Price You Pay * 08 A Page Torn Out Of Me * 09 Concrete Lions * 10 Sad Eyes
Many of you of a certain age will remember the late ’60s bubblegum single ‘Finders Keepers’ by the group Salt Water Taffy. A too cute tune from an innocent time, yet unlike many bands (or session players posing as a band) that raked in teenybopper pennies by the shovel full.
Releasing nothing more than a 45 or two, Salt Water Taffy got around to recording a full album of sunshiny soft rock similar to The Association and The Fifth Dimension, leaving the sticky-goo behind.
The mastermind behind that single and album was New York based songwriter Rod McBrien who was groomed in the Brill Building school of pop song craft. Fast forwarding to the brown and orange early ’70s and several successful collaborations under his belt, McBrien teamed up with fellow jingle writer Fredrik Stark, wood shedding material for Stark And McBrien’ s one and only long player ‘Big Star’.
For those who like their music laid back, filled with aural images of dusty roads, blowing winds across the prairie and the love left behind, this series of heartfelt vignettes is a crowd pleaser.
Beautiful west coast with a light folk and country flavour, Stark And McBrien cover the same territory as Bread, Seals & Crofts, Lobo and Jim Croce although without a hit single ‘Big Star’ sank like yesterday’s sunset.
Why is a mystery as I think this record is a post-Woodstock-Watergate era masterpiece and is as sweet as it gets. The title track is a typical hitchhiker heading to L.A. with nothing but a guitar and knapsack tale as Stark And McBrien offer up stunning harmonies right up there with The Eagles.
Songs like ‘Brand New Life’, ‘Isn’t It Lonely Together’ and ‘A Page Torn Out Of Me’ won’t rock the house down, but are so achingly beautiful and understated, it’s easy to sit back in your favourite chair and take it all in with a glass of wine and a whole lot of mellow.
Following the end of their deal with RCA, Stark And McBrien signed to the Lifesong label recording a single ‘Home Again’ but its lack of chart action convinced the record company an LP was not a necessity and the duo split amicably. ‘Big Star’ was released on CD in Japan a few years ago without bonus tracks, although that should not deter you from picking up this American pop classic.
Isn’t It Lonely Together
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Think I’m gonna go on a treasure hunt for this. Quite enjoy this era of golden AM Radio pop.