‘Attention Shoppers’ ushered in a change of direction for Starz, delivering AOR and power pop but the wider public were not convinced, for their fourth vinyl, they decided to add a little power back to the AOR theme and the result was ‘Coliseum Rock’.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ALBUM: Coliseum Rock
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Lee Smith – vocals * Richie Ranno – guitars * Bobby Messano – guitars * Orville Davis – bass * Joe X Dube – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 So Young So Bad * 02 Take Me * 03 No Regrets * 04 My Sweet Child * 05 Don’t Stop Now * 06 Outfit * 07 Last Night I Wrote A Letter * 08 Coliseum Rock * 09 It’s A Riot * 10 Where Will It End
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The first two Starz albums (‘Starz’ and ‘Violation’) caused a big fuss among the hard rock press, and are hailed as classics to this day. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why, because the next two were far better in terms of melody, consistency and a move toward Hard AOR.
‘Attention Shoppers’ ushered in the change of direction, delivering AOR and power pop such as ‘Hold On To The Night’, ‘She’ and ‘Anyway That You Want It’, but the wider public were not convinced. For their fourth vinyl, Starz decided to add a little power back to the AOR theme and the result was ‘Coliseum Rock’.
‘Coliseum Rock’ kicks off with ‘So Young So Bad’ , sporting one of the more memorable AOR hooks and a great singalong candy floss chorus, it reached a creditable # 81 on the Billboard singles chart, proudly waving the AOR banner to this day. ‘Take Me’ is fairly self explanatory, and initially comes across as a little under-melodic. A few listens reveals a hidden tunefulness though.
‘No Regrets’ picks up the boogie reigns and rides the pony all the way to melodic heaven! Boston showed that a boogie track could be infused with melody and a big chorus (Smokin’), and Starz achieve their own version of that concept here with pleasing AOR results. Bad Company territory is invaded for ‘My Sweet Child’, a midtempo come ballad that could’ve fit onto ‘Straight Shooter’ quite comfortably. Not the most immediate song, but quite compelling the more you hear it, truth be told.
‘Don’t Stop Now’ continues the slight derivative bent by being pure Aerosmith circa ‘Toys In The Attic’ or ‘Rocks’. One of those fast and aggressive rockers dripping with attitude, at odds with the more melodic material around it but cheeky enough to be entertaining anyway.
‘Outfit’ remains one of rock’s more endearing tracks with it’s ‘top down on the highway’ strut, 1950’s rock n roll melodies and memorable lyrics (come on Theresa and let me into your outfit …) It’s followed by the album highlight ‘Last Night I Wrote A Letter’ – twin harmony guitars and killer AOR vocal melodies make it sound like Kiss taking Boston lessons!
‘Coliseum Rock’ turns into an instrumental tour de force. I’m not a big fan of instrumentals, and although this is listenable, you can’t help feeling that a little more work could’ve resulted in a great complete song. ‘It’s A Riot’ gets us out of the ditch though, pulsating and melodic not unlike Angel without the keyboards, definitely a tick in the positive column.
The original album closes with ‘Where Will It End’, appropriate considering it would be 12 years until the next Starz release! Acoustic leanings in the first minute belie the momentous rocker it becomes, not unlike Aerosmith meets Thin Lizzy with a little extra melody thrown into the mix.
In 1990 Starz came back with a release called ‘Requiem’, a combination of b-sides, live tracks and a few new gems. The two best of these new gems are featured on this reissue as bonus tracks, namely Vidi OD and You Called His Name – the former a tongue in cheek melodic rocker, the latter a great period power ballad with all the plaintive guitar you’d find in any given Def Leppard ballad but far more soulful in delivery.
All four original albums have been reissued by Rykodisc (complete with their trademark green cases!), including bonus tracks and great liner notes, even several archival photos.. If you like your AOR with a little power, check them out. Hell, if you’re into decent music check them out!
Entire Album (Select Tracks)