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Dark Star - 'Dark Star' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c9/76/44/Dark-Star-Dark-Star-22-1381957529.jpg Hot

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Dark Star captured an urgency and enthusiasm that you just can't fake.

The second NWOBHM nearly men to have an album reissued this week are Birmingham's Dark Star, the quintet that first came to the attention of rock fans in 1980 with the seminal 'Lady Of Mars' when it was featured on the legendary compilation LP 'Metal For Muthas Vol.2'. Formed several years earlier by vocalist Rik Staines and guitarist Dave Harrison, the band formerly called Berlin and completed by guitarist Bob Key, bassist Mark Oseland and drummer Steve Atkins, had to change their name due to the Terri Nunn fronted US band of the same name. Signed later by the fledgling label Avatar, the band's first album was hastily recorded and co-produced by the band with Pete Chalcraft, and whilst it's not one of the better sounding records of the era, they certainly captured an urgency and enthusiasm that you just can't fake.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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With a fuzzy guitar sound that sounds like it's coming from an overloaded PA, the band nevertheless had a few fine songs and a good singer in Staines. There's energy aplenty running through the likes of the riff-heavy 'Kaptin America', 'Louisa' and 'Lady Love', along with good choruses and tuneful backing vocals. They were a highly musical bunch too as the acoustic-based 'The Musician' and Pink Floyd strains of 'Green Peace' demonstrate, whilst the longer, mid-paced 'Backstreet Killer' and 'Rockbringer' display a sense of dynamics that the production couldn't spoil. Their classic will always be 'Lady Of Mars', it's twin guitar work and irresistible rhythm standing up to scrutiny even today, and contrary to popular belief it wasn't re-recorded for the album and the version was the same as the self-released single from a year earlier.

There are no less than seven bonus tracks here, of which most are worthwhile, but the catchy 'Carry On' and the 'Lady Of Mars' B-side 'Rock 'N Romancin' are the pick of the bunch, whilst the poorly recorded live track 'Screaming' adds nothing to the package. The informative sleeve notes tell the story of another band who fell apart due to the ineptitude of their record label, and I agree with Malcolm Dome that the band were probably a bit ahead of their time, but a second album in 1987 and a line-up that's still largely involved in the music business (singer Staines would go on to be Magnum's tour manager and also manage the Stage Dolls) suggest that there may be life in the old dogs yet. Me, I still have an autographed copy of the album from their tour with Magnum in 1981.

Phil Ashcroft

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