1982's Nine Lives found Stargard returning to MCA (a label it had left in 1979) after a two-album stay at Warner Bros. With Debra Anderson having left the group in 1980, Rochelle Runnells and Janice Williams were carrying on as a duo. Unfortunately, they lost the commercial momentum that they had in 1977-1978, and this LP (which was Stargard's fifth and final album) didn't help them regain it. In fact, the record received very little attention. Nine Lives marked the first time that a Stargard album was produced by Runnells, who wrote or co-wrote five of the songs. Die-hard Stargard enthusiasts hoped that Nine Lives would be an improvement over 1981's uneven Back 2 Back, but regrettably, this LP is disappointing more often that not. Stargard, for the most part, sounds like a group that has run out of steam. Nonetheless, the record has its moments. Nine Lives gets off to a fairly impressive start with a passionate cover of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart," which was a major hit for Diana Ross and the Supremes in the '60s. The sleek "True Love" is a likable urban contemporary number, and the rock-influenced "Lovers or Friends" (which Williams co-wrote) isn't unlike something the Pointer Sisters would have recorded in the early '80s. But most of the material is pedestrian, and when this album bombed commercially, Stargard broke up. Like 1981's Back 2 Back, Nine Lives is strictly for completists.
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