Red Star

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Titled for the railroad courier service of the same name (the album's sleeve replicates one of their parcels), Showaddywaddy's fourth album was released on the back of their latest hit, "When," in late 1977. Following in the tradition of its predecessors, Red Star splits its contents between band originals (six of the 13 songs) and the covers which were the staple fare of the band's singles catalog, although it is difficult to say which is which -- a tribute to the strength of both the band's writing and the idiosyncrasies of their sound. That the band had developed into little more than a supercharged revival act can never be disputed. But the revival itself had never taken off in Britain, leaving Showaddywaddy to glory in a field of exactly one. And how they gloried. In keeping with the band's established practice, three of the original album cuts became major hits ("You Got What It Takes" and "Dancin' Party" followed "When" up the U.K. listings), and modesty alone surely prevented a genuinely stomping revision of "Something Else" and a heartfelt "Listen to Me" from being sent to join them. It is band originals "68 Teenage Queen," "In Above Your Head," and the closing "Swansong" which best illustrate Showaddywaddy's brilliance, though balancing a keen sense of nostalgia with a definite awareness that half the band's fans weren't even alive when the epoch they evoke was first around. Indeed, that might well be why Showaddywaddy's best albums have steadfastly refused to age, no matter how deeply their inspirations sink into the mists of history. For its CD debut, Red Star packs a solid eight bonus tracks, all drawn from period singles: "I Wonder Why," "A Little Bit of Soap," and the maniacally catchy "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" were all hits during 1978; the remainder were non-LP B-sides.

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