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RADIO STARS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Songs for Swinging Lovers (UK Chiswick) 1977

Britain's Radio Stars generally had more good ideas than they knew what to do with. On their two original albums they play fast-moving pop/rock with heavy overtones and a penchant for bizarre lyrical matter. On Songs for Swinging Lovers (even the cover is a poorly executed great idea), they come on like a 1977 version of singer Andy Ellison's legendary '60s psychedelic pop outfit, John's Children; faster and louder, but still decidedly off-center. Bassist/producer Martin Gordon, fresh from a stint in Sparks (a band many compared to John's Children), supplies the odd ditties, covering such topics as rotting corpses, rapists and macaroni'n'mice casseroles. He even adds a jingle for the group's label, "Buy Chiswick Records." If Gordon's way with a tune were always up to his words, the band might have lived up to its name. But the quality of the material is too inconsistent to sustain interest for a whole album — there's too much dull, repetitive riffing.

The Holiday Album suffers from much the same malady as its predecessor: too many throwaways. For that reason, Two Minutes, Mister Smith, a posthumous compilation of singles and choice album tracks, is the Radio Stars album to own. The group's achieved almost all of its heights on singles, especially the brilliant "From a Rabbit," a kitchen-sink pop production number of the highest order, included here.

[Dave Schulps]