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.