Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Midnight Star - 15th Avenue - 2002 - Reel Star

A group that I considered 'missing in action', it was after a gap of 13 years this album popped up in 2002! Here, I tend to lean towards the mid / up tempo tracks and the ballads take more of a back seat. The trademark sound of the Midnight Star I know and love from the 80s is especially encapsulated on a number of songs, so what this group have done far exceeded any expectations I had of a return to the studio. Dealing with the uptempo tracks first, it is from track 3 there is little that I cannot recommend! There are two versions of the title track – both are good but I have to plumb for the "Old School Mix" which is a true 80s inspired rump shaker that utilises the sweet vocals of McArthur and Belinda Lipscomb. They sound as good as they did way back in the days of "Headlines" and such like. Play this loud! It’s obvious that the group have aimed to target new audiences alongside their established fan base. They have, I suspect, succeeded on both counts and have done a sterling effort.

The funky "I Like (When You Dance With Me)" uses a sampled vocal refrain (I think!) from Caron Wheeler’s "I Adore You". "VIP" brings back past memories and is complimented by a keyboard line that reminds me of Portrait's "Lovin’ You Is Ah-Ight". Great dancer, this. “Out Tonight" reminds me of Sam Salter's “Your Face” a little and a GLORIOUS example of modern groove n’ soul. Onto the ballads then: "Hooked On You" is just lovely and harks back to the late 80s and the harmonies on here are tight. The interplay between McArthur and Bo Watson are impeccable. Bo Watson & McArthur have written a number of songs for other artists throughout the 1990s, and they wrote the brilliant "Turn Down The Lights" for Shanice Wilson on her "21 Ways To Grow" CD on Motown and if you, like me, loved that song then "Caught Up In The Moment" will be very much to your taste. The heart wrenching "Should Have Been Me" is also good as is the melancholy "Just Because I love You". One of the better ballads is the Babyface inspired "We Were Meant To Be" which harks back to the classy late 80s sound of After 7, Karyn White and The Whispers. I highly rate this CD and can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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