ATLANTIC STARR: Atlantic Starr (Label: PTG, Vinyl Masterpiece)

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ATLANTIC STARR: Atlantic Starr

Formed around a nucleus comprising siblings Wayne, David and Jonathan Lewis, the New York soul and funk aggregation, Atlantic Starr, are best remembered in the UK for their slushy 1987 ballad, ‘Always.’ However, they began their recording career nine years earlier in 1978 with a self-titled LP on A&M. Never released on CD before, that eponymous debut has just been remastered and reissued by Holland’s redoubtable Vinyl Masterpiece label. Though not as strong or well-known as 1982’s ‘Brilliance’ – arguably the nine-member group’s best ever long player – ‘Atlantic Starr’ has a lot to recommend it and if you missed it first time around, it’s worth picking up. Recorded in Los Angeles with Philly songwriter/producer and MFSB member Bobby Eli at the helm, it yielded two Billboard chart entries – the funkafied, brassy, opener, ‘Stand Up,’ and ‘Keep It Comin’,’ the latter a lush, dreamy, mid-tempo duet featuring the vocals of original chanteuse Sharon Bryant and David Lewis. Though the disco inferno was still burning brightly in 1978, Atlantic Starr resisted the urge to jump wholeheartedly on the glitter ball bandwagon – of course, there are perceptible traces of the disco style on this album (opulent orchestral flourishes and slurping hi-hat figures) but the group inject a stylish soulfulness that’s more in keeping with the sophistication of Earth, Wind & Fire and The Commodores rather than, say, A Taste Of Honey. Besides the singles, the highlights include the ballad ‘(I’ll Never Miss) The Love I Never Had,’ the mid-tempo ‘With Your Love I Come Alive’ and the earthy funk groove, ‘Gimme You Luvin’.’ Though not achieving the creative heights of their early ’80s work, ‘Atlantic Starr’ is nevertheless a solid, eminently listenable piece of work and as debuts go, pretty impressive. My only complaint is that the group didn’t use the distinctively creamy contralto vocals of Sharon Bryant enough on the record – she only has two solo spots on the album, ‘Being In Love With You Is So Much Fun’ and the delicious mellow ballad, ‘We Got It Together,’ as well as a brace of duets. Of course, she would feature more prominently on the group’s later records. Collectors should note that the 45 edit version of their Top 20 R&B hit, ‘Stand Up,’ is included as a bonus track.
(CW) 4/5