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Monday, March 8, 2010

(the) Belle Stars - s/t

Name: The Belle Stars
Album: s/t
Year: 1983
Style: Pop, Disco, New Wave, World
Similar Bands: Waitresses, Bananarama, Bangles, Weather Girls
"One-Word" Review: Girl-Power-World-Disco
Based Out Of: England
Label: Stiff Records, Warner Bros.,
Belle Stars - Cover & Record
Belle Stars - Back & Record


  1. Belle Stars (1983)
  1. Sign of the Times 2:54
    2. Ci Ya Ya 2:40
    3. The Clapping Song 3:13
    4. Indian Summer 3:49
    5. Harlem Shuffle 3:24
    6. The Reason 4:03 /
    7. Iko Iko 3:01
    8. Baby I'm Yours 3:41
    9. Mockingbird 3:26
    10. The Snake 3:23
    11. Burning 3:41
    12. Neddle In A Haystack 2:40
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jennie McKeown- Vox (Skaville UK, The Dance Brigade, 1-STOP-EXPERIENCE)
Sarah Jane Owen - Guitar (Body Snatchers)
Stella Barker - Guitar (Body Snatchers)
Penny Leyton - Keys (Body Snatchers, Deltones)
Miranda Joyce - Sax (Body Snatchers)
Clare Hirst - Sax, Keys
Lesley Shone - Bass
Judy Parsons - Drums (Body Snatchers)
Brian Tench - Producer
Pete Collins - Producer
Phil Chapman - Engineer
Pete Hammond - Engineer
Julian Mendelsohn - Engineer
Phil Harding - Engineer
Pete Wingfield - Producer
Alvin Clark - Engineer
Martin Ditcham - Percussion
Graham Broad - Percussion
Iain McKell - Photography, Sleeve Concept
Terry Day - Colour Tinting

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this group. And although the style of the head shots are in a turn-off 80’s urban cowboy style, I liked the Brady Bunch layout, and the simple red, black and pastel format: Especially on the back, where it looks like a 9 panel wall of color samples from ACE hardware. I do like the fact that it is an all girl group, and the date sounded like it might offer some good Go-Go’s like cuts.

Album Review: “Sign of the Times” is a jangley song that feels like the Waitresses song “I Know What Boys Like.” The chorus is fun, repetitive. The verse feels like a Motown Jackson 5 single. The song breaks form and has dialogue over top the jangely guitar. It is a very fun song all together, with enough alterations of the melody to keep it interesting, and to keep you anticipating the variations.
“Ci Ya Ya” is a Spanish disco song, with a yippy chorus and salsa rhythm. It is not much more for dimension than that, except for a brass flourish here or there.
“The Clapping Song” rap song in the spirit of a school yard jump rope skipping chant. There are odd new wave synth sounds in the background, but it is all in effort to make the chant feel juvenile and instructional. The actual lyrics are taken from childhood poems and rhyme schemes.
“Indian Summer” is a slower, sensual shower of a song. Combined with the title in mind, it stirs an image of a head swaying, moon light canoe trip. I still catch elements of disco, if only in the production of the vocals and the buried sound of the bass.
“Harlem Shuffle” is slow and slinky, with bluesy trumpet, and alley cat keys and guitar bursts. It is not dancy, like a song named “shuffle” usually would be. I could see it as a slow dance number in the musical “Chicago.”
“The Reason” brings up the pace again to a rushed, but sinister rhythm that feels like a shady back alley bar or 3am diner.

“Iko Iko” features a Caribbean rhythm and a simple fun rhyme scheme that feels like a little girls schoolyard chant, or perhaps a traditional island song. The end repeats so much that it kinda sounds like the record is skipping.
“Baby I'm Yours” feels a little like a Blondie (or Queen) rap song in the verse. It breaks out into a catchy pop song with the chorus. The song has many layers to it, and also comes off feeling like a Madness song. I know some of the members went on to form ska bands, so perhaps the undertones in this song were the early resumes; especially with the combination of the sax & bass.
“Mockingbird” is just as repetitively annoying as the original children’s rhyme. Their version is sassed up with Pointer Sisters soul. The brass and rhythm of the song feel Caribbean again.
“The Snake” is a loungy, jagged throaty song, sung like it was from a 20’s night club with all the sinister-cism of prohibition and smoke-fill booths you could think of. It is a story song in metaphore about, obviously enough, a slippery moraled man.
“Burning” brings up the pace again, with a theatrical music score with vocals similar to the Weather Girls. Bongos give it an underlying salsa & disco rhythm (and even sounds a bit like the Eurythmics in the way the vocals echo).
“Needle in a Haystack” feels like another childhood chant put to a percussive Adam Ant stomp. All the vocals harmonize together to form one aggressive voice.

Stand Out Track: Sign of the Times

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