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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fabulous Poodles - Mirror Stars

Name: Fabulous Poodles
Album: Mirror Stars
Year: 1978
Style: Pub Rock
Similar Bands: Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, J. Geils Band, Kinks, Blasters, Bad Finger, Big Star
"One-Word" Review: Power-Pub-Pop-Oldies
Based Out Of: England
Label: Park Lane Records, Epic, CBS

Mirror Stars - Cover & Sleeve

Mirror Stars - Back & Sleeve

Mirror Stars - Record
Mirror Stars (1978)
  1. Mirror Star 4:31
  2. Work Shy 3:28
  3. Chicago Boxcar 3:54
  4. Oh Cheryl 3:20
  5. Toy Town People 2:07/
  6. Mr Mike 3:38
  7. Roll Your Own 2:46
  8. B Movies 3:18
  9. Tit Photographer Blues 2:48
  10. Cherchez la Femme 3:38
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Tony Demeur - Vox, Guitar, Harmonica, Sitar, Jaws Harp (Corsairs, Daddy Stovepipe, Silly Balls)
Bob Suffolk - Keys
Bobby Valentino - strings, Vox (Electric Bluebirds)
Richie Robertson - Bass, Vox, Guitar, Keys, Percussion, Camera (Electric Bluebirds
Bryn B. Burrows - Drums, Vox (Freur, Underworld)
John Entwhistle - Producer (Who)
Cyrano - Engineered
Howard Kilgour - Engineering, Producer
Muff Winwood - Producer

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the Fabulous Poodles. I do love the campy name and the wonderful new wave cover art. It just screams Elvis Costello with the proper dress, glasses and hair, not to mention the smart sophisticated look of all the members with their outfits and business office setting. Setting that image against the name creates a complete & complex package of potentially fun, quirky, and intelligent music. Or so it would seem.

Album Review: Apparently this is a compilation of the first two British releases, compiled to sell in the American market. Apparently they did well initially, with their staying power fading away due to band turmoil and poor marketing.

“Mirror Star” has a power pop feel. The vocal harmonies just add to the power pop, and it does not really feel like New Wave at all. The song appeals to what I would assume a radio friendly single at the time, especially since the album is basically named for this song. The verse reminds me of a tighter Dramarama. And the chorus could be labeled as generic power pop.
“Work Shy” starts with more power guitar, and the song feels like more pub rock than anything that Elvis Costello was responsible for. There is no nervous jitteriness. Rather, it is confident and bluesy. More J. Geils Band than Gary Newman.
“Chicago Boxcar” sounds like a B Side from the Kink’s 70’s Southern Bluesy Rock stint. The vocals remind me of Tim Curry in “Sweet Transvestite,” as it does posess a bit of a show tuney quality. In fact the perfect description lies in the combination of these two comparisons: Rocky Horror and the Kink’s “Everyone’s A Star.”
“Oh Cheryl” is a bit of an oldies throwback to 50’s doo-wop love song, updated through the stylings of Bowie. And throw in some Dexy’s Midnight Runners fiddle for fun and you get the idea.
“Toy Town People” is a break out track on this album, as it sounds nothing like anything else on here. Here, we have the fun new wave style, closely sounding like Madness. It has a definite Ska quality to it, and is creepy and eerie in its effects especially when coupled with the “Little Boxes” theme of a cookie cutter society. This is a fantastic song, and perfectly fits all of my musical tastes. Only complaint is that it is a little short.

“Mr. Mike” feels like an updated teen sock hop dance song. This song is not specifically either oldies or new wave, but creates a bridge-structure connecting these two genres better than anything I’ve ever heard. This could be a greaser anthem or a post-punk guilty pleasure.
“Roll Your Own” is a swampy pub stomp, with doo-wops in the background. It reminds me of the Blasters if they had a singer that I could put up with. The entire song is exactly about what it says: rolling your own smokes.
“B Movies” has a great melody such that you would hear on an Elvis Costello record (a bit like “Lip Service”), but the production is much more mature and adult, which translates into more boring of a song.
“Tit Photographer Blues” feels like it too could have been a Costello song, but it is filtered through pub smog rather than jittery nerves and uneasy decisions. The song is a pretty straight up story from a nude photographer’s perspective.“Cherchez la Femme” finished the album out with a Big Star-like power guitar single.

Stand Out Track: Toy Town People (10.0 rating)

Fan Page
Ronnie Golden
Bobby Valentino
Bootleg Review
Lost Bands of the New Wave
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Toy Town People Fan Video

1 comment:

  1. I spent a number of hours in the late 70's and early 80's listenting to bands like the Fabulous Poodles, who were one of my favorites for sure. Great lyrics, and excellent musicians. I got to see them once in concert, and they played great. Always wondered what happened to these guys.. too bad their popularity never really played out.