CD Stage Struck [Bonus Tracks] (CD 7046338), Audio Other
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Stage Struck [Bonus Tracks]

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2905232

  • Credits

    Little of David Essex's work for the Mercury label is regularly described as essential, the days when the pop classics simply rolled off his pen having been buried back around the mid-'70s. 1983's Stage Struck, however, does its damnedest to reverse that sorry trend, from the moment the snarling "No Substitute" slams in on hard funk rhythms, tight guitars, and blistered horns, while Essex himself howls out his vocal with an aggression that belies all the accusations of "softening up" that had assailed him in recent years. It is unfortunate that the best known track, "Silver Dream Machine" (the title theme from a motorbiking movie), is also the weakest. It has a road hog of a riff, but the overall impact of the song isn't quite as hard-hitting as it should be. It is, however, a momentary lapse. "Me and My Girl (Nightclubbing)" packs a swagger that is almost dangerous, while "Ooh la Baby Blonde" and "Sleeping With the Director" add a biting lyrical cattiness to their musical punch. Yet, after so much frantic activity, it is ironic that the best has been saved to last, the closing "Stagestruck." Vast and echoing, musically it's a return to the sultry bassiness of Essex's earliest hits, while the lyric is haunted by many of the same ghosts that flit through "Stardust" -- a recipe, of course, that simply cannot be surpassed. It is to the fiery dance rhythms that one's attention keeps returning, however, and the opening salvo that peaks with the tumultuous "You're So Fierce." Not simply an aptly titled second cousin to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," that song alone suggests that, at a time when media darlings like (the early) Spandau Ballet and Light of the World were spearheading a so-called new wave of British club funk, Essex was so far ahead of the pack that it wasn't even funny. ~ Dave Thompson

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