Tuesday , April 16 2024
Pop, dance, and R&B converge on British superstar group's final '80s album, newly reissued with bonus tracks.

Music Review: Five Star – ‘Rock the World’ [Special Edition]

Five Star Rock the World CDFrom 1985 to 1988, Five Star reigned as British pop royalty. The London-based sibling quintet scored 20 charting singles during this time, serving up a palatable brand of dance-pop garnished with sweet shavings of soul—”All Fall Down,” “Let Me Be the One,” and “Can’t Wait Another Minute” being a few of the main courses. When 1987’s Between the Lines failed to hit the spot, the group spruced up its sound with harder-edged beats and more varied arrangements on its fourth album, Rock the World. England’s Cherry Pop label has since reissued their complete ’80s catalog on CD, including this release.

Bolstered by production contributions from the team of Jerry Knight and Aaron Zigman, as well as ’80s mainstay Leon Sylvers, III, Rock the World sails along at a steady pace with pleasant urban-contemporary grooves and mid-paced ditties. As on the other Five Star LPs, Denise Pearson handles most of the lead vocal duties. Her glimmering high alto is a beaming presence on material ranging from the comforting “Let Me Be Yours” (which she wrote) to the assertive pop-funk ditty “Free Time.” Along the way, strands of light rock and pulsing club rhythms appear in the mix. The most grabbing of these moments is the kinetic anthem, “Another Weekend,” which piquantly pairs percolating synth work with lyrics professing the perplexities of the single life. Taavi Mote’s “Saturday Night Mix” of the tune (included as a bonus track) adds further bump to the beat.

In the midst of mostly celebratory song structures, Rock the World makes room for one particularly pensive number: the Morgan/Climie/Fisher composition “Godsend.” Graced with peaceful keyboard fills and an endearing solo, its ruminating lines—”I spend every day locked away in my room with the curtains drawn/…/Your love was a godsend/But I sent you away”—are brought to life with impressive spirit by Denise. This moment stands out as the finest on the set.

Besides the aforementioned remix of “Another Weekend,” Cherry Red’s special edition of Rock the World contains several other notable bonus tracks not appearing on the original release. The seeping midtempo “With Every Heartbeat” (produced by the late Wayne Brathwaite) and the charming “Something About My Baby,” both pulled from the group’s 1989 Greatest Hits set, make nice additions to the package. So does house DJ David Morales’ “U.S. Radio Mix” of “Someone’s in Love,” an understated effort fronted by Doris Pearson.

While the studio-geared sound of Rock the World is a product of its time, it doesn’t negate the enjoyment to be found in the songs and performances contained within. Whether getting going in the morning or keeping the day on a positively flowing note, the listener’s purpose is served well by this collection.

About Justin Kantor

Justin Kantor is a music journalist with a passion for in-depth artist interviews and reviews. Most of his interviews for Blogcritics can be heard on his Blog Talk Radio program, "Rhythmic Talk." Justin's work has been published in Wax Poetics, The All-Music Guide, and SoulMusic.com. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Music Business and Management program, he honed his writing chops as a teenager—publishing "The Hip Key" magazine from 1992-1996. The publication, which was created out of his childhood home in Virginia Beach, reached a circulation of 10,000 by the time he was 16. At Berklee, Justin continued to perfect his craft with a series of 'Underrated Soul' features for The Groove from 1997-2003. This led to a companion TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in 2002, as well as writing for the national Dance Music Authority (DMA). A self-described "obscure pop, dance, and R&B junkie," Justin also has penned liner notes for reissue labels such as Edsel Records and FunkyTownGrooves. He's excited to be a part of the BlogCritics team and indulge his musical fancies even further. Connect with him at his Facebook page, or via [email protected].

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