“God Bless Starjets”

THE STARJETS – “God Bless Starjets” (Epic 83534) July 1979

The Starjets “God Bless Starjets” – Here’s an interesting album from a little known Northern Irish group that almost had a hit record in 1979 but the single in question, “War Stories” never quite managed to break into the Top 50 despite an appearance on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and ‘Juke-Box Jury’.

They’re also a band I was unfamiliar with before I started my website but had my interest tweaked by the mostly positive record reviews in the music press and teen magazines.

‘God Bless Starjets’ is a pleasant enough listening experience, nothing that is too demanding with a sound very much with an emphasis on pop. These guys obviously wanted to sell records and were aiming at chart success.

Side One is especially good with songs laden with hooks, solid musicianship and power-pop tunes all created from guitar, bass and drums. No ‘trendy’ synths or keyboards here. All classy rock & roll without any frills. Which is my kinda scene.

All songs on side one (except ‘Run With The Pack’) were produced by the Starjets themselves and Rhett Davies who around this time was also working with Brian Eno and Brian Ferry. It’s clear that the band themselves were making those important decisions about song flow, structure and being technical leaders because the songs sound tighter and more potent than those produced by Pip Williams, on side two.

“Run With The Pack” is melodically memorable with a catchy chorus and surf-style harmonies. It was an early single but somehow missed the charts entirely. Promotion neglect or lack of radio airplay was probably to blame because it’s a great number.

The other stand out for me is “What A Life”, a powerful rocker with searing lead guitar, plenty of “Oh – Oh – Oh’s in the chorus and perhaps their fastest song. I have no doubt that this was even quicker at gigs.

By comparison, side two is a real let-down and disappointment. Too many lame songs and new wave production stylings. I’m sure I can hear synthetic drums on a few tracks. The drums don’t sound the same, the lead guitar has been somehow suppressed in the mix and comes over dull and lifeless.

I doubt renowned producer Pip Williams could have done much with the material The Starjets presented him if truth be told. Apart from “War Stories” (which he didn’t produce anyway) the numbers verge on poor to awful, especially the lounge / easy listening fodder like “I’m So Glad”.

songs on the album:

  • Schooldays
  • Any Danger Love
  • Ten Years
  • Run With The Pack
  • What A Life
  • Smart Boys
  • It’s A Shame
  • I’m So Glad
  • War Is Over
  • War Stories
  • Sitting On Top Of The World

Halfway between Stiff Little Fingers’ urgency and The Undertones’ simple poppiness come Ulster’s Starjets.

Potentially nifty tunes, but let down by directionless energy and toothless arrangements. Starjets really shine best when most adventurous, witness “Smart Boys”, which certainly deserves to be No.1.

Best trax: “Smart Boys”, “I’m So Glad”. (Smash Hits, 23/08/79)

My copy of The Starjets album came with a little bit of teenage history hidden inside the cover. The album had been won by a kid after entering a competition held in ‘My Guy’ magazine back in 1979.

I have uploaded a scan of the letter of congratulations.

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