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Stargazers review

Big Six (the)

Big Six

Big Six (the) – Don’t Stop… ROCK!

Rhythm Rock-It EPPR5 [2019]
20th Century Boy – We The Boys Will Rock Ya – Sombrero – Blue Moon – Lady Of Nagoya – Tell Me Baby – Out Tonight – At Last – Mama We’re All Crazee Now – Cold Feet – Are You Ready To Rock – Sh-Boom – Master Blaster – Groovey Geezer – All Of Me – Come Back Baby – West Coast Jive – Rock The Island – New Orleans – Get Off It and Rock It – No Way Out – Everybody Groove – Tiger Feet – Rocket Ship To The Moon – All Night Long

Shortly after he left the Stargazers in 1994, Ricky Lee Brawn went on to form two supergroups featuring the cream of the crop of the British rocking’ scene: the Space Cadets and the Big Six.
Both bands featured Anders Janes his partner in crime in the Stargazers. The Space Cadets and the Big Six released numerous albums, mostly on Vinyl Japan, and now sadly out of print. But in 2012 Janes released a best-of album of the Space Cadets on his label Rhythm-Rock-It. And while the band played its last show at Viva Las Vegas before an indefinite break appeared “Don’t Stop… ROCK!” the very best of the Big Six.
I can hear the younger ones ask: “Why are the Big Six so special?” Well, let me just tell you that the band was formed, in addition to Brawn and Janes by Mike Sanchez (Big Town Playboys) on piano, Nick Lunt and Al Nicholls (both also from the Big Town Playboys) on saxes and the one and only (or dare I say the one and crazy) Pat Reyford from Sugar Ray Ford on vocals and guitar.
Their music is a mix of various influences, all mixed to make a highly danceable and rocking cocktail. Every track here is a winner and is sure to make you wriggle, tap your feet and clap your hands.
You’ll find a good dose of Glam Rock sprinkled with Rockabilly. Listen to the guitar part on T-Rex’s 20th Century Boys. Doesn’t it sound like Paul Burlison (or Grady Martin) in the Johnny Burnette Rock’n’roll trio? And Mud’s Tiger feet and Slade’s Mama Weer All Crazy Now should be learned by every young cat who tries to master the art of double bass.
Rocksteady and early ska influences are present in some songs, including a new version of the Stargazers’ Rocketship to the Moon. It has to be said that Brawn’s vintage production works very well for that stuff. Tunes like Janes’ Cold Feet and Come Back Baby seem to come straight from Studio One in Jamaica.
There’s a bit of Latin too (Sombrero), an amazing cover of the Jazz standard All of Me featuring hot solos, plenty of Rock’n’roll everywhere as well as superb Rhythm’n’Blues (Reyford’s Tell Me Baby, All Night Long, or Master Blaster.)
If you don’t own the original albums, I can only recommend you to jump on this best-of. And if you already have them, buy it too, for it comes in a superbly designed digipack.
But be warned! If you try to dance on every track of this album, you may suffer from serious exhaustion.

Buy it here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Stargazers (the)


Stargazers - Carry On Jiving
Stargazers – Carry On Jiving

The Stargazers
Carry On Jiving

Ruby Tone RTLP 1 [2017]
Let`s Go – The Wedding Band – Play My Game – Little Ol` House Of Rock – Free Tonight – Boo Hoo Hoo – Keep Cool And Carry On – U Bring Out The Poet In Me – Phantom`s Frolic – The Wonderful Thing About Rock`n`Roll – Haunted House – Louise – Love, Love, Love
The Stargazers are back! Twenty years after their latest LP (Froffee Coffee) and even more than that if you look for an album featuring guitar ace Peter Davenport. And the question is: do they still have it? You bet! Not only they still rock like teenagers but Carry On Jiving could possibly be the band’s best album to date. Nothing less.
Around the trio made of Brittain/Davenport/Purkess, the new line-up that consists of Jim Russell on drums, Jamie Rowan on piano, Matt Radford (Ronnie Dawson, Carl sonny Leyland, Little George, Big Joe Louis and many more) who shares the bass duties with Purkess and Aaron Liddard (Amy Winehouse) on sax brought a shot of fresh air to the band and gave it a second youth.
Too often one can read that the Stargazers are a good (or “excellent” depending on the review you read) Bill Haley type of band. Partly  true, you’ll find plenty of Haley influence here, especially in Davenport’ own that are instantly recognizable (Boo Hoo Hoo and Love, Love, Love follow a long tradition established by songs like Go Go Honey or Bop A Doo Bop), it’s too reductive. The Stargazers are first and foremost a great Rock’n’roll band, and it’s never been truer with that album.
With each member contributing to the songwriting of the 13 originals it’s a solid mix of influences full of variety, kicking off with the frantic  “Let’s Go” (that has written “rock’n’roll anthem” all over it) with Fats Domino influenced song (Free Tonight), tip of of the hat to Chuck Berry (The Wonderful Thing About Rock’n’roll) and wild instrumental with organ to name but four.
As usual the musicianship is top notch, from Liddard on sax who not only brillantly succeeds in following John Wallace’s footsteps but brings his own style to the tight rhythm section and of course Davenport who is one of the very few guitar player who understood that “less is more.”
Now the choice is yours, buy it or buy it!

stargazers-half a heart
The Stargazers – Half A Heart / Boo Hoo Hoo

The Stargazers
Half A Heart / Boo Hoo Hoo

Ruby Tone RT 45 001 [2014]

With this excellent double A-side, the masters of the Big Beat, the hidden sons of the Comets and the Jodimars return to what they do best, I mean R. O. C. K., ROCK!
Boo Hoo Hoo is a typical Davenport composition (think Bop a Doo, a Doo, Bop or Ooh Baby Ooh from his different solo releases) and Half a Heart penned by Danny is slightly mellower with doo wop backing vocals.
It’s a limited edition but try to grab it!

Stargazers - Epic Rock'n'Roll
Stargazers – Epic Rock’n’Roll

The Stargazers
Epic Rock’n’Roll

Rhythm Rock It [2012]
Groove Baby Groove – Jump Around – La Rock ‘n’ Roll – Red Light Green Light – Hey Marie – Scat The Riff – Go Go Honey – A Little Jump A Little Swing – Rocketship To The Moon – Tonight’s The Night – Pretty Senorita – Rockin’ Rollin’ Home – Walking The Chalk Line – Hey There You – Perdido – Caravan – True Love – Tossin’ and Turnin’ – Follow Your Heart – Spin That 45 – Swingin’ Aye – Marcelle Mania – Ain’t Nobody Here But us Chickens.
This album gathers the complete released recordings made by the Stargazers during the time they were under contract with CBS in the early 80’s, which for many is the golden age of the band. The line up was at that time Danny Brittain (lead vocals), John Wallace (saxophone), Anders Janes (double bass), Ricky Lee Brawn (drums), Peter Davenport and later Marc Breman (guitars)
The songs are listed chronologically. Thus you can see the evolution of the sound. The first twelve songs feature former member and lead guitarist Peter Davenport whose passion for Bill Haley was a main ingredient in the band’s sound at the time. Both “Groove Baby Groove” and “Go Go Honey” (listen to those steel guitar ricochets ala Bill Williamson!) could have easily been recorded by Haley on Decca. Likewise, “La Rock’n’Roll” with John Wallace playing accordion reminds strongly of the Comets’ “A Rockin’ Little Tune” Three unreleased songs also featuring Davenport and recorded for the debut album but rejected by the label are included here In August 1982, Davenport left the band and was replaced by Marc Breman a friend of Danny Brittain. With him on board the sound of the band changed and they started to experiment and play a more modern brand of Rock’n’roll. The production also changed to become less “authentic” and more radio friendly. Songs like Wallace’s “Marcelle mania” and Brittain’s “Follow Your Heart” which is not that far from what a neo-rockabilly band like Restless would later do are typical of that sound. But with the exception of Louis Jordan’s Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens which is wasted by the producer choosen by the label, this is top class Rock’n’roll.
In all you have 22 songs by one of the best and most influential rockin’ band of the early 80’s, packed in a superbly designed digipack (made by the same person who did their designs back in the days) with a poster and informative liner notes. If you don’t know this band, do yourself a favour and buy it right now, and if you only own the original singles and lp, buy this reissue cause the sound is just perfect. Let’s just hope that the label, owned by Anders the original bass player, wont stop here and will release live stuff, unreleased rehearsals or demos in the future. One can dream!
Buy it directly at (only £9!!!!)

The Stargazers - Go Go Honey - The Best Of
The Stargazers – Go Go Honey – The Best Of

The Stargazers
Go Go Honey – The Best Of

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ [19XX]
Go Go Honey – Hey Marie – Groove Baby Groove – Toosin’ And Turnin’ – Swingin’ Aye – La Rock ‘N’ Roll(Quelques Uns La Lune) – Rock That Boogie – Rock Lomond – Flying High – Just Go Wild Over Rock ‘N’ Roll – In A Little Spanish Town – Stop Beatin’ Around The Mulberry Bush – Lady Killer – Froffee Coffee – What’s The Matter With Music Now – A Song About A Train – L.O.V.E – Spitfire – Let’s Go Ockin’ ‘N’ Rollin’ – Give Me That Jive – Send Me A Letter Loretta – Ida(Sweet As Apple Cider) – My Blue Heaven – Go Go Honey (Ep Version)

The main interest of this compilation released by Vinyl Japan (which explains the absence of songs from Back In Orbit) is to feature the four songs of the Go Go Honey ep that were only available on vinyl.

The Stargazers - Groove, Baby Groove
The Stargazers – Groove, Baby Groove

The Stargazers
Groove, Baby Groove

BLUE LIGHT 3369 [2000]
Tossin’ And turnin’ / Hey Marie / Swingin’ Aye / Marcelle Mania / Walking That Chalk Line / Hey There You / Perdido – Caravan / Groove Baby Groove / Follow Your Heart / Pretty Senorita / Spin That 45 / True Love / Rocketship To The Moon / Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens / Junp Around / La Rock ‘n’ Roll (Quelques Uns La Lune) / Red Light Green Light / Scat The Riff / Go Go Honey

A best-of featuring all the issued sides made for Epic. Also contains an informative booklet written by Ricky Lee Brawn and Danny Brittain.

The Stargazers - Give Me That Jive
The Stargazers – Give Me That Jive

The Stargazers
Give Me That Jive

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ JRCD37 [1999]
L.O.V.E. / (Let Me Be) Your Dream Come True / Got To Tell You / Spitfire / Haunting Me / The Caress / Let’s Go Rockin’ ‘n’ Rollin’ / C.K. Rock / Love Alphabet / Wonderful You / Swingin’ On A Star / You Never Came To Call / Give Me That Jive

Actually recorded in 1994 this album was only issued in 1999. It was recorded after the band had fired former drummer Ricky Lee Brawn to go into a more jazz direction. So it’s not your typical Stargazers album yet it’s a good one. Saxman John Wallace wrote the 2/3 of it hence the strong jazz coloration, John always been a fan of Lester Young. It also leaves more room to Gardner’s piano and Davenport never sounded so close to Charlie Christian. More in their usual Rock’n’roll style Davenport penned a couple of Haley influenced tunes (L.O.V.E, Let’s Go Rockin’ n’ Rollin’) and Danny contributed Swingin’ On A Star a killer rockabilly number.

The Stargazers - Froffee Coffee
The Stargazers – Froffee Coffee

The Stargazers
Froffee Coffee

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ [1995]
Froffee Coffee – Fools Fall In Love – Swinging On A Star – Oh Baby Doll – County Line – Milkcrate Mania – What’s The Matter With Music Now – Just A Gigolo – Willow Weep – Where Would We Be Tonight – Mack The Knife – Song About A Train – Sugar And Spice

Produced by Ricky Lee Brawn, Froffee Coffee really differs from the band’s previous releases and even Watch This Space doesn’t show such a wide variety of style, featuring doo-wop, rock’n’roll, big beat, jazz, latin. With Jim Knowler of the Keytones replacing Peter on guitar it has a strong Keytones influence on songs like “Fools Fall In Love” or the doo wop cover of Chuck Berry’s Oh Baby Doll. Actually it almost sounds more like a Danny Brittain’s solo album than a typical Stargazers album.

stargazers-gogohoney2The Stargazers
Go Go Honey

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ [1994]
Go Go Honey – Send Me A Letter Loretta – Ida (Sweet As Apple Cider)- My Blue Heaven

Highly popular in Japan, the Stargazers recorded this 10″ ep mainly for the Japanese market. It features a new recording of Go Go Honey, a Danny’s original Send Me A letter Loretta and two covers that finds the band in full Haley mode. The line-up on this ep was Danny Brittain, Peter Davenport on guitar, Tim Purkess on doublebass, Chris Gardner on piano and Simon Gilby on sax and Shaun O’Keefe on drums.

The Stargazers - Rock That Boogie
The Stargazers – Rock That Boogie

The Stargazers
Rock That Boogie

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ JRCD7 [1993]
Rock That Boogie – Big Bad Wolf – Hi Ho Silver – Teenage Party – Better Believe It – I Got A Baby – Move Over Baby – Caravan – Rockin’ Rollin Home – Tonight’s The Night – A Little Jump, A Little Swing – Rock Lomond – Caldonia – Fat Man – The Gleam In Your Eyes – Time Goes By – Flying High – Swingin’ Aye – Rebound – Bounce Me Brother

Released to coincide with a tour of Japan, Rock That Boogie contains 21 unissued songs from the early years of the band (1980-1983). It features several originals that never made it on album and tracks from the rejected first album that was one of the reason Peter left the band.

 The Stargazers - The Speaking Clock Says Rock
The Stargazers – The Speaking Clock Says Rock

The Stargazers
The Speaking Clock Says Rock

Vinyl Japan – Jappin’ & Rockin’ JRCD04 [1992]
Lights Out – Rockin’ Robin – In a Little Spanish Town – See You Later, Alligator – Pete’s Beat – Stop Beatin’ around the Mulberry Bush – The Cat – Just Go Wild over Rock ‘n’ Roll – Lady Killer – Florida Twist – Shake, Rattle and Roll – Eat Your Heart Out, Annie

From its title to the songs, this album is more Haley-esque than ever. Out of the ten covers, seven had been played by Bill Haley and one by the Jodimars. The only two originals are two jazzy instrumentals written by Peter and John.
Despite this lack of original material it’s a good and very enjoyable album. The musicianship is top notch, especially on the two instrumentals that announce the jazz direction that the band would take in the future. Their cover of Just Go Wild over Rock’nRoll is also a rare occasion to hear more of Chris Gardner’s playing.
Marshall Lytle, now a friend of the band, even makes a guest appearance and sings Eat Your Heart Out Annie, a song he recorded for the first time in 1956 with the Jodimars.

The Stargazers - Back In Orbit
The Stargazers – Back In Orbit

The Stargazers
Back In Orbit

Ace CDCH [1991]
Crazy But True / Loretta / It’s Only A Paper Moon / Baby, Baby, Baby / Got That Beat / The Walking Beat / Sweet Georgia Brown / Dig That Rock’n’roll / The Stargazers’ Blues / Crazy, Man, Crazy / (Every Cloud Has A) Silver Lining / Feeling Happy

Back In Orbit hit the shelves in 1991 to great acclaim. It proved that, nearly ten years after their first album, they hadn’t lost their energy. For this album he band decided to focus mostly on Rock’n’Roll/Jive stuff. And Back In Orbit is loaded with hotter than dynamite songs, some sounding like Haley’s unissued songs from the vault of Decca. It burst with Crazy But True that quotes Haley’s Dim Dim The Light (the mambo passage) and Birth Of The Boogie (the sax riff). It’s Only A Paper Moon is a good opportunity to hear the new rhythm section formed by veteran Ricky Lee Brawn and newcomers Chris Gardner and Tim Purkess in action and it confirms that Tim was the right choice to replace Anders. Clive Osborne also guests on steel guitar. The instrumental version of Sweet Georgia Brown shows their jazzy side and leaves plenty of room for Peter and John to express their skills. All in all, a killer album.

the Stargazers - Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens
the Stargazers – Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens

The Stargazers
Ain’t Nobody Here But us Chickens

Epic [1982]
Ain’t Nobody Here But us Chickens – Rocketship To The Moon

The fourth (and last) single recorded at 10cc’s Strawberry studios in Stockport. A side is a cover of Louis Jordan’s Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chicken. This time the label chose the song and the producer (Peter Collins who worked with Shakin’ Stevens and Matchbox). It’s clear that CBS wanted a modern production, which now sounds horribly dated, to get that hit that wouldn’t come. The result is as far as possible from the good old rock’n’roll (even with modern aspects) the band used to play, using electronic drums instead of Ricky’s distinctive groove. At least the buyers could find comfort with Rocketship to the Moon on the b-side, a gentle jazzy ballad penned by Janes and dating from the Davenport era of the band.

The Stargazers - Watch this space
The Stargazers – Watch this space

The Stargazers
Watch This Space

EPIC EPC 25053 [1982]
Tossin’ And Turnin’ / Hey Marie / Swingin’ Aye / Marcelle Mania / Walking The Chalk Line / Hey There You / Perfido – Caravan / Groove Baby Groove / Follow Your Heart / Pretty Senorita / Spin That 45 / True Love / Rocketship To The Moon

The legendary debut album. See “Epic Rock’n’roll” for a detailed review.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our complete story about the Stargazers here.