Friday, December 7, 2018

Various Artists "Starball Contribution"

Various Artists
Starball Contribution
1996 Flying Tart Records
Produced By: Alex Parker

album cover


insert (inside)

back (insert)


Track Listing

Out of my Head - Phantasmic
Dead Horse Grin - Duraluxe
I Really Don't Like It - The Huntingtons
J.I.S. - One 21
Wake Up, Christine - The Julies
Two Girls and a Guy - Left Out
You're Special to Me - Joe Christmas
Warped and Twisted - Plague of Ethyls
Dura-Lux - Duraluxe
Motorcycle Daddy - Stratochief
Chewing on Hate - Situation Taboo
Convoy - Fluffy
We Got the Beat - The Huntingtons
Saturday Night - Left Out
I Love Rock-n-Roll - Joe Christmas
"J" Friends - Seven Foot Politic
Eyes Without a Face - Phantasmic
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Sixpence None the Richer
Give a Little Laughter - Don Ho

The Flying Tart record label was...interesting to say the least. The label's owner, Alex Parker, tried hard to get the label off the ground. One way he did this was by releasing several compilation albums featuring many different bands. Starball Contribution is one of those, but this is more than your traditional compilation albums. First off not all the bands on the album were signed by the label and second, there are snippets of other audio mixed in between the tracks. This means in order to really appreciate this album, you have to listen to it from beginning to end. I can't identify all of the audio clips used, but I do recognize a snippet from an old Batman (and Spider-Man) read along story record and of course Archie Bunker from the All in the Family television show. I especially like the snippet of Archie between songs "You're special to Me" and "Warped and Twisted".

The album starts off with a very good track by Phantasmic, aka Tess Wiley. I have only ever owned one of her albums which was full of cover songs, but I loved it. Her music features a lot of distortion and her vocals are very moody, but beautiful. This song was taken from the Fluffy vs. Phantasmic album.

I never was a big fan of Duraluxe, but I like their first song on this album. I can't really make out what the song is about, but Chris Colbert wrote the song and I'm at least familiar with his name being plastered all over the Christian music scene.

The Huntingtons take their inspiration from the Ramoans and they don't deny it. Their first song on this album was taken from their debut album, Sweet Sixteen. It's classic punk rock and to this day I still love their raw sound.

Another punk band featured is One 21. I have only heard a small sample of their music and it's just not for me. "J.I.S." was taken from the album In the Year King Uzziah Died.

You know the label did it's job when you go out and buy an album after listing to a compilation and that's just what I did after hearing the Julies for the first time. I can't really aptly describe the style of their music, other than it was good. I believe Lovelife was their only album and I'm not able to find much other information by them online.

Left Out is the third punk band featured on the album. At one time I owned their Pride Kills album, but eventually let it go as their style of music isn't something that I normally gravitate to. This was also one of the bands I couldn't find anything of on YouTube to link to.

If the song by Aleixa sounds familiar, it should. It was originally included on the album, Sweet Family Music - A Tribute to Stryper. Not my favorite rendition of the song, but that Tribute album was decent.

Joe Christmas features two songs on the album and I prefer the later cover song more. "You're Special to Me" at the time was a previously unreleased song. The band would only release two albums on the Tooth & Nail label and I don't think this song was included on either album.

I don't know much about the band Plague of Ethyls, but I really like their song "Warped and Twisted". I think this is one of those songs that I didn't originally care much for, but with subsequent listens to the album I've grown more fonder of the song. The song credits go to Karyn Colbert, which I believe is Chris Colbert's wife. She sings lead and has a beautiful voice, then again I love female fronted rock music so I may be a little biased.

Duraluxe shows up a second time with another song, "Dura-Lux", a previously unreleased song. I believe it was to be included on an upcoming album, but whether or not it was released I'm not sure. This song has a much different sound over "Dead Horse Grin", so much that if I didn't know this was the same band I would have never guessed. This song has a slower pace, almost reminds me of the "shoe gazer" sub-genre. The mixed male and female sung vocals have a haunting feel and at times I can't help but to mumble along with them.

The first song on this album that really grabbed my attention was by Statochief. I have no idea who this was/is and even to this date can't find anything on them other than their song "Motorcycle Daddy" was included on one other Flying Tart compilation album. I was shocked to find a "video" of this song on YouTube. It's a silly song, but one of my favorites. One just can't help belt out the chorus at the top of your lungs. Listen and you'll hear what I'm talking about! The insert says the songs was taken from the Motorpsycho Fanzine Vol. 1...but I can't find anything online about this. Hmm...

Situation Taboo is another band I know little about. I'd guess you'd classify their music as industrial? This was another song I was surprised to find on YouTube. "Chewing on Hate" was taken from their Digitalis release.

Another standout track is Fluffy's cover of the C.W. McCall classic. I'll admit I haven't seen the movie and I wasn't really familiar w/ the song, but it's such a great cover. I'm not sure if the music video I found on YouTube is authentic (my guess is it isn't), but if you only click on a few links this needs to be one of them!

One great cover is followed up by another good cover, this time we have the Huntingtons covering the Go-Go's classic "We Got the Beat". Maybe not as good as the original, but still a fun cover. At the time this song hadn't been previously released, but would eventually end up on their Rock n Roll Habits for the New Wave album.

Left Out chimes in for the second time on the album with a cover of "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers. What got them to cover this song I have no idea, but it's not a bad version. Sadly I couldn't find the song to link too, but just imagine the song in your head if sung by a punk band and there you go.

Joe Christmas keeps the covers coming with their take on the classic Joan Jett & the Heartbreakers' "I Love Rock n Roll". I love this song and replacing Joan's vocals isn't an easy task. While it's no where near as good as the original, its still a good attempt. No matter who's singing lead, you still can't help but sing along.

One of the more mysterious songs on this album is "J" Friends by Seven Foot Politic. I've never been able to find any information on this particular song, however the band did release a few albums. None of these albums included this song so I have no idea how it came to be included on this album. Oddly enough, it's one of my favorite songs. I guess you'd classify Seven Foot Politic as swing music? Maybe think Brian Setzer? The song opens up with a catchy bass guitar riff, followed by some trumpet. This goes on for a few minutes before the tempo increases and the vocals come in. Catchy song, can't help but to tap my foot to this one.

Tess Wiley helps start to close out the album with a cover of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face". I can't tell you how long I went without realizing this was a cover song and not an original song. It's a great version of the song, full of distorted guitars and Tess' hauntingly beautiful vocals.

Another song taken from a different Flying Tart compilation is Six Pence None the Richer's cover of the classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". Originally included on Christmas in Heaven, this is a great cover of a song I'm sure just about everyone has heard.

No one should be surprised at the song that closes out the album. After all the odd audio clips between the songs, why not include a song by Don Ho? Alex Parker thanks him in the album credits ("even though he has no knowledge of his participation").

This is one odd album, yet it remains to this day one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because of the overall wackiness of the audio bites or the general eclectic variety of music included. Whatever the reason it's an album that I like to pull out and listen to from beginning to end once or twice a year. I seem to remember it being really hard to find on the secondary market, but a quick eBay search when I typed this I was able to find a few copies...and for cheap too. With some of these songs not being widely available I think it's a great album to pick up, but you'll have to make that call for yourself. I do encourage you to check out a few of the tracks I was able to find audio of before you write this off as "just another compilation album".

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