1977 saw punk music take a more melodic turn towards what would become popularly known as ‘new wave.’ Exponents would still harbour that old ‘F*** you’ attitude, but would express it with a smile rather a than a snarl.
One such band, and a big favourite of mine to this day, were Radio Stars. They wouldn’t claim to be the biggest of bands, but I’m sure everyone of a certain age will remember, their greatest hit, ‘Nervous Wreck.‘ (It tip-toed into the UK charts for three weeks in February 1978, peaking at number thirty-nine.)
It’s not that they were without pedigree – they had that in spade-loads. They were formed in 1976, when the initially heralded glam supergroup, Jet, split up a couple of years and one album into their existence. Vocalist Andy Ellison, who had previously been one of John’s Children, alongside Marc Bolan, former Sparks bass player, Martin Gordon and guitarist Ian MacLeod dusted themselves off and regrouped as Radio Stars.
By 1976, Glam had had its day, and the music press, always keen to pigeon-hole bands for convenience and order, decided the ‘new’ band were more New Wave than Glam or out and out Punk.
In April 1977, the band released their debut single ‘Dirty Pictures‘ on Chiswick Records, and a month later recorded their first session for the John Peel radio show.
This is when and how I first became aware of Radio Stars. I remember it so vividly – especially the track ‘No Russians In Russia‘ which later appear on the ‘Stop It’ EP.
Television appearances followed, the first reportedly being on Marc Bolan’s own show. (See – it sure pays to maintain your contacts, kids.)
The association with Bolan was also apparent on the B-side of ‘Nervous Wreck,’ Radio Stars’ flirtation with the charts in 1977 – ‘Horrible Breath‘ was written by him during his time with John’s Children.
The years of 1977 and 1978 seem to have been relentless. I have counted two hundred and eight gigs (as detailed in Martin Gordon’s brilliantly deadpan and self deprecating website.) There were two albums released, ‘Songs For Swinging Lovers,’ and the ‘Holiday Album,’ as well as five singles / EP.
Unfortunately, sales of the latter album were not on the same level as the debut . We music fans it seems, can be so fickle!
It would also appear from Martin’s website there was a bit of dispute within the band and Radio Stars subsequently faded, and died.
I was lucky enough to see them on 10th October 1978 at Strathclyde University, Glasgow – I got a pal who was studying there to sign me in. I must have seen hundreds of gigs in my time, but I can honestly say that there are very few that I remember as well at that one, almost forty-three years ago!
Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals
Martin Gordon – Bass / Vocals
Ian MacLeod – Guitar
Steve Parry – Drums
|Dirty Pictures||7″ single||1977||Chiswick Records|
|Nervous Wreck||7″ single||1977||Chiswick Records|
|Stop It||7″ EP||1977||Chiswick Records|
|Radio Stars||7″ single||1978||Chiswick Records|
|From A Rabbit ||7″ single||1978||Chiswick Records|
|The Real Me||7″ single||1979||Chiswick Records|
|Songs For Swinging Lovers||LP||1977||Chiswick Records|
|Holiday Album||LP||1978||Chiswick Records|