Telefunken 1974 / Explore Rights Management 2022
Shining light into the bright-looking future at the fore of star ensembles, Caledonian singer reveals his true colors.
It may have been one of the greatest injustices of all time that one of the best voices Scotland managed to produce wasn’t given a proper chance to grasp the spotlight on solo terms – yet Mike Starrs’ only album under his own name had provided him with an opportunity to stand and belt out in front of some of the Old World’s most prominent musicians. Still, the warbler’s way up as a recording artist started here, this platter presenting him as a top-notch performer capable of turning any tune into gold and of sprinkling any melody with a glam-rock stardust – a sign of the times, perhaps. The singer had a potential which was difficult to ignore, but Starrs seemed to not believe in himself enough to stay on individual, as opposed to collective, path so, instead of carrying such a weight alone, Mike left “Electric Garden” as a milestone-shaped souvenir of what could happen otherwise. However, there’s no track of tentative regret here – especially on the edition with a revised running order.
While previously the album began with a scintillatingly swinging, revue-styled, stellar reading of “Da-Doo-Ron-Ron” that’s pushed down to bonus tracks now to sit alongside other single sides, like “Blue And White” – a brilliant ballad penned, as almost all numbers on the platter, by bassist Gerry Morris – and the crunchy “Witches Brew” that’s rolling on Geoff Whitehorn’s riff, this reissue has the folk-influenced, finely orchestrated “Feel So Good” to set things off on the course where four of the pieces feature an L-word in their titles. Yet if the gorgeous “When It Comes To Love” and “To Everyone Concerned” allow Starrs to rock their refrain, the record’s titular cut offers the listener to join in an bout of bopping, “Loving You” unfolds effervescent pop for Mike’s streamlined vocals to soar among the strings, and the brass-brandishing “Looking For Love” boasts a soulful jive. They’re not superficial, though, and a few following songs – the jazzed-up “The Will” and the swagger-pumping “Good Life” as well as a gospel-oozing “I’ll Take Good Care Of You” and heavily progressive “Hold On” – demonstrate the impressive depth of the Dunediner’s delivery, which led to calls from COLOSSEUM II and, subsequently, LUCIFER’S FRIEND for Starrs to throw in his lot with the successful ensembles.
Not that the vocalist was able to build a notable career afterwards, yet he’s still pursuing his muse, and here’s a reminder why Mike Starrs has to be revered.