dirty martini

old music for new people

the uk’s answer to the jackson five…?? April 18, 2007

five star – a family r&b group comprising five siblings – were touted as the uk’s answer to the jackson five. in 1985. come on, back then there was definitely a delayed reaction as we responded to musical and cultural missives from across the atlantic, but 16 years?deniece, doris, lorraine, delroy and steadman were just teenagers when they burst onto the scene in 1984 with their brassy bleached hair (the girls) and jheri curls (the boys). plus braces all round. their first single, problematic, failed to make an impression despite landing the plum performance spot on pebble mill at one. actually maybe that was the problem…before they enjoyed chart success and proved the old adage that money can’t buy taste, five star, despite their tender ages (ranging from 14 to 21) produced classic 80s brit soul a la loose ends. seriously, that good. they had their own label, tent records, and ok, like the jackson five and later beyonce, their dad, buster pearson, was pulling the strings.

the obvious family schtick aside, their careers took off because deniece had a great voice. the others found roles for themselves beyond backup, ‘why don’t you’ style. delroy was the, er, baby. (actually this is sounding more like the spice girls). steadman was the oldest and ‘looked a bit like michael jackson‘. doris was the choreographer and ‘looked a bit like janet jackson‘. lorraine, brainwashed by blue peter, felt compelled to make mock ups of their video sets out of old cardboard boxes. and dated eddie murphy, briefly. you can decide which of these achievements is greater.

so their first album, ‘luxury of life’ was a triumph of slinky mid 80s electro soul replete with bubbling basslines, sweet vocals and summery instrumentation. so much so that an unprecedented seven singles were released, with moderate success right up until the last one, a song about being mechanically manipulated – ‘system addict’. someone in a&r (probably buster) had finally noticed that in 1985, we were obsessed with futuristic gadgetry and convinced that by the year 2000, computers would rule the world.

but soon they were bonafide popstars and commerciality struck resulting in the music becoming more hit and miss quality-wise. they bought more cars than their romford home could accommodate and started wearing matching catsuits. yep, including the boys.

so, if you’re too young to remember what they looked like, don’t look too closely at the image at the top of this page. it’ll only put you off, just listen to the music…

ten five star tracks you need to owndownload here hide and seek
lots of people think this is a new edition song that five star covered – in fact its the other way round. this was their first proper single and the dancing in the video is hilarious….

let me be the one
the five star track most likely to be mis-labelled as loose ends if you try to download it from limewire.
all fall down
a big hit stateside and a popular choice to accompany majorettes (remember wanting to be one of those?) and aerobics classes nationwide.
love take over
hmmm. either five star‘s music videos are intended to have nothing to do with the song or there is a genius undercover message that I can’t decipher. five star gatecrash an empty country house and prance about.
find the time
actually, I seem to remember the video for this track had lots of clocks in it, cos of the time thing. there goes my last theory.

if i say yes
another upbeat track that I didn’t appreciate at the time. I think partly because in the video they wore awful oversized grey suits and pranced about a haunted house.
show me what you got for me
best track on their second and most successful album, ‘silk and steel’. perhaps because as a non-single, it was not sullied by live performances in matching shoulder padded frightsuits with a dance routine in which poor delroy looked increasingly unwieldy, what with him being in the throes of puberty and all.
whenever you’re ready
the first single from 1987’s ‘between the lines’ album. more polished, but still good with nice bubbly sound effects.
strong as steel
a great slow jam from 1987 that has been covered by gladys knight amongst others.
rock my world
from their last commercially successful album in the UK, ‘rock the world’. different again, but worth a spin.

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One Response to “the uk’s answer to the jackson five…??”

  1. […] pioneers of the brassy blonde, crispy fried jheri curl – that ddn’t really catch on. still, musically there was little between these teen brits and their older US counterparts. there’s a whole post on five star here […]


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