Friday, November 7, 2014

Midnight Star - Planetary Invasion

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Planetary Invasion, the fifth studio album from Midnight Star. In the US, it spent thirty-two weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a peak spot of number 32 and climbed all the way to number 7 on the Billboard R&B chart. It also went to number 85 in the UK and number 44 in New Zealand.

Later CD releases of the album, as well as what is up on Spotify, have shifted the tracks around a bit. As I usually do here at Martin’s View, I am going to go with the original vinyl release track order for my review.

Side one begins with the seven minute long groove “Body Snatchers”. As the third single, this sci-fi themed dance jam stole away to number 31 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The song brings in elements that were popular on the band’s earlier hit “Freak-a-Zoid”, and very often club deejays would mix the two together for an extra-long party set.

The party continues with the next cut. “Scientific Love”, the second single, stalled at number 80 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but rose to number 19 on the US Billboard Dance charts and number 16 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I really like how the guitar and synth solos play off one another on the album’s six minute plus extended version of the song.

After two big workouts, it is time to slow things down a bit with the love ballad “Let’s Celebrate”.

“Curious”, the B-side to the third single, charted at number 92 in the UK. The mid-tempo rhythm on this one snakes along smoothly.

Side two opens with the title track. The six minute long party anthem “Planetary Invasion” features a strong guitar groove to it.

“Operator” was the album’s lead single; it went to number 66 in the UK, number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 15 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The album version clocks in at over seven and a half minute. I was such a big fan of this song, especially back in late 1984; it was a key track for getting into the right mood for an evening out dancing. Today, I use a snippet of the chorus for my general cellphone ringtone (I thought it was rather appropriate).

The ballad duet “Today My Love” features a lovely piano accompaniment.

Time for one more dance track, and “Can You Stay With Me” delivers that.

I became a huge fan of Midnight Star during the summer of 1985 when I was working my co-op job in New Jersey. I picked up a copy of Planetary Invasion on cassette at the mall and nearly wore the tape out playing it in my car and boombox during the years that followed. When I was building my digital music library, this was a must-have early on. This album very much typified the dance music I was into during the mid-80’s; listening to it again thirty years later reminds me of many great nights out at the clubs during my college years.

For more from Midnight Star, click here.

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