Friday, June 5, 2015

Five Star - Life of Luxury

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Luxury of Life, the debut album from the British R&B group Five Star. The group consisted of siblings Delroy, Denise, Doris, Lorraine and Stedman Pearson. The album went Platinum in the UK, peaking at number 12. Here in the US, it spent forty-seven weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of 57; it also hit number 14 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one opens with the relentless bass and beats of "Love Take Over"; as a single it went to number 25 in the UK and number 9 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The lyrics recommend giving in to love and not resisting where it wants to lead you.

The party continues with the next track. "All Fall Down" reached number 65 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 16 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 15 in the UK, and number 6 on the US Billboard Dance chart.

"Let Me Be the One" climbed to number 59 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 18 in the UK, number 9 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 2 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I like the saxophone solo used for the bridge here.

"System Addict" hit number 25 in New Zealand, number 24 in Belgium, number 19 in Germany, number 7 in Switzerland and 3 in the UK in early 1986. It is an early computer connected commentary as home PC usage was just starting to grow at this time; I remember having just gotten my own Commodore-64 about a year prior myself.

"Hide and Seek" was first released as a single in 1984, yet it failed to chart. It was covered by New Edition on their self-titled 1984 debut album.

Side two starts with "R.S.V.P." which hit number 45 in the UK as the band's sixth single. Here, a young lady points out that there is not an open time limit in accepting her invitation for love.

"Now I'm In Control", another up-tempo dance tune is next.

"Say Goodbye" was written by Lorraine Person, the only track on the album from one of the family members. This heartbreaking ballad was used as the B-side to the sixth single.

"Crazy", also a 1984 single, failed to chart. I like this one's bubbly, bouncy beat.

The original album release closes with "Winning". You can hear the early Madonna influences on the music of this one.

I owned a copy of Luxury of Life on cassette, bought during the summer of 1985 when I was working my co-op job in New Jersey. In thinking about where I first heard these songs, it had to be both out at the nightclubs as well as watching USA Network's Dance Party USA show (featuring the teenaged Kelly Ripa) that had begun that same year. I played that tape a ton, from beginning to end, over the next few years. The arrangements are tight, and the Pearsons have a wonderful vocal harmony together. It made me an instant Five Star fan, and it remains one of my favorite albums from that year. The songs collectively remind me of fun nights out dancing at clubs and parties during the second half of my college years. This was another one of those records that I would put on to practice dance moves in my dorm room. I was so happy last year when I was able to add it to my music library again; and the CD re-release includes six additional tracks full of extended remixes.


HERC said...

While there is no denying the dancability of this great debut album, it is also a fantastic pop album that holds up well thirty years later despite a few dated sounds. A shame that they never caught on here in the States as they were pop royalty in their native UK.

Martin, is there any album you bought just to listen to back in the day or were all your efforts focused on shaking it on strobe lit dance floors?

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, I tended towards the pop/R&B/rock albums back in the day - driven mostly by cuts I heard in the clubs or on the radio. I always had music on even in the background when I was studying.