Thursday, September 10, 2015

Starship - Knee Deep in the Hoopla

Today (September 10th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Knee Deep in the Hoopla, the first studio album from Starship (the band formerly known by Jefferson Starship and, before that, Jefferson Airplane). The line-up for the group was Mickey Thomas (vocals), Grace Slick (vocals), Donny Baldwin (drums and vocals), Craig Chaquico (guitars) and Pete Sears (bass). The Platinum selling 1985 album hit number 65 in the Netherlands, number 45 in Germany, number 43 in New Zealand, number 29 in Switzerland, number 22 in Sweden, number 15 in Canada and number 7 on the US Billboard Album chart (with a total of fifty weeks on that latter chart).

Side one kicks off with the debut smash hit "We Built This City". The up-tempo rocker, from who’s lyrics the album's title comes, went all the way to number 37 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 21 in Austria and the Netherlands, number 17 in Belgium, number 12 in the UK, number 11 in New Zealand, number 10 in Germany, number 9 in Ireland, number 8 in Switzerland, number 4 in Sweden and number 1 in Australia and Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock charts. The announcer voice you hear on the bridge is Les Garland, a major market program director who at the time was working for KFRC San Francisco. Despite having the distinction in some rock publications like Rolling Stone and Blender, the song did receive a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. For me, personally, this song was just a fun party anthem that got everyone up and dancing back during my college junior year. You could hear it blasting across the quad whenever it came on the radio.

"Sara" was released as the second single. This mid-tempo ballad soared to number 66 in the UK, number 43 in the Netherlands, number 21 in Belgium, number 19 in Ireland, number 18 in Finland, number 16 in New Zealand, number 15 in Austria and Germany, number 12 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 9 in Switzerland, and number 1 in both Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. It is my favorite track on the entire album, and one I have ranked as five-stars in my iTunes library. There is something about it that resonates in my soul and takes me right back to my college years, filled with the trials and tribulations of youthful infatuation and romance.

"Tomorrow Doesn't Matter Tonight", the third single, peaked at number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 25 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The lyrics focus on a night of passion with complete disregard for consequences or where it all might lead.

"Rock Myself to Sleep" opens with a very gritty guitar riff and a pounding drumbeat; it demands that I turn the volume up and just rock out. Slick's vocals are of frustrated desire for the one with whom she cannot be.

"Desperate Heart" counter balances the previous track with Thomas giving a guy's take as he clings to thoughts of a girl who cannot be his. I almost want to find a way to bring the two lonely lovers together.

Side two kicks off with "Private Room", which has a bit of a new-wave vibe to it. The lyrics tell of a man who falls in love for an exotic dancer. An instrumental version of the song was released as the B-side to the first single.

The fourth single from the album was "Before I Go"; this pleasant mid-tempo tune stalled at number 72 in Canada and number 68 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It definitely would qualify for the "Lost 80's Hit" category on Sirius XM's "80's on 8" channel.

"Hearts of the World (Will Understand)" was selected as the B-side to the second single.

The album concludes with "Love Rusts", a two-sided dramatic tale of a marriage going through hard times.

I owned a copy of Knee Deep in the Hoopla on cassette, purchased during my six-month co-op when I was living in Dover, New Jersey. The first side of this tape got definitely more play than the second back in the 80's, thanks to the trio of hit singles that make up most of it. I think I did a disservice to the second side though as, upon recent relistens to the album, I like those tracks as well (having gotten reacquainted with them when I added the album to my digital library). Starship was definitely trying to adapt with the times, much like fellow 70's rockers Heart had been doing. I think this album was a reasonable evolution for the group as they tried to bring in new listeners.

1 comment:

HERC said...

I have nothing good to say about this album so I will say nothing.
(Well, other then what I already said.)