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Lone Star - 'Lone Star' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/3c/93/ee/1873_LoneStarLoneStar_1326478198.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 13, 2012    
 
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Re-issue of a classy and original debut album.

Not to be confused with the Country/Pop act of the same name, this Lone Star were formed in Cardiff in 1975, recorded some sessions with Radio 1 producer Tony Wilson, and after being championed by both John Peel and Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, they picked up a lucrative record deal with CBS -- all before playing their first proper live gig. Probably best known for being the first recording band of erstwhile UFO/Waysted guitarist Paul 'Tonka' Chapman, Lone Star peddled a hard rock/progressive rock crossover sound that was both hugely original and highly exciting, with their BBC sessions getting such a response that the label thought nothing of shelling out the cash to hire producer Roy Thomas Baker; currently hot property for his huge success with Queen's 'A Night At The Opera' album and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' single.

Both Lone Star albums started with an epic track, in this case an eight and a half minute version of the Beatles classic 'She Said She Said', which is so cleverly re-arranged and superbly played that it's almost unrecognisable. The twin guitars of Tonka and Tony Smith always play different complementary parts and Rik Worsnop's inventive keyboard parts also add a different slant, but it's the thundering drums and bass of Dixie Lee and Pete Hurley that sound the freshest and benefit from the remastering. I remember singer Kenny Driscoll getting a bit of stick at the time, but I really can't hear anything wrong with his Plant-like vocals, although he does sound a little frail on the sparse and haunting 'Illusions'.

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Other highlights are the subtle and moody 'Lonely Soldier', the spacey hard rock of 'Spaceships' and the lively 'Flying In The Reel', which is perhaps the best representation of their sound. There's a big sci-fi theme running through the latter part of the album, with 'Spaceships' linking into 'A New Day' and 'A Millions Stars', each of which have an original mix of 70s classic rock, boogie and late 70s pomp, but Lone Star's instrumental parts and big harmony vocals (not surprising given RTB's production) were always interesting and left of centre.

My one main gripe back in the day was that the album was over-produced and lacked the raw edge of their pre-album BBC sessions, which is further emphasised here by the inclusion of those superior versions as bonus tracks. Of the five on offer -- four album tracks and an early version of 'Hypnotic Mover' from the follow-up -- all four are grittier than the versions on the main album and, just like the album of Starcastle demos that appeared a few years ago, they show that all the great, quirky ideas were the bands and not those of producer Baker.

Another band from that era that suffered due to the Punk revolution (see our own Dave Cockett's sleeve essay for proof!), 'Lone Star' was a classy and original debut album that, whilst a product of its time, showcased a young and talented band who were not afraid to take chances.

Phil Ashcroft

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