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Kayak - Starlight Dancer CD (album) cover



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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Plain sailing

Having taken heed of a number of recommendations by Prog Archives members relating to the work of Kayak, I invested in a seductively priced double CD collection which contains three of Kayak's albums ("Starlight dancer", "Phantom of the night", and "Periscope life").

It may be that these albums were not the best place to start with the band, but all I found here was pleasant but totally unchallenging pop. This album consists of 11 songs each three to five minutes in length. There's no feature track or suite of connected songs, everything is kept very simple. Now don't get me wrong here, the quality of the music is undeniable, and the album makes for a pleasant diversion from the complexities of prog, BUT this is pop, pure and simple.

There is certainly a diversity of styles here, including The Beatles/Paul McCartney ("Daughter or son", "Golddust"), 10CC ("Let down"), and City Boy ("Turn the tide"). Ballads such as "Where do we go from here" and " May" work well, often sounding similar to those of the Alan Parsons Project. The occasional instrumental interlude or even entire track (the beautiful, cascading "Irene" featuring some fine sax) show the band to be competent in that field, although they never appear to push themselves into anything which might be described as adventurous.

I did catch a fleeting hint of the neo-prog of IQ on "Want you to be mine", and a hint of more complex structures on the title track, but they turned out to be cruel teasers, the songs ending before anything truly progressive could sneak in.

In summary, Kayak are highly competent in their field. On the evidence of this, (and the two succeeding albums) that field is high quality pop rock with strict limitations on the parameters they work within.

This review is based on the original album by Kayak called "Starlight dancer", now available as part of the "Three originals" collection . A compilation was later released under the same name in the USA, which draws its tracks from this album plus "The last encore".

Report this review (#55399)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars As much as I love Kayak, this album clearly comes from their poppy rather than their prog period. Not that I find something wrong with that, but others will. For me, it is a 4 star recommendation as far as I'm concerned on the strength of the best songs (five score 9/10 or 10/10, this represents about 1% of all songs that score this high on the DP list). In a prog site, 3 stars should suffice though. 1. Daughter or son (3:38) A nice enough melody, but there is nothing special about this song. Not exactly a catchy opener. 7/10. 2. Starlight dancer (4:59) One of my all-time favourite songs. Bohemian rhapsody meets Star Wars. This is the one song that would have warranted a longer version, building upon the many gorgeous themes. Still 10/10. 3. Want you to be mine (3:38) One of the better tracks certainly, great vocal effects, good melody, good execution. 8/10. 4. Letdown (2:49) What's in a name. A song without much pretention, straightforward poppy, and utterly disposable. 6/10. 5. Irene (4:24) A beautiful instrumental, for me in the top10 instrumentals of all time. A melancholy melody, with instrumentation dominated by various keyboards, and beautiful electric guitar work. 9/10. 6. Golddust (2:39) An interesting interlude, more inventive than tracks 1 and 4. Short but effective. 8/10. 7. May (4:42) A beautiful little ballad, piano dominated. Gorgeous melody, great singing. Needed a lot more variation to score a 10/10 though. 9/10. 8. Turn the tide (3:36) One of the better up-tempo songs of Kayak (I seem to like them best in their ballads). Should have been a world-wide hit, really. A solid 9/10. 9. Dead bird flies forever (4:18) This is one of Kayaks best songs, and it is a pity that it is so little known even in Holland. It is a gorgeous ballad, more akin to early Pink Floyd than anything else. I still find it incomprehensible that it was cut from the album for the US release in favour of some older compositions. 10/10. 10. Sweet revenge (3:33) Back to up tempo, one of the more rocking tracks, great keyboards. 8/10. 11. Where do we go from here? (4:40) Reminiscent of Alan Parsons more than anything else. Beautiful keyboards intro promising a little more than the song eventually delivers. Still a solid 8/10. If you do not like your prog on the poppy side, better not venture here. If you have a more open mind in this respect, this is a great album to sample the poppier side of Kayak.
Report this review (#61637)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A memorable album that helped me grow, professionally ..!

I remember vividly my first introduction (in the 70s) with Kayak through my big brother who gave me two groups at the same time: Genesis (later I knew as "Nursery Cryme" album) and Kayak. Those two bands were actually not related or something similar but both were made known to me personally at the same time. My first impression with Kayak was on their song "Woe and Alas" which has since then become my all-time favorite until now. I then kept purchasing the cassette version of Kayak whenever it was possible. This "Starlight Dancer" album is very memorable to me with the facts that some songs have tied me to some critical milestones in my life.

First is the title song "Starlight Dancer" which became as one of my companion when I struggled my career as Strategy consultant in one of the world's top six consulting firms. Yes, it was not just the time when the album was released but many years after that when I needed this song as a companion of my critical career. Why? First is the lyrics that for me was very adventurous and fit with my fighting spirit to achieve exceptional result as professional consultant. Second, is the song itself which has a catchy melody especially on the opening part, i.e. vocal line accompanied by piano. In addition, this song has a tight composition through dynamic style and orchestration. It creates my adrenalin running faster whenever I listen to this song.

Second is "Daughter or Son" with its great groove, wonderful beats and catchy melody. This is the kind of song that I need when I wake up in the morning. The music gives me feel like being motivated to conquer the day. It's nothing prog, I think, but it's pop with brilliant nuance. I seem do not care what the lyrics is trying to say, but the groove and the beats that make me! It's one of great songs that Kayak has ever produced.

"Irene" is an instrumental track with nice melody and it fits to most of people ears, I think. "Golddust" is another good song with drums intro plus uplifting mood. "May" is a very nice track with mellow style using mainly piano / keyboard as main instrument that accompanies beautiful singing style. "Where Do We Go From Here" is another excellent track this album presents.

Overall, this album has practically little prog components even though I can find clearly in "Starlight Dancer" track but this is an excellent album overall. Let me put it this way: I think vast majority of people like pop music and very few love prog rock. Now, if you have been attuned to prog, you would find this album by Kayak enjoyable and unlike other pop music. Because I know, that most progheads find themselves hard to accept regular pop song. Kayak music is mainly pop but with prog components. I rate this album as excellent one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#156669)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Kayak - Starlight Dancer (1977)

I will not be disgussing this record for to long. This is the first record with 90% pop material Kayak made and only the track Starlight Dancer is worthwhile for people into progressive music. This song might be seen as lonely on a popalbum, but is is a great progressive symphonic epic with much interesting parts and an adventureous vibe. The other tracks are between avarage and good pop. I like the Daughter or Son track, but after that my attention is reduced so much I don't listen to the album anymore.

Instead of this album try the fantastic first four records of Kayak or the nice Close to the Fire and Merlin - Bard of the Unseen albums from the 21th century. Two stars for this poprecord.

Report this review (#172930)
Posted Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars ''Kayak'' had delivered quite good works so far. Even if their debut were their all-time best, each album from the band was quite decent. Full of poppy prog, excellent melodies and perfect vocals.

This album is quite a deception though. But with such a title, there is no wonder!

It is really a pity that such a good band delivered such an album (but we are unfortunately used to this syndrome). If you ever doubt, just listen to the title track.

At least, some of you might think that it is just a mistake, an error. But it isn't. The worse is still to come: the disgusting and disco flavoured ''Want you to be mine'' is quite unbelievable. An enormous press next song.

The only positive comment I can provide is that the vocal harmonies are still top notch and indeed somewhat Trampish oriented (''Let Down'', ''Turn The Tide''). It is one of my fave (but one of the shortest as well).

Now, to be honest, the instrumental ''Irene'' also shares the bill and deserves a mention. This is an admirable piece of music: full of tact, sweetness and harmony. How comes that ''Kayak'' could release some great track as this one and at the same time so rubbish type of track as ''Golddust''. One of the worst ''Kayak'' moments for sure.

A song as ''May'' can also be considered as a highlight: a little more complex than average, crafted vocals and a wonderful instrumental passage that ranges from a mellow song to a excellent rock ballad.

In terms of rock song, "Sweet Revenge'' is one of the best available: aggressive vocals ( la Collins), upbeat song with fine instrumental part. I wish more like this one was available. Fortunately, this album ends better than it all started.

The closing number '' Where do we go from here" is a pleasant ballad which offers some similarities with "Genesis" (from the "Wind & Wuthering" era). On the mellow side, but that's OK. If you look for easy listening prog music, or have this album played in the background, there is no harm done; but don't expect flamboyant music.

I would say an average album, but I upgrade it to three stars.

Report this review (#223609)
Posted Sunday, June 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Faceless pop rock with prog flourishes that follows the formula Genesis used for success during this period. Of course Genesis had by far the better musicians but Kayak, as they always do, give it their best go. There are some titles I wouldn't mind hearing again, but the rest is bland. None of the instruments really stand out and the vocals pretty much follow the same formula. The harmonies aren't really that prevalent, there's little mellotron and the hooks don't dig in. Sometimes I like these later seventies records where the band morphs their prog sound to fit the times. Camel's Breathless comes to mind. This one, however, can go back on the scrap heap.
Report this review (#2025069)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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