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Kayak Starlight Dancer (US) album cover
3.28 | 24 ratings | 6 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Want You to Be Mine (4:46)
2. Ballad for a Lost Friend (4:14)
3. Turn the Tide (3:34)
4. Nothingness (3:56)
5. Still My Heart Cries for You (4:34)

6. Starlight Dancer (5:03)
7. Love of a Victim (2:48)
8. Land on the Water (2:28)
9. Do You Care (2:56)
10. Back to the Front (4:32)
11. Irene (4:22)

Total Time 43:13

Line-up / Musicians

- Johan Slager / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Ton Scherpenzeel / piano, clavinet, organ, String Ensemble, Mellotron, accordion, synths, double bass, vocals
- Max Werner / vocals, Mellotron, percussion
- Theo De Jong / bass
- Charles Louis Schouten / drums

Releases information

Janus JXS 7034 (USA, vinyl, 1978)

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and to projeKct for the last updates
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KAYAK Starlight Dancer (US) ratings distribution

(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

KAYAK Starlight Dancer (US) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If you listen nonchalantly to this album, you will say: "This is another pop piano boring band who is not progressive and who is not talented enough to make catchy pop hits". But if you listen it carefully, you will discover charming songs, very addictive and symphonic, but not really progressive. Here, compared to their debut, they sacrificed progressive tendencies to the profit of a clean, attractive well recorded sound. There are lots of piano, as always, and keyboards can be really floating, in a symphonic manner. The bass is good and the ensemble is often rythmic. There are lots of subtlety in simplicity here. The lead vocals is very goo too, as always.
Review by slipperman
3 stars Geez, what happened? 'Royal Bed Bouncer' was no departure after all, and 'Starlight Dancer' is a solid statement regarding where Ton Scherpenzeel wanted his band to go (credit/blame must also go to departed drummer Pim Koopman, who doesn't perform on this album but checks in with sole songwriting credit on 4 songs). The adventurous old Kayak sound got left behind forever in favor of brighter sounds and moods. 'Starlight Dancer' is the album that defined the Kayak approach: a slick, pop sheen over numbers that, if not always complex, are always atmospheric. From disco-inflected tracks like "I Want You To Be Mine" to the sad tones of "Ballad For a Lost Friend", Kayak stakes their claim as kings of pop-meets-prog. This is readily apparent once third track "Turn The Tide" kicks in with its blatant pop momentum. Elsewhere you're treated to variations on the aforementioned themes: disco-ish rhythms meeting some Yes-ish guitar work in "Still My Heart Cries For You", symphonic pop in the title track, more upbeat silliness in "Love Of A Victim" and "Do You Care". "Back To The Front" rears its head as the most involved song on the album, but still a long way from the amazing material on their first couple albums.

I prefer the depressive moments best, as it seems to be where this lighter, friendlier Kayak is most effective. Stuff like "Ballad For A Lost Friend" and "Nothingness" are heart- wrenching if you listen to them at the wrong moments, and contemplative at other times. There is worth here, and even some depth now and again ("Back To The Front"). But I would've rather heard them move toward music that was just a little bit (no, a lot!) more invigorating. (I don't mean to split hairs, but giving this a 3 is too high, a 2 too low, so I'll call it a 2.5)

Review by daveconn
4 stars This is the second Kayak album I've listened to (Phantom being the phirst) and I'm quickly becoming enamored of the band's brand of progressive pop. Funny to think I let these Kayak albums languish in my collection for a year, afraid that they'd be a disappointment. Instead, Starlight Dancer is a charmer, chocked full of clever arrangements and interesting musical themes. Elements of Genesis, Queen, Alan Parsons Project and Camel appear throughout without being derivative of those bands, and yet the band I think of most often is Renaissance. Both bands fell to the left or right of prog's front echelon but will be remembered for carrying the standard when the front-rank fellers were fallen (or fiddling around). And both had a facility for incorporating orchestral arrangements into appealing melodies and making use of classical themes without sounding overly pretentious. Surprising since Starlight Dancer would seem a dubious effort on the surface: roughly half the songs are written by the departed Pim Koopman, roughly half are produced by Jack Lancaster and originate from different sessions, and the track selection varies widely between US and European releases which puts the kibosh on any musical concept you might be entertaining in your head. (While I'm complaining, they should have created different album artwork before releasing this as Starlight Dancer, since the cover now has nothing to do with the title.) And yet despite all that, the album succeeds at almost every step: "Ballad For A Lost Friend," "Love of a Victim," "Do You Care" and "Irene" for example. Proving that I'm not crazy (or at least deferring judgment for the moment), Starlight Dancer became Kayak's highest-charting US release at #117. No, I didn't hit the "1" key twice, this is as far as Kayak went. Blame poor marketing, since the music is as good as anything APP or Supertramp were peddling, two bands likewise handcuffed by identity crises.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I always enjoy compilation of early albums like this one with KAYAK which basically after they released five studio albums: See See The Sun (1973), Kayak II (1974), Royal Bed Bouncer (1975), The Last Encore (1976) and Starlight Dancer (1977). My first listen of Kayak happened with Kayak II especially with its Woe and Alas track. To be honest I love this track very much since the first time I heard it even until now. I really don't know why this compilation does not include this beuatiful song Kayak has ever made.

However, I like the inclusion of Nothingness right here in this compilation. This song has a very solid composition combining nice piano work and very good vocal harmony. The poppy song I. I Want you to be Mine (4:46) is actually good as well. Still my Heart cries for you (4:34) is very melodic and melancholic. While Starlight Dancer (5:03) is an excellent song with brilliant composition starting with something melodic at intro part followed with a blast of music that moves nicely from start to end. Irene (4:22) is a very good instrumental.

Overall it's a good compilation. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars As what seems to be the case with most people, my introduction to Kayak was through the excellent album "Phantom of the Night". This album, once it grows on you, will possibly influence you to check out Kayak's discography, and you'll find out that the band got it's start in 1972 and then disbanded in 1982 after releasing around 9 albums. During this time, the band saw many line-up changes, but founder Ton Scherpenzeel has been the one constant through the years. Then, in 1999, they were invited to participate in a TV show, and they decided to re-form. Since then, they are still active and have released several more albums since. There are, as a result, many albums to choose from.

Kayak's music has pretty much been a progressive pop style, not unlike that of The Alan Parson's Project in the use of pop, prog, and symphonic styles that make you sit up and listen while not really realizing that you are listening to progressive music until you get to know it better. It is bright music, led mostly by piano and other keyboards, but also not afraid to let the guitar take charge along the way.

So, if you are interested in checking out their discography, the album "Starlight Dancer" can be a somewhat confusing affair. It was released in Europe in 1977, and another version was released in North America at the same time. Now, this was a practice that was done by the record companies quite often. The track line-ups on the different versions of "Starlight Dancer" are quite different, to the point of them being two different albums. This was done in order to pick out songs that the record company "Janus" thought would appeal more to the population of the US and Canada. Instead of replacing one or two songs, though, the NA version only kept 4 of the songs from the European version of the album, and on top of that, replaced two of those with "demo" versions of the original album tracks. These songs were the title track, "Turn the Tide" and demo versions of "Irene" and "I Want You to Be Mine" They also included a track not on the European album version that was only released as a b-side in Europe; "Ballad for a Lost Friend". The other 6 tracks all come from the previously released album "The Last Encore". As a result of this, the NA version of "Starlight Dancer" actually becomes a compilation, with most songs coming from the previous album, not the current album. To make things even more confusing, the album cover on the US version is the exact same as the album cover from "The Last Encore" (except for the album title).

So, this particular review is for the North American version of "Starlight Dancer". I have not been able to listen to the European version, so I don't know how to compare it to that one. However, this version demonstrates the direction that Ton wanted to take his band, and it includes some bright, prog pop tracks that those who listened to "Phantom of the Night" would probably expect, but also contains some nice, soaring ballads, all with the prog edge needed to keep them interesting, but with pop-centered riffs and melodies that will stick in your head, but in a good way.

The album begins and ends with the demo versions taken from the recording sessions from 1977. Why the label decided to use the demo versions is unknown, but they both sound quite finished to me without hearing the finished versions of them. "I Want You to Be Mine" is a good opener and prepares the listener for the signature prog-pop sound of the band. "Ballad for a Lost Friend" is a bit more like a ballad which picks up later in the song and one of my favorites from the album. By the time you get to "Nothingness" you are ready for something not so bright, and you get it here with a soaring and sweet ballad which carries over somewhat in the next track that grows off of that.

The title track opens up the 2nd side with what is probably the best track on the album. At this point, more of the symphonic style is added in though throughout the album you have heard the use of the string ensemble, you'll really notice it here along with the Alan Parson's Project similarities. After this, the tracks are a bit shorter and begin to sound alike as they continue in this manner with the bright prog-pop they are known for. Things cool down a bit for the softer and flowing instrumental, the demo version of "Irene" which closes the album.

Just as is the case with most of Kayak's music, this album spotlights that pop-prog sound with the right mix of symphonic and folk influences that make it feel like, on first listen, that you are not even hearing prog. But as you become more familiar with it, you start to notice the non-standard phrasing and lyrical tendencies and the other subtle things the band uses to give it a light amount of complexity. As with most of their albums, it is a very pleasant listen, not at all challenging, yet not groundbreaking at all either. Many hard-core progressive fans will not like this because it is quite light on the progressiveness, but if you enjoy the lighter side of prog, then you should know this band because this is what they specialize in.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The tracklist on this album is different in the USA then on the Dutch version. The USA-version is a compilation of 2 LP's: The Last Encore and Starlight Dancer. On the songs from The Last Encore, you can hear performing Pim Koopman on drums and Bert Veldkamp on bass. On the songs from Starlight ... (read more)

Report this review (#4162) | Posted by Robin | Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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