All Star United – All Star United
April 15, 1997
What It Sounds Like: Straight up 90s alternative / pop rock for the Christian marketplace….with a dash of surf rock that sounds like it would fit in perfectly on the California coast.
Look through the writings of NoCoda, and you’ll surely see a great number of times that I express my love for 90s alternative. Throw some heavy doses of pop into the mix, and you’ve made a stellar cocktail. Sure, you may have had it a million times before, but when you mix the ingredients just right, nothing does down smoother. Exhibit A: I give you the debut All Star United record from (as far as the date of this review is concerned) sixteen years ago. Have mercy.
The secret sauce here is the addition of the organ that we find scattered throughout these tracks. It’s never overpowering – but it’s always used just enough to let us know that it’s there, with an unsuspecting ear possibly not even detecting it. It’s there through part of the verses on upbeat album opener La La Land. It’s there throughout the wonderfully powerful coda (!!) of Drive, while the guitars swirl and jam into a whirlwind of outstretched arms and lifted faces. It even gets its own solo during Tenderness, which may be the poppiest thing we find here, and is the sleeper hit on this album as far as how catchy a track is concerned. Nestled in second to last, it’s not to be missed. It has a wonderful three-note guitar lick that comes in at the beginning of the chorus, the middle, and the end – and each time, repeats itself eight times. That last sentence, I understand, is way to complicated to be written out like I just did. It’s something that you simply have to hear for yourself. It’s a simple, small edition that will have you smiling from ear-to-ear when it comes on.
The grungiest track here is actually the single (how about that?), which is Bright Red Carpet. It has a killer bass line that carries the song, and exhibits a heavy 60s vibe with lyrics that speak to the popular trends of earth certainly not being the ones that matter at the end of your life. Priorities, priorities. Savior Of My Universe (which by all means should have been the CCM single) is insanely catchy, the closest thing that we have to a ballad on the record, and also the most “worshipful” in nature track that we find.
Oh, I forgot to ask…
Are you having a kinda so-so day? A little bummed out? The sun may be shining outside, but you’re just kind of feeling out of it? I have a sure-fire solution for you. Throw on Beautiful Thing and go take a walk, and your mood is sure to improve. Few pop songs are as happy-sounding as this, while still having an awesome retro, throwback, rock ”n’ roll vibe. We have the “woo-hoo-hoos!”, the solo guitar instrumentals, and of course, the organ is back! If that scenario that I just laid out for you doesn’t work, simply slap yourself across the face and change your attitude. This life isn’t about you, and this track sure isn’t about your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parent, friend…
Whoo-hoo-hoo / It’s a beautiful thing
Whoo-hoo-hoo / To be loved by you
Whoo-hoo-hoo / Oh, that’ll be enough to get me through
It’s a beautiful thing
It sounds much better on the track than how it does typed out, I assure you!
I feel that this record, as a whole, would be very easy for most people to enjoy who just enjoy music in general. It has some great upbeat rock ‘n’ roll tunes, but also certainly knows how to pop around and get stuck in your head. Ian Eskelin is a master songwriter. Let him and the boys in All Star United take you on a ride for the next forty-five minutes. You’ll come out the other side feeling better than you thought you would.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Bright Red Carpet / Beautiful Thing