Five Star

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Five Star

Were they really as “Stong As Steel” or were Five Star bound to “Rock The World”? And where are they now…?

by Mark Keen

We really need to “Find The Time” to revisit the career of Romford’s finest – the very under-appreciated sibling group Five Star. Their success in the UK during their 80’s peak is often left unrecognised. However, during their, as I will call it, imperial phase between 1985 and 1988 they had six top ten single hits and a further nine top 40 hits. Whilst they never hit number one in the singles chart, they did manage a huge number one album “Silk And Steel” in 1986, which sold over a million, and a further three top twenty albums.

Success outside of the U.K. was less stellar, but they did trouble the US R&B charts on several occasions. The 90’s were less kind to Five Star and whilst they continued to record, success was more limited, which culminated with their move to America and a move from pop to R&B. I’m going to stick to the ‘pop years’. Somehow they never appeared to achieve the credibility they deserve. It’s time to reevaluate Five Star. It “Can’t Wait Another Minute”!

My early memories of Five Star were punctuated with their frequent appearances on Saturday morning television, and the sadly missed Wogan, although they got their earliest break on Pebble Mill performing “Problematic”. They were signed to their father Buster’s Tent record label, which at one point was, it is claimed, the biggest independent record label in the UK due to Five Star’s sales. “Problematic” never charted and nor did the subsequent singles “Hide and Seek” and “Crazy”.

However, in 1985 Five Star would enjoy their first top twenty hit with the third single from their first album “The Luxury Of Life”. “All Fall Down” hit number 15 in the UK, and even hit the top twenty in the US R&B charts.

Further top 30 success would follow with “Let Me Be The One” (number 18) (trivia alert – later covered by Mandy Moore on her first album) and “Love Take Over” (number 25), although there was a bump in the road when “RSVP” missed the top 40 hitting 45, although is was by now the sixth single from their debut album. The video for “Love Take Over” is a particular favourite with Five Star appearing somewhere nice and sunny. It always reminds me of Wham’s Club Tropicana video.

Their debut album would yield a further gift with one of their biggest, and first, top ten hits with “System Addict” hitting number three in early 1986. This was the seventh single off “Luxury Of Life” but nevertheless was huge helped by a great futuristic video.

After the early success in 1986 Five Star were finally on a roll with their greatest success, the number one album “Silk And Steel”. The album produced six UK top 15 singles and three US R&B successes. The album campaign would get off to a great start with “Can’t Wait Another Minute” hitting number 7.

1986 would continue with the successful single releases “Find The Time” (number 7) and their biggest hit “Rain Or Shine” (number 2) held off the top spot by the Communards “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. They were robbed!

More was to come with “If I Say Yes” (number 15 and never a favourite of mine) and “Stay Out Of My Life” in early 1987 (number nine – my favourite Five Star single and written by their very own Deniece). I even loved the re-recorded “(How Dare You) Stay Out Of My Life” for a children’s show.

“The Slightest Touch”, a further single from “Silk And Steel”, with a remix from Shep Pettibone, would hit number four in the spring of 1987. Unfortunately this would be their last top ten hit.

The summer of 1987 would see the return of Five Star with the first single from their third album “Between The Lines”. “Whenever You’re Ready” would miss the top ten hitting number 11 and this must have been a shock. Perhaps we were not ready for the more mature and sophisticated look. I loved it nevertheless and can safely say the lyric “Whenever You’re Ready” is repeated 32 times, or is it 33?

The album “Between The Lines” faltered at number seven, it’s a great album showing real progression in the group with some great songwriting from Deniece, Doris, Lorraine and Leroy all getting songwriting credits. The album is full of gems, and again another absolute favourite was the amazing “Hard Race” written by Deniece. This album deserves a reappraisal. Check out the Cherry Red reissue. The album would contain two more hits, the Diane Warren penned “Strong As Steel” (later recorded by Tina Arena and Gladys Knight) hitting number 16 and “Somewhere, Somebody” limping to number twenty three, mainly as there was no video and it got caught up in the Christmas rush.

Things would go quiet for six months when Five Star would return with a dramatic new leather clad look, which unfortunately distracted from some great music with the “Rock The World” album. “Another Weekend” peaked at only number eighteen.

The “Rock My World” single also failed to set the sky alight peaking at number 28, but in my view still burns bight today.

Two further Deniece penned singles, the excellent “There’s A Grand New World” and “Let Me Be Yours” stalled outside the top 40 and the imperial period came to an end.

There was an underperforming “Greatest Hits” album (UK number 53) in 1989 and a new single “With Every Heartbeat”, but it felt like Five Star were caught up in that transition from the 80’s to the 90’s that also left many of their contemporaries behind. Pop seemed to be out of fashion by 1990. Five Star also suffered from some negative press at the time.

The come back in 1990 with the “Five Star” album misfired after the failure of the “Treat Me Like A Lady” and “Hot Love” singles, and subsequent albums never saw a return to the glory days. However, the albums have been reissued and all the videos can be found on the now rare DVD ‘Performance’ compilation.

A reunion of the five members appears unlikely, but all the members are active again in different ways. Deniece even appeared on the New Year’s Day edition of Top of the Pops in 2016 as a guest vocalist performing Sigala‘s number one hit “Easy Love”. Ironic that this would include an interpolation of The Jackson 5 song “ABC”! Deniece even popped up on The Voice, but the quality of her voice and performance was way beyond what the programme could deal with.

Recently Deniece curated “The Definitive Anthology” and whilst it is a pricey collection it is sure to meet the needs of dedicated Five Star followers (I’m saving the pennies for it!). “The Remix Anthology” is also worth checking out.

By the way, Five Star certainly mined their albums for singles, but there are many album tracks that remain firm favourites and many written by the group. Check out my favourites: “Say Goodbye” (written and sung by Lorraine), “Don’t You Know I Love It” (written and sung by Doris), “You Should Have Waited” ( written be sung by Lorraine), “Knock Twice” (written by Doris and Leroy), “Hard Race” (written by Deniece), and the super album tracks on the greatly under-appreciated “Rock The world” album including “Godsend” (written by Climie Fisher), “Someone’s In Love” (written by Doris and Leroy) and a couple of firm favourites of mine “Physical Attraction” and “Rescue Me”, which I consider an undiscovered classic.

My love for Five Star remains as “Strong As Steel”.

Stay in touch with Five Star through their official FACEBOOK page

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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