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Five Star v Gladys Knight


DTMark
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Seems an unlikely contest, doesn't it..

I loved Five Star. Theirs was the first concert I went to, at the Wembley Arena. I suspect I was about 13 at that time.

It's of its time, but their pop music was slick and there's so much that's good about it still now.

On the other hand Gladys could be the finest female vocalist ever.

So I came across her cover of a Five Star song. And I'm so torn.

Which is the better version and why?

Five Star

Gladys Knight

(For a bonus point which one do you think I'll say is better?)

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goldbug9999

To be fair Denise, 5 stars singer is actually pretty decent singer in her own right, just somewhat limited by their material. Also still looks phenomenal at 53 (?) definite non scapper bird contender.

 

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Gladys just soars. No matter what the material, she gives it her all. It touches the soul.

For example I'd suggest "Licence to Kill" is a really difficult song to sing because it's relatively flat and all the work has to be done with the voice. And she pulls that off magnificently.

I have an internal bias. I liked Five Star and still do. Their stuff had plenty of what I suppose might be called musicality. Yes, it was pop music, but the writer - Dianne Warren IIRC - was talented and the music has a quality about it that modern manufactured pop doesn't often reach.

I prefer the simplistic backing of the original. It's not just a monotone synth backing, it builds and the whole thing pulls together beautifully. It hits some gorgeous notes. It sounds "complete". But then I heard it first and I know it well.

Gladys' version sounds overworked to me. There's too much going on musically and it doesn't really follow the story of the song. The sax interlude is nice and she's fantastic but it would have been better had it been kept more simple. She's trying to tell the story, but the backing isn't working with it.

But Gladys could sing anything and she shines through regardless.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Stinky Wizzleteats
On 05/09/2021 at 02:26, DTMark said:

I loved Five Star. Theirs was the first concert I went to, at the Wembley Arena. I suspect I was about 13 at that time.

Me too! 

I don't think their music has aged well, but must admit I haven't listened recently. Maybe I'll give them a listen

This one is a bit of a dirge IMHO, but Gladys is the better singer. Denise sounds a bit Michael Jackson-y!

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17 hours ago, Stinky Wizzleteats said:

Me too! 

I don't think their music has aged well, but must admit I haven't listened recently. Maybe I'll give them a listen

This one is a bit of a dirge IMHO, but Gladys is the better singer. Denise sounds a bit Michael Jackson-y!

I've listened to the first two albums this morning so you don't have to ;) Typed this out as it went along.

Luxury of Life

Strongly typifies the pop music of the time, back in the days of Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson et. al. The electronica in the backing certainly places which decade this came from.

No lyrical masterpieces to be found, but then that's a high bar and rare in pop music anyway. It's feel-good hummable stuff. It's also cheesy, but I suspect that's not with the passage of time, it was probably that way back then.

The first three tracks are typically "album tracks" and forgettable. Then it picks up with "System Addict", the big hit: tight timing, bridge, harmonies.

Overall it seems superficial and lightweight with some really nice ideas but it's a decent first album.

Silk and Steel

Full of big hits, and it's obvious from the start that this is more mature. It's more memorable not because it's not so far back in history, but because the music has stepped up a gear. The evolution is really clear.

The percussion and guitars on "Can't Wait Another Minute" take things up a notch, with that same tight musical timing and those harmonies. Denise's vocal steps up, too. She may not have the most powerful voice, but she sounds great on "Find the Time", and there's real soul in there.

The cheesiness is back with "Rain or Shine" which makes me think of Abba - it's funny really, I loved it at the time but now I can see the aspects of their music that people despised. It has something of the "kids TV theme tune" about it.

"Stay Out of My Life" has a much darker feel about it, really well put together. Great vocals, key change.

And then to "The Slightest Touch". Brilliant pop music. Nobody ever suspected that this was really about a vibrator, as I believe Denise later admitted ;) I'm the proud owner of the rare Shep Pettibone 12" mix of that one.

Great pop music and they deserved their success.

 

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