Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Metal Generation 1985-2017 (7 CD Set)


In the 1980’s heavy metal was awash with six-string guitar-slingers, but the one who burned most brightly was Jack Starr. Along with his band Burning Starr, Jack set the decade alight with the fireworks that flew from his fretboard and he produced some of the ‘80s biggest, brightest and most enduring anthems. Collecting albums from various points along Jack Starr’s long and illustrious career, Metal Generation 1985-2017 allows us to delve deeply into his back catalogue to get a real flavour of what makes the man tick.

CD One: Rock The American Way (1985) / No Turning Back! (1986)

After leaving Virgin Steele, many wondered if Jack Starr would be able to replicate the magic he displayed in that band, but his first album under the Burning Starr moniker, Rock The American Way put any fears straight to bed. Bold as brass, and full of vim and vigour (everything good metal should be) this project afforded Jack more opportunity to display his skills, and on this record he was all over the fretboard like a rash. While much guitar virtuosity can be self-indulgent musical masturbation, every note here serves a purpose and it gives the album a streamlined aesthetic that’s very appealing, and bestows instant earworm status on each of its eight tracks. Sometimes we can overanalyse music, and it would be best to admit that ‘She’s On Fire’ is just a great, great, great song, and if the cowbell doesn’t win you over, then you really need a new set of ears. As a mission statement, Rock The American Way found Burning Starr arriving in style, and it was obvious they were going to blaze brightly.

While many bands go in a softer direction on their sophomore release, Burning Starr took the opposite route and 1986’s No Turning Back! rocks exceptionally hard. The arrival of a whole new band, including vocalist Mike Tirelli (replacing Frank Vestry) seems to have galvanised Jack, and is sounds as if someone has lit a fire under their bums. While their previous album had an Americanised sound (hence its title) this record has a definite European sound. Cuts such as ‘Call Of The Wild’ have a definite Difficult To Cure-era Rainbow vibe, and even elements of folk and power metal. It’s a sound that was in perfect tune with the times, and while not a thrash album per se, it’s certainly knocking on the door. Jack’s guitar playing is far grittier on this record and takes some nifty twists and turns on ‘Road Warrior’ and ties us up in all sorts of knots on ‘Avenging Angel’. No Turning Back! was a major step up in class, and stands proudly as one of the era’s best albums.

CD Two: Blaze Of Glory (1987) / Burning Starr (1989)

It never ceases to amaze me the rapidity with which bands used to release albums, and with no discernible drop in quality either. Nowadays, when an album cycle is three years, Blaze Of Glory was Burning Starr’s third album in as many years. This is another dose of balls-to-the-wall heavy metal, with tracks like ‘Overdrive’ going straight for the throat, and some might lament the lack of development from their previous release, but hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However, Blaze Of Glory was furnished with their best production to date, it places Jack’s guitar front and centre, and gives the impression that he’s right in the room with you. The instrumental ‘F.F.Z. (Free Fire Zone)’ draws parallels with Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’, only more treacly and updated for 1987. ‘Metal Generation’ is the cut which gives this collection its name, and as anthemic slabs of metal go, it’s hard to beat. The lyrics found herein might sound a tad cheesy in our “enlightened” times, but sometimes heavy metal isn’t so much what it says, but how it makes you feel, and Blaze Of Glory makes you feel pretty darn good.

An eponymously-titled album is usually reserved for a debut, or to signify a moment of rebirth, but Burning Starr, the band’s fourth full-length, is neither of those. It feels like an act of regression, and its radio-friendly sound has more in common with their debut that their previous two records. Burning Starr is chasing FM radio a little too hard, and the result is unsatisfying; it is generic right down to the lyrical content with an abundance of songs about love and women. The rough edges that made No Turning Back! so enjoyable have been sanded down, which proves that sometimes it is better to have a little dirt under the fingernails. Burning Starr isn’t necessarily a bad album; Jack’s playing is still saucy (as on ‘Tear Down The Walls’ and Tirelli is still in fine fettle, yet overall the band sound restrained, and we always expected much more from Jack Starr’s Burning Starr.

CD Three: Under A Savage Sky (2003) / The Strider Project (1991)

At the turn of the millennium Jack Starr put a new band together, and now operating under the moniker of Guardians Of The Flame, set about recording a new album. Those power metal seeds sown way back on No Turning Back! came to fruition on Under A Savage Sky and found Jack rocking harder than ever before. Fronted by Dutch vocalist Shmoulik Avigal (formerly of heavyweights Picture) this record can be viewed as a turning point and signposts the Burning Starr we know today. ‘Cry For Dawn’ in particular packs a potent punch, but it is hard to pick out a standout track because they’re all pretty pugnacious and are united in heaviness. From its Viking-inspired sleeve to the tough-as-nails sound contained within, it is no surprise that the band were taken under the wing of Manowar’s Joey DeMaio. Unfortunately, this was to be the only Guardians Of The Flame album, yet it symbolised a rebirth and heralded in a new age of brutality.

Following the lacklustre Burning Starr album, Jack Starr returned with The Strider Project, an outfit that inhabited a similar sonic space. In the context of this disc, they sound extremely lightweight when listened to straight after the bombastic Under A Savage Sky, yet taken on their own merit they dish out more of that good time rock as peddled by the likes of Warrant and Winger that was in perfect sync with 1991, yet they only serve to highlight that Jack was correct in forging a tougher, heavier path.

CD Four: Land Of The Dead (2011) / The Strider Project (continued, 1991)

Following a similar aesthetic to the Guardians project, Land Of The Dead took all that was great about that album and amped it up a couple of notches. Manowar’s fingerprints are all over this record from the fantasy cover drawn by Ken Kelly (responsible for several Manowar sleeves) to the guest appearances from Ross The Boss and Davis Schankle to the thunderous drumming from former Manowar sticks man Kenny (Rhino) Earl. As a heavy metal fan this is all very reassuring, and the album largely delivers on what’s promised. This is a brand of metal that shares many similarities with Manowar, yet don’t write Burning Starr off as mere copyists; songs such as ‘Stranger In Paradise’ and ‘Warning Fire’ are far more melodic, and the harmonies are sweeter that anything Manowar conjured, yet the two bands are inextricably linked, and if you like one, you’ll like the other.

As with the previous disc, the tracks from The Strider Project pale by comparison when played straight after Land Of The Dead. Such is the bombastic nature of the former that it leaves the latter in the shade. Lyrically too, the tracks from Strider seem a little lame when sat next to the heavy topics found on Land Of The Dead. In truth, there are pros for both, and the musicianship is always top draw, but on the same disc they don’t sit together too well. It’s rather like chalk and cheese.

Disc Five: Stand Your Ground (2017)

Now fully ensconced in the power metal genre, Stand Your Ground finds Burning Starr coming into their own. Those Manowar influences are still evident (sleeve by Ken Kelly, Rhino on drums) but Burning Starr are now rocking a signature style and sound like no one but themselves. Epic is the word that springs to mind when listening to this album; of the twelve tracks, only one clocks in at under five minutes, the majestic title-track is a ten-and-a-half-minute behemoth, while the whole thing runs to a cool hour-and-fifteen (phew!). That might be a struggle for those with shorter attention spans, but for those who like to sink their teeth into something substantial, this album is perfect chow. Lengthy it might be, but Stand Your Ground never feels forced and the songs have been allowed to grow organically, and if you were ever called on a quest to save the universe, tracks such as ‘Destiny’ and ‘Stronger Than Steel’ would make the perfect soundtrack. A classic album from a band at the top of their game.

Disc Six: Keep The Metal Burning – Live In Germany (2013)

Featuring the same line-up who recorded Land Of The Dead (but now bolstered by a second live guitarist) Keep The Metal Burning – Live In Germany finds burning Starr in their natural habitat. The live environment is where a metal band can either thrive or dive, and on the evidence of this recording they are very much in the former camp. The real revelation on this disc are the cuts from the band’s earlier incarnation (‘Blaze Of Glory’, ‘No Turning Back’, ‘Burning Starr’) which sound beefier when played by this combo. However, throwing in a guitar solo at the end of the third song seems a little unnecessary, especially as there are plenty of opportunities for the guitarists to show their wares. It seems as if there has been little tampering with this recording; there’s hardly any overdubs or studio trickery and this means that ‘Day Of The Reaper’ (along with the rest of the record) provides that authentic bass-thumping-chest, tetanus-inducing live experience.

Five studio tracks are added as bonus cuts, and the energy with which they are played makes them seem like an extension of the live offering. The perfectly encapsulate all facets of Burning Starr, from the anthemic ‘Spirit Of ‘86’ to the epic ‘From Ashes We Rise’ to the no-holds-barred ‘Children Of The Storm’, this is the stuff that makes metal great.

Disc Seven: From The Vault

For this final disc Jack Starr has raided his own archives and served up a smorgasbord that showcases what a multidimensional artist he really is. From The Vault opens with three tracks from his 1984 solo album Out Of The Darkness and they’re given added oomph by a recent remaster, and it is great to hear the much missed Rhett Forrester adding his vocals atop. What a 1985 rehearsal tape lacks in sound quality it more than makes up in energy, and the four tracks presented here veritably crackle and sparkle. Two instrumental cuts allow Jack to showcase his skills, but what I really like about collections such as these are the surprises they throw up, and on this disc it is drummer Rhino taking lead vocal on ‘Day Of The Reaper’ during an 80s In The Park festival. This disc finishes with two cuts from a 2006 rehearsal, and makes an epic closure to one epic set.

Burning Starr are still shining bright to this very day and have their sights set firmly on the future, But if you want some of the best music from the past 35+ years, Metal Generation is just for you.

Track List:

Disc One:

Rock The American Way (1985)

  1. Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The American Way
  2. In Your Arms Again
  3. Woman
  4. Heat Of The Night
  5. Born To Rock
  6. She’s On Fire
  7. Live Fast, Rock Hard
  8. Fight The Thunder

No Turning Back! (1986)

  1. No Turning Back
  2. Light In The Dark
  3. Fire And Rain
  4. Call Of The Wild
  5. Road Warrior
  6. Prelude In C Minor
  7. Evil Never Sleeps
  8. Path Of Destruction
  9. M.I.
  10. Avenging Angel
  11. Run For Your Life
  12. Coda
  13. Burning Star (1997 Remix) *
  14. Metal Generation (1997 Remix)*

* Bonus Tracks

Disc Two:

Blaze Of Glory (1987)

  1. Stand Up And Fight
  2. Overdrive
  3. Blaze Of Glory
  4. F.F.Z. (Free Fire Zone)
  5. Go Down Fighting
  6. Burning Starr
  7. Mad At The World
  8. Mercy Killer
  9. Metal Generation
  10. Excursion

Burning Starr (1989)

  1. Send Me An Angel
  2. Bad Time
  3. Fool For Love
  4. Hold Back The Night
  5. Love Can’t Wait
  6. Out Of The Blue
  7. New York Woman
  8. Tear Down The Walls
  9. Break The Ice
  10. Remember Tomorrow
  11. Good Girls Gone Bad

Disc Three:

Under A Savage Sky (2003)

  1. The Flame That Never Dies
  2. Conspiratos Sanctos
  3. Cry For Freedom
  4. Anthem For The Nations
  5. Sharon Of The Woods
  6. Under A Savage Sky
  7. I Stand Alone
  8. Personal Demons Dethroned
  9. Masters Of Fate
  10. Return From The Ashes (Instrumental)

The Strider Project (1991)

  1. Down On Love
  2. Cherry red
  3. It’s Not Over
  4. Get Together
  5. Livin’ In The Cities

Disc Four:

Land Of The Dead (2011)

  1. Land Of The Dead
  2. Sands Of Time
  3. Twilight Of The Gods
  4. Stranger In Paradise
  5. Here We Are
  6. Warning Fire
  7. Daughter Of Darkness
  8. When Blood And Steel Collide
  9. On The Wings Of The Night
  10. Never Again
  11. Until The End

The Strider Project (continued, 1991)

  1. Dancing On The Edge
  2. Prove Your Love
  3. Mr. President
  4. Under The Influence

Disc Five:

Stand Your Ground (2017)

  1. The Secrets We Hide
  2. The Enemy
  3. Stand Your Ground
  4. Hero
  5. Destiny
  6. The Sky Is Falling
  7. Worlds Apart
  8. Escape From The Night
  9. We Are One
  10. Stronger Than Steel (featuring Rhett Forrester)
  11. False Gods
  12. To The Ends

Disc Six:

Keep The Metal Burning – Live In Germany (2013)

  1. Go Down Fighting
  2. The Flame Never Dies
  3. Baze Of Glory/Jack Starr Guitar Solo
  4. Land Of The Dead
  5. Day Of The Reaper
  6. No Turning Back
  7. Sand Of Time
  8. Conspiratos Sanctos
  9. Burning Starr
  10. Evil Never Sleeps
  11. Spirit Of ‘86 *
  12. From The Ashes We Rise *
  13. Children Of The Storm *
  14. Under The Influence *
  15. Forever *

* Studio Bonus Track

Disc Seven:

From The Vault

  1. Concrete Warrior *
  2. Chains Of Love *
  3. Eyes Of Fire *
  4. Winds Of War **
  5. In The Heat Of The Night ***
  6. Live Fast, Rock Hard ***
  7. Solo/Born To Rock ***
  8. Wild In The Streets ***
  9. Der Klang Der Liebe (The Sound Of Love) ****
  10. Return From The Ashes/Personal Demons Dethroned ****
  11. Day Of The Reaper *****
  12. False Messiah ******
  13. Fight The Thunder ******
  14. Fire And Rain ******
  15. The Sinner ******
  16. Conspiratos Sanctos ******
  17. Defiance *******
  18. Here We Are *******


* Out Of The Darkness (Remastered)

** Alternate Chorus Version

***1 985 Rehearsal Tape

**** Instrumental Version

***** Recorded Live At ‘80s In The Park, 28th August 2015, Rhino Vocal

****** Recorded Live At ‘80s In The Park, 28th August 2015

******* 2006 Rehearsal Tape


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