Unknown Contributor Role: David Essex.
David Essex's second album was recorded less than a year after his first, yet his forward momentum was so powerful that already he had left much of the earlier set's sound and energies behind, a point that becomes apparent from the opening song, the U.K. smash "Gonna Make You a Star." An examination of the entire star-making machine seen from the point of view of an artist who himself was widely perceived as a machine-made star, it marries a buoyantly hook-laden melody with a lyric that swings between cynicism and bitterness, and hangs on the savage denouement, "Is he more than a pretty face?/I don't think so." Of course, Essex was far more than that, as he had already proved with his roles in the movies That'll Be the Day and Stardust. The main theme to the latter closes David Essex no less effectively than "Star" opens it, as a superlative Essex lyric, a foreboding heartbeat rhythm, and a scintillating Chris Spedding guitar solo come together to forge what at least one critic rightfully described as the true national anthem of rock & roll -- a song that acknowledges that failure is as vital to the legend as success. Another U.K. hit, the brooding "America," pops up amidships, lining up alongside "Miss Sweetness" and "Window" as further examples of Essex's rapid maturity -- indeed, only the playful "Ooh Baby" and the gleeful "Good Old Rock'n'Roll" offer any sonic concession to the "Rock On"/"Lamplight" crowd that had brought him to stardom just a year earlier. And the end result, while not exactly a reinvention, was at least an affirmation of Essex's intentions -- he was going to be around for a long time to come. ~ Dave Thompson