Picks and Pans Review: No Protection

updated 08/24/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/24/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Starship

Who needs payola? Last time out of the box, Starship allowed radio stations around the country to place their own call letters and some personalized patter right in the middle of the insipid We Built This City. By simply stroking disc jockeys' boundless vanity, the Bay Area group acquired its first No. 1 hit in 21 years of recording. Apparently, Starship liked their taste of success. No Protection is even more calculated than Knee Deep in the Hoopla was. On this record the band, now reduced to a quartet, has good instrumentation, a great singer (no, not Grace Slick, the Queen of Shriek, but Mickey Thomas) and fabulous producers (check out the scintillating surface Peter Wolf gives to Beat Patrol—it'll give your ears goose bumps). All they're missing are decent songs. That's a quandary, like being on a hot beach with a cooler full of icy beer and no church key. Like the previously released Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, a bathetic ballad from the sound track of Mannequin included here, the compositions all seem like contrived hackwork. Wed these commercial off-the-rack pop songs to a vivid studio sound, as on It's Not Over ('Til It's Over), and the result is catchy. But that's all it is. There is no genuine feeling on No Protection—an exception being the intermittently interesting Girls Like You, one of only three songs on which a band member collaborated. You can take this material, have producers like Wolf, Keith Olsen and Narada Michael Walden dress it in platinum raiment, and play it every three minutes on the radio. That may make it a hit, but it doesn't make it good. (RCA)

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