Song of the Day

Starz, “Cherry Baby,” from Violation (Capitol Records, 1977)

Starz featured former members of Looking Glass (behind the 1972 hit, "Brandy") and Stories (behind the 1973 hit, "Brother Louie"), and were managed by Bill Aucoin, the mastermind behind the Kiss empire. So, yeah, things looked good for the combo when they signed with Capitol Records in early 1976. Sadly, Starz never truly broke through on a big scale, but there are enough gems sprinkled throughout their four studio albums to make them worthy additions to any hard rock fan's music library.

Produced by Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon, Clutch), Starz's second album, 1977's Violation, opens with a catchy bastard of a track that straddles the line between power pop and hard rock called "Cherry Baby."

Their best known track, "Cherry Baby" features sparkling guitar hooks from Richie Ranno and Brendan Harkin, plus a vocal performance from frontman Michael Lee Smith that includes some clear-as-a-bell high notes during one section of each verse. Starz might have been based in New Jersey, but "Cherry Baby" is the kind of single that seems like it was constructed with the sunny skies and cruising convertibles of southern California in mind.

Trivia hounds should know that Michael Lee Smith's brother is none other than Rex Smith, the actor who starred in the '80s action series, Street Hawk, and also had some success in the late '70s as a pop-rock solo artist. His track, "You Take My Breath Away," hit the Top 10 Singles chart in 1979. Earlier in the decade, the actor/musician fronted a rock group called Rex.

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