Radio Stars - Thinking Inside The Box album review

Old broadcasts from punk bandwagon humpers

Cover art for Radio Stars - Thinking Inside The Box album

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

With roots in ultra-violent flower power mods John’s Children, peroxide singer Andy Ellison led Jet, grasping the fading coat-tails of glam, before finding himself in the thick of punk rock when the band signed to Chiswick and morphed into Radio Stars.

Accelerating tempos and shortening song lengths to power-pop punk, the band scored an independent hit with self-satisfied wank anthem Dirty Pictures. As punk ignited, Radio Stars seemed like an enthusiastic showbiz throwback, unashamedly nicking stagecraft from UFO, parading Page Three models and playing London’s streets from the back of a lorry, Ellison even getting himself arrested after leaping astride a police van.

Radio Stars performed No Russians In Russia on Marc Bolan’s TV show (Bolan was Ellison’s old John’s Children mucker), and looked like grabbing the Eddie and the Hot Rods market when their debut album, Songs for Swinging Lovers, appeared that November. It brandished insensitive howl-alongs such as The Beast Of Barnsley and Arthur Is Dead Boring (Let’s Rot), their sensation-seeking ode to the recently departed Elvis.

Despite its cover version of The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood, September 1978’s The Holiday Album was touted as a sophisticated progression, but internal frictions were sending Radio Stars to an early grave.

According to Dave Thompson’s band-assisted liner notes, there have since been reunions, while the ever-opportunistic Ellison now leads a Finnish line-up of John’s Children.

Clad in a nice box, this nostalgically quaint four-disc set presents Radio Stars’ two albums, plus singles, rarities (including 2016’s unreleased The Beast Of Ankara), their three Peel sessions and an In Concert appearance.

Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!