Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
VARIOUS ARTISTS | The Solar Galaxy of Stars Live
Selected by Steven E. Flemming, Jr.
An interesting time capsule, The Solar Galaxy of Stars Live—which documented a stop on the successful 1980 tour of the same name—captured Solar Records’ first wave of hit makers as disco was slipping into the netherworld between the R&B charts and the urban underground.
Over the course of two LPs, the Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, and Dynasty powered through their current hits with Motortown Revue gusto, faithfully replicating Solar’s trademark high-gloss, hooky arrangements. Though many dismiss the label’s brand as sanitized bubblegum soul, there were some surprises: Kevin Spencer, a singer with underrated outfit Dynasty, delivered a crystal-clear lead vocal on the dance classic “I’ve Just Begun to Love You,” while a young Jody Watley showed glimmers of her future greatness on the Shalamar burner “Right in the Socket.”
Solar found success throughout the eighties with Midnight Star, Klymaxx, the Deele, and Babyface, but these early performances best demonstrate what made Solar one of the last R&B empires before New Jack Swing and hip-hop moved into black music’s foreground.