Stargard came off like a late 70s version of Labelle, complete with wild space attire and tough, assertive singing. They also had a big hit -- it wasn't nearly as huge (or as risque) as Labelle's "Lady Marmalade," but "Which Way is Up" was featured both as the theme song for the Richard Pryor film of the same name and in hot discos everywhere. That tune, from the girls' first album from '78, was produced by none other than Norman Whitfield, who (naturally) produced Stargard's best funky material. The title track from late '78's What You Waitin' For was another Whitfield jam session that stretched out at 7:31. The trio's third album, 1979's The Changing of the Guard, while less interesting, was produced by Earth, Wind & Fire's Verdine White and featured the EWF Phenix Horn section. And by 1980, the trio became a duo.
Looking at the album credits, it wasn't hard for me to figure out that the force behind Stargard was lead singer Rochelle Runnells who writes a heck of a lot of the material. The other vocalists, Janice Williams and Debra Anderson, also sound good enough. But strangely, by the last album, you can barely hear them. Why do I have a funny feeling that Miss Rochelle is a solo star out there somewhere in this galaxy.
Oh, by the way, if you want to see these girls in action, they played "The Diamonds" in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Well, at least there's one reason to see that movie!
Unless otherwise noted, all written material copyright 1999, Melissa A. Weber.
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What You Waitin' For, 1978
Stargard by Stargard, MCA, 1978
What You Waitin' For by Stargard, MCA, 1978
The Changing of the Guard by Stargard, Warner Bros., 1979
Back to Back by Stargard, Warner Bros., 1980
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