Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

The Team: Starr Turn

The Team's Angelo Starr @bluesandsoul.com
The Team's Angelo Starr @bluesandsoul.com The Team @bluesandsoul.com The Team @bluesandsoul.com The Team with Angelo Starr @bluesandsoul.com

Having been around for the last 27 years - and best known at one time as late soul legend Edwin Starrâs touring band - UK-based outfit The Team now cement their reputation for consistently-outstanding live performances via the release of their debut album âKeeping The Faithâ.

Originally put together in 1982 by percussionist Clive âJ.Jâ Hare and bassist Kevin Kendall, the band - since Edwinâs untimely death in April 2003 - have actually been fronted by Edwinâs younger brother, Ohio-born Angelo Starr. A singer and multi-instrumentalist who - alongside being a long-serving member of The Team - has additionally worked with the likes of Alexander OâNeal, Lemar and The Funk Brothers.

Meanwhile, with The Teamâs audience (largely due to their extensive touring schedule) being drawn from an extremely wide spectrum, musical moods on âKeeping The Faithâ range from uptempo, driving pounders like the lovingly-titled âBless My Northern Soulâ and punchy, stomping âFreewheelinââ; to mellower moments like the string-laden, sensitive âCan I Cry For Youâ and sensually intimate âOnly Youâ.

With his singing voice having frequently been likened to his aforementioned older brother, a soft-spoken and humble-mannered Angelo (whoâs also recently recorded solo tracks for seasoned UK pop/soul producer Ian Levine) warmly welcomes Pete Lewis into his impressive Hertfordshire countryside home - to discuss his ongoing role in the Team; their consistently-soulful current album; plus his touchingly-fond memories of the sadly-missed Edwin.

How Angelo first became involved in The Team

âI first became involved with The Team when I came to the UK to visit (a by-then-UK-based) Edwin in the early Nineties. While I was here Edwin asked me if Iâd stay to help him with some writing he was doing for some upcoming album projects. So I agreed to stay, and then one thing led to another! During that stay I ended up performing with The Team on an occasion when their guitarist wasnât available to do a show. And what I discovered was, once youâre in The Team, youâre ALWAYS in The Team! So I continued to work with them, and eventually ended up becoming their musical director! And I think one of the greatest strengths of The Team, as a large band, is that it has just the right blend of personalities. You know, weâre more like a family than a band - and hopefully that does come out in the music.â

How - after Edwin Starrâs untimely passing - The Team eventually opted to continue, with Angelo as new lead vocalist

âWell, even when Edwin was alive, heâd occasionally, as part of the show, call on me to sing the odd song here and there - though of course at that time everybody primarily saw me as The Teamâs guitarist. But then, with him passing away quite suddenly, we were suddenly left with the dilemma of whether weâd allow his passing to be the end of an era or the start of a NEW one. So we kind of backed away for a little while, while at the same time keeping Edwinâs website very much alive. You know, people were constantly coming on to share their condolences. And, through all the messages, one consistent thread seemed to be that people had enjoyed THE WHOLE SHOW - the band AS WELL AS the artist. So consequently they were asking if weâd consider continuing. And one of those requests we got was from the scootering community, amongst whom Edwin had been very popular. So because we liked the sentiment behind their request - they basically saw it as a fitting opportunity to show their continued love for the artist and the music - we consented to do the show for them on The Isle Of Wight. And, with the show being very well received, thankfully - on the back of that - we were then able to look at each other as a unit and say âThis is something that we love doing; people still love us doing it - so we might as well continueâ... And so that was the start of this next phase of The Team, with me as lead singer.â

Why The Team have now come to release their own debut LP, and titled it âKeeping The Faithâ

âWell, once we started doing shows based on what people knew us for, it was obvious weâd have to continue doing Edwinâs biggest successes - âWarâ, â25 Milesâ, âS.O.S.â⦠But then we also realised that, once Edwin had passed away, his music had also become fair game for OTHER artists who were performing on the circuit. And it reminded me of something Iâd heard Paul McCartney say about The Beatles. Which was that, part of the reason they started to write their own songs was because they were playing on the circuit with other bands who were in the same genre as themselves. And, if you were going onstage last, it was conceivable you might hear half the songs youâd planned doing before you actually got ON - which generated the need for original material. And it was the same with US! You know, we were conscious of the fact that we didnât wanna be seen as an Edwin Starr tribute band. Plus we also wanted to let the friends and fans know that this was not an ENDING for us, but a CONTINUATION. And the only way we could do that was to generate some fresh material that would hopefully sit ALONGSIDE the songs they already knew the Team for. So we built a studio, pressed âRecordâ, and decided to see what came out!.. And, with âKeeping The Faithâ being a very popular catchphrase amongst the Northern Soul community, we chose it as the title to the album primarily in recognition of the support that community has given us throughout our history as a band.â

Angeloâs personal memories of his older brother Edwin

âOne of the earliest memories I have, as his younger brother, was just being at the house watching him get ready to go out and do a show! You know, heâd be getting dressed, pacing back and forth between maybe three rooms, making sure his suit was right, his tie was right... Which, as an adult, I understand now was down to the era he was part of. You know, the people who came before him were Jackie Wilson, Chuck Jackson, James Brown - true performers and showmen. And it was that presence that they generated when they hit the stage that left as much of a lasting impression as the MUSIC they were doing while they were there!.. Then, as a person, Edwin was very kind-hearted. Iâm still floored now, as we travel around as The Team, as to how many people come up to me - when they know that Edwin was my brother - to say how nice a guy he was. He may have remembered them five years after heâd done their wedding; he may have sat there and talked to them for ages after a show and not been in a hurry to run off... You know, he was a very approachable artist. Because to him everybody was first and foremost a HUMAN BEING, and so he treated everybody with that kind of respect. And I in turn always respected him FOR that, and tried to learn FROM it.â

The Teamâs current UK tour runs from October 24 to December 31. Information on venues and dates from www.theteam-online.co.uk

The Teamâs album âKeeping The Faithâ is out now through DGTHT
Words PETE LEWIS

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