The U.S. version is actually a compilation of two different albums, the European version of Starlight Dancer and 1976's The Last Encore (neither initially available in U.S. versions). Ton Scherpenzeel writes most of the songs yet there are actually several tracks by founding member Pim Koopman from The Last Encore, who by 1977 was no longer the drummer for the band. He and bassist Bert Veldkamp were replaced with Charles Schouten and Theo de Jong respectively. The album cover from Last Encore instead of the less interesting later artwork is used for this sleeve jacket. The title at the bottom of the cover has been altered to read Starlight Dancer in cursive.
"I Want You To Be Mine" heads off the album. Someone in the prog community described this song as a disco single. I certainly don't hear it. I’ve always enjoyed this tune and I really hated disco in the late 70's! These songs are undeniably more accessible than earlier works. Still, even the shorter pop songs are great on this record, as Kayak's great prog dynamics are nevertheless in evidence on more brief pieces like "Love of a Victim” or “Land on the Water." Other standout tracks include the title cut "Starlight Dancer," "Back to the Front," and "Still My Heart Cries for You."
They were decidedly headed in a more commercial direction here, as would become even more evident on the following Kayak album Phantom of the Night. I sometimes miss the sense of humor the band had established on Royal Bed Bouncer, my favorite Kayak record. Having since heard both of the original albums that make up this compilation however, I feel that we may have got the best record possible. It feels like a best of selection from both releases. Though clearly The Last Encore of the two European releases is the stronger, the mixed up Starlight Dancer (US Version) would definitely be my number two of Kayak releases and a brilliant album in my opinion.
On the next album (Phantom of the Night) exceptional lead vocalist Max Werner (who also plays percussion and mellotron here) sat behind the drum kit while a new singer took center stage. I always felt this was a big mistake! Oh well... To me, Starlight Dancer is the last album from Kayak’s remarkable early catalog worthy of high praise.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on June 12th, 2007