Starjets – War Stories

1st March 2023 · 1970s, 1979, Music, Punk

It’s facile to think of all Northern Ireland punk bands furiously raging against the Troubles. Apart from Stiff Little Fingers, most of the New Wave bands from Ulster tended more towards power pop. Like Starjets.

I have to confess at the time (1979) I saw Belfast band Starjets as a bit of a poor man’s Undertones. Maybe they were – but this is a bloody brilliant pop-punk single celebrating the WW2 comic-books that were popular with boys at the time.

Despite a TOTP appearance, it never cracked the Top 40, languishing at no.51. And despite signing to a major label (Epic), their debut album God Bless The Starjets failed to capture the public’s imagination.

After the failure of another single, Shiraleo, they changed their name in 1980 to Tango Brigade but broke up after one more release, called Donegal.

Front man Terry Sharpe went on to have an interesting career. After a brief stint singing with The Angelic Upstarts, he wrote two of the tunes on Bananarama’s debut album, Deep Sea Skiving, before forming a new band of his own, The Adventures, with Starjets guitarist Pat Gribben.

They had a Top 20 hit in 1988 with Broken Land but, despite being managed by future Spice Girls svengali Simon Fuller, never really took off.

Starjets reformed in 2019 and began performing again, their reputation boosted when War Stories was covered by Billie Joe Armstrong, acknowledging one of the prime influences on his own band, Green Day.

For me, though, the band Starjets seem to prefigure another Northern Ireland pop-punk band of a later vintage – Ash.