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POP AND JAZZ REVIEWS : Starr's Sleight of Hand

December 14, 1987|DUNCAN STRAUSS

In the last three years, Atlantic Starr has trimmed some members from its lineup, added singer Barbara Weathers, expanded its musical base, and--probably as a result--spent much more time in the upper region of the charts. Fine.

Less fine, though, is that the quintet apparently has also mastered the art of pop prestidigitation: Its show Friday at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim was a case of what you get is not what you see.

It seemed strange to see an outfit that had hammered out such dance-floor romps as "Freak-A-Ristic" and "You Belong With Me" on stage with no drum kit--just Joseph Phillips' small assortment of congas, timbales and other percussion instruments.

But that was nothing compared to how strange it was to hear some crisp, steady drumming that didn't remotely resemble the sound of a conga or timbale--and didn't stop when Phillips was clapping. Likewise, keyboard sounds, particularly some synthesized string sweetening, occasionally poured out of the PA when Jonathan Lewis' hands were nowhere near his keyboard.

Was the show live or Memorex? Apparently both.

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