Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An odd compilation obstinately listed as a best of Juliana Hatfield but decidingly avoiding her early material, "Gold Stars" is nonetheless a good introduction to Hatfield's music and essential for fans due to the presence of seven unreleased tracks and one rarity.
From her early records (all tragically out of print courtesy of Atlantic Records), there's one track from her debut, "Hey Babe" (standout "Everybody Loves Me But You"), a pair each from "Become What You Are" (singles "My Sister" and "Spin the Bottle") and "Only Everything" (single "Universal Heart-Beat" and "Fleur de Lys"). These are fairly representative of the albums and should provide a good introduction to her early material for anyone not familiar with it, and while I could complain readily about the track selection, it is what it is.
The album also includes two tracks from her rejected album, "God's Foot". Atlantic refused to release the album, Hatfield tried desparately to reclaim it and failed, this is the first legitimate release of any of it. If these songs are evidenced, the album was filled with detailed arrangements and phenomenal songwriting. Hatfield felt it was her best work, and its failure led to her moving to independent labels.
From her time on the indie labels comes one from the EP "Please Do Not Disturb" (the superb, powerful "Sellout") and two each from "Bed" ("Live It Up" and "Sneaking Around"), "Beautiful Creature" ("Somebody is Waiting For Me" and "Cry in the Dark") and "Total System Failure" ("Houseboy" and "My Protegee"). This is where I really feel quite contentious by the material selected-- a best of without the breathtaking ballads "Trying Not To Think About It" (from "Please Do Not Disturb") and "Close Your Eyes" (from "Beautiful Creature") seems a bit artificial, and certainly "Bed" outtake "Anemia" (released on the extremely rare Japanese release of that record) is among her best in my assessment, but this is all opinion, and these are decent tracks reasonably representative of the albums.
The remainder of the recording is two covers-- The Police's "Every Breath You Take" as a churning alt-rock guitar-driven piece and a relatively straight cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"-- and four unreleased tracks from 2001 recording sessions. Remarkably, I didn't find any of these four to be particularly intriguing, although "Your Eyes" is probably my favorite of them.
All in all, a reasonable introduction to Hatfield, though I'd dive straight into "Become What You Are" or "Beautiful Creature" (if you're a bit weird) rather than getting this."
A mixture of the old, the newer and the newest
Todd Bettis | Jacksonville, FL United States | 02/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I know a lot of people have criticized Gold Stars because it's not the compilation of hits they expected. Indeed, Juliana put some new music on this cd and some songs that might not be considered "greatest hits," but I think the cd nicely captures her array of sounds. It's a great cd, even if it's not truly what one might expect. A lot of fans want to hear Juliana's old stuff and others want to hear her new stuff, and as the saying goes, "You can't please all the people..." She tries to please both sides, and give some new music to boot.The sound of this cd varies so much, it's really a pleasure to listen to, as it takes the listener on a ride first chronologically through Juliana's career, then melodically through her different styles. For anyone who is a Juliana fan or those just listening to her for the first time, Gold Stars is a great choice."
She'll Rise Again (Hopefully)
PKHauntUS | 07/05/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You could easily label me as being a massive fan of Juliana Hatfield of many years now. I've followed her work since the early 90's after the (temporary) split of the Blake Babies. Unfortunately, in the last few years I've been disappointed by most of her material since her phenomenal work "Bed." Juliana has dived headfirst so hastily into the adult contemporary category of your favorite record store you can't help but notice the splash. It's not that there is anything wrong with the more subdued nature of her songs; it's the aching lack of variety and especially uniqueness. That's why I can't help but find it a little painful to listen to "Gold Stars" Juliana's quasi-Greatest Hits collection in its entirety. The disc unknowingly illustrates how the melodic and lyrical fierceness that was Juliana Hatfield slowly seeping away from us. "Gold Stars" commences ironically with the only included "Hey Babe" single "Everybody Loves Me but You," which is arguably the best song from that 1992 debut album. It's timeless pop rock sensibilities still ring eerily true even today. While "Hey Babe" is not my favorite album by Juliana, and "Gold Stars" is not a Great Hits album per say, I can't say that I'm not disappointed "I See You" and the substantial hit "Forever Baby," "Hey Babe's" other two singles were not included. I've heard from numerous people that Juliana borderline detests her debut album but that doesn't explain the plethora of other single omissions on "Gold Stars" from every album that she has released. In fact, besides "Hey Babe" and "Become What You Are" eras, Juliana has included non-single tracks from each album instead; some that are must-have tunes ("Fleur De Lys" and "Sneaking Around"), and others that, to me, came off as album fillers when original released ("Cry in the Dark") and aren't strong enough to justify the limelight.The saddest aspect of "Gold Stars" is that it notably declines after track 10. Besides the mediocre and contrived angst of "Houseboy" and "My Protegee" the collection becomes incredibly mundane and it can easily be heard as two completely different acts. Yes, I do enjoy "Beautiful Creature" as an album, but the songs don't gel well with the rest of the material in this collection. "Cry in the Dark" comes off as an unrelenting cheesefest after listening to the fascinating, intellectual musings overlying the previous tracks. To my dismay the onslaught of fromage did not halt after "Cry in the Dark" but rather thickened. Above and beyond the amazing "God's Foot" (Juliana's unreleased album) offerings, the bonus tracks are substandard to put it lightly. The two covers (Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart") come off as Juliana's voyage to "Bring Your Own Instruments" night at a Karaoke Bar. I adore Juliana to death, but she manages to drain all the life from the original recordings and the passiveness she instead provides only slightly works with her Neil Young cover. I don't know if she was going for the whole "Cat Power" cover ideal, but it really doesn't flatter her voice or the songs at all. The remaining four "bonus" tracks have similarities to her "Beautiful Creature" offerings but are not anywhere as interesting or emotionally provoking. "Your Eyes" and "Don't Walk Away" get it all so very right, then completely fall apart with suspiciously familiar, and totally annoying choruses. "Table for One" is a short, anti-social acoustic ditty that has novelty just waiting to wear off. "We Will Rise Again" is the best of the bunch, but even after repeated listen I have no desire to play "Gold Stars" just to hear it.If you've never heard Juliana Hatfield before or only have one or two albums this is where to start to gauge your liking to her other material. Casual fans on the other hand will be disappointed with the lifelessness of new tracks but may enjoy her "God's Foot" inclusions. Overall, "Gold Stars" is really only for diehard Juliana fans (which to her credit are most) and potential fans."
I See Stars
Ramona Fitzpumpkin | Massachusetts | 07/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two years have passed since Juliana has released new solo work. Although "Golden Stars" is primarily a greatest hits album, there are some unreleased tracks. Listening to this album was like reading a diary. From "Everybody Loves Me" to "Cry in the Dark" the listener ventures into a land of angst and pain that most everyone feels once in their lives. My favorite, "Your Eyes," is an incredible song. I can't describe it, but it's a heavenly Juliana song. Buy the album. Support Juliana so she can give us more music. Okay?"
This girl make me fly
J. H. Infante | Guadalajara, Ja, Mex | 09/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"She is rebel, she is intellectuall , she is romantic, she is ingenue, she is ironic, , every song is composed of these elements and its difficult to find a composer like her because the rest of the "woman who rock" just have one or two of the elements i mention but not juliana, she have it all you want to rock? Juliana gives you rock, you feel romantic? Juliana can sing about it, for every state of mind in this album you gonna find in Juliana your soulmate. HM"