Checking the usual sources, David Essex’s early career seems to be a complex mesh of meta – being a star, then playing someone who wants to be a star, then singing about turning someone who wants to be a star into a star, then playing someone who’s been turned into a star… at some point, probably the point at which you are listening to this song, you have to stamp your foot and say “OK BEING A STAR IS NOT THAT INTERESTING REALLY”. Except it is interesting, or can be – from the Byrds to Bowie to Britney there are hosts of well-known records about stardom which also manage to be good, draw you in even if it’s just to recoil or envy.
So the problem is with honest toiler David Essex – but he’s made good records too, or at least more entertaining ones than this. Glorious flukes like “Rock On” aside, they seem usually to have been yoked to narratives, big corny ones like Evita or War Of The Worlds. “Gonna Make You A Star” is sung with a dollop of stagey though satisfying grit, but it sounds like it’s hunting for a big story that never coalesces – and it’s an effort, too much effort, to try and unravel the lyrics. Maybe in 1974 the big story was David himself – if that’s the case, it hasn’t travelled.