Starcastle - Starcastle

Year of Release: 1976
Label: Epic
Catalog Number: EK33914
Format: LP
Total Time: 39:48:00

Starcastle's debut release came out in 1976, with most of the material written in 1974. Let's see, 1974. The year Yes put out Relayer. Well, Starcastle hadn't had time to incorporate the new sounds from the latest Yes effort into their own musical repertoire. As a result, this release draws most of its inspiration from The Yes Album and Fragile with a lift here and there from Close To The Edge. I will not go so far as to say that Starcastle actually plagiarized Yes's work. I don't need to, as I'm sure someone else has already made that charge. Let's just get it over with now, shall we? The use of the "di dit da di dit da" vocal phrase from "Your Move" and "Siberian Khatru," shows up in "Lady Of The Lake," in "Forces," and elsewhere. Steve Howe's intro from "And You And I" is appropriated for the song "Elliptical Seasons." The unmistakable intro of "Astral Traveler" shows up in much the same form in "To The Fire Wind." To go a step further, Starcastle use the section of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" that is played as Yes takes the stage as part of the opening for their song "Sunfield." All are slightly altered to be sure, in a very real, and legally exculpatory manner. So let it be crystal clear. Starcastle are a Yes clone. This is a good thing, actually. I have said before, will say now, and surely will say again, that Yes, among other classic progressive artists, have not produced so many releases in the style of Fragile and the others mentioned, that we cannot bear more in the same vein.

Starcastle was very good at what they, and Yes did. I think their self-titled debut is quite entertaining, and I mean that in the best way. Their writing and arranging were highly derivative, and I don't care. Their first album is the better, I think, of the two CDs I have by this 1970s American progressive rock band. Their second release, "Fountains Of Light" lacks the spirit and energy of this first effort.

This release is a lot of fun, and not just to play "name that Yes song". The band has a great deal of musical ability and they show off quite well on this CD. Vocalist Terry Luttrell (formerly of REO Speedwagon) has the same high range and crystal clear voice of Jon Anderson, and keyboardist Herb Schildt has a great deal of talent, carrying much of the load on this release. The bassist Gary Strater has the same trebly, out-in-front sound of Chris Squire, though the guitarists Matthew Stewart and Stephen Hagler together are not able to match the weight and force of Howe. Drummer Stephen Tassler does his best to play up to the demands of this style of music, but usually sounds thin and uninspired.

But if one thinks of the goal they set for themselves, they did an admirable job.

Most of the songs on this first effort are pretty good, to be honest. The longest tune here, "Lady Of The Lake," and the final piece, "Nova," the shortest, I can do without. The rest are nicely done, and I think "Forces," "Sunfield" and "To The Fire Wind" are very well written, arranged and performed. The vocal harmonies are beautiful throughout this release, and the guitars are clear and well played, even if the twin guitarists do not measure up to one Steve Howe. The songs go through a number of interesting changes in tempo and meter. The music is full of dynamic twists and turns, and the listener can be assured that the works will never be boring. There are a number of surprises waiting on this CD, the biggest being just how good the band is at their appointed task.

Again, this is a derivative work, but not a disappointing one.

If you want a more valid opinion of this band, then listen to what Rick Wakeman told me recently. (There is) "room for all sorts, to be honest, and some of the Yes clones are really good. It's very flattering to know that what you have been involved with has influenced others". That about sums it up, I think.

Lady Of The Lake (10:26) / Elliptical Seasons (4:27) / Forces ( 6:25) / Stargate ( 2:54) / Sunfield (7:36) / To The Fire Wind (5:16) / Nova (2:35)

Terry Luttrell - lead vocals
Gary Strater - bass, bass pedals, vocals
Stephen Tassler - drums, percussion, vocals
Herb Schildt - organ, synthesizers, piano
Matthew Stewart - guitars, vocals
Stephen Hagler - guitars, vocals

Starcastle (1976)
Fountains of Light (1977)
Citadel (1977)
Reel To Real (1979)
Chronos I (2001)
Song Of Times (2007)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin US

Added: March 22nd 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 856
Language: english


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