Review Summary: Spacey Progressive rock at it's best.
During 1976, Progressive rock was at an all time high. Acts such as Yes
had done well, while out of Illinois, another emergence came to be, and thus we enter Starcastle
. They released this album in early 1976. It had a great response, however, many individuals seemed to think Starcastle was simply a Yes clone. After listening to Fragile
, I do hear the similarities. With that said, it does not change the outlook on a fantastic, and often overlooked treasure of an album.
1976 Starcastle line-up:
Terry Luttrell - Lead vocals
Stephen Hagler - Guitar, piano, Electric piano, vocals
Matthew Stewart - Guitar, slide guitar, electric sitar, vocals
Herb Schildt - Organ, synthesizers, electric piano
Gary Strater - Bass guitar, clavinet, vocals
Stephen Tassler - Drums, percussion, vocals
Listening to Starcastle
triggers a nostalgic feeling. The album has a very light-hearted approach. If one would describe what this sounds like, the best words to go with would be "Happy-progressive". Instrument wise, the musicians are all very talented at what they do. The opening "fast-picking" and bass line in Lady of the lake
would be a good display of that. The Ten minute opening Lady of the Lake
certainly also helps the listener get a feel of what Starcastle sounds like. Within the same opening track, Starcastle utilizes synthesizers, organs and other various effects to give a very spacey feel to it. These are well timed in the song, as to prevent an overburdening of too many sounds during any one part. Outside the amazing opening track, this album has much more to offer.
During the nearly 40 minutes of music on this album, Starcastle showcases amazing musicianship throughout the album. Whether it be the funky bass and guitar displayed within Elliptical Seasons
, the space odyssey like Stargate
instrumental piece, or the very contemporary, yet technical Sunfields
, Starcastle displays some diversity, while at the same time, sticking to their style. The guitar and synthesizer moments within To the Fire wind
are also another highlight of the album to be mentioned. The crooning vocals within the album are all very majestic and sound like a perfect fit. The whole album vocals-wise could has no one stand-out moment, but instead just a solid-performance for vocals.
Another thing to be loved is being able to identify the many sounds and techniques displayed within Starcastle
. It sounds very clear and everything is balanced in terms of sound, as no one instrument or effect seems to overplay the other. This Well-balanced production allows the listener to purely enjoy every section, note, key and chord within Starcastle
On a closing note, as I mentioned earlier, there are moments where Starcastle
can sound like a bit of a Yes clone. Though this is not an over-frequent occurrence, it is understandable to make that comparison during some moments. Still, it does not hinder the album to such a point to where Starcastle
is a complete "copycat". This album is a stand-out listen and should be recommended, especially to fans of the older 1960's-70's Prog. rock era. Starcastle
should be commended as the effort put into this album clearly shows. Kick back and listen to an album that truly deserves recognition.
Lady of the lake