Though the debut album from mid-west prog band Starcastle saw its release in 1976, the material originates from 1974.
Written by: gdmonline
CD REISSUE: 1992, Epic (USA), EK 33914 * 1998, Epic/Sony (Japan), ESCA-7737 * 2011, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY 089
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Terry Luttrell – vocals * Matt Stewart – guitars * Steve Hagler – guitars * Gary Strater – bass * Herb Schildt- keyboards * Steve Tassler – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Lady Of The Lake * 02 Ellipitical Seasons * 03 Forces * 04 Stargate * 05 Sunfield * 06 To The Firewind * 07 Nova
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Though the debut album from mid-west progressive rock band Starcastle saw its release in 1976, the material itself originates from a couple of years before. 1974 in fact. The origins of the band go back through time, materialized in local Illinois bands such as St James and Mad John Fever.
Rather than wanting to be just a mere ‘covers band’, the band members wanted to follow their hearts, and that was a path geared toward the strong British progressive rock scene. Many pundits have made the comparison toward perhaps the greatest exponent of Brit prog rock at the time, and that was Yes.
It would be hard not to compare Starcastle to Yes – the musical similarities there for all to pick the eyes out of. After years on the road, and touring with some pretty big names on the circuit (too many to name here), the band were rewarded with a deal by CBS in 1975, the debut album was released early the following year.
Though the album contains only seven songs, the ideas conveyed gives one a sense of where Starcastle were at during this period of their career. There is no compromise with their style, something that would unfortunately rear its head in a few years time. It is unashamedly progressive, the trend of shorter radio-oriented tracks yet to cast its shadow over the band.
Where else could you find a ten minute track ‘Lady Of The Lake’ opening up a debut album! You couldn’t get away with that nowadays could you? Mind you, when Yes released their three track album ‘Close To The Edge’, you would’ve been hard-pressed into saying ‘what the hell were those guys thinking?’
The vocal minuettes such as ‘da da da, da dit da da’ can be heard scattered all over this album, I wonder where they picked that up from? Lol. Despite the influences, there is still enough interesting material to keep one occupied. The Squire like Rickenbacker bass-lines from Strater adds punch, the twin guitars of Hagler and Stewart act as counterfoil mostly, while Herb Schildt provides the rich musical atmosphere for which everyone else adds their own contribution.
‘Elliptical Seasons’ is a gentle weaving piece mostly, though the wah-wah guitar through the middle adds the spit and grit to the musical polish. ‘Forces’ also has a strong presence, the song reliant on a harder edged delivery rather than drawn out keyboard passages. The short interlude ‘Stargate’ all of 2 minutes 54 sec (short in the context of this album), precedes the dextrous complexity of ‘Sunfield’, complete with numerous twists and turns, tempo changes and wonderful harmony voices.
The dramatic organ intro on ‘To The Fire Wind’ could be either Yes‘ Rick Wakeman or conversely Kansas‘ Steve Walsh – the track is soon carved up by some fluid guitar and some staggered vocal minuettes before heading down the obligatory progressive path of complexity, for which Starcastle make it out to be as easy as childs play.
The album closer ‘Nova’ ends with the percussive strains of Tassler preceding a crescendo of Herb Schlidt keyboard passages. Ultimately a throwaway track, not adding anything of substance.
Despite the Yes comparisons, Starcastle proved to be a popular draw, as 1976 saw them on the road with other big-name drawcards from that era. After their touring schedule was completed, the band went back into the studio to record their follow up ‘Fountains Of Light’, reviewed elsewhere on Glory Daze.