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Starcastle Real to Reel album cover
1.73 | 58 ratings | 11 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Half a Mind to Leave Ya (4:48)
2. Whatcha Gonna Do (When It All Comes Down on You) (3:33)
3. We Did It (3:54)
4. Nobody's Fool (4:00)
5. Song for Alaya (3:06)
6. So Here We Are (3:57)
7. She (3:43)
8. Stars Are Out Tonight (3:53)
9. When the Sun Shines at Midnight (6:16)

Total Time 37:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Terry Luttrell / lead vocals
- Matthew Stewart / electric & slide guitars, electric sitar, vocals
- Stephen Hagler / guitars, piano, electric piano, vocals (5-lead)
- Herb Schildt / synthesizer, organ, electric piano, electronic strings, ALF computer synth
- Gary Strater / bass, clavinet, vocals
- Stephen Tassler / drums & percussion, synth percussion, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Tony Lane with Bob Seidemann (photo)

LP Epic ‎- AL 35441 (1978, US)
LP Epic ‎- EPC 82916 (1978, UK)

CD Renaissance Records ‎- RMED00130 (2009, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STARCASTLE Real to Reel ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(5%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (29%)
Poor. Only for completionists (38%)

STARCASTLE Real to Reel reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars Is this just me or is this really .......... Well now it must be just me . But it does sucks! This is one of those album that makes you happy there are other style of music to investigate if you are done wih prog and are so desperate to buy more . Investigate classical or jazz or even more worthy than this sore release , get in contact with me and I'll point out a few rap album from France worth discovering .
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars STARCASTLE, like many other prog bands, produced an annoying and prog diluted album. This is their last album. They changed their image and it has been bad for their career. They never produced other YES-like albums after the album before this one. The music sounds like most of ordinary American rock band. The sound is good and the musicians play well, but the pseudo hits are rather never catchy.
Review by horza
1 stars I was reminded of this album in a discussion recently. I used to read the 'Sounds' many years ago and a writer by the name of Geoff Barton gave the band a good write up. Anyway,I purchased this album expecting to be treated to pomp/prog rock with overblown layers of keyboards/synths and lush instrumental passages. I guess I should have been forewarned by the opening track. 'Half a mind to leave ya'. Track two was 'Whatcha gonna do'. Looking back I now realise I was in a sort of Slade 'Mama weer all crazzee now' 'Cum on feel tha noize' area of hip, cool prog miss-spellings. Who talks like this anyway. 'Whatcha'/'Leave ya'. I half expected a 'Gertcha' to pop up somewhere! I'm sorry to have to report that the songs on this album are are wishy-washy as the titles. None of them made me glad that I had bought the damn thing. I'm sure this album resides in some 'Where are they now?' limbo. Definitely NOT in my top 200.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Stealing orchids from magnolias

This "witty" title has been used by several bands including Marillion, but I think (and will no doubt be proved wrong!), Starcastle were the first. "Real to reel" bears little resemblance to other Starcastle albums, especially the very Yes sounding "Fountains of light". Unfortunately, not all change is for the better, and you know you are in trouble when the band themselves refer to this as an album "they felt should never have been released".

According to the band's official website, the more progressive demos the band prepared for the album were rejected by their label CBS. The band lost faith in the project, and this half hearted anonymous pop rock effort was released, promptly bombing. Thus, this became the band's last album; they were dropped by both their label and their management. The band continued to tour and work together in various combinations, but to date no further original albums have been released under the Starcastle name.

To the music itself, and it is hard to find much to say of a positive nature about what is on offer. The songs here could have been recorded by any of the thousands of US pop rock bands who have plied their trade over the years. The structures are very basic verse & chorus affairs, with competent musicianship which is left totally unchallenged by the mediocre compositions. Title such as "Half a mind to leave ya", and "Whatcha gonna do" give a stark indication of the STYX and BOSTON sound-a-like nature of the music. The song-writing is poor though, and the sound uninspired.

There are a couple of better moments. The soft ballad "Song for Alaya" which closes side one features Stephen Haglar on vocals. It does serve to relieve the tedium that went before it. "When the sun shines at midnight" shows that the band could still do it when they put their minds to it and the record label did not interfere in pursuit of the mighty dollar. This sole track would have fitted in fine on their earlier albums, being a soft prog ballad with an anthemic chorus. "We will walk along the river stealing orchids from magnolias till we die", Jon Anderson could not have said it better.

The front sleeve illustration is Starcastle's "Love beach", the back cover having a rather silly photo of the band jumping in the air in the middle of a farm track, except they are clearly not actually there.

Sadly, bassist Gary Strater died in 2004, but the good news is other members of the band are working together again under the Starcastle name. Hopefully we can look forward to some fine "symphonic prog" per the band's sub-genre on this site.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars This band has released no less than four albums in three years (this one included). From a pure symphonic prog completely derivative of Yes, the band turns fully pop (which was already a tendancy in their previous effort) and AOR. I guess that if the vocals have been more Wetton oriented, we could have had an Asia clone. So, it's up to you to discover this album or not, but there are very little reasons to do so.

As long as "Starcastle" kept on imitating their great model on a pure symph base, they could still make illusion and produce some average to good albums. But this album is a collection of poor songs, especially the the first four songs. The first bearable track is "Song for Alaya". This might well be the first true "Starcastle" song ever written. A decent rock ballad.

The other decent song is ... the closing number. It is even very pleasant up to the moment that the chorus starts. Then, the nightmare picks up again. Still, a good guitar work is there to keep it at a good level.

There is only one rating available : one star of course. What really annoys me is to hear that "Starcastle" almost anticipated what "Yes" would do several years later. Strange...

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars So here we are

In only three years time and over the course of four albums, Starcastle went from Symphonic progressive Rock, through a kind of proto-Neo-Prog, to Crossover Prog, and finally all the way to not-even-Prog-related AOR. While their previous album still retained many progressive elements, the present album leaves us in the territory occupied by the likes of Journey and Boston. But while the latter bands at their best were rather good at what they were doing, Real To Reel is utterly bland and uninspired and sounds completely without identity. You get the feeling while listening to this that they didn't really want to do this at all, and the musical style adopted here fits the band about as well as the clothes they were wearing on the sleezy cover picture!

Starcastle committed "suicide" as a band with this album (or was it "murder" by the record company pressure?). Not until almost 30 years later would there be another Starcastle album released.

Real To Reel is an embarrassment and is best avoided.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars I heard that Starcastle was recording some demos fo prog songs that were rejected by their recording company and pressure to write something more "commercial". That makes sense. Some cuts from their previous album previewed some more pop-ish stuff would be on the way. And while those tracks were not their best, they are still far superior to almost everything they released on this dud. Ok, the times were not really the best for prog acts in general, and the enormous success of other pop bands that used to have a few prog credentials like Journey or Styx were a factor to consider as a path to follow. Unfortunately, unlike those bands or other pop giants of the day like Foreigner, Starcastle could not deliver well craft pop songs like those aforementioned songs.

So, almost everything on this LP sounds forced and uninspiring. It was not a natural decision, in other words. Maybe it was not even the band´s decision, but the results are disastrous anyway: their obvious skills as musicians and singers could not save appalling tracks like Half A Mind To Leave Ya or Whatcha Gonna Do (When It All Comes Down On You). Get the titles names? The first four songs are absolutely horrible, and the rest is not much better. The saving grace of Real To Reel is When The Sun Shines At Midnight: a six minute beautiful song, with a great melody line, emotional vocals and fantastic performance of all involved. it is not only the best song of the album, but probably the greatest of their entire repertoire. And it does not sound like a Yes song, or anybody´s for that matter. If the remaining cuts were of this caliber, as melodic as it was, they would certainly have released their strongest LP to date. And would set them as artists fo their own, not mere Yes imitators as they were known up to then. But alas, one excellent track, even if their best ever track, could not save a whole album full of other terrible compositions. It´s little wonder why the band was finished as recording artists after this one.

Conclusion: I was ready to give Real To Reel a one star rating, but I have to say The Stars Are Out Tonight does show that they might had recorded their definitive album if they were not forced to write something that clearly was not their music. A real shame, for this is one of those songs you press the repeat button again and again. As bad as the other tracks are, this one is a beauty. I wish it was the other way around...

Rating: 2 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars 𝗔 𝗖𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗼𝗳𝘁 𝗥𝗼𝗰𝗸 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴𝘀 This album is pretty underrated, it's not prog mind you, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2415196) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Thursday, June 25, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Regarded as a tragic end to a brief and derivative career, there are virtues to be found in Reel to Real if the listener is patient. Given, Starcastle will always be considered little better than a Yes cover band; however deserved or undeserved this condemnation is, they were always capable of in ... (read more)

Report this review (#257779) | Posted by Lozlan | Friday, December 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I picked this one out of a used bin more than ten years ago for a buck and a half. Owning several of Starcastle's earlier albums and liking what I heard I thought I'd grab this pristine used copy for the cost of a beer. The album cover should have warned me about what to expect. Obviously som ... (read more)

Report this review (#62619) | Posted by | Saturday, December 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The first two Starcastle albums are really good. They imitate yes, but they stand on their own. The third album started the trend towards pop music. There was still some good stuff but it was trying to become more radio friendly. This fourth album tried to become even more mainstream, with lit ... (read more)

Report this review (#37418) | Posted by digdug | Thursday, June 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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