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NORTH STAR

Neo-Prog • United States


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North Star biography
NORTH STAR has strong influences from the Peter Gabriel era of GENESIS. Highly colorful melodies, full of power and beauty meet with Joe NEWMAN's superb voice and Kevin LEONARD's keyboards. The NORTH STAR material has all the trappings of great progressive rock: snapping Rickenbacker bass, fast changes and odd time signatures, grand anthemic keyboards...These guys are fast, tight and extremely good. "Power", recorded in 1991 and published in 1993: it is the most successful album of the group, although still strongly marked by GENESIS.

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NORTH STAR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NORTH STAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 8 ratings
Triskelion
1984
3.39 | 14 ratings
Feel The Cold
1985
3.27 | 9 ratings
Power
1992
2.90 | 11 ratings
Tempest
2000
3.77 | 23 ratings
Extremes
2005

NORTH STAR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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NORTH STAR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Power by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.27 | 9 ratings

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Power
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Second part of the 80's finds North Star in some sort of a hiatus with the band members focusing on their solo or other projects and Kevin Leonard being the most productive of all, recording no less than three albums at the dawn of the 90's.It was about the same time when Dave Johnson decided to return and retake the guitar duties, setting the spark for the third North Star album.Simply entitled ''Power'', this album was released in 1992 on the band's own label Space Monster Optional Entertainment.Kevin Leonard was responsible for the engineering and production of this work besides his duties as a keyboardist.

With ''Power'' North Star appear to move a bit away from the big symphonic moments of their previous works and offer a more typical Neo Prog style akin to MARILLION, IQ and compatriots ILUVATAR.Of course this does not mean that they left their strong GENESIS inspirations behind.The album features nice electroacoustic changes with atmospheric synthesizers and theatrical, GABRIEL-esque vocals, creating vintage images, while there are still plenty of symphonic hints in the keyboard work.But they just added a more rockin' flavor in the guitar parts, while the synthesizers follow the edgy sound of the 80's British bands.The music remains at a sufficient level as always with decent melodies, sensitive textures, more grandiose deliveries and extended room for instrumental mannerisms with Leonard being mainly the man leading the way with angular solos and flashy offerings, supported by the welcome addition of Dave Johnson and his energetic guitar style.Bass remains among the band's hot spots, very deep and dynamic, but the strong similarities with MARILLION are maybe a bit disturbing on specific tracks.Good thing is that there are no weak moments in ''Power'', the music is always well-arranged and balanced, lacking though one or a couple of killer tracks.

Well-executed Neo Prog by the Americans, who flirt strongly with British-styled Prog.Not an extraordinary work, but definitely one to offer the listener plenty of inspired moments.Recommended.

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 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.39 | 14 ratings

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Feel The Cold
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars North Star is to me one of the most underrated symphonic bands from USA, with nearly 35 years of career and only 5 albums released, North Star for sure needs attention. I reviewed already 3 of their albums and I liked very much what I've heared, so another review for this unnoticed band will give maybe more exposure. Feel the cold , their second album from 1985, issued on CD in 1991 by mighty Syn-Phonic label with a diffrent cover, is a true gem in symphonic prog world. I never thought I will like so much, this is consistent and solid symphonic prog with lots of excellent keybords arrangements made by Kevin Leonard and very good druming by his brother Glenn Leonard, the two are helped by the vocalist/bassist Joe Newman who done a good job here. Untill discovered this album some years ago, their latest Extremes was my fav album from them, now I say this is my fav for sure followed by Extremes and Power. North Star is a very inspired Genesis band, and they are not afraid to show it on every piece. Vintage sound with lots of layers on keybords, very very good btw, I really love the moog on this album, Kevin Leonard new how to make the album intrested his is the main composer, giving to the listner some fantstic passges, as an example is the opening track Feel The Cold who has some superb and very well crafted arrangements on keybords, the solo from here is brilliant, another worthy one is Plastic Fantstic followed by the longest pieces from here Tomorrow Never Comes with nice instrumental arrangements, these guys really know to play, the ending track Finale, an instrumental piece is top notch. So, over all I like it a lot this album, I have a soft spot for this band, even to many are only Genesis clones, to me they are very good in what they do, despite the lack of originality. Keeping in ind that this album was release in 1985 when prog was nowhere to be found with some exceptions this album Feel the cold keeps the flag high, this is a truly great symphonic prog album that desearves attention. Great cover art front and back on the CD version. For me 4 stars easy, love it from first to last note.

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 Extremes by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.77 | 23 ratings

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Extremes
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars North Star's fifth album to date from 2005 named Extremes issued at same lable Space monster optional entertaiment but aswell at Musea records, is to me their best album for sure. They needed 5 years to come with another offer after previous one Tempest from 2000, this time they change direction or better said they come back to what they know best symphonic prog like on Power. No more experimental moments here, this is pure symphonic prog a la Genesis. They worship a lot Genesis here Wind and wuthering era, special on keyboards arrangements, but is not a bad thing at all, because Kevin Leonard variety use of synth and keyboards is excellent, some fantastic passges here that I really enjoy. The album beggins with great Midnight Soldier, excellent keyboards, very reminescent of Genesis, seams that Kevin Leonard study a lot Tony Banks use of keyboards, very good druming aswell. Other highlights to me are . Sometimes in the Suburbs and Battles Waged Before , very good instrumental arrangements, even to some listners North Star is a Genesis rip off , to me they sound very good , the musicianship is top notch, a thing that I appreciate here a lot here. Joe Newnam is back behind the mic, a thing that gives them a far better atmosphere overall. So, a very pleasent album for me at least, I will give 4 stars for the excellent keyboards parts, Kevin Leonard is a really good keyboard player and here is in the best form. Underrated band and album I must added, they need a better view in my opinion, nice art covers front/back.

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 Tempest by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.90 | 11 ratings

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Tempest
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Forth album named Tempest released in 2000 and issued at small label Space Monster Optional Entertainment is diffrent from previous Power and aswell from next Extremes. This is entirely instrumental album, this time the band optained for some experimental arrangements, no more symphonic parts a la Genesis, maybe only here and there, Tempest sounds very much diffrent then anything they done before, if they sicceded , well to me only partial. Less captivating then Power and Extremes, they toying with lots of sounds and all kinds of jazzy eclectic elements combined with xylophone and sitar, the vocalist Joe Newnam is responsable for sitar use in Raudra. If overall is ok, I don't like very much the guitar sound, is too muddy for my ears and doesn't have a proper direction, like some pieces aswell, to much of everything is here. No particular piece is better then other, all have same level, so from me only 3 stars this time, great cover art. I think this experimental album from them not quite succeded after all, I prefer their symphonic prog side much more, there they can offer the best they got like on their next album and by far their best Extremes.

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 Power by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.27 | 9 ratings

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Power
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars North Star is one of the unnoticed symphonic prog bands from USA, even they had 35 years of career and only 5 albums released so far. Formed by Leonard brothers Glenn and Kevin in 1976 together with guitarist Dave Johnson they had over the years same line up. Power is their third album from 1990 but issued two years later is a good example of how sounds this band, I really like this release, no weak moments for sure. Behind the mic is Joe Newnam who done a good job his voice being very much influenced by vocalists as Gabriel or Fish but aswell he has his own tone. Musicaly speaking North Star is very much similar with what Genesis done in my fav period of them Trick of the tail or Wind & wuthering, Banks like keyboards passages, Hackett guitar parts, th eresult is pretty ok even great. I like a lot instrumental arrangements, quite ok with lot to offer, the title track , the two instrumental tracks Opus IV ans specially Meltdown are excellent, great musicianship and good ideas. A fairly unnoticed band and album, while has plenty of good moments, somehow they remains unknown to larger public, like their previous and next albums aswell. 3.5 stars to Power, good album towards great.

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 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.39 | 14 ratings

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Feel The Cold
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Already during the recordings of ''Triskelion'',guitarist Dave Johnson decided to quit from his duties and the rest of the band continued as a trio with bassist/singer Joe Newman taking over the electric guitars as well.The new North Star formation recorded the LP ''Feel the cold'' in 1985,a very rare issue nowadays,fortunately re-issued on CD by Synphonic in 1991 with a differrent cover.

Despite time moving forward,the new North Star album finds the band moving backwards in terms of their sound,which is now more vintage and as always much inspired by classic-era GENESIS.''Feel the cold'' is extremely well-crafted and polished,yet far from original.The compositions are pretty nice with non-annoying symphonic synthesizers and floating moog solos,sometimes even ripping TONY BANKS work with GENESIS,with the drumming being also fantastic.Actually ''Feel the cold'' is much keyboard-driven compared to the debut,the electric guitars are quite limited,maintaining the obvious STEVE HACKETT influence.Vocals remain a strong point of the band: Newman performs again in a very expressive and lyrical way with a PETER NICHOLS-color.Limited are also some cheap synth sounds of ''Triskelion'',the band decided to work extremely well on this section to present a very retro-sounding keyboard delivery.The result is an album full of intricate arrangements,odd time signatures and emotional content at moments.

Not an absolutely essential release,mainly due to the total lack of originality,but definitely an improvement over their debut,''Feel the cold'' is a great discovery for all fans of Symphonic Rock and a file next to other interesting US Neo/Symphonic acts like ILUVATAR, CRUCIBLE or PUPPET SHOW.Warmly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Tempest by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.90 | 11 ratings

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Tempest
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It took me quite a while to make up my mind about this album before I wanted to do the review. The reason is this is one of the most varied albums I own. The only common ground I discovered was the fact all tracks are instrumental. It's almost as if the band wants to show all sorts of possibillities for instrumental music. I'll sum it up for you:

1. Tempest. If North Star would have done all their songs this way I would have considered a four star rating probably but unfortunately this track is misleading. It's likely the best track according to my taste and shows pretty impressive guitarwork as main feature. 4*

2. Yes, I know is much more distorted with keys as dominant instrument. Weird tones and tunes and darkish in mood, quite original with windsounds towards the end. 3,25*

3. Bathroom by the Bongos starts with percussion sounds taken over by keys and guitar later on. Sort of improvisation this one, not really the best composition you will ever hear. 3*

4. Weakest track of the album (Bach's Prelude in C) showcasing tempo shifts and variation in detail on xylophone. Maybe a nice invention but a bit boring when you listen to it more often. 2,75*

5. Opus V is much more jazzy over sudden than previous songs. I always love the jazzy stuff so bring it on I'd say. It just proves my statement in first paragraph by now. But there's more to come. 3,5* for Opus V

6. Raudra sounds totally middle eastern with Joe Newman on sitar. Funny thing is when I checked out this track on my mp3 (along with other bands) I thought this was a typical Osiris (Bahrain neoband) track. But it appeared this 6th tune by North Star. Interesting. 3,75*

7. With "Getting guige wit it" North Star proves they can also handle the semi-classical material. Another really nice one but still I miss the true excellence. 3,25*

8. Plastic Bombastic seems to be a wind dominated song but since there are no winds in the line-up it's probably the keys imitating them. Not one of the best this one. 3 *

9. Goodbye Mom is second best and (coincidence or not) the second with prominent guitar. Just guess what my fav instrument is, hu ? Anyway another very good one. 3,75 *

10. Another one with wind imitation to round things off. Colossus simply proves to me this album just doesn't make the cut as far as I'm concerned. 3*

And the cut being the limit level between 3 and 4 stars that is. In the end the album lacks direction and this one proves that variation isn't a guarentee for succes. The final score is some 3,3 for me. I'm curious what other North Star albums sound like... I'll check them out one day.

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 Extremes by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.77 | 23 ratings

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Extremes
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars NORTH STAR are an American band who've put out 5 albums beginning with the debut in 1984. This is the fifth release from 2005.They are very much in the GENESIS realm and they would make a good tribute band.

"Midnight Soldier" has these marching style drums and prominant bass with keyboards leading the way early. It fades out 1 1/2 minutes in then a new soundscape takes over with vocals and lots of synths.Vocals stop before 4 minutes as acoustic guitar then a variety of keyboards take over. Some electric guitar here too. "Starchild" has some great sounding acoustic guitar to start before the organ and vocals take over. It settles some 3 minutes in with synths and relaxed drumming. "Sometimes In The Suburbs" has no "Be cool or be cast out" lines but I like the guitar and atmosphere to start. It picks up before a minute and vocals join in. A nice instrumental section follows 3 1/2 minutes in. Vocals are back late. "Battles Waged Before" has some more really good sounding acoustic guitar to start. Vocals and synths 1 1/2 minutes in.The tempo picks up before 7 minutes. Love the guitar late to end it. "The Form" has some good chunky bass, acoustic guitar and organ before the vocals join in. It's very GENESIS- like after 2 1/2 minutes with those pulsating keyboards.

"Dr. Pill's Backlash Ballroom" is my favourite with the dark haunting atmosphere, spoken words and other sounds that come and go. "Unleashed" has a pulsating rhythm as synths join in. Vocals after 2 minutes then it settles after 3 1/2 minutes to a very GENESIS-like section to the end. "Live With Liberty" is delicate and again GENESIS-like.Vocals before a minute with synths. Not a fan of this part. It's better though when the vocals stop. "Stained Glass Door" has lots of synths and drums and it's fairly uptempo. Guitar 3 minutes in as the synths back off. "Living On The Fringe" opens with lots going on, vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. It settles a minute later then kicks back in around 5 minutes with guitar too. It settles back as we get some lazy guitar then it picks back up to the end.

A good album but nothing more in my opinion. If you like GENESIS inspired bands you should check them out.

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 Power by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.27 | 9 ratings

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Power
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars In some ways this album is an improvement over the previous album by North Star, Feel The Cold. The main difference is the addition of guitarist Dave Johnson. He is a much better guitarist than singer/bassist Joe Newman, and this also seems to free Newman to play better bass lines than on the previous album.

There is still a very strong Genesis influence. In face, one song, Other Side Of Same seems to be strongly reminiscent of Watcher Of The Skies (not a bad place to draw inspiration). But the best song on this album is Meltdown by the above mentioned guitarist. This instrumental piece draws favorable comparison to some of Frank Zappa's late period guitar solo works. I think the band knew this, as the percussion and keyboards sound like they were meant to sound like Zappa accompanists.

Another solid album from this band.

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 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.39 | 14 ratings

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Feel The Cold
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars On the surface, this sounds like another Marillion, a band that wanted to be Genesis. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since by the time this album was released, Genesis was really no longer Genesis. So what's wrong with other bands carrying on the tradition? They are playing their own original music.

Underneath, you'll find some fine musicianship. Glenn Leonard is really a great drummer, and his brother Kevin could play rings around Tony Banks. But the weak link on this album is singer/bassist/guitarist Joe Newman. Unfortunately, his bass and guitar work rarely transcend above obvious notes, and his vocals sound eerily similar to Fish's Peter Gabriel imitation.

But there are a few non-Genesis-like tracks on this album, and they stand above the others. Time Warp, an instrumental piece, has a keyboard solo that somehow manages to remind me of Zappa. Tomorrow Never Comes favorably compares to the first U.K. album, and Ocean On Venus shows off Glenn Leonard's fine marimba chops.

It's too bad that these guys were together during the forgotten years of prog. If they were around either a few years sooner or a few years later, they might have been better known.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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