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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


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

3.19 | 14 ratings
Triskelion
1984
3.51 | 24 ratings
Feel The Cold
1985
3.30 | 18 ratings
Power
1992
2.96 | 17 ratings
Tempest
2000
3.83 | 34 ratings
Extremes
2005
2.63 | 17 ratings
Transcendence
2015

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
 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.51 | 24 ratings

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Feel The Cold
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One does wonder when listening to North Star's Feel the Cold if a band like this could even exist if not for Gabriel-era Genesis. It is both an obvious and unfair question to ask such a dazzling trio: Would the two brothers & singer have ever composed such distinctive and complex art-rock if not for the British prog institution, or would they've done something less derivative but not as attractive? And do acts like this stunt their own musical potential by being wed to a group so inimitable? The world may never know. The world doesn't care, for that matter. To think that in 1985 anyone other than a handful of teens and a few weepy thirtysomethings had access to, let alone an ear for, these fellas is adorable but mistaken.

But I can't quite get past what a kickin' little record of post-Symph this is. Channeling other artists is risky at best, a disaster at worst, but when you figure it's just three guys handling all the keys, strings, percussives and voxes, it is admirable. And the material is tasty, well performed and reasonably mixed. The title has Joe Newman's plaintive Gabriel grouse and the Leonard's orchestrina synths laid down with pro acumen, almost indistinguishable from what Peter & Co. would've done as a demo for a new album, followed by '80s ringer 'Sands of Time' with a simpler drone and bass pedals bringing up the rear, and racing if un-intoned and not-quite-right 'Moving the Base' with nods to the Police.

'Plastic Fantastic' is a midtempo prog charmer, playful and light with flavorful synth settings, tricky time changes, and never bores; Nine-minute 'Tomorrow Never Comes' is unabashed Genesism ~ absolutely no shame ~ but kicks ass so we don't really care, even reaching UK levels of showmanship, a marvelous cut, with two leisurely instrumental trail-offs.

When you're good, you're good, and credit must be given when due. Such reverence for a band other than one's own does not exclude one from occasional greatness, and North Star proves that here. Nice work, boys.

 Transcendence by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.63 | 17 ratings

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Transcendence
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by Goddess prog

4 stars This is a very special collection of art rock which I have played almost daily since I recieved it. To answer he former reviewer, which I understand doesn't speak or read English well , the drummer is deceased. The other members , apparently k Leonard and j Newnam mostly records this work as a tribute o he drummer. This means no drums . When the late g Leonard does show up on the recording I think it's Tech work . I see THIS TRIBUTE FINAL CD as a polar (polar star) reverse of TEMPEST in fact. Transcendence is rich in a lot of vocals and vocal harmonies and "tempest" in fact is completely instrumental. I can't truly see how anyone hears this as a genisis knock off. After 30 years of making North Star music And being compared to PG Genisis ,maybe NS deserves the crown Since genisis couldn't hold I together for 5 years. Hearty honest music on this cd. A lot of feelings. No drum rock , but endless textures and vibrational , musical mastership. Recommended for listeners with an ear for to the point, fine , subtle , and deep progressive composition. Not one for the beer party listeners to be sure.
 Transcendence by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.63 | 17 ratings

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Transcendence
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by robbob

1 stars this album desperate me...get me very impatient .... songs in the classical line of NS ...similar to Tempest ones. But how can we call this work prog rock if drums don't appear ...if Leonard is almost a phantom..???? Very keyboards oriented...quite pleasant songs...nothing very special or original...so the preserve their Genesis PG era line...(of course much worse than their inspiration) So really if you are looking to electronic progressive ..Ok. But if you are a fan of the goos works of NS ...the lack of drums...is a situation difficult to swallow.... please North Star ROCK...ROCK...prog Rock...¿why Leonard is a phantom?... This is more close to a demo ...¡¡¡¡¡so many years for this¡¡¡¡¡ Sorry but my disappointing takes me to a 1 star review
 Extremes by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.83 | 34 ratings

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Extremes
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by mbzr48

4 stars Pennsylvania's North Star return with their first release since the 2000 comeback album Tempest, which was their first record since 1991's Power. For those who are not familiar with this US prog band, they have been around the scene since the mid-70's and first made their mark in 1984 with the release of Triskelion, which was a strong mix of Genesis & ELP styled 70's prog with some of the newer influences of the neo-prog movement of bands like Marillion and IQ. Well, fast forward to today and Extremes, which is more of a full-fledged band effort after the mostly instrumental Tempest. Back once again is the classic line-up of Kevin and Glenn Leonard on keyboards and drums, guitarist Dave Johnson, and vocalist Joe Newnam. Bass on the album is handled by Johnson and Kevin Leonard. Once again, the sound is rooted in classic keyboard-led symphonic prog, with Gabriel era Genesis as the main point of reference. As with other bands of recent memory like The Watch, Mangala Valis, and Citizen Cain, North Star are able to successfully scratch that Genesis itch that many of us seem to have, with Newnam's effective Gabriel-ish vocals, Leonard's wide array of keyboards, Johnson's multitude of electric and acoustic guitar patterns, and Glenn Leonard's intricate drum work. Add that together with melodic and symphonic songs that also happen to be pretty lengthy, and you have the recipe for a formula that works.

The opener, "Midnight Soldier", kicks things off in grand fashion, and at nearly 9-minutes long gets the progressive blood pumping with plenty of majestic keyboard passages, tasty guitar licks, and addicting vocals. "Sometimes In the Suburbs" is a real emotional ride, with wonderful Banks styled keyboard melodies from Kevin Leonard that just screams the Selling England By the Pound era of Genesis, as does the pastoral and atmospheric "Battles Waged Before". Just close your eyes and pretend that this is a lost Genesis track, as Newnam's vocals and Johnson's lush guitars lead you in to some wild Moog solos from Leonard, which makes for an intoxicating brew. Quirky lyrics and intricate keyboards lead the way on "The Form", and the whole band fires up some bombastic sounds on "Stained Glass Door", featuring some molten guitar solos from Johnson. The ultra complex and symphonic "Living on the Fringe" is another tour-de-force for Leonard's acrobatic keyboard passages and Johnson's nimble yet muscular guitar leads.

While Extremes might not be the most original sounding prog album that you'll hear this year, there's no denying that these talented veterans know their niche and turn out quality 70's influenced art-rock that lovers of the genre can enjoy. For me a solid 4 stars maybe 4+

 Power by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 18 ratings

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Power
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.51 | 24 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.
 Extremes by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.83 | 34 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.
 Tempest by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.96 | 17 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.
 Power by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 18 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.
 Feel The Cold by NORTH STAR album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.51 | 24 ratings

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Feel The Cold
North Star Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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