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STARCASTLE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Starcastle picture
Starcastle biography
STARCASTLE is a well known USA based band, but sadly they are better known for cloning YES, what is a real shame, because they are talented musicians that could easily be making albums with theirown ideas and style.

The history of Starcastle goes back to 1968, when Steve Hagler (guitar), Mike Castlehorn (Drums) and Paul Tassler (bass guitar) formed ST. JAMES, a cover band that had some success playing in local pubs and bars. Soon after Herb Schildt joined the band and with a keyboardist they were ready for greater things, but tragedy hit them, Mike Castlehorn died in a car accident and was replaced by Steve Tassler.

After years of practicing and writing new material, STARCASTLE released their eponymous debut in 1976, and even when they were cataloged as YES clones, the band was well received in USA and Canada.

Despite having several lineup changes, STARCASTLE managed to release three more albums, "Fountain of Life" (1977), "Citadel" (1977) and the mainstream oriented "Real to Reel" in 1978, after that, the band disbanded, but had several reunions for short periods.

In 2004 the band decided to make a tribute for Gary Stratter who had pancreatic cancer since 2003. They performed together with Gary (this was his last performance with the band). Gary passed away a year later, but not before recording enough material for their last record called "Song of Times" that was released in 2007.

Iván Melgar-Morey :::: Perú

Starcastle official website

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Buy STARCASTLE Music


StarcastleStarcastle
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$1.99
$4.66 (used)
Fountains of LightFountains of Light
Import · Remastered
Rock Candy 2011
Audio CD$10.19
$10.18 (used)
CitadelCitadel
Renaissance Records 1997
Audio CD$9.93
$5.00 (used)
Song of Times By Starcastle (2007-03-13)Song of Times By Starcastle (2007-03-13)
Progrock Usa
Audio CD$21.99
$18.95 (used)
Alive in AmericaAlive in America
RENAISSANCE 2006
Audio CD$8.24
$7.83 (used)
Reel To RealReel To Real
Import
RENAISSANCE 2009
Audio CD$12.44
$16.95 (used)
StarcastleStarcastle
Import · Remastered
Airmail Japan 2011
Audio CD$29.47
Starcastle - Fountains of Light - Cassette Tape - Epic PET 34375Starcastle - Fountains of Light - Cassette Tape - Epic PET 34375
Epic
Vinyl$7.99 (used)
Alive in America by StarcastleAlive in America by Starcastle
RENAISSANCE
Audio CD$35.41
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STARCASTLE discography


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

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

3.13 | 145 ratings
Starcastle
1976
3.36 | 122 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977
2.84 | 76 ratings
Citadel
1977
1.56 | 41 ratings
Real To Reel
1978
3.00 | 57 ratings
Song Of Times
2007

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

3.09 | 10 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
2.56 | 5 ratings
Shine On Brightly
2001

STARCASTLE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

STARCASTLE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 9 ratings
Chronos
2001

STARCASTLE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977

STARCASTLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.13 | 145 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Unoriginal, YES, but not uninteresting or bad: 7/10

STARCASTLE is a controversial band; there is no way to deny that. It was born in 1969 in the United States, the nation that observed ecstatically the progressive juggling in progress in Europe. Many Americans looked to British bands as inspirations for their progressive attempts, STARCASTLE being perhaps the most? vigorously 'inspired'. They didn't spare any effort to mimic YES' sonority. The result was that, yes, STARCASTLE mirrored YES; but no, they didn't downright copy them.

The way I see it, it's really superficial to dismiss STARCASTLE as merely a copycat. For as much as both bands do sound alike, they are composed of different members. Therefore, the outputs are naturally different. STARCASTLE, roughly, is a diluted YES. They don't possess even one bit of the technical virtuosity or amazing composition creativity, yet they still resemble it. More than that, though, they add their own twist to their music ? you will, undoubtfully, think of YES through the entire album, but in the same way, you'll easily acknowledge it's a different band with different nuances. They created something similar, at best.

They're not just a copycat, no, because copycats often sound poor; this being the point that STARCASTLE fall shorts on the definition. They conserved YES' joviality, cheerfulness, lustful keyboards, and most importantly, enjoyability; they're far from poor. Their tracks are lighthearted and fun, with pinches ? exaggerated pinches ? of CLOSE TO THE EDGE and FRAGILE. In my opinion, Elliptical Seasons and Sunfield are the best demonstrations of STARCASTLE's potential. Potential translated into even a good attempt on Squire's unique bass line!

Terry Luttrell's voice has little to do with Jon Anderson's, whose vocal range is naturally more acute, whereas Luttrell clearly opts to remain on lower octaves. His voice sounds delicate as you'd expect from Anderson but still not imitative, which is one characteristic that also hinders to simply call them a bad replica.

Since they used an established band's music as foundations for them, they fall short on "progressive", being instead at best a symphonic rock band. I think it would be unfair to go anywhere above three stars on a band which doesn't put anything new on the table. Were it not for this, I would've solidly rated much more, because it is just so fun to listen to. Fans of FRAGILE and CLOSE TO THE EDGE, there's little reason why to avoid STARCASTLE's debut. Don't get scared by the "blatantly crappy replica" ? I think that's just (somewhat reasonable) outrage, being voiced over actual musical analysis.

 Real To Reel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1978
1.56 | 41 ratings

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Real To Reel
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

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 bandīs 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 anybodyīs 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. Itīs 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.

 Citadel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.84 | 76 ratings

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Citadel
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Starcastle previous record, Fountains Of Light, showed the band stuck in a rut: it proved the group could not evolve in prog terms to outgrow their idols of Yes, nor become something different enough to stablish themselves as entity of their own. To worse thing even further the timing could not be less ideal for prog acts in general: 1977 was the year of the rising of punk rock as the new media darlings and the commercial explosion of disco, viewed (wrongly) to many as a rival of rock. Prog music had become passé. If it was hard year for prog giants, imagine for young struggling ones that had yet to make any impact on the musical scene. So Starcastle might had looked around and saw several american groups with a certain prog credentials started to go commercial and having a steady, growing success, like Journey and, specially, Styx. Superstars of the moment - Kansas in America - would go on this way also, but only much later.

So their third effort is a transitional album. There is still a lot of Yes-sounding stuff, but there is also more commercial tunes like Canīt Think Twice and Could This Be Love. Actually I think the pop stuff was not really bad and showed some promise. Maybe a way out. After all, if that worked for Styx, why not for them? But somehow that would not happen. Citadel went largely unnoticed and their next, Real to Reel, would put an end to their career for the next 30 years or so.

Conclusion: as all Starcastle albums, this is not bad. It has some nice tunes, but not much more than that. This is more interesting for historical reasons than for what the band left in musical terms.

Rating: 2,5 stars.

 Song Of Times by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.00 | 57 ratings

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Song Of Times
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Faces of change

Almost three decades after their previous album, Starcastle returned in 2007 with Song Of Times. It is now a rather rare album and not too easy to find. I have had it in digital format on my computer for years, but missing one track that I have manged to locate only recently. Hearing it again now in conjunction with the band's other albums, I must say that it is their best since the self-titled debut. The sound is rather different from the older albums however, even if certain commonalities can be detected.

The album has nine tracks (plus an edited version of the track Babylon). The better tracks come in the first half of the album. Only the title track sounds like Yes.

The album was created by a large number people; members past and present. A bit like Yes' Union. Sadly, founding member Gary Strater had passed away before the album could be released and nothing has since been heard from Starcastle. We will probably never hear from the band again, which is a shame as there was promise here.

A good final album.

 Fountains Of Light by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.36 | 122 ratings

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Fountains Of Light
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars As the second album goes this was a disappointment. Few things differ from Starcastles debut album and this one. Fountains Of Light is another Yes clone album, no less no more. Very good clones, OK, but there was very little improvement over the first. Some reviewers here on PA say they added a few Kansas influences, but really, I canīt see a single one. Early Yes is their main source of input and the sole exception is their last track, Diamond Song, which is a little more commercial sounding, reminding me of Styx during the chorus (it was released as a single). Other than that Yes is the band Starcastle tries very hard to be. Everything here tries to emulate Jon Andersonsīs band to the max. Even the vocal harmonies are perfect copies of Yes style, tones and mannerisms And this happened in 1977! Not the best time for a new prog act, specially without a strong personality. If Fountains of Light was recorded some five years earlier it would surely made much more impact.

Well, on the album itself: good musicians, a Jon Anderson clone as vocalist, some decent compositions. Again their music appears like half baked Yes songs: nice melodies, underdeveloped arrangements, not very bold ideas and they simply donīt travel the places their idols travel. It is all too restrained, something Yes certainly was not, at least at the time. There are not long solos and instrumental passages, which reminds me of Yes (1969) and Time And A Word (1970) in a way. The LP running time is very short too, clocking on just the 36 minutes mark. The frustration is that, as nice as the songs go, they all leave you expecting them to fly sometime, and it does not happen. Only Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light) offers some changes, but then it is the closing track. Too little too late.

Conclusion: once again a nice Yes copy, but a second in a row without much improving. I wonder if their third is a winner.

Rating: 2,5 stars.

 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.13 | 145 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars To say that american band Starcastle copied Yes is an understatement. They simply worshiped Yes and tried very hard to sound like them. Every mannerism, every instrument timbre and every vocal line is reproduced here as far as any human being could. And, in several ways, they did sound like Yes around the time of their first two albums and a even a little bit like The Yes Album, but not much. Obviously the musicians are very good, but they lack the overwhelming talent, technique and boldness of their idols. I guess at the time I would despise them as mere imitators, if I had the chance to get this LP back in 1976. But now they donīt seem so bad. At least they come up with a decent selection of songs that somehow capture a little of early Yes spirit. And surely gives us hope that they would eventually outgrew their obvious limitations to reach something of their own.

Iīm still amazed of how singer Terry Luttrell can reproduce Jon Andersonīs vocal style to the limit. Keyboardist Herb Schildt does a great Tony Kaye impersonation (Rick Wakeman would be too much), and Gary Strater bass is a fine bass player. They had two guitarists, Mathew Stewart and Stephen Hagler, that can do their Peter Banks numbers very well. Drummer Stephen Tassler is no Bill Brufford, of course, but he is good anyway. I guess they would play Yes covers better than most, like italian band The Watch can do excellent classic Genesis covers. The songwriting here is probably their most promising aspect. Although not one track brings anything new, they were not bad either. In fact, they did better than most Yes imitators, and they were many. Lady Of The Lake is almost a underground classic, but the best song here is Sunfield, a great lost Yes track of sorts. Production is also very good So, Iīm looking forward to listen their next works.

Rating: 3 stars. A nice Yes copy. Recommended specially for 70īs symphonic rock fanatics who like early Yes and donīt mind the almost total lack of originality.

 Real To Reel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1978
1.56 | 41 ratings

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Real To Reel
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

 Concert Classics  by STARCASTLE album cover Live, 1999
3.09 | 10 ratings

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Concert Classics
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Breath and thunder

This live album was recorded just after the release of the band's third studio album Citadel in the late 1970's, but it was released only much later under various alternative titles.

The album contains eight songs all in all, including the very best songs from each of their first three albums: Change In Time from Citadel, Fountains from Fountains Of Light, and the excellent Lady Of The Lake from the self-titled debut. Unfortunately, they also included the two worst songs from Citadel: Can't Think Twice and Could This Be Love. A tip would be to skip these two tracks on a first listen so that you get to the much stronger second half of the album where the better songs are concentrated. Here you will also find Breath And Thunder which is a number that was not included on any of the band's regular studio albums, and is interesting at least for that reason.

A pretty decent live album that in some ways is better than most of the band's studio discs.

 Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light) by STARCASTLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars Interesting obscure single from this american band, takin from their second LP, 1977īs Fountains of Light. They were obviously Yes fanatics and their music is pretty much in that vein: vocalist Terry Luttrell sings like Jon Anderson, the bass player tries hard to be Chris Squire and so on. However, this song tends to slip to the AOR side, reflecting what bands like Styx were doing at the time, specially the well constructed chorus. Unfortunately it seems that, unlike Styx, no one paid much attention to them. And although the musicians were very good and the songwriting is decent, the timing was wrong for this kind of prog rock, specially for a band lacking a strong and/or unique personality.

The single has two versions of Diamong Song (Deep Is The Light): an edit one (maybe in hope of some radio play) and the album cut, almost two minutes longer.

Recommended for 70īs symphonic prog rock fans that donīt mind derivative bands.

Rating: 2,5 stars.

 Citadel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.84 | 76 ratings

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Citadel
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Change in time

On Citadel, Starcastle feels somehow more at home than they did on the previous Fountains Of Light which to me is best viewed as a transitional album between the Symphonic Prog of the debut and the more Prog related AOR style showcased here. The universally made comparison with Yes is definitely less natural here, and it would be better to compare the music on Citadel with that of other American bands like Saga, FM, and Kansas of the late 70's/early 80's. The downside of sounding less like Yes is that they sound more bland.

Citadel is a far cry from the band's excellent self-titled debut. But judged for what it is, it is not that bad. I think it is fair to say that Starcastle was ahead of their time and pointed in the direction that many Prog bands would take in the 80's, streamlining their sound and exploring more commercial pastures.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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