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STARCASTLE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Starcastle picture
Starcastle biography
Founded in Champaign, USA in 1972 - Disbanded in 1987 - Reformed between 1997-2007 and again since 2018

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

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Fountains of LightFountains of Light
Remastered
Rock Candy 2011
$13.69
$16.70 (used)
StarcastleStarcastle
Remastered
Rock Candy 2011
$11.50
$16.49 (used)
Alive in AmericaAlive in America
Renaissance Digital 1999
$6.60
$7.16 (used)
Citadel [Special Edition] [Collector's Edition] [Remastered] [24-Bit]Citadel [Special Edition] [Collector's Edition] [Remastered] [24-Bit]
Rock Candy 2009
$11.31
$10.99 (used)
CitadelCitadel
Renaissance Digital 1998
$9.97
$7.00 (used)
Real to ReelReal to Reel
Renaissance Digital 2009
$10.97
$14.00 (used)
Chronos 1Chronos 1
Sw-South West Label Group 2002
$32.99
StarcastleStarcastle
Remastered
Airmail Japan 2011
$40.74
STARCASTLE 45 RPM DIAMOND SONG (DEEP IS THE LIGHT) / SILVER WINDSSTARCASTLE 45 RPM DIAMOND SONG (DEEP IS THE LIGHT) / SILVER WINDS
EPIC
$8.99 (used)
DIAMOND SONG (DEEP IS THE LIGHT) (PROMO) (45/7DIAMOND SONG (DEEP IS THE LIGHT) (PROMO) (45/7")
EPIC 8-50348
$7.99 (used)

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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)

3.18 | 173 ratings
Starcastle
1976
3.38 | 143 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977
2.96 | 95 ratings
Citadel
1977
1.60 | 51 ratings
Real To Reel
1978
3.07 | 69 ratings
Song Of Times
2007

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

2.86 | 14 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
2.67 | 8 ratings
Shine On Brightly
2001

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

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

3.10 | 12 ratings
Chronos
2001
4.00 | 2 ratings
Alchemy
2018

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

2.14 | 3 ratings
Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)
1977
4.33 | 3 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977

STARCASTLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Concert Classics  by STARCASTLE album cover Live, 1999
2.86 | 14 ratings

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Concert Classics
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I'm not terribly impressed with Concert Classics v.5 - - for two reasons.

First, there's the fact that the much of the singing was re-recorded after the event. I'll admit it: this is a substantial pet peeve of mine, but here Starcastle really overdoes the overdubs. To me, the band (a) claims that this is a record of their live show, and it's really not, and (b) thinks we won't notice.

Anyway, the bigger issue is the quality of the songs. They're not terrible, but they're really nothing special. At first I assumed that the 50 minutes here was cut down from a longer setlist, but at the time this show was recorded (reportedly Boston, August 12th, 1979, but I've begun to seriously doubt that) Starcastle was an opening act, but also played festivals and apparently headlined smaller venues on occasion. They also played at colleges in the Northeast US. Anyway, this seems to be the setlist for a show supporting their 1977 album Citadel, and it's possible that this is their entire set. The first half of the recording is primarily songs from Citadel; among the remaining three songs are two of their best-known ("Lady of the Lake" and "Fountains"). This was probably the point in their career when they in top form, and yet their sound ranges from bland late-1970s AOR to minor-league Yes mimicry.

To be fair, while Concert Classics v.5 isn't a good album, it's not a bad album either; it just doesn't possess anything that sets it apart from other rock albums (except perhaps the excessive use of studio overdubs!).

 Song Of Times by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.07 | 69 ratings

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Song Of Times
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

4 stars Really really well put together album, technical abilities from all the players are through the roof, and the songwriting as original from the band as it gets. This band did take the most elements of Yes and a few elements of ELP, Genesis etc. This album did still borrow from Yes and ELP, but they made it more original on this album.

This album is their best in terms of originality, technically speaking it is a tad of a downgrade from their debut (mainly because of age... you know... age does play a part in playing ability). Songwriting is also a bit of a downgrade, either way it does help that the album is more original so I will give it credit for that.

 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 173 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

4 stars Yes??

Yes it is true that Starcastle is very Similar to Yes in terms of songwriting, but it does take elements from bands such as Genesis and ELP. It is a fairly good album all the way through, it would be giving 5 stars, but Originality on this album is a bit of a hard thing to find on the album. Altogether, this album has some really great material and it is definitely worth 4 stars. The singers are incredible In terms of technical ability, same with the Guitarist, Keyboardist, Bassist and Drummer. I don't think there is much else to say about the album.

 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 173 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars Starcastle was given the distinction early on of being a 'Yes' clone, and listening to the debut album will definitely help you understand why they were called a Yes clone. However, the band was quite talented, and that was definitely proven in this album and the follow up to this album "Fountains of Light". Unfortunately, they were never able to overcome that distinction, and never really hit it big time. But, listening to it now, it is easy to see that if Yes didn't exist, then Starcastle would probably have been better known. Starring Terry Luttrell (formerly of REO Speedwagon), had the vocalist duties, and even his voice had the light, airy sound of Jon Anderson, albeit maybe a bit less dynamic. The first side of the album is the strongest, but if you really sit and listen to it, you will agree that the 2nd side is quite weak.

The debut album has it's flaws, but the more familiar you get with the music, the less you will notice as the happy and complex melodies will start to get into your head, and the next thing you know, you will be reciting the music through your sub consciousness. The album starts off with their longest ever track 'Lady of the Lake' and probably one of their best tracks. The synths almost always have the spotlight on the bands albums, but the guitar really is allowed to shine through more on the debut album than any of them. The main theme in the first track gets returned to several times throughout the song, but there is still a lot of time to develop other themes and riffs through the track, manipulating meters and even including a downtempo section, which will remind one of 'Roundabout', but in a good way. To be able to play this good, the band had to be talented, because they were basically a clone band, but a really good one.

The good thing here is that the other tracks on the first side of the album follow along quite well, and feature memorable riffs and themes that will also become endearing if you stick with the album enough to let them sink in. 'Elliptical Seasons' wakes you right up with a nice synth introduction, and also has a few short intense guitar solos that unfortunately would not get explored as much in later albums. If you started your Starcastle collection with Citadel or Fountains of Light, you might be shocked to hear the solid guitar work here. Also, in this track, the guitar bridges the gaps between themes and melodies and makes everything flow beautifully. 'Forces' continues with bright vocals and synths, the two things that stick out the most in their music. The doot-doots in the vocals will also make you instantly think of clone-city, and the sudden slowing of tempos and the thoughtful sections will also recall early Yes. There is also another rousing guitar solo stuck in between the synth and keyboard flourishes.

You have to keep in mind that they can do the Yes sound quite well, but also remember that they have two people contributing to the keys and two people playing the lead guitar parts. So, Yes was able to do this sound, and perfect it with less musicians devoted to producing their complex sound. Also, another thing that is plain here is that the music isn't quite as complex and developed as Yes. However, the music is still enjoyable if you try to not think about the clone factor.

The 2nd side of the album starts with the short instrumental 'Stargate' that works to bring in the track 'Sunfield'. The vocals in this one come in a bit weak after such a regal beginning. It all gets presented by 'Stargate' with the sonic fortitude of a Yes track, but right at the beginning of 'Sunfield' and the weak vocal, it almost falls flat. However, the synth comes in later to save the day with a good solo. The secondary theme that comes in later has a better melody, but the lyrics get repeated over and over. So, the track overall, comes off a bit weak to me, though the instrumental sections almost save it all. 'To the Fire Wind' has some rousing guitar work spread throughout the vocal sections, but tends to lose a bit of life with the continual use of wordless scat style vocals. Even though there are 4 tracks on the second side, two of them are short and interesting instrumentals, while the other two are longer tracks that aren't quite as memorable as the tracks on the first side. 'Nova' is the final short instrumental that pretty much wraps everything up in a nice way, especially the exciting percussion solo at the beginning.

Overall, it's a decent album, and those interested in Starcastle shouldn't ignore this album, in fact, the first side is quite essential for Starcastle fans. But keep in mind the second side is much weaker. If you can find this album in a discount bin or a 2nd hand record shop, then spend the 5 dollars on it. Otherwise, try to get only the best tracks (1-3, 7) digitally.

 Citadel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.96 | 95 ratings

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Citadel
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Starcastle was accused of being a "Yes" clone band, and unfortunately, they never rose to the legendary status that they might have deserved if they had been able to continue in the same path they were headed in their first three albums, especially their first. Their debut album sold quite well and was able to get some airplay, but their following albums didn't do as well because of their reputation of being a clone band. But, they were stellar musicians, and if you are looking for a great 70's progressive band that you might have missed, you might want to check out Starcastle. Their music is bright and positive sounding, with a lot of keyboards and synths and great guitar solos.

For their 3rd album, the original line-up was still intact ( and would be for their fourth album also). Lead singer Terry Luttrell was recruited from REO Speedwagon in their early days and he does have a high voice very similar to Jon Anderson's, except it was a little bit weaker and was often supported by the other members of the band, thus a lot of their music had some very nice harmonics, and such is the case on this album. Matthew Stewart and Stephen Hagler shared guitar responsibilities and their style is quite bright and open, and even they were able to sound a bit like Steve Howe at times, but they also had their own distinctive style. On Citadel, their guitars many times can be a little hard to distinguish from the keyboards however, where on their debut album, the differences were more distinctive. Herb Schildt was responsible for most of the keyboards, organs, mellotron and synths, and was definitely a master of the keys. His playing is probably one of the most unique sounds in the band as he didn't really have the same pompous style of Wakeman or Emerson, but definitely came up with some great keyboard riffs that seemed to stand out more than anything in the group's sound. On top of this, Gary Stratter played bass and Stephen Tassler played drums and percussion, and even though they made up a top notch rhythm section that was able to handle the tricky meters and tempo changes quite well, their sound didn't always stand out quite as much because of the bright sound that was always achieved in the mixing of the bands albums, and this album definitely suffers a bit because of that.

This brightness in the sound in Citadel also accounts for the fact that the tracks sound a bit too much alike. At the first several listens, it is difficult to pick out much of a diverse personality between the songs. It takes several listens to begin to pick out the different melodies and traits of each song. Citadel was the first Starcastle album I owned, and even though I generally liked the sound, it took me a few years to finally get familiar with the songs, because I also felt it all sounded too much the same. Once I did get familiar with the music though, I started to appreciate it more, and the things that weren't so obvious started to become quite amazing to me. While it is true that the album is not as good as the first two, it is still quite excellent once your familiarity with it grows. Nothing on here matches the genius of "Lady of the Lake" or other tracks on the debut album, but they are still very progressive and fun to listen to, especially if you are craving something different to listen to from that era. On Citadel, there are some standout tracks that are quite good including "Shine on Brightly", "Wings of White" and "Evening Wind" which are the most progressive tracks here. The record company had also started to penetrate the band's sound on this album however and was able to convince the band to do a couple of more radio friendly songs like "Can't Think Twice" and "Could This Be Love?", neither of which really was successful from a single or radio friendly point of view. Still, I think this is a valiant effort for the band and it might be just the right thing to fill that 70's symphonic prog hole that you might be feeling. I know, once I became familiar with the music, that it brought me a lot of enjoyment back in the day when dinosaurs were the main mode of travel and Fred Flintstone was a likeable, state-of-the-art kind of a guy and not the current US Attorney General.

After this album, Starcastle was able to release one more album that was an almost complete sell out. After that, they went into hiding until after the current decade started. I admit I never heard their album released in 2007 "Song of Times" and someday I might break down and hear it, but as far as the 70s were concerned, this was the last great album by a great band.

 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 173 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by thesimilitudeofprog

3 stars 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.Two major elements give rise to this praise or accusation (depending on the critic): Gary Strater's bass tone is unmistakably similar to that of Chris Squire, and Terry Luttrell sounds uncannily like Jon Anderson at many points. But I hear many other influences here, namely ELP, Camel, and Gentle Giant. In addition, there's some highly original compositions present really worth hearing.

Opening the album is the 10-mins+ Lady Of The Lake. Right away, you'll check to see if you haven't misplaced a Yes disc inside a Starcastle sleeve. Lady of the Lake seems to be the song they are best known for and is the most creative and engaging song on the album. The guitar playing is more than sufficient. Herb Schildt's organ solo sounds much more like what Kieth Emerson did on Tarkus or Pictures at an Exhibition than anything Rick Wakeman or Tony Kaye ever did. The light atmospheric section is very similar to parts of Close to the Edge. "Elliptical Seasons" That twelve-string acoustic introduction may easily be compared to "And You and I," but the rest of the song moves toward a funk-driven direction.. The synthesizer lead, reminds me of Peter Bardens of Camel. "Forces," is another Yes-like extravaganza of multiple sections, tempos, and solos, with fanciful synths, twiddling guitars, and Gary Strater once again performing thrilling acrobatics on his bass guitar. "Stargate" A synth-dominated instrumental which serves as an intro to Sunfield. "Sunfield" The vocals here are a tad embarrassing. They sound out of place, poorly mixed, and spouting goofy lyrics. Otherwise, the music is stellar, with more fantastic keyboard and bass carrying on. Schildt is the clear star here, giving his synthesizer a workout. The guitars both take a more submissive role, similar in vein of Gentle Giant. "To The Fire Wind," the final vocal composition, is another appropriate vehicle for Strater to display his Rickenbacker mastery, his fingers not stopping for one second as the tune blazes along in a Prog-Rock frenzy of spectacular keys, guitars, and harmonies. Once again, any Yes fan who adores the Fragile era of the group but is also unfamiliar with Starcastle should seek out this album as soon as humanly possible. The album ends with "Nova," another short instrumental piece that clearly displays the chops of each musician in the band's line-up. Sadly, the strong bass is lacking on this track. In fact, the only two tracks here that approach mediocrity are "Stargate" and "Nova", and both of those selections are comparatively brief instrumentals that are best approached as intros/outros for the surrounding tracks.

On a closing note, as I mentioned earlier, there are moments where Starcastle can sound like a bit of a Yes clone. Though this is not an over-frequent occurrence, it is understandable to make that comparison during some moments. Still, it does not hinder the album to such a point to where Starcastle is a complete "copycat". This album is a stand-out listen and should be recommended, especially to fans of the older 1960's-70's Prog. rock era. Starcastle should be commended as the effort put into this album clearly shows. Kick back and listen to an album that truly deserves recognition. Good, but non-essential.

 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 173 ratings

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Starcastle
Starcastle Symphonic Prog

Review by bongolong

4 stars Through out the history of rock music, bands have been influenced by other bands and styles. In the case of Starcastle, they started from Yes' style but made it their own. The vocals were far more pleasant than Anderson's and Yes could never harmonize like Starcastle. As for instrumentally, guitar, bass, keyboard, drums were played more straight ahead then most of the progressive acts of the day, which made this music much more accessible to the "non-progressive" ear. It was always a pleasant and positive sound. I enjoy the clear sound of the lead guitar, much like the clear, clean look of the air-brushed album cover. And where is that Squire-like growling bass? No copying there. I do not hear any signature Wakeman keyboard styling and the drums are very straight ahead rock (these guys started out as a bar band). As you can see, I am a fan of Starcastle, ever since I bought their first vinyl record back in 1975.
 Starcastle by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 173 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
1.60 | 51 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 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.

 Citadel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.96 | 95 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 Can´t 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.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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