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Starcastle - Citadel CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.96 | 95 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Starcastle's last worthwhile album before the disastrous pop-rock of the career-killing 'Real To Reel', 1977's 'Citadel' nevertheless features the American outfit inching towards a more streamlined sound. Thanks to the pressure exerted by their label, the glutinous production sheen applied by badly-chosen ex-Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, the rising success throughout their homeland of fellow countrymen Journey, Boston and Foreigner and the punk rock explosion taking place over in Britain, this was a make-or-break moment for the group. Although their self-titled debut from 1976 had sold well, follow-up release 'Fountains Of Light' hadn't quite fulfilled the commercial expectations of CBS records and the relative failure of 'Citadel' would therefore give Starcastle very little room to manouvere. Unfortunately, by 1978, the Starcastle story had run it's sadly-truncated course, the group extremely unhappy with their final album which they believed didn't represent their musical ideals at all. Thankfully, 'Citadel' does retain many of the ingredients that made their original albums such delightful guilty pleasures for progressive rock fans, the six-man outfit's 'Americanized' take on the classic symphonic style popularised by British genre titans Yes still prevalent despite the fact that the album is made up entirely of standard-length songs. Somewhat disappointingly there is no sparkling epic in the mould of 'Lady Of The Lake' or 'Fountains' here - a result of CBS' interference - yet the gleaming synthesizers and soaring vocal harmonies that characterized their best work is still in check. The album's first half is definitely the stronger, opening track 'Shine On Brightly' a piece that wouldn't sound out-of-place on either of 'Citadel's predecessors, whilst the bouncy neon rhythms of 'Can't Think Twice' provides a rare glimpse of the group's new poppier direction rubbing off well on their unashamedly progressive inclinations. There are many, or course, who believe Starcastle were just a American Yes-clone, and it's easy to see why, yet there is so much more to this underrated group. Alongside the likes of Journey, Styx and Kansas, they were on the key American groups, essentially blending the intricate complexities of British groups such as Yes, Genesis and ELP with the fist-pumping simplicity of anthemic American rock. Of their contemporaries, however, Starcaste were undoubtedly the most overtly progressive. Those who have yet to explore the delights of Starcastle are urged to investigate their first three albums, all of which should delight fans of classic-style progressive rock. Although certainly not their best, the elegant, instrumentally complex and gloriously upbeat 'Citadel' does provide a worthy denouement for a group who, simply put, didn't get the recognition they fully deserved.


stefro | 3/5 |


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