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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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Citadel [Special Edition] [Collector's Edition] [Remastered] [24-Bit]Citadel [Special Edition] [Collector's Edition] [Remastered] [24-Bit]
Rock Candy 2009
$12.32
$15.11 (used)
Fountains of LightFountains of Light
Remastered
Rock Candy 2011
$12.06
$17.69 (used)
StarcastleStarcastle
Remastered
Rock Candy 2011
$12.04
$9.93 (used)
Alive in AmericaAlive in America
Renaissance Digital 1999
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Song of Times By Starcastle (2007-03-13)Song of Times By Starcastle (2007-03-13)
Progrock Usa
$21.99
$14.99 (used)
CitadelCitadel
Renaissance Digital 1998
$9.08
$7.98 (used)
Real to ReelReal to Reel
Renaissance Digital 2009
$10.01
$16.96 (used)
StarcastleStarcastle
Remastered
Airmail Japan 2011
$53.84
$266.34 (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)

3.17 | 164 ratings
Starcastle
1976
3.38 | 138 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977
2.95 | 90 ratings
Citadel
1977
1.60 | 49 ratings
Real To Reel
1978
3.03 | 64 ratings
Song Of Times
2007

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

3.15 | 13 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 | 11 ratings
Chronos
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Alchemy
2018

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

2.14 | 2 ratings
Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)
1977
5.00 | 2 ratings
Fountains Of Light
1977

STARCASTLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Citadel by STARCASTLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.95 | 90 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
3.17 | 164 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
3.17 | 164 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
3.17 | 164 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 | 49 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
2.95 | 90 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
3.03 | 64 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
3.38 | 138 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
3.17 | 164 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
1.60 | 49 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.

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

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