We have never really been a fan of bands that sound like carbon copies of more famous bands. Some of these groups start out as actually tribute bands which is fine if that’s all they do. Their job is to sound exactly like the band they are copying while playing that band’s songs. However, some eventfully sign deals and release albums of original material that still sound like their paying tribute while others may actually find their own sound. Zebra is a band that comes to mine when thinking about a cover band (Led Zeppelin) that signed a deal and released great original songs in their own voice. The Beaver Brown Band (Eddie and the Cruisers) were a Bruce Springsteen tribute band that eventually signed a deal after the movie and still sounded like Bruce Springsteen. And then of course, we have bands like Great Van Fleet that completely rip of Led Zeppelin and won’t even acknowledge that they are doing it. So where does Starcastle stand in this mix?
Starcastle was an American progressive rock band that signed with Epic Records in 1974 and released four albums on a major label. That the big time folks. However, throughout their time on the label they were accused by fans and critics of sounding just way too much like the band Yes. The record company was eager to promote the group as Starcastle toured as an opening act with such legendary bands such as Journey, Boston, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac and many more.
For a group to sound so much like a more famous group and still get signed by a major label and be heavily promoted makes for an interesting story. Additionally, and we feel this is a very important point, these guys could play and sing really well. Starcastle was a band of really good musicians and songwriters. No one could ever take that away from them. Anyone who is a musician understands what it takes to get to the level of proficiency these guy achieved.
Many of you are probably familiar with Starcastle and many out there probably never heard of them before. Sadly, there are also millions of young people who have never even heard of Yes. Nonetheless, we cover rock history and Starcastle are a part of Classic Rock History. So here is our choices for the 10 best Starcastle songs.
# 10 – Forces
We open up our top 10 Starcastle songs list with the closing track on the band’s first album entitled Starcastle. The band’s debut album was released in 1976 on Epic Records. The musicians in the band on the album included Terry Luttrell on lead vocals, Matthew Stewart on guitar, Stephen Hagler on guitar, Gary Strater on bass, Herb Schildt on keyboards and Stephen Tassler on drums.
# 9 – Red Season
“Red Season,” was the opening track to the band’s surprising new album released in 2007 entitled Song Of Times. Its interesting to hear how this group sounded in 2007 over forty years later. It was the first Starcastle studio album released since 1978’s Reel To Reel which was the last official Starcastle studio album. In between the years, there were plenty of solo albums, live records and compilations. The Song Of Times album featured all the different musicians who were members of Starcastle at one time or another. This would include George Harp, Bruce Botts, Gary Strater, Matt Stewart, Steve Hagler, Steve Tassler, Herb Schildt, Terry Luttrell, Ralph Goldhiem, Mauro Magellan, Scott McKenzie, Mark McGee and Jimmy Wagner.
# 8 – When the Sun Shines At Midnight
The wonderful song “When the Sun Shines At Midnight,” was the closing track on the band’s fourth album entitled Reel To Reel. The album was not a progressive rock record. They were possibly aiming for a bigger audience, more airplay and who knows what. What they did do was lose all their core fans for the most part. On most of the album’s tracks, one would not even recognize that this was Starcastle. Still, this is a great song which is very reflective of the hit sound of the time period in 1978.
# 7 – Shine On Brightly
Starcastle’s song “Shine on Brightly,” is the first of two in a row from the album Citadel. One can start to hear the start of a change in the band’s sound that arrived in full force on their fourth album. This song balances progressive rock with more of a pop rock sound more than anything on their first two albums. In many ways, the band is sounding their most original on this one. Although there is still much borrowing from Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and all the other progressive rock giants
# 6 – Evening Wind
This has always been one of our favorite Starcastle songs. It has that perfect album opening feel at the start of the track. However, this great track did not open the album but rather opened side two of the band’s third album entitled Citadel. There is some really great keyboard work on this album. Herb Schildt shines on this track.
# 5 – True To The Light
Entering the second half of our top 10 Starcastle songs list we turn to the album Fountains of Light. The song “True To The Light,” was the opening track on side two of the record. The song’s production sounds great courtesy of the very talented and legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker who produced all the 1970s Queen albums plus so many more legendary artists such as Journey, Ian Hunter, The Cars and many many more.
# 4 – Song Of Times
This beautiful song was the title track to their great 2007 album Song Of Times. All the songs on the band’s final album were written by Gary Strater, Bruce Botts and George Harp. Sadly three years before the album was released, founding member Gary Strater passed away.
# 3 – Elliptical Seasons
“Elliptical Seasons,” was released on the album Fountains Of Light. The record was released in 1977. The album featured Terry Luttrell on lead vocals, Matthew Stewart on electric guitar, Stephen Hagler also on guitar, Gary Strater on bass Herb Schildt on keyboards and Stephen Tassler on drums.
# 2 – Fountain
As we close in on the top spot on our top 10 Starcastle songs list we once again turn to the band’s second album Fountains Of Light. This is probably our favorite Starcastle album. Although we really also enjoyed the band’s 2007 release. The song “Fountain,” was the album’s opening track.
# 1 – Lady Of The Lake
We close out our top 10 Starcastle Songs list with the band’s most famous song entitled “Lady Of The Lake.” The song was released on the band’s first album entitled Starcastle. It was the album’s opening number and the longest running track on the record. The bass on the tracks sounds so much like Chirs Squire and the vocal arrangement echoes John Anderson’s sound almost . Even the guitar playing sounds like Steve Howe, but it’s all very thin sounding when compared to the masters. Still, its kind of enjoyable to listen too. In the end they were inspired by their heroes and a product of the times. That’s rock and roll.
Starcastle songs can be found on these albums
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