ALBUM: Fountain Of Light
SERIAL: PE 34375
CD REISSUE: 1998, Sony, RMED00128 * 2011, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY 090
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Terry Luttrell - vocals * Matt Stewart - guitars * Steve Hagler - guitars * Gary Strater - bass * Herb Schildt - keyboards * Steve Tassler - drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Fountains * 02 Dawning Of The Day * 03 Silver Winds * 04 True To The Light * 05 Portraits * 06 Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)
1977 saw the first in a couple of albums from Illinois prog band Starcastle to be released during that year. 'Fountains Of Light' was the initial release, followed later on by 'Citadel'. Exactly why CBS/Epic saw fit to get the band to release two albums in one year can only mean one thing. They wanted to conform the band to what the industry wanted: long drawn out pieces of progressive music being replaced by shorter radio-oriented songs that would (ultimately) sell more records and break the band commercially. This was an approach not favored by Starcastle. Another unusual move was to bring British producer Roy Thomas Baker over the Atlantic to produce the band at Morin Heights Studio Quebec. Having worked with Queen
the previous year on their epic 'A Night At The Opera', the label thought he could do similar things with Starcastle. What was apparent was that Baker didn't understand the Starcastle approach at all. I think the phrase 'fit a square peg into a round role' just about sums it up. However, under the circumstances, the band and producer made the best of the situation, and released arguably the bands best moment.
One thing that hadn't been discarded was the Yes
influence. Even so, 'Fountains Of Light' contained more than the appreciative nod toward the likes of Messrs Anderson, Wakeman, Howe et al.. Again, like the debut album, 'Fountains' the opening track is an epic 10 minute effort, a whopper in today's terms. The track undulates mostly and for me, just fails to hold the attention long enough. Perhaps the first inkling of their move to a commercial approach is the shorter melodic effort 'Dawning Of The Day'. We would see and hear more of this style on their third effort 'Citadel' later in the year. In particular the fluid bass lines of Strater and the typical but OTT Thomas-Baker vocal overdubs reminiscent of Queen
(and later Journey
) would rear its head on this track. Track three 'Silver Winds' starts off with some weird keyboards lines (sounding like a confused telephone signal), before settling into some rather nice musical passages highlighting Luttrell's vocals. Side two begins a journey of Starcastle's best work. 'True To The Light' contains some great moments. The big harmony-vocal chorus through the middle is momentous, while the basic construct of the song is as per what we've heard up to this point. Again, Luttrell rises above the music to lend some good vocal work. 'Portraits' is a great acoustic based piece, the lush keyboards providing perfect cover. One of my fave Starcastle tunes ever. I just wished the band had discovered this approach earlier, because on the evidence of this, they were good at it. Another highlight is the closer 'Diamond Song (Deep Is The Light)'. Anyone doing a Cosmology 101 degree should start their course work here, the many references wouldn't be out of place in a Scientific Journal! The track again displays AOR appeal despite its proggie-ness, no doubt helped by big melodic choruses and a to-die-for vocal hook!
Prog fans will no doubt be well aware of this album, and is for die-hard Starcastle fans? I won't even go there. Even Yes
fans should be grateful that there was some related music during this period, as the British band was in a hiatus during this period. Also, one of life's great ironies is that 1977 saw bands such as Journey and Boston take up support-act roles for Starcastle while they were on the road. How weird is that? I'm sure there would be some interesting stories to be shared from those days. Further reviews of Starcastle's material can be read elsewhere on GLORY-DAZE, including a 2002 interview with Steve Tassler on this very period of Starcastle's career.
Starcastle - 1976 Starcastle
Starcastle - 1977 Citadel
Starcastle - 1977 Fountain Of Light
Starcastle - 1978 Real To Reel
Starcastle - 1999 Concert Classics Vol 5
Starcastle - 2002 Interview With Steve Tassler
Starcastle - 2007 Interview With Steve Tassler (2007)
Starcastle - 2007 Song Of Times
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