ALBUM: Song Of Times
LABEL: Prog Rock Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: See Page 2 for personnel..
TRACK LISTING: 01 Red Season * 02 Babylon * 03 Song Of Times * 04 Islands * 05 Faces Of Change * 06 Love Is The Only Place * 07 Master Machine * 08 All For The Thunder * 09 Children Believe
It's been twenty nine years since their last official studio album 'Real To Reel', but you can never count a band like Starcastle out of the picture, even through adversity and change. If you've been close to the Starcastle hub of news and events, then you will know that this latest album 'Song Of Times' is a tribute of sorts to bass player Gary Strater who passed away in 2004. Not only that, but it is a springboard to new adventures for the Starcastle team, as it navigates its way into 2007. Through the efforts of a few key people - producer Mark Rubel being one of them, some of the last songs that Gary worked on are brought to life along with the efforts of many Starcastle alumni - both past and present.
For my ears, the songs on this album are a varied assortment of styles and thankfully the band do not resort to a 1976 resurrection. The album covers all of their previous material admirably without locking down to anything in particular. Strater's thumping bass lines are immediate on 'Red Season' (as they are throughout most of the album actually), as is the big booming keyboard motif provided by Herb Schildt. The 9-minute mini-epic 'Babylon' hints more at hard rock than prog despite the length. Gentle and lilting is the description afforded to the title track 'Song Of Times', as if a rewind back to the classic era of Yes
is in order. Lots of bass harmonics applied by Strater on the track 'Islands', it meanders for the first segment then lets loose with a barrage of lead guitar in the second. 'Faces Of Change' retains all the qualities of olde, but the arrangement and production is quite stripped back by comparison - not as lush as past efforts. Multi-part vocal harmonies set the tone on 'Master Machine', a tense sounding affair, but a trademark Starcastle chorus section brightens up things. Terry Luttrell, the band's vocalist from their best known era, returns to sing on 'All For The Thunder', a straight-ahead rocker with a consistent keyboard sequence throughout. The last tune 'Children Believe' is another contained in two parts: near whimsical verses offset by angst driven choruses - the latter sounding unlike anything the band have done previously.
Yes its an assortment, and as the band rock out in 2007, they are looking forward - rather than relying on their back catalogue to keep past supporters happy. I'm certain they will be happy, but the band will be looking to cash in on a new audience as well. As mentioned, big kudos to Mark Rubel for the production and engineering of this album. The artwork from Ed Unitsky is incredible - bringing back memories of Roger Dean and his legacy of album artwork from the 70's. Starcastle are set to perform at the Rites Of Spring Festival during April 2007 - headliners no less, plus they will have Oliver Wakeman (son of the legendary Yes
keyboard god Rick Wakeman) as guest keyboardist. Lovely to see the band in action again - if you are a local fan in the Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York state area, get along and see these guys!
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on November 13, 2008
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