Starcastle — Song of Times
(ProgRock PRR380, 2007, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-01-01The late bassist Gary Strater’s dream to create one more Starcastle record was realized in 2006 with help from his long time engineer friend Mark Rubel, along with old band members and friends. Many of the ideas for pieces date back to Strater’s West Coast stints and various cassette tapes, which indicates in part Rubel’s labor of love to complete the project after Strater lost his long fight with pancreatic cancer. The album’s nine new songs constitute what the group would have been like had they updated their sound and hooked up with the neo-prog crowd. There are many high points for fans to get excited about including “Babylon” which compares more to older Journey than other classic acts except for Strater’s persistent bass lines and subtle unison breaks midway through the track. Original members Mathew Stewart (guitar) and Herb Schildt (keyboards) also get plenty of opportunity to stretch out on the disc. Even original vocalist Terry Luttrell appears on one cut, “All for the Thunder,” which serves as a reminder of the band’s classic first album which took FM radio by storm. Vocally the style of the group is still a variation on the classic Yes harmonies with some minor differences. Ex-Renaissance singer Annie Haslam’s ornate painting graces the cover, adding a spectacular visual touch to the project. An incarnation of the band reformed to play Rosfest 2007 and was also well received. Overall it’s a strong testament to Strater’s persistence to get this material out to fans and friends.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more