Many might remember Starcastle as an interesting symphonic prog band who had a major label contract back in the late 70's, and a sound very similar to Yes. The bands first three albums are considered staples of any progressive rock album collection, but the band eventually faded into obscurity after record company pressure to churn out more commercial material. The resulting and final recording the band made in the early 80's was a miserable failure, and the band shortly splintered. Recently the original members of Starcastle have gotten back together to write new material for a new CD, and in the meantime have but togehter this collection of demo versions of a few songs from their first three albums, plus a few previously unreleased tracks from the early days.
While the similarities to Yes are obvious (mainly due to the high pitched vocals of Terry Luttrell), Starcastle always were a much more "happy and cheerful" sounding band. The twin guitar attack and flashy synthesizer textures combined well with the cheery vocals to create a sound that differed from the more melancholy and epic style that early Yes was so famous for. This style is very evident on the demo version of the bands classic "Lady of the Lake" from the first album. Fans of this track will revel in the fact that there are a few parts included here that were edited out of the final album version, and in the original form it gives the song more cohesiveness. Other songs included here in their original state are "To the Fire Wind", the excellent "True to the Light", and "A Fall of Diamonds", which eventually became "Diamond Song; Deep is the Light" on the bands second album Fountains of Light.
For the Starcastle completists, the band has included three previously unreleased songs, "Where Caverns Wind" (a leftover from Fountains of Light), "Dance of the Physotrons" and "Breath and Thunder." While the last two have their moments, it is obvious why the band chose to leave them off any of the original albums. These songs show a band still searching for their own style, and is not representative of what they would later become. In summary, Opus 1 is a good slice of Starcastle history, and something to hold us over in anticipation of the new recordings the band is working on.