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22.11.08

Spock's Beard




Spock's Beard - The Light - 1995 - Syn-Phonic USA/ Electric Pea UK

"The Light" is a great overlooked debut progressive rock album by the American band, Spock’s Beard. The playing is technically superb, and the album sounds like a good seventies prog. rock album. This album is recommended to fans of Genesis and Gentle Giant. The album is available with two different covers—one for its domestic release, and one for its European release. Check out Neal Morse's "Lifeline" album, and Jordan Rudess' "The Road Home" album, featuring vocals from Nick D'Virgilio. Buy Spock's Beard's brilliant "Glutton for Punishment" album.

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

TRACK 1 "The Light" – 15:33 - Neal Morse, Alan Morse
I: The Dream
II: One Man
III: Garden People
IV: Looking Straight into the Light
V: The Man in the Mountain
VI: Senor Valasco's Mystic Voodoo Love Dance
VII: The Return of the Horrible Catfish Man
VIII: The Dream
TRACK 2 "Go the Way You Go" – 12:03 - Neal Morse
TRACK 3 "The Water" – 23:07 - Neal Morse
I: Introduction / The Water
II: When It All Goes to Hell
III: A Thief in the Night
IV: FU/I'm Sorry
V: The Water (revisited)
VI: Runnin' the Race
VII: Reach for the Sky
TRACK 4 "On the Edge" – 6:11 - Neal Morse

ABOUT THE TRACKS

The title track is a fifteen-minute long song in the classical style of an epic from the 70s. Go The Way You Go is another long song, but is more 'coherent'. It doesn't consist of many different parts and has a Genesis-like feel over it. The Water is the longest track on the album, not unlike Supper's Ready by Genesis. Musically it's totally different, but it features the same 'adventurous' mood, with different styles and sounds. Starting off with a great cello part, The Water takes you along bombastic multi-vocal parts, a jazz-rock inspired interlude, the aggressive 'F**k You' part and a polite excuse in 'I'm Sorry'. A really adventurous trip! On The Edge is the final song on the album. This is the shortest song on the album, with some powerful verses and great bass playing from Dave Meros.

MUSICIANS

Wanda Houston (Vocals (Background))
Neal Morse (Guitar (Acoustic)), Guitar (Electric)), (Keyboards), (Organ (Hammond)), (Vocals), (Mellotron)
Molly Pasutti (Vocals (Background))
Nick D'Virgilio (Percussion), Drums),(Vocals)
Alan Morse (Cello), Guitar (Electric)), (Vocals), (Mellotron)
Dave Meros (Bass),(French Horn)

REVIEWS

This is one of the best debut albums ever made by a progressive rock group. Spock's Beard from California, USA, is already with their first release a full-grown and matured band, and "The Light" don't have any weak moments at all. Three of the four tracks are passing 12 minutes. I really love long tracks when they aren't suffering in quality because of their length. Another great thing is that they use the great Mellotron and Hammond organ. A great combination indeed! The most obvious band influence is Gentle Giant without being a clone. There's also traces of Beatles, Genesis, Yes, Kansas and Pink Floyd. They are skilled musicians with Neal Morse being a great singer too. The music that is progressive symphonic rock, are very complex and intrigued, but it has got a lot of strong melodies and rich vocal harmonies too. It can be rather tiring when musicians obviously are trying to show of their technically musical skills, and just forget about the melody and to make an all in all good song. Spock's Beard has got the technically brilliance but also the capability to write memorably melodies. That's good! This is challenging and dramatic progressive music that will grow on you with its many emotion, mood and atmosphere changes. I recommend it to all lovers of complex symphonic prog. This is a good investment to your CD collection. © Greger Rönnqvist, http://home.swipnet.se/tde/lb/spocks_beard/the_light.html

The Light is the debut album from Spock's Beard, the Culver City, CA neo-prog rock band whose sprawling exercises in technical proficiency and suite-like compositions made them an underground legend almost immediately. One has to understand that The Light is nothing at all akin to anything being done in the mid-'90s. Yes hadn't yet made their full comeback, and the memories of Genesis with Peter Gabriel faded ever more pervasively form view with each subsequent Phil Collins solo release. Here are four sprawling, knotty, syncopated tunes, two of them, the title track and "The Water," are multiple-part suites that encompass no less than 48 minutes of the album's 67 minutes. In addition, this album was self-financed. (What "responsible" multi-national recording conglomerate during Nirvana-mania would give them a record deal after all?). There are wonderfully referenced elements here in these massive and yes, overblown constructions -- but that's what prog's delight is -- it's overblown and confoundingly complex. There's the great King Crimson "21st Century Schizoid Man" reference in "One Man," and the flamenco-cum-near-gothic metal of the "Return of the Catfish Man," near the end of The Light. The layered keyboards and backing chorus in "Go the Way You Go" reminds one of Yes at their knottiest, before slipping expertly into an altered universe dynamically and becoming a poetic and romantic elegy. And "The Water"'s labyrinthine, apocalyptic, maze-like compositional journey that may not sound like punk, but certainly reflects many of its sentiments, is an anomaly in any kind of music that espouses this M.O. The dodgy (but not substandard) recording makes it sound like classic- '70s vintage, and the music is out of time and space. Fans of this genre have long regarded it as a classic. [The bonus track edition of the album included a demo version of "Light."] © Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

BIO

Spock's Beard began in 1992 when brothers Neal (lead vocals) and Al Morse (guitar) teamed up with drummer Nick D'Virgilio. After self-financing their first album, bassist Dave Meros joined, and The Light was recorded in 1994. Consisting of four lengthy songs, this debut album was well received by progressive rock fans, but received little public acclaim. Ryo Okumoto joined in 1995 to play keyboards. In 1996, The Official Bootleg was released, a live performance containing the entire first album plus one song from the upcoming second album. 1996 also saw the band sign with various record labels around the world, in addition to releasing Beware of Darkness, which contains the same style of music, but in shorter pieces (all ten minutes or less, except for the 15-plus-minute last track). Spock's Beard's third studio album, The Kindness of Strangers, was released at the end of 1997; Day for Night followed in 1999 and V was issued a year later. Deciding they had the experience and chops to attempt a concept album, they spent the next few years putting together Snow. The double album revolved around the title character, an albino teenager that could possibly be the messiah. Taking a much more detailed approach to the material, the band had a difficult two years writing the album and was rewarded with a strong promotional push from Metal Blade Records. Following Snow, Neal Morse became a born again Christian and left the band. The remaining members quickly regrouped, however, with D'Virgilio assuming the lead vocal duties and managed to release Feeling Euphoria the following year. 2004 saw the rerelease of their first three albums and in 2005 they delivered both a new studio offering (Ocatane) and Live in 2005: Gluttons for Punishment. © David White, All Music Guide

5 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

Anonymous said...

BIG,BIG fan of Spock's Beard! I like the statement one of the reviewers made: they do have the feel & sound of Genesis / Gentle Giant without being a cheap clone like most neo-prog bands(ecch!)
One of the most original & talented U.S. prog bands I've heard in years..maybe their name has kept them from making it big, who knows?

Highly recommend this album, plus the excellent "Snow" album (their last with Neil Morse),and as far post-Neil albums go, add "Octane' to that list too.
(and Neil's "Testimony", "One" and "?" are must-have's too!)

-->D.Moose

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hey, D.Moose. They are a great band. I always thought that the name didn't suit. Sounds like a band playing at a Star Trek Convention! Still, great music. TTU soon

Lawrence said...

Thanks,
I'll give a whirl...

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Lawrence. What did you think of the underrated Spock's Beard?