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Spock's Beard - Day For Night CD (album) cover

DAY FOR NIGHT

Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars SPOCK'S BEARD music is a mix between everything you love with progressive rock. Some are saying that they are just plagiarism, while some are saying that SPOCK'S BEARD is the future promise of progressive rock. My opinion is that I don't care whether they are clones or not because I simply love SPOCK'S BEARD's music. Their music is a melting pot of a numerous of progressive and symphonic bands that you can't resist to love: EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, KANSAS, KING CRIMSON, MARILLION, PINK FLOYD, RUSH and YES together with a big amount of BEATLES, EAGLES and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. SPOCK'S BEARD's songs often contains very catchy melodies and choruses, but also complex compositions. Dave Mero's bass playing is reminiscent to Geddy Lee (RUSH) and Chris Squire (YES). NEAL MORSE's voice is reminiscent to Jeff Lynne (ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA) and Paul McCARTNEY. - "Day for Night" contains a great Hammond intro, and it also has some great Mellotron in it. A great opener with a catchy chorus! - "Gibberish" are showing just how great voices SPOCK'S BEARD has. This song is reminiscent to "Thoughts" from their 1996 release "Beware of Darkness", and the GENTLE GIANT's song "Knots" from the "Octopus" album from 1973. You can also hear some YES influences. There's also some beautiful Mellotron present. One of the highlights on this CD. - "Skin" is a catchy Pop tune with BEATLES and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA reminiscences. - "The Distance to the Sun" is a rather average slow ballad with some reminiscences to EAGLES and SIMON & GARFUNKEL regarding the vocals. It's almost all acoustic. - "Crack in the Sky" starts off with a tricky drum intro. It is a typical SPOCK'S BEARD track with some Jazz-Rock and YES influences, and it contains great Rickenbacker bass together with some nice Hammond, Mellotron and Organ. The song has a catchy chorus too, and there's also a sax solo done by a man named John Garr. This song is one of the highlights. - "Gypsy" has got a very seventies sound that reminds of BEATLES, ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA and GENESIS with lots of Mellotron. This song is very complex with intricate chord progressions. One of the album's highlights. - "Can't Get It Wrong" has got a nice piano and cello opening with a clear BEATLES influence as well as ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. A nice pop ballad with great vocals!. Once you've heard it, it's hard to get it out of you head. - "The Healing Colours of Sound (Part 1)" is an instrumental track with GENESIS influences and Mellotron. One of the album's highlights. - "My Shoes" is a quiet song with some beautiful piano and Hammond, but it's one of the albums weakest tracks although it has a catchy chorus. - "Mommy comes back" is a rather average track even though it's typical SPOCK'S BEARD track with great guitar playing and a catchy chorus. Sometimes it reminds a little of "Thoughts" or PINK FLOYD. - "Lay it down" is a mellow and beautiful slow ballad that has a nice melody and some Peter GABRIEL and MARILLION reminiscences. - "The Healing Colours of Sound" has some nice piano playing as well as some GENTLE GIANT reminiscences. This is one of the highlights on this album. - "My Shoes (Revisited)" has got the theme from "My Shoes" as the title reveals. It also has Mellotron mayhem at the ending. Lovely! - "Hurt" is a bonus track on the European release, written by Dean Chamberlain. It's a real good straight rocker with heavy guitar riffs, but it doesn't fit in with the rest of the album. The cover artwork could have been taken from a new RUSH album as it's reminiscent to Hugh Syme's works. All in all this is a very interesting and varied album that is very typical SPOCK'S BEARD, and surely will attract every true SPOCK'S BEARD fan. And as usual there's loads of Mellotron. This is one of the top releases this year. Recommended!
Report this review (#6974)
Posted Sunday, February 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars IMOHO this is not much better than its predecessor but at least the cover is nicer or proggier. Again lent to me by a friend, trying to convert me to SB (alas to no avail ;-), this album remains a typical SB album, with its rich (but shallow with repeated listenings) sound made of GG, Yes and Kansas. Actually, if Kansas had made albums like this in the mid-90's, you'd not really think they'd have been much different than this one.
Report this review (#6975)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars SPOCK'S BEARD have been on the leading edge of today's progressive rock revival for a few years now and have quickly made their way into the collection of many prog heads worldwide. I am a big BEARD fan and dig all of their albums including "Day For Night" which another excellent step in their history. Ripe after his tour with GENESIS Nick D'Virgilio sounds just so superb on this album and proves he is certainly one of today's most versatile and competent drummers around. "Day For Night" contains all the typical BEARD touches with vocal harmonization and wicked instrumental syncopation. "Day For Night" has some real tasty songs which will keep your feet tapping and your fingers and toes curling! Excellent music full of energy and positive light . . .

Report this review (#6976)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
paginadeoscar
4 stars

Great album, not the best of the Spock´s but maybe the most cohesive one. Fantastic playing of all the members, they sound as a REAL BAND, no doubt they are great. There is only one thing I don´t like at all, perhaps too poppy in some songs (the distance to the sun and above all "Can´t get it wrong", the former is good but the latter is unbearably light and sweet). It ends with a marvellous song of 20 minutes divided in tracks 8-15 which is a wonderful work. Get this, it is like a stream offresh air.

Report this review (#6978)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars WARNING: Do not let the shorter track times deter you! This is one of the most incredible prog album despite the fact that none of the songs crack the ten minute mark. After the rather serious tone that the Beard took on 'The Kindness of Strangers,' it seems that they were ready to get back to having a little fun. While I will stop short of calling this Spock's Beard's party album, it definitely has a more playful feel to it than anything else the band has released. If you enjoyed the band's demonstratin of exellent vocal harmony on "June," then you are in for a treat on this album. The prog- pop sound that the Beard has always been good at is pushed to the fore throughout the entire record. The title track gets the party started in a great way. The whole band sounds more energized here than on any other Beard song I've heard. This up- beat rocker sets the tone for much of the album. Neal Morse's lyrics are playful and lack the dour seriousness of the previous album. While the magnificent vocal harmony shows up on "Day For Night," it completely takes over on "Gibberish." This is a very complex and almost dizzying song that (once you latch on to one part) is really fun to sing along with. Musically, the song recalls the unusual complexity of "Thoughts" from 'Beware Of Darkness.' "Skin" is a straight-forward rocker with some great wah- wah effects at the beginning. "The Distance To The Sun" and "Can't Get It Right" are two brilliant ballads that do a great job of balancing out the album as a whole. "Crack The Big Sky" is the only real "prog" song on the first half of the album and it harkens back to "Walking On The Wind" in scope. "The Gypsy" is the only song on this album I'm not too fond of. The song comes off sounding a bit sloppy, and it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the songs. For those who are lamenting the lack of a sweeping epic progressive rock song, never fear: the second half of the album is just that. Starting with "The Healing Colors Of Sound," the band blends the last seven tracks into an amazing suite that rivals anything else they had done or would do. This is definitely not a traditional epic in that the separate songs don't necessarily fit together thematically, but each track flows together masterfully. "The Healing Colors Of Sound Part 2" and "My Shoes (Revisited)" tie the entire suite together and the latter features one of Alan Morse's best guitar solos to date. On the whole, this album is a display of the Beard at the top of their game. You get a little bit of everything that makes this band one of the best prog acts of all time! This is my favorite SB album, so I unabashedly rank it first out of the band's eight albums.
Report this review (#6983)
Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well, Spock's fourth album, and one of their weaker ones. They sound more poppy here, and their prog seems not to fit in well with the pop. They'll get it better in 'V' which is my favorite Spock's Beard Album

1. Day For Night 8.5/10 : Well, this song is really good, it has it all : nice melodies, good instrumental breaks, and vocal harmonies. One of the most representative Spock's Beard songs there are. If only the rest of this album maintained this quality.

2. Gibberish 8/10 : A very catchy song that shows Spocks Beard is better than Gentle Giant with Vocal Harmonies.

3. Skin 4.5/10 : Normal rock song. Not prog at all. IT sounds like Porcupine Tree.

4. The Distance To The Sun 6/10 : A quite pretty song, but insignificant if you've heard Neal Morse's solo albums.

5. Crack The Big Sky 3.5/10 : A failed epic ... it has a very catchy section, and a solid rhythm at the beginning, but the rest is a disaster for me, especially the sax section which sounds very amateurish.

6. The Gypsy 5.5/10 : Decent and accessible progressive rock song with good vocals, on the mellow side.

7. Can't Get It Wrong 4.5/10 : A normal pop song with a catchy chorus.

8. The Healing Colors Of Sound Epic 4/10 : I can't describe it too well. It is a very spotty epic with some good and some awful sections. I think it is their worst epic they've done. The highlight is the 'healing colors of sound pt II'.

14. Urban Noise

15. Hurt 4/10 : Mediocre commercial Hard rock song.

Get 'V' , not this one, unless you are a fan of the band.

My Grade : D+

Report this review (#41607)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I haven't listened to this album in awhile, so I pulled it out, threw it into my car CD player and listened to it about three times. At first, it didn't thrill me at all. I remebered when I bought it originally, it was somewhta of a disapointment. Not as progressive as the first two, and not as fully rounded as "V" or "Snow". It pretty much ended up being my least favorite disc by the Beards. And I can pretty much narrow it down to the few songs that tend to be more AOR, ('Skin', 'Can't Get It Wrong' and 'Lay It Down') just not proggy enough. And to top it off, Bon Jovi-type voice manipulation pops up it's ugly head in a few places. UGH! But after the third listen, the stronger tracks eclipsed the weak ones. The opener, "Day For Night" rocks hard and proggy, "Gibberish" is their standard Gentle Giant take and a good one, "Crack The Big Sky" and "The Gypsy" are the best of the bunch with tracks 8 thru 13 being a long multi- part epic that's fine in spots, but as a whole is underwhelming. Overall, a fine disc with plenty of Gentle Giantish noodling, Chris Squire-like chunky bass, excellent vocals by Mr Morse and an overall playfulness, but those Bon Jovi guitar/vocal squeels....YUK! 3.5 stars rounds it up.
Report this review (#59684)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
[email protected]
4 stars This album contains some of the best songs ever composed by Spock's Beard (Neal Morse): Day For Night, Gibberish and the whole theme called The Healing Colors Of Sound (with all of their partes). Last but not least, the beattlemaniac song called Can't Get It Wrong is a wonderful melody. A good album, commercially structured but with a progressive soul. The DVD titled Don't Try this at Home contains some of this songs in a splendid live interpretation, with all of the Spock's Beard members on stage.
Report this review (#59818)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars While I Generlly admire SPOCK'S BEARD work, this album is for me a kind of a weak link. By the forcoming works SB have establisht a wery high standart for their releases, and while it could work for others, it doesn't keep up with the expectastions. The keyboard sounds good and strong, but the drum work as well as the singing effort of Nick D'Virgilio are a bit dull, and the guitar is so un-dominant that it easyly gets lost among the general composition. Still, it is a nice prog-pop album, easyly swinging between tired fill-ins and great moments of musicanship.
Report this review (#75890)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is clearly the weakest release of Neal Morse's era-Spock's Beard. The poppiest side of the goup is predominant here, in fact the style of this album is not very different from the first solo album by Neal. Of course there are prog arrangements but they are in general less prominent and impressive than in previous albums. The tunes are not bad at all, but not outstanding. The highlights are the title track, Gibberish (with yet another example of good Gentle Giant-styled harmonies) and some moments of the multipart suite that fills the second half of the album. There is also a bad simple hard rock song, Hurt, as a bonus track in the european release, which somehow advanced the future style of some songs from the Feel Euphoria album which would come later. Overall still a good album, but one of their weakest of their golden era.
Report this review (#77157)
Posted Thursday, May 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
[email protected]
3 stars Well, this album was a step up in my view from the previous one. But not by much. When I bought this, I was thinking it would probably be my last SB purchase, as they just seemed to keep dissapointing me. But after a few listens, I realized it wasn't all bad.

The first song is a nice upbeat and proggy number that never gets very intense but is enjoyable none the less. Gibberish is the obligatory Gentle Giant rip off that SB does so well. This is probably less enjoyable than the two Thoughts songs, but still not bad with some outstanding drumming. Skin is a horrible pop sounding song that just seems pointless (I do like some "pop" type music by the way). It is so cheesy that I don't even think it would work on modern pop radio. Probably the SB song I dislike the most. Distance to the Sun is a pleasant but forgettable ballad. Crack the Big Sky seems like a retread of Walking on The Wind from Beware Of Darkness. But aside from the lack of originality, it is not a bad song. Just not one that stands out for me, though it does have a catchy chorus. The Gypsy is a nice heavy song that has an almost bluesy feel to it. I like this one, but it is not particualrly special. Can't get it Wrong is another pleasant but forgettable ballad (and would more appropriately be called Can't get it Right :)

The final 7 tracks are parts of a 20 mintue suite. But you might not be able to tell that from looking at the booklet (I only knew because before the album was released Morse said there was a 20 mintue suite on it). When you listen to the tracks it becomes much more obvious though, as they all segue and there are common themes running through most of them. Overall this suite, The Healing Colors Of Sound, is an enjoyable listen, but not one of their best attempts at this format. The pt.1 and pt.2 sections are the most interesting musically, but the vocal sections are pretty good as well.

Overall, not a bad album, but far from my favorite by them. Thanks the suite, and the first two songs, I can safely give this 3 stars. Little did I know the best of SB was right around the corner though.

Report this review (#89193)
Posted Thursday, September 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the defining Beard release from the Neal Morse era. The vocal complexity of Gibberish, the power of Crack the Big Sky, the moving emotion of The Distance to the Sun all serve to set the stage for The Healing Colors of Sound suite. Few CDs are constantly on my player, but this is one that has been with me for years. It has stood the test of time as a classic in my collection.
Report this review (#102522)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars What were they thinking?? I have tried and tried to enjoy this album, but I think I can honestly say that there is little here to get excited about. To sum it up, DAY FOR NIGHT falls short by continually relying on the safe layup shot instead of going for the pin. Neal Morse's vocals sound uninspired, Nick D'Virgilio's drumming seems constrained, and Alan Morse's usual pyrotechnics are conspicuously missing. To put it in other words, DAY FOR NIGHT is the band's equivalent to DREAM THEATER's FALLING INTO INFINITY, except that DREAM THEATER's mainstream effort at least had some highlights. DAY FOR NIGHT, on the other hand, has almost nothing to speak of. The opening title track is far too long for its own good, "Gibberish" sounds better as "Thoughts" on BEWARE OF DARKNESS, "The Distance to the Sun" was perfected as "Solitary Soul" on SNOW, and "Can't Get it Wrong" is just pure mainstream mediocrity.

To put it simply, DAY FOR NIGHT stands on a sort of formless middle ground within SPOCK'S BEARD's musical progression. It seems to look back on the band's previous three releases with mixed feelings while not being exactly sure what it wants to say, itself. Unfortunately, it takes the playful, funky sounds of the band's previous three albums while abandoning the epic movements that have made SPOCK'S BEARD the mult-faceted band that it's always been. I would argue that it is this ambivalence that keeps DAY FOR NIGHT from doing anything important. It wouldn't be until the band's next album, V, that they would take a risk and venture into new territory that would cement them as one of the premier bands in the genre. Developmentally, we can accept DAY FOR NIGHT as the band's breather before it set out to create its next two masterpieces, but as a stand-alone album it is almost utterly forgettable.

Report this review (#126167)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By the end of the millenium Spock's Beard had become one of the hottest names in the reemerging Progressive Rock scene.The band's popularity had increased that much to lead the group to a double set of live albums, released in 1998, ''The beard is out there'' and ''Live at The Whisky and NEARFest''.But at the same time the recording sessions never stopped and in the spring of 1999 the band returns with a fourth studio album, ''Day for night'', released in the USA, Europe and Japan by the Metal Blade, Inside Out and Avalon labels respectively.

While the fundamentals of old Progressive Rock were still the band's driving force, Neal Morse decided that the band should take a turn towards more dense and short tunes, which remain fairly intricate, bombastic and complex, but also contain a heavier dash of Pop.GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT and KING CRIMSON are again among the biggest influences and there is some incredible Hammond organ, Mellotron and electric piano moves to be found in the album.On the other hand there is not a single piece exceeding the 10-min. mark and actually most of them are about 3-5 minutes long, half of this set is closer to a mixture of Progressive/Art Rock and Pop with joyful tunes, sharp electric guitars, analog and modern keyboards and more conventional songwriting, there is still some nice music playing in the background, but that's not exactly what Spock's Beard fans expected from the talented Americans.Even so, you can't do wrong with a Spock's Beard album.The epic atmospheres, emphatic breaks and rhythm changes are still in the menu along with a retro atmosphere and an intelligent display of modern instrumentation and production.It's just that the vocals now sound too sweet and poppy placed in such kind of arrangements.Cuts like the title-track, ''Crack the big sky'' or The gypsy'' though belong among the goodies of the band, these guys offered here a monumental delivery of full-blown Prog with some BEATLES-que tunes.

Spock's Beard say goodbye to the 90's with their weakest album.Intricate Prog/borderline Pop album with tight and dynamic arrangements, deviating a bit from the ultra-high standards the band had set so far.Still recommended.

Report this review (#147765)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Day for Night was Spock's Beard's fourth studio album released in 1999. After releasing three masterpieces in a row, I would have to say that the Beard succeeded with this one for their fourth in a row. It's not nearly as good as their prior three releases, but it is genuinely in the 4.5-4.75 rating range, at least to my untrained ears. Again, Neal Morse followed the typical Beard formula of having a number of shorter tunes interspersed amongst longer numbers. Of the shorter numbers, Skin and The Distance to the Sun are the ones that could have had radio potential. As far as I know, they didn't. Gibberish is their obligatory nod to Gentle Giant.

The longer tracks are again exceptional works of progressive rock, from the powerful, Mellotron-laded The Gypsy, the complex Crack the Big Sky and the amazing seven-part, 20+ minute The Healing Colors of Sound. Like on previous epics, the Beard end their masterpiece with a powerful "wall of sound" finale. Neal Morse still shows he's a talented and skillful composer and writer.

It appears from other reviews that Day for Night didn't quite live up to their previous works, but I have found this one to really grow on me over the years. When it came out, I'm sure I would have leaned more towards 3.5-4 stars, but I'm certain now that this one is worth the total five stars. Again, not as good as their previous three albums, but still a masterpiece.

Report this review (#150610)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Very underrated album, has some of Spock's Beard's finest moments ever. The title track is one of the most euphoric songs of all time. Also, The Distance to the Sun is a great ballad, one of their best. Crack the Big Sky gets to be a bit ridiculous, but still has many great moments and is again, very euphoric and apocalyptic. My Shoes is simply one of the greatest prog songs ever. The melody it gets into after the first verse is one of the most epic things ever. Some fans of the band consider this album too poppy, but people, it is Spock's Beard after all, not King Crimson. The greatest thing about the band is that they can be so catchy and still make great complex music. This is why the band is so epic, and Day for Night illustrates this very well.
Report this review (#150703)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars With this 4th release by the band it becomes more and more obvious the band is abandoning their epical style from first three albums more and more. With previous Kindness of Strangers at least there were two 10+ minute tracks to be found but on this successor Day for Night there is only one 10:00 track and two 7+ ones and the rest is shorter stuff so that's a remarkable change to say the least.

Ok, maybe lentgh doesn't say everything but at least it tells you something where for instance the style and composing ways are concerned. As an epic lover I'm not quite cheering with this change in style. And it will be no surprise my love for the band is slowly declining by now. Luckily with the successor of this 4th album (V) the band is drawing itself up one more time and write even their longest and best tracks ever but after that, the compsing ways as on this album will be continued for the rest of their career.

The title track is ok, somewhere around the 3,5* mark but not really much better, the longest Crack the Big Sky is the best with a 3,75 or the likes but the rest is just as average as the shorter tracks on Kindness of Strangers. With Gibberish they try the Gentle Giant vocal style for the second time (on V they repeat this with Thought pt.2 where pt.1 was on Beware of Darkness). Nice song but as a non GG-fan I'm not really waiting for this retrostuff. Skin sounds pretty original with first few tones but turns into a regular track with the rest. The Distance to the Sun is an ok ballad but no more. Third longest The Gypsy starts quiet, gets rougher later on but never truly mesmerizes. The other eight tracks are more or less forgettable in my book and are in fact below par for Spocks Beard standard I feel maybe with exception of My Shoes (revisited) with some superb guitar.

It makes it more and more obvious where the rating for this album is heading and that's towards a downright three stars. Maybe a tiny bit more but that's all. It's the first signs of decline as far as I'm concerned and in the new millenium I slowly drifted away from the band that once got all my repect. Too bad...

Report this review (#158874)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Not quite as ambitious or creative as Light or Darkness, Day for Night none the less continues the band's streak of solid prog albums, easy to listen to and easy to enjoy. Day for Night has a straight ahead, approachable sound-- led by Morse's infectious singing (although of mixed quality overall), and the other Morse's much more interesting guitar creativity (admit it). The rhythm section continues its sterling work, although Meros' bass is a little overlly bombastic at times. There aren't as many textures or depth to the songwriting overall, but the band delivers fine performances and is clearly excited about the material-- melodies soar with enthusiasm, which along with Morse's gigantic grand finale solo are the highlight of the album.

In the end, Day for Night is a fun divergence for fans of the band who will doubtless enjoy the material for what it is-- a smart band getting the sing-along bug out of their system.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#161702)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Just before the big one.

Yes, the Beard's precursor to their wonderful work ''V'' is not quite as good as it's successor would turn out, but it still has it's great moments none the less. Certainly a different feel in this album than in previous and later albums, but this one has all the ingredients of a great Spock's Beard [SB] album. Certainly an uplifting album in terms of music (if not always in lyrics), this album certainly has a more pop influence to it than it's brother and sister albums. Though it does have a couple longer and more typical symph-prog moments this one tends to stick more to the short song format. Only three songs (and one suite) reach over the length of 5 and a half minutes and when they do they often do so in a fairly catchy manner. However, while one can complain about poppyness there's no doubt that this is still a very good album that SB fans will still very much enjoy.

The album hosts a multitude of different sounding songs, ranging from full out prog right down to simple pop-rock songs. While there are some weaker tracks on the album they're easily forgiven because of the excellent stand out tracks. The excellent, high-tempo title track (DAY FOR NIGHT) opens the album with a blast of the keyboards, courtesy of one Mr. Morse, and utilizes a fairly catchy chorus to make all of it's speed changes and instrumental bits accessible to all. GIBBERISH continues SB's constant tributes to Gentle Giant and uses a well done harmony of voices to deliver some a-cappella vocals between the chorus and some excellent riffs and instrumentation from each member of the band. CRACK THE BIG SKY, the longest (single) song on the album, manages to again make use of a catchy chorus without abusing it to speed it's complexities along. Same goes for THE GYPSY. While many of these songs may seems to be heading down the more simple road it's easy to see the SB still knows what they're doing.

The shorter and more strait forward songs are more of a mixed bag from here on in. SKIN, the album's single, is a great rock song that has a great riff and chorus. Maybe not as accessible to people who prefer their prog to be as pure as black coffee, but a great song for those of us who still have a bit of headbanger in them. Unfortunately the other shorter songs don't pack as much of a punch. The slower songs, starting with THE DISTANCE TO THE SUN, come off as a bit weak. While the other poppy songs were album to make use of their speed to pull them through these songs don't have much going for them. CAN'T GET IT WRONG is another example of this, often bringing up memories of listening to Genesis's Abacab for the first time (shudder...).

Looking at this review so far, then the track listing on the album one may think, ''Oh no, this must mean that the whole second half of the album is not good!''. Not true, fortunately. One area of the album I've neglected to address thus far has ben the suite that occupies the better of the second half of the album. While not named in total and not really adressed as one big song it's easy to see from the ''parts'' and ''[reprise]s'' of the songs that there's something going on there. Indeed, the music is very closely linked and plays strait through as one song. Starting with the instrumental THE HEALING COLORS OF SOUND PT 1 (which opens with some interesting feedback) SB proves that they're still masters off the long song. Totaling somewhere in the area of 22 minutes, this suite is easily the standout of the album, and not just because of it's length. This suite truly captures everything the album has put forward so far, even the slow part (LAY IT DOWN) comes across as very good. Ending the same way it started (with that crazy feedback), the suite seems a lot shorter than it actually is -- the mark of any good, long song.

In the end this album gets a solid three stars. Hmm... tack another half star on their as well. The reason for this marking is as follows: While an excellent album, and very enjoyable, it's audience is rather small in the prog community. This album will appeal to any SB fan, as well as anyone who likes a little pop in their prog. However, anyone who cringes at the simple mention of the word ''pop'' should steer very clear of this album and move strait on to the next two albums by the band.

Report this review (#162970)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A good bit underrated as far as Spock's Beard albums go, though I would not be surprised if this is due to the giant epic settled in there, The Healing Colors of Sound. This is an improvement on the averageness of The Kindness of Strangers, but the Beard really haven't tried anything terribly new for this one, either. That comes with the next album.

The opener, Day for Night, is fantastic fun. It makes me smile every time on account of its fast pace, flaying drum work, and killer instrumental bits. The band proves here that they're in fine prog rock form, and that they still can write music that's abnormal yet terribly exciting and, God no, almost danceable. In order to make sure that we can't keep tapping our toes so easily, they follow it with the fantastic but INCREDIBLY Gentle Giant inspired Gibberish. But that sort of influence is forgivable, I think, since the song works so well on its own. The next piece, Skin, follows with some weird guitar sounds, but flies by like a regular rock song. Very exciting, though. Definitely a good bit of fun, all three.

Next follows The Distance to the Sun, a pretty but forgettable Neal ballad. It kind of sits by itself on the album, in between two chunks of great music. The acoustic work is nice, though.

The next series of quality tunes begins with Crack the Big Sky. You know that whole dancing thing from the title track? It's back here. Handclaps, a driving rhythm... Some very good proggy insertions and instrumental sections in here, though. Great vocal lines, and a crazy keyboard solo from Ryo towards the end. Oh, and the drums are on fire. Right after this wanders in some more weird, in the form of The Gypsy. After a slow start, this piece really gets moving. Also a whole lot of intensity, so that by the end, you forgot the beginning was kind of boring. Can't Get It Wrong tags along on the adrenaline rush of The Gypsy, but, almost like The Distance to the Sun, kind of sits wedged in between much more memorable tracks.

And then comes the debatable magnum opus of The Healing Colors of Sound. Compared to other massive Spock's Beard epics (such as The Great Nothing, The Water, or Time Has Come), this doesn't really hold very well together. Sure, it's fun, but it meanders a good bit more than I'd like. The weirdness and excitement last throughout the opening instrumental bit, but things wane here and there. A fun listen, but not one I'm terribly tempted to listen to, compared to other long songs by this band.

Not a bad album, overall. In fact, it's mostly quite solid. I can't decide if this album or Snow packs more excitement and straightforward fun into their music, but rest assured that you can really groove to this one. Again, not so much of a symphonic prog release as some others, but it certainly is prog and it certainly has a lot of worth going for it.

Report this review (#169217)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Even when looking at the rating for this album, I consider it a return to form. It may not be the quintessential prog album, it is a more relaxed take on music compared to the others by the group and yes, it is filled with pop hooks. But once again the much needed energy and passion is there, some new musical ideas (for the Beards of course) are welcome in the mix, and an air of relaxation spreads itself over what is Day For Night. None of the laboured compositions of The Kindness Of Strangers in sight - just a cakewalk on easy street.

This is of course not implying that this is a sloppy effort in any way, but more like a way for the band to release some of the pressure coming from the high expectations the prog community often have. It's as if Neal Morse suddenly stood up in the studio and said to his bandmates 'let's play with our hearts instead of our brains for a while and see what happens'. The result was a classy record which dips its toes in many different puddles. There's of course prog in it, a surprisingly big amount of radio-friendly, soaring tunes and occasional trips into metal territory (especially on the European bonus track Hurt). Another surprise is that Morse the Second, Alan, takes a step forward with his guitar and gets more room for both experiments and emotional soloing, but also chances to just rock out, cheesy as the expression may be. Nothing new on the keyboard front. Neal and Ryo take turns delivering organ runs, fat Mellotron, synth swooshs and the occasional piano (not as dominant as it use to be) that should please even a stubborn '70s purist. But that part of the band's sound has rarely been the one that receives complaints, and the rest of the boys also performs just as brilliantly as ever.

So the problem is obviously the pop tendencies. Well, songs like Skin and Hurt are nothing special in terms of composition. They follow basic verse-chorus structures and aren't riddled with the intricacy Spock's Beard is capable of if they want to use it. There are occasional proggy outbursts, but these are in all fairness mostly cosmetical. On top of all this, they are catchy. Very catchy and sing-a-long-friendly. That's a fact one cannot put aside and eventually a crucial one when it boils down to if you like or dislike Day For Night.

Very consistent in terms of quality, Day For Night doesn't contain any real killer tracks. There are those who brings the attention level up a notch, though. The title track, Gibberish with it's excellent Gentle Giant-esque fugues and Crack The Big Sky are the most prominent and probably my most played from the album. The triumphant chorus of Skin and the ballad-like Can't Get It Wrong are some of the guilty pleasures to be found here.

If you're really into pop-prog stuff or just feel like listening to some high quality, less demanding music like me there's no point in avoiding Day For Night. But if you're not it just doesn't qualify as either excellent or essential.

A personal 4, but a rare 'objective' 3.

//LinusW

Report this review (#170104)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars My least favourite Spock Beard's album with Neal Morse... But pretty good anyway!

The style and sound of this album is very similar than its precedent, the excellent The Kindness of Strangers... But Day for Night is definitively more pop oriented. Most of the songs are short, and really really commercial. I think the band was trying to be on the radio waves more frequently. Ok, it hasn't to be a bad thing... The problem is that half of the song of this album are just forgettable. Skin, Gibberish, The Distance to the Sun (a bad copy of their previous June...), Can't Get it Wrong... Too many mediocre moments.

Honestly, most of the best Spock's Beard songs are the longer ones... In their epics they have always given their best. And here, the longer song last less than ten minutes. Maybe the final part of the album could be considered as only one song, like some kind of epic... Tracks 8 to 13, I mean, because some of these songs are musically related, and they could have been put together, making another Beard's long epic. Anyway, the irregular quality of this final part of the album makes the separation between tracks maybe better...

Nevertheless, I think every Spock's Beard fan will enjoy this album... Because this is 100% Neal Morse's Spock's Beard. Not so good like other albums... But with great moments anyway. I specially like how well the Neal's voice sounds here, and the strong Dave Meros's bass, as always. Being this album more poppy, the keyboards have a bit less protagonism as their previous efforths... But on the contrary, we can enjoy a fine Alan Morse's work on guitars, sounding really inspired in tracks like Crack the Big Sky and The Gypsy.

Best songs: Day for Night (one of the best short tracks Spock's Beard has ever made...), Crack the Big Sky (my personal favourite of the album... I really enjoy the sax here, and the whole instrumental section), Lay it Down (beautiful little acoustic track...) and The Healing Colours of Sound (good vocal melodies)... The Gipsy and My Shoes are not bad. The rest ist not really special.

Conclusion: another very good Spock's Beard release... But a bit under the rest of the album they made with Neal Morse as frontman. Maybe too commercial, too poppy and with anything really new. But it has enough enjoyable moments to make worthy the purchasing of this album, specially if you are a Beard's fan. If you are not, there are better works to start with in my opinion... But if you don't like the long tracks, maybe you will find this album their best! I'm proud to having it in my collection anyway.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#172541)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After their first three studio albums this was a step down in quality in my opinion. It just seems more commercial, streamlined and accessible. This is still a SPOCK'S BEARD record though, and there is a lot to like on this album.

"Day For Night" is a great way to start. It kicks into gear before a minute with some excellent bass and organ, and drums also impress. Vocals and some prominant bass 1 1/2 minutes in. A calm after 3 1/2 minutes as reserved vocals are added. Scorching guitar after 5 minutes followed by some ripping organ. "Gibberish" is one of those GENTLE GIANT influenced songs that is all about the vocal arrangements. Mellotron 3 1/2 minutes in. "Skin" is a mid paced tune with steady drums. Minor riffs join in on this toe tapper. "The Distance To The Sun" opens with some intricate spanish guitar. Reserved vocals join in this mellow song that also has some piano later. "Crack The Big Sky" has a nice drum intro as bass then a full sound arrives. It settles down to a jazzy vibe before a minute. It kicks back in with some powerful organ runs then clapping. Vocals after 2 minutes as it calms. Uptempo again as contrasts continue. Sax 6 minutes in.

"The Gypsy" is bombastic at times and at other times mellow with lots of mellotron. Some great chunky bass later. "Can't Get It Wrong" seems like an ironic title for this ballad-like tune. "The Healing Colors Of Sound (Part1)" is the first song of a six part suite. Funny they don't make that clear with the song titles. Not commercial friendly I suppose. Anyway the first part is fantastic with a great melody. Scorching guitar 2 minutes in. "My Shoes" has a powerful intro that settles quickly with processed vocals. Fuller 2 minutes in before calming back down 3 1/2 minutes with piano. "Mommy Comes Back" has some amazing instrumental work on it,especially the bass and drums. "Lay It Down" has some meaningful lyrics. I like this one a lot. "The Healing Colors Of Sound" isn't as good as the first part. Lots of piano. "My Shoes (Revisited)" is a great closer with powerful organ early. Guitar come in around 2 minutes and doesn't stop until the song ends. Nice.

Report this review (#178922)
Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This fourth studio album was the occasion for the band to dig a little more into the Kansas sounds. It was already noticeable during their prior album "Kindness Of Strangers", but is much more evident here ("Day For Night").

Not that they full abandoned the YesIdea, but they moved away from the YesMusic. But genuine inspiration is almost alien to this album. Take "Gibberish" for instance: it is ajust a copy of some GG track. There is even one strongly "Beatles" oriented song which is at times a clone of "I Am The Walrus" ("Gypsy").

If you are keen to listen to a dull ballad, it is available as well: "Lay It Down" does this job pretty well. Do you fancy a couple of mellowish little tunes: "My Shoes" (close to ELO) and "The Healing Colors of Sound Part 2" while part one is an average instrumental track heading at ELP revisited by Yes. All in just over two minutes! What a shortcut! Another one? Here you are, "The Distance to the Sun" is coming (of which the acoustic intro is almost a Howe pastiche). So what's really personal in here? Not a whole lot of music to be honest.

There is nothing really captivating to be honest. IMO, one of the most unaccomplished songs is "Mommy Comes Back". It is just a funky metal track which is difficult to bear.

I am not very receptive to this album. It is their weakest so far IMHHO. It sounds as a melting pot of several great bands from the seventies. But without inspiration. Two stars.

Report this review (#182598)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Day for Night is the fourth studio album from American symphonic prog act Spock´s Beard. I really enjoyed both Beware of Darkness and The Kindness of Strangers which are Spock´s Beard ´s second and third studio albums. Those two albums are excellent symphonic progressive rock albums IMO. Day for Night is unmistakably a Spock´s Beard album but the commercial approach that Spock´s Beard occasionally pursued on earlier albums is more evident on Day for Night.

The music that Spock´s Beard play is heavily rooted in the symphonic progressive rock scene of the seventies and they are greatly influenced by bands like Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes. Spock´s Beard add some more contemporary rock influences in the music too though which means that their music doesn´t come off sounding old fashion.

There are thirteen ( fourteen on the european version. Hurt which is the bonus track is a simple hard rock/ heavy rock song. Nothing special really) songs on the album. the first seven songs are seperate songs while the last six seque into each other to form an epic called The Healing Colors Of Sound.

The album starts with the best song on the album which is the title track. It´s a favorite of mine also when we´re talking the whole Spock´s Beard discography. Gibberish is next and it´s a very Gentle Giant influenced song with polyrythmic vocal parts. I´m not too impressed and I much prefer Thoughts from Beware of Darkness which is in a similar vein. Skin is the next song and it´s basically a contemporary rock song with a catchy chorus. It shows that Neal Morse can also write commercial music but I´m not very interested. The Distance to the Sun is a semi-ballad type song and even though this is not my favorite style I must admit that this song is very beautiful and one of the better songs on the album.

Crack the Big Sky is a 10 minute long song. I enjoy parts of the song but the middle section with the brass ( or maybe it´s keyboard brass?) is not to my liking and it´s like the song doesn´t end with a bang like it´s supposed to. The Gypsy is another progressive rocker. Again I only enjoy parts of the song. It seems a bit unfinished to me. Can't Get It Wrong is an absolutely dreadful ballad that would have fit much better on Neal Morse weak solo efforts from that time. The Healing Colors of Sound is probably my least favorite of all Spock´s Beard´s epics, but it´s still pretty good and varied.

The musicianship is as usual of high quality.

The production is part of why I don´t think this album is as good as it could be. The vocal production in particular is something I don´t enjoy. Neal Morse otherwise warm voice sounds cold and clinical. It´s like it´s been recorded in a bathroom or something. The general sound of the album is professional but too cold IMO.

Day for Night is my least favorite Neal Morse era Spock´s Beard album. There are simply too many weak or mediocre songs and parts on the album. There are some moments of excellence though ( like the title track) which means that this is a 3 star album. I would buy this last ( of the Neal Morse era albums) if I were a newcomer to the band.

Report this review (#185047)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I guess these fellas spoiled me. This was the last of the six studio albums from the Neal Morse-era Spock's Beard that I acquired. I ignored the PA evidence and anticipated beyond reason that it would entertain me just as much as the other five do. I'll admit that the lower rating it has garnered on this site and the abundance of less-than-enthusiastic reviews of "Day for Night" caused me to wait on buying this CD but I also thought that I'd like it more than most do. However, after repeated listens over several weeks I see their point. The truth hurts. This album is basically missing some essential ingredient that's hard for me to put my finger on. It's not from lack of effort because the hard work they put into recording it is obvious. It doesn't stem from poor musicianship or slipshod production, either. What it comes down to is that it suffers from the sub-standard quality of the material that Neal composed for this project and that's understandable. You can't win 'em all. Every artist goes through a slump and I have to accept that fact and try not to be too critical when it happens. Forgive me if I am.

"Day for Night" charges from the gate well enough, though. Ryo Okumoto's growling Hammond organ offers the promise of a thrill ride, followed by a typical Spock's Beard grand entrance with prog flags a flyin' and a solid verse/chorus/verse/chorus path to get things started right. Here Neal speaks to those who naively idolize and envy musicians with a sarcastic "don't you want to live my way?" line but he also drops hints that this album wasn't easy to write when he sings "your dreams were disappearing/so you disappeared into your head/there's no freshness in your feelings/so you feel like going back to bed." After a calmer acoustic guitar-based section and a return to the boisterous intro both Ryo and guitarist Alan Morse turn in hot solos before they repeat the chorus to the end. It's not a song I'd include in their greatest hits collection but it serves well as an opener. Just lately I've come to savvy this band's fascination with all things Gentle Giant and why they put a tune like "Gibberish" on most every album they produced. It's cool stuff to play with. This one has their usual American rock & roll slant to it and the intertwining vocal parts are performed perfectly but Alan's noisy guitarisms cross the line into annoying territory and tarnish the beauty of Okumoto's Mellotron moments that show up later in the track. It lacks the usual SB cohesiveness, as well. And I might be guilty of reading too much into the lyrics but lines like "wind raging, you remain at the mast/still slaving to be free at last." lead me to think there was some malaise creeping into the group's this-thing's-not-developing-as-fast-as-we- had-hoped-it-would career.

The best cut is next, the strong rocker "Skin" that also happens to be one of the more un-proggy songs on the CD. What it has in spades is a hard-as-diamond groove and a melody that sticks in your head like an earwig. More inner frustration is expressed when Neal sings "like a star with a blue moon rising/you complain but you keep on surprising yourself/like a dog who's been kicked all over/you tried to quit but you can't stop kicking yourself." The good news is that despite the pathos it's a killer tune that deserves several replays. The bad news is that the album has now peaked and it starts to tilt to the south from there on, starting with "The Distance to the Sun" in which they get all Simon & Garfunkel on us by presenting a wispy, harmony-laden air that never rises above boring. It also continues the Debby Downer vibe with "there is no use, you'll never win/they'll only kick you back again/back to where you've been/and you're never satisfied/your wants just change/you've been playing an unwinnable game." Holy cow. And you thought Porcupine Tree had depressing lyrics!

This band usually excels when they create long and involved prog epics but "Crack the Big Sky" doesn't even come close to the high mark they set with previous ventures in that arena. The ever-tight rhythm section of Nick D'Virgilio/Dave Meros kicks things off impressively before another huge symphonic prog introduction is unveiled. Then an unexpectedly cool jazz segment briefly raises your hopes for something special to occur. But what follows is an uncharacteristically ho-hum verse/chorus pattern that disappoints and the number never finds its footing again. The horn section is a spiffy addition midway through but guest saxophonist John Garr turns in a schmaltzy, honking-like-a-goose ride that makes me think he was recruited from the Bill Clinton junior high school marching ensemble. It reeks. I loathe it so much that I'm tempted to hit the skip button which is what the track warrants because the rest of the tune seems cruelly forced. Ryo and Alan gallantly try to rescue it with some decent solos but it's a lost cause. "The Gypsy" is next but it isn't much of an improvement. Here Neal adopts his sometimes effective/sometimes not "scary" voice and musically I get the feeling that the group is trying too hard instead of letting things flow naturally. The words are still on the downside, as well. ".I awoke to ten white policemen/who held me until I choked/they brought me in like McCarthy and Nixon/that isn't all she wrote/log on to the suicide note." he growls. The lame acoustic guitar tag at the end signifies that they were desperate to find a way out of this song and that's all they could come up with. Neal is usually a master when it comes to taking flight with a power ballad yet "Can't Get It Wrong" (co-written with Alan and Nick) never leaves terra firma. Don't look for a bright spot in the lyrics, either. I envision an awkward phone conversation with his lady love in which he laments that "I can't get it wrong/and I can't get it right/and I can't seem to get it at all tonight." Bummer.

"The Healing Colors of Sound (Part 1)" is an instrumental beginning to what appears to be about a 21 minute-long epic consisting of six interconnected tunes that segue from one to the next. This hot, spirited intro has plenty of fun, exciting prog elements flying about and you begin to think that this might be going somewhere wild. But "My Shoes" doesn't maintain the momentum with its subtle start where Neal ties in the "you'd like to be in my shoes/wouldn't you now?" variation on the theme from "Day for Night" except this time it springs from the lips of God Almighty. The song's just okay but when they break down to the piano towards the end it's an excellent but short-lived move. "Mommy Comes Back," some kind of an ode to unfit mothers, is a flawed attempt at being funky where even more trouble arrives when they try to get cute with the funny sound effects, ruining the already tenuous mood. It's a jumble of disconnected musical ideas that get funneled into a pointless loud/soft/loud/soft rut and it gets irksome. "Lay Down" is another Morse power ballad but it fails to put you under any kind of spell as it just meanders along. He seems to be telling us that when the ills of the world start getting to us we should "lay it down now/lay it down now/lay it down." but he makes it sound more like an act of accepting defeat than conquering fear through faith. "The Healing Colors of Sound (Part 2)" at least elevates the song back to an up tempo feel and this part of the series actually works quite well with a piano rumbling underneath the fray, the orchestral horns colorizing in full bloom and vocal lines weaving in and out of each other. Displaying a rare case of optimism, Neal confronts all the negativity and sings "but you can turn around/to the healing colors of sound," reassuring us that music is the magic elixir that can cure one's blues every time. (Of course, we proggers knew that all along.) "My Shoes (revisited)" delivers the expected and much needed gigantic ending but Alan's overwrought, extended guitar lead is nothing I haven't heard a thousand times before and the point soon arrives when you just want them to end it already! The abrupt, stop-on-a-dime halt indicates that they felt the same way.

The reissue version has bonus home demo recordings of "Day for Night" and "Gibberish." The former holds no surprises but the latter is actually less abrasive than the studio take so I consider it a nice gift. Thanks, boys.

The album that preceded this one, "Kindness to Strangers," had an infectious energy throughout as if they were saying to the music biz "back off, we're on a roll that you can't stop." This one has a somber tone of near-resignation to it that can't be glossed over so perhaps the toll of touring and the pressure to sell units was getting to them at this juncture and this is an honest reflection of that stress. The album they made after "Day for Night" is arguably their greatest due in no small part to their adopting a "you may not understand prog but there's plenty of folks who LOVE what we do so deal with it" attitude that pervades that superb CD. So I'll chalk this one up as a temporary setback and not a trend for these troopers. I've conjectured ad nauseum about what is wrong with this album but the truth is that I don't know why it is so mediocre. There's just something vital that's missing. If you do spring for this set of songs prepare yourself to be underwhelmed. I am. 2.4 stars.

Report this review (#190342)
Posted Monday, November 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I like Spock's Beard.

They are consummate musicians who, although they are reminiscent of bands such as Yes, Marillion and especially Genesis, they have forged their own musical identity. And, on a totally left-field point, their music is often upbeat, and occasionally uplifting, something which can't be said for, say, Porcupine Tree, even though I like that band just as much as the Beardies.

I discovered them at a relatively late stage - around the time of 'Feel Euphoria' in 2004, which is an unusual way to go about it. I heard all of the post-Neal albums first and I liked them all, which encouraged me to dig deeper. So, I dusted off my purse and bought all of the earlier studio albums, and then listened to all six of them in sequence.

I found this, their fourth album, as the most immediately appealing, and I find it quite difficult to understand the low rating on this website. It's a very upbeat album musically, and it takes their knack for picking out a melody and applies it to the whole album, and, to paraphrase John Cleese, "You're forced to like a nice tune!"

All of the tracks on the album have something to recommend them , but the ballad "The Distance to the Sun" contains some well-crafted harmonies, and "Crack the Big Sky", possibly my favourite track on the album, is panoramic in scale, with is a simple, melodic rock song at it's heart. Whenever I listen to this, it takes me days to get the chorus out of my head!

The centre-point of Day for Night is the epic "The Healing Colours of Sound", a song-suite rather than a single song, in the style of "Suppers Ready" or "Thick as a Brick". And it is excellent. I haven't got the faintest idea what it's about, but over 20 minutes flies by very pleasantly, and the track showcases every aspect of Spock's Beard's music at their very best (incidentally, the live version of this on "Don't Try This At Home" is at least as good, if not better than the studio version). I think this track works very well when you treat it as a single-entity.

If you were wondering about the Beardies, and whether you would like them or not, Day for Night is a great starting point. It's probably not their most accomplished work (listen to the denser, more complex albums 'V' or 'Snow' for that), but it will provide an excellent introduction to the band.

Report this review (#202489)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, I'll admit right off the bat that I'm a Spock's Beard fanboy. In fact, my favorite band of all- time is the version of Spock's Beard that includes Neal Morse (which is what we have here). I believe that all of their albums are incredible, from The Light all the way up to Snow. To me it is the most brilliant 6 record run of any artist. So, I say that up front to let you know that I am biased in my opinion of this album. Day For Night is a magnificent album that captures Spock's Beard at their best. I love their music because there is a sense of fun, like all the members of the band had a blast recording this album. That makes it a fun listen for me, and makes me feel joy whenever I have the privelege to listen to this album. I've heard it many times, and I'm still not tired of it. It is brilliant.

"Day For Night" may be one of the best examples of what Spock's Beard is all about. It is a definitive seven minute statement that contains everything from a majestic opening, emotional singing from Neal Morse, a great rhythm section in Nick D'Virgilio and Dave Meros, an acoustic break, and an impressive keyboard/guitar solo tradeoff. This song is tons of fun and is one of my favorites the band ever created. "Gibberish" showcases one of the bands biggest influences, Gentle Giant. This track features the band doing a intertwining vocals that is very impressive and fun to listen to. What stands out to me on this track is Nick's drumming, he is a very solid drummer. "Skin" is a short, more simple rocker, but it is tons of fun and gives Alan Morse some opportunity to shine on guitar.

"Distance to the Sun" with its sublime vocals and acoustic guitar, is hauntingly beautiful. "Crack the Big Sky" is a personal favorite song of mine that has a bit of funkiness to it and sometimes reminds me once again of Gentle Giant. It is one of the longer songs on the album and has some incredible horns and some great keyboard solos. Once again, it is just so much fun to listen to and I never get tired of it. "The Gypsy" starts off quietly with what sounds like programmed drums and very quiet guitar with Neal's voice. Then, the whole band kicks in and the track really gets going. It has a great chorus and features some great guitar work by Alan Morse. "Can't Get It Wrong" is perhaps the weakest song of the bunch, but it is still a great ballad with some great piano and emotional singing by Neal Morse. I love Neal Morse's voice above any other singer. He may not technically have the best voice, but he more than makes up for it with emotion, which I think is so important for a singer to have.

Then comes their epic, "The Healing Colors of Sound" which is split up into several tracks. I love this epic and I'm not sure what I can say about it. It contains everything that Spock's Beard is known for. I especially love the funky "Mommy Comes Back". It is a fantastic closer to such a great, fun album. I love the whole thing, rom the opening to the closing note. It makes me feel happy and it is just so much fun to listen to. It is hard for me to imagine someone not liking this album, although I realize musical tastes differ and there are many who are underwhelmed by this album. So, if you have an open mind about music, please pick up this criminally underrated record by one of the best bands to ever record music.

Report this review (#226722)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Day for Night was my first excursion into Spock's Beard, and I must confess that it was a disappointing journey.

Thumbing through the booklet as I put the disc in for the first time, I was surprised by how many times I was seeing the word 'chorus' throughout. While having a chorus does not necessarily make a song bad, I found it unusual to see them used so much by a band that was labelled 'The Kings of Progressive Rock' by the sticker that came on the shrinkwrap (even though I knew such a sticker would be biased). One thing I had loved about early prog bands, like Genesis, was how the music was dynamic and constantly changing, not constantly returning to the same point.

Day For Night started playing, and I was surprised to find how much it seemed, to me, that this sound wouldn't have sounded too out of place on the radio in the '90s (which is not a bad thing, just not what I had expected or been looking for). It had an infective catchy chorus, and the rest of the song wasn't too bad either.

Next came Gibberish, and here I was actually impressed. I have to admit to being a sucker for cool vocal melodies if they are creative and catchy enough, and this song's interweaving vocal lines with it's strange existential lyrics gave me hope that this album would redeem itself. Sadly, after this point, nothing on the album grabbed me quite the same way.

After repeated listens, I found that I had discovered almost all there was to discover on the album the first time through. The first two tracks each had their own strengths, but many of the other songs were forgettable. This is not to say they were bad; Crack the Big Sky has some excellent moments, as does The Distance To The Sun. Skin and Can't Get it Right I find boring and without many redeeming qualities, other than the fact that I can listen to them with my girlfriend and she'll enjoy them.

The epic, "The Healing Colours of Sound", is split into multiple tracks for reasons that are unclear, but to me, it SOUNDS like multiple tracks, more than most epics do, until it reprises the main theme and "My Shoes" at the end. It is actually quite a nice epic, if less cohesive than one would wish, and an enjoyable listen, but you won't be finding any new Supper's Ready or Close to the Edge quality music here.

However, this album has an unsung hero, a song that defies expectations and that has grown on me over repeated listens, and that is The Gypsy. In this song, Spock's Beard actually show how a chorus can be an excellent tool, singing the main part ("Well I can't get nothing that can't be bought, so I just live with what I've got - I'm the gypsy") with various different emotions reflecting the feeling of the song. It starts of nice and quiet, builds up to an epic, almost-grungy, almost-Soul-Asylum-y sounding piece, and then ends quietly again.

I'd say this album is, truly, only good for fans of the band, for a lot of the material here is forgettable. Otherwise, find somewhere where you can buy 'Gibberish' and 'The Gypsy', as single mp3s, and you're pretty much set.

Report this review (#239213)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Spock's Beard plunged headfirst into pop territory with their fourth release. Were this the band's only offering, they likely would have been relegated to Crossover. Their sound is still in tact, but most of the arrangements sit comfortably in a stale verse-chorus pattern. While there are some good songs present, nothing at all is outstanding- neither the compositions nor the performance of them. This is an exercise in mediocrity, the lackluster result of Spock's Beard trying to imitate Spock's Beard.

"Day for Night" Perhaps the best offering on this unpopular Spock's Beard album, it has an uplifting main theme musically, with a strong and memorable chorus, something that can be found in quite a bit of this band's work. It boasts a gentler yet melodic middle section, led by acoustic guitar. Very strong guitar and organ solos follow.

"Gibberish" In the vein of "Thoughts," this song features those complex vocal sections in the style of Gentle Giant, but musically carries on with a harder and discombobulated edge- all aptly titled, methinks.

"Skin" A great, straightforward rock song, "Skin" has a catchy chorus and some fun instrumentation.

"The Distance to the Sun" Acoustic guitar, piano, and a pair of vocals make up the quietest song on the album.

"Crack the Big Sky" The longest single track on the album gives the band's bassist ample opportunity work out both his fretted and fretless instruments. The song blends jazz and symphonic rock throughout.

"The Gypsy" Nasty, noisy, and almost painful to listen to, "The Gypsy" is really the worst song on the album. When it isn't irritating, it's irritatingly cliché.

"Can't Get It Wrong" Piano and violin make up this pop ballad, again the victim of clichés, both musically and lyrically. It has an ELO sound to it.

"The Healing Colors of Sound Part 1" The introduction to the suite that concludes the album is a mishmash of heavy electric guitars and modulated strings. When things finally do become melodic, it makes me think of very good video game music.

"My Shoes" A heavily-modulated guitar provides the stark backdrop for the vocal work. Dark, jazzy piano makes up the latter part of the track.

"Mommy Comes Back" Goofy bass and electric guitar make all manner noises throughout this part. Every Spock's Beard album with Neal Morse on board has a song or two with some really godawful lyrics, it seems. This is it.

"Lay It Down" Reflective and thoughtful, this more peaceful moment of the album is a highlight for me. It refrains from the cheese in which much of the rest of the album greedily indulges.

"The Healing Colors of Sound Part 2" The second most coherent part of the suite, this is easy enough to follow, but lacks anything of note.

"My Shoes (Revisited)" The album ends a bit better, courtesy of a fresh reprise of an earlier segment, topped by some stellar lead guitar playing.

Report this review (#252348)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I find this album to be a slight step up from Spock Beard's previous, "The Kindness Of Strangers". The tendency to record shorter, more radio friendy (ugh!) poppier tunes still prevails over the longer, proggier epic songs. But the band does seem to be going back to some of the sounds that made them so popular to us progheads.

The Gentle Giant complex vocal arrangements are back in Gibberish. While this song is not quite as interesting as Thoughts or Thoughts, Part 2, it is still a very good song. More complexity can be heard in Lay It Down. These songs show that there is still some hope fore this band.

As for epics, the best is Crack The Big Sky. It is nowhere near a good as The Light and The Great Nothing, but it has some prog value. The Beardies just needed to learn that their audience wanted prog, not mainstream.

Report this review (#444485)
Posted Sunday, May 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is another updated review, but unlike the last one, this one is loosing a star after further consideration. In reality, it really only looses a half star, but I figure I will round down as this is my least favorite Spock's Beard album at this point, without question. However, it's still not terrible, by any means and probably still could be considered good but not essential, but I just don't think people new to the band or not big fans would have any interest in this at all.

When I bought this, I was thinking it would probably be my last SB purchase, as they just seemed to keep disappointing me. But after a few listens, I realized it wasn't all bad.

The first song is a nice upbeat and proggy number that never gets very intense but is enjoyable none the less. Gibberish is the obligatory Gentle Giant rip off that SB does so well. This is probably less enjoyable than the two Thoughts songs, but still not bad with some outstanding drumming. Skin is a horrible pop sounding song that just seems pointless (I do like some "pop" type music by the way). It is so cheesy that I don't even think it would work on modern pop radio. Probably the SB song I dislike the most. Distance to the Sun is a pleasant but forgettable ballad. Crack the Big Sky seems like a retread of Walking on The Wind from Beware Of Darkness. But aside from the lack of originality, it is not a bad song. Just not one that stands out for me, though it does have a catchy chorus. The Gypsy is a nice heavy song that has an almost bluesy feel to it. I like this one, but it is not particularly special. Can't get it Wrong is another pleasant but forgettable ballad (and would more appropriately be called Can't get it Right :-)

The final 7 tracks are parts of a 20 minute suite. But you might not be able to tell that from looking at the booklet (I only knew because before the album was released Morse said there was a 20 minute suite on it). When you listen to the tracks it becomes much more obvious though, as they all segue and there are common themes running through most of them. Overall this suite, The Healing Colors Of Sound, is an enjoyable listen, but not one of their best attempts at this format. The pt.1 and pt.2 sections are the most interesting musically, but the vocal sections are pretty good as well.

Overall, not a bad album, but far from my favorite by them. Thanks to the suite, and the first two songs, I'm tempted to go with 3 stars, but as it is I really don't think they are good enough to raise it about 2.5 stars. So I'm rounding down, to show this is my least favorite SB album, but I think it should be noted that this is a bit more than a 2 star release, just not quite a 3. Little did I know the best of SB was right around the corner though.

Report this review (#609148)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Day for Night takes the pop of Kindness of Strangers to an extreme. Gentle Giant influences are still here, and the Beard seems to experiment with a little jazz as well.

The album kicks off with the title track. 'Day For Night' (7/10) is hardly prog, it's more of Spock's commercial side coming through as was the case in their previous effort. I believe if it wasn't for the weird name and for being mostly unknown the song would have done some work in the charts.

'Gibberish' (8/10) is probably the Beard's most Gentle Giant-like song. It's a good song, but they've already done it.

Skin (7/10) is another pop-oriented song like Day for Night. This song is probably the most commercial sounding of anything they've ever done. The structure is as simple as any pop song, but it's still catchy and has that noticeable Spock's sound.

'The Distance to the Sun' (4/10) is a slower pop song mostly on acoustic guitar. It's nothing special but does have some nice backing vocals from the rest of the members.

'Crack the Big Sky' (9/10) is the most prog song on the album and also my favorite. It begins with an upbeat intro with Nick's crazy drumming. It goes through several addictive verses/choruses before reaching a cool "Spock's Beard Breakdown" (as I call it) at five minutes. It features a rare saxophone and is kind of jazzy.

'The Gypsy' (8/10) is an odd track. It has a rather interesting juxtaposition between the melancholic verses and upbeat and cheery chorus. The song is extremely bombastic and full of energy, but has plenty of great melodies.

'Can't Get It Wrong' (4/10) is just a simple ballad, but it does feature some nice vocals and Mellotron throughout.

The Healing Colors of Sound is a 20-minute suite that closes the album. There are some good moments here, but also a lot of forgettable ones as well. The Healing Colors of Sound pt. 1 and Mommy Comes Back are the highlights here, with the latter using Gentle Giant motifs throughout.

Overall I would say this album is the Beard's weak point. At this point the poppier tunes have mostly overridden the proggier ones. Also, at this point they are just milking the Gentle Giant thing to no end. Despite this, Day for Night is a solid album and is full of great Spock's Beard moments.

6/10

Report this review (#771403)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The lower overall score on these pages for Spock's Beard's fourth studio album reflects a perception that it's all been done before, previously by The Beard and also by their Golden Age Prog role models a generation earlier. It's a valid complaint (especially after hearing them recycle GENTLE GIANT yet again, in the song "Gibberish"), but on its own terms, removed from any wider context, the album can be a very agreeable experience.

The effort still sounds a little forced, as if the band was merely going through the motions. But you can almost hear them trying to climb out of their rut, adding saxophones and French horns to the album highlight "Crack the Big Sky", plus cello and strings elsewhere. It's nice to see a few new ingredients added to the usual SB recipe, even though the overall flavor of the music was hardly affected.

There's also another brave attempt at a 20-plus minute epic, the longest of its kind for Spock's Beard since their debut album four years earlier. The difference here is that the sub-sections were indexed as separate tracks, which is appropriate: despite the reprise of several themes it's more of a hybrid composition than a unified suite.

What the song means is anybody's guess. There might be an environmental message in there somewhere: "Don't mess with the Sacred Mother", so forth. Which, from a classic Prog Rock perspective, was more effective than the blind patriarchal obedience Neal Morse would soon be advocating. Spiritual lyrics always work better when left vague enough to engage the listener's imagination, as any fan of early YES (circa "Tales from Topographic Oceans") can affirm. It may sound crass, but in this case I'll take "The Healing Colors of Sound" over "The Sugar Pill of Religious Dogma" any day.

"Day for Night" suffered by comparison following the much stronger "The Kindness of Strangers". And the relative worth of the album would take another unfair hit after the subsequent release of the career peak "V" the following year. None of it really sticks to the memory, but the only song here worth skipping entirely is the mushy "Can't Get It Wrong", to which a more cynical critic might answer, "wanna bet?"

Spock's Beard might have been treading all-too familiar waters throughout this album. But at least they were still afloat.

Report this review (#886276)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
TCat
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is not the first time I have heard Spock's Beard, but it is the first time I have heard an album all the way through. I do have to commend them on their instrumentals and the complexities of them, but I have always had a problem with the vocals. The voice is okay, it's just that there is not a lot of feeling in the delivery. After reading the reviews here, a lot of people are saying that it is sort of an OK album and a step down from normal, but I don't see anyone complaining about the vocals, and from the single tracks I've heard from them in the past, the vocals remain the same. So, I suppose I can get used to them, but it is also the reason why I haven't been a huge fan in the past or had any desire to explore them any further until now.

I do have to say though, after hearing this album, it has sparked some interest in me to now listen to more of their work. As has already been said, there are some tracks that lean more towards pop than progressive. But there is still plenty of symphonic prog in there, enough to make things interesting. The best things on here are the first two tracks and "Crack the Big Sky". The huge 21 minute suite has both strong and weak moments where it seems they are trying to mix pop and prog together, which has been done before and done better than this.

So, it's not bad, and since most consider it a weaker album, I will be checking out other albums. But I still have a hard time with that emotionless voice and how it contrasts with the dynamics of the awesome instrumentals. I'm giving this 3 stars because only 3 songs make a consistent high mark while the epic suite is hit and miss. Good, but not essential.

Report this review (#1323862)
Posted Saturday, December 13, 2014 | Review Permalink
Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Don't you just love prog rock?

Every single band that makes headwaves in the genre stirs up the critiques and praise of everyone who puts their ears to their latest tracks, and since band styles change as much as the genre itself, each album sounds distinctly unique. Even if you played this album on a nice sunny day on a Tuesday afternoon, and 3 seconds later a friend walks in, he in effect is listening to a different "performance" of the album that you're listening to. It's a theory proposed by composer and musician Andrew Durkin, the idea that every time you press play, it's a different performance, not necessarily song, every single time. It's the same thing, just... slightly different.

And that phrase perfectly describes some of the styles of the best bands in the genres, with Spock's Beard one of the top on the list. It's a distinctly synth-driven sound, but it seems to slightly morph from album to album.

As I might have mentioned on reviews of earlier albums (or not, I don't remember), the Morse-era Beard seemed to progress from dated sound quality and absolute extremity in terms of prog, length and showmanship, with just a dash or two of radio-quality music, and as the band progressed from album to album, the sound began to shift slightly towards that radio-friendly sound while still maintaining a significant keyboard presence, thus that traditional sound is still intact, just more diluted than normal.

Which leads us to "Day For Night", perhaps the radio-friendliest of all the Morse-era records. And yet, it still quite isn't. There's something about Morse's voice that truly prevents it from being radio-friendly in my mind. Still, this is most certainly from a progressive standpoint the weakest output to date from the group. The title track isn't really much of an opener, and "Gibberish" and "Skin" don't really fit the bill (although "Skin" is a bit catchy). "The Distance To The Sun" is probably one of the best efforts off the disc, a truly honest acoustic ballad, with just enough of a saving grace to continue on in this album.

"Crack The Big Sky" sounds off to a good start, it's a catchy opening with accompanying hand claps, and is structured a bit more like Spock's more elaborate tracks. It's not a bad track at all, it still sounds like SB, and it's also catchy. So at this point, you can spot the trend, and not have to continue on to realize the rest of the album is like this.

But then "The Gypsy" plays, and it's a little bit of a shock. The weird ambient opening breaks the trend of the album, and even in the chorus, it's not very catchy at all. It's very much a groove oriented piece, but yet I'm struggling to even groove to the song until the more instrumental features kick in. Very proggy indeed, but also very out of place on this album.

And it especially sounds out of place when "Can't Get It Wrong" comes in right after, which sounds exactly like a Gungfly track. It almost sounds like Morse was trying too hard to channel his inner John Lennon or something. It's a track that completely turns me off, but for all the wrong reasons. And frankly, it's unexplainable.

So now we enter the broken up elephant in the room, "The Healing Colors Of Sound". The intro is distinctly Spocky. The rock organ driven synths lead into the guitar licks and instrumental showcases in a typical jam rock fashion the Beard does very well. It even ends with an quick but outstanding little solo by Alan, "the other Morse". But then it transitions into "My Shoes", which sounds like Neal transmitting his inner Elton John. It sounds lovely, but it has almost no connection to the intro which (presumably) spawned it.

By the time "Mommy Comes Back" starts, it's clear this isn't a traditional prog epic, and that these songs really just should've been edited as stand-alone tracks, which they are. This song starts off with this album's signature weird staggered sounds that sound akin to "Gibberish" and "Skin". The song itself is quite groovy though, and the added special effects and voicebox provide some color and uniqueness to it.

"Lay It Down" sounds more bluesy, or maybe it's just the chorus. It's another fine tune, but still lackluster on its own, and the same goes to Pt. 2. There's no connectivity between any of these tracks. Of course, that'd be ok if these songs could stand on their own as individual tracks, but apart from "Mommy Comes Back", none of them are really stand alone tracks. All of them feel like they're missing concluding choruses, or a bridge or quick instrumental lick sections or something. It starts off so promising, and then little by little, it just repeats itself like a broken record. It's incredibly lackluster and disappointing.

But perhaps that's not so surprising. A year later Spock's Beard put out "V", one of their best albums, with "Snow" coming out two years later, probably the best of the Morse-era Beard. So even though this is a lackluster disc, "Day For Night" is the culmination of a serious problem that the band has had, balancing progressive jams with catchy tunes. Obviously, it's not so easy, but it's a sound the band has constantly taken a crack at with each of their releases (with "V's 'All On A Sunday'" being my personal favorite).

Perhaps that's why the post-Morse Beard has gotten such a bad rap at the beginning. Neals' voice just doesn't always fit the bill of a catchy radio-friendly tune, and the continued attempt to balance that has been a constant struggle in the early post-Morse years, where (in my opinion) they got back on track with heir self-titled release (e.g. "Wherever You Stand"). But now that the band is really starting to master the balance between "prog and catch" (that's a phrase I just made up), their latest album now is quite a hype-generator, especially since "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" is being hailed as a return to form the group (it's one of my favorites as well).

So with that in mind, perhaps it's worth a gander back in time to this disc and see, not necessarily where it all went wrong, but perhaps where it finally reached the extreme end of "sell-out mode" after years of build-up ("Beware Of Darkness", "The Kindness Of Strangers"), and how it's defined the band's sound ever since. It's an interesting history lesson that everyone can learn from.

Don't you just love prog rock?

Report this review (#1434284)
Posted Friday, July 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Really mixed.

After moving (slightly) more toward a radio-friendly format on their previous two albums, SB here shift back toward progressive rock with some longer extended epics and more obtuse arrangements. I find this album both polarized, in that the tracks are either very good or very bad, and polarizing in that it seems there are quite divided opinions not only about the album in general but about the tracks on them. For me, I can't understand why the opening title track, "Day for Night" is loved so much. Of course, it checks all the boxes when it comes to what might be desired in a progressive rock/neo-prog track (difficult virtuoso playing, complex arrangments, etc). But I have listened to this album/song a number of times now (well over 10 for this song, more for the rest of the album), and I find this tune to be simply not musical. Indeed, a lot of the songs on this album are for me not sufficiently musical. "Gibberish" and "Skin" are OK, but I find they get tiring fairly quickly, while the other tune often lauded by fans, "Crack the Sky", is like "Day for Night" just not sufficiently musical. On the other hand, there are two (only) tracks that I still listen too all the time, which I DO find very musical: the song "The Gypsy" which has a lovely groove and very nice melodies, and the extended 22-minute epic "The Healing Colors of Sound". The latter is the shining highlight on this album, in my opinion, and would set the terms for the album that would come next (V). I know there are people out there who take the opposite opinions of these tracks to me (that is, they like "Day for Night" and "Crack the Sky" but not "The Gypsy" or "Healing Colors"). I don't know why, I can't explain it, other than to say I always give albums multiple listens before coming to a conclusion, and what seems great on first listen (because it checks all the right boxes) can get tiring quickly if they are not sufficiently musical. For me, musicality is the key criteria. At any rate, because there are more than the usual number of less-than-musical pieces on this album, I can't rate it any higher than 6.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, even though I love the epic and The Gypsy. mid-lower 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1743973)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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