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SPOCK'S BEARD

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Spock's Beard biography
SPOCK'S BEARD was formed by Neal MORSE, who wrote all the band's material and contributed lead vocals, piano, synth and guitars. This is a superb Progressive rock in the Seventies' spirit, full of contrated climates, breaks and complex compositions based on tortuous, audacious and elaborated instrumental developments. They combine strong melodies with intricate arrangements and superb musicianship. SPOCK'S BEARD should appeal to fans of the FLOWER KINGS and UK.

This adventurous band has built a solid and loyal following with their first two releases. "The Light" received rave reviews across the globe and "Beware of Darkness" was by far the best progressive rock album of the decade. The next releases ("The Kindness...", "Day For Night" & "V") were issued to insatiable fans world wide. The next album, "Snow", was the band's double CD concept album in the vein of GENESIS' "The Lamb...".

With Neal MORSE's departure in 2002, "Feel Euphoria" marked a fresh new beginning for the band. The album fueled a new creative period in the band's career. The album was followed up by "Octane" in 2005 and the band-titled release in 2006. SPOCK'S BEARD ended the decade with another discography highlight with the release of "X" in 2010. Jimmy KEEGAN provided some additional vocals on the release and later followed the band on the promotional tour for the new material. The release of "X" marked another turning point for the band seeing that the Nick D'VIRGILIO finally decided to concentrate on his solo career and thus left the band in 2011.

On November 21, 2011, it was announced on the bands official website that ENCHANT vocalist Ted LEONARD and touring drummer Jimmy KEEGAN would be joining the band. SPOCK'S BEARD will be releasing their 11th studio album, "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" in mid 2013.

No matter what happens next one thing's for sure, The BEARD is out there and you WILL believe!

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SnowSnow
Extra tracks · Special Edition
Metal Blade Records 2007
Audio CD$20.02
$19.37 (used)
THE FIRST TWENTY YEARSTHE FIRST TWENTY YEARS
Metal Blade 2015
Audio CD$18.89
$18.87 (used)
Day For Night (Re-Issue)Day For Night (Re-Issue)
Extra tracks · Special Edition
Metal Blade 2007
Audio CD$13.79
$13.78 (used)
LightLight
Import · Limited Edition
Imports 2010
Audio CD$7.23
$9.11 (used)
The Oblivion ParticleThe Oblivion Particle
Inside Out Music 2015
Audio CD$11.49
$8.99 (used)
Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless SleepBrief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$13.79
$4.99 (used)
SnowSnow
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$28.49
VV
Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2007
Audio CD$12.98
$12.97 (used)
XX
Mascot Label Group 2010
Audio CD$11.56
$8.55 (used)
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SPOCK'S BEARD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SPOCK'S BEARD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 594 ratings
The Light
1995
3.65 | 453 ratings
Beware Of Darkness
1996
3.75 | 448 ratings
The Kindness Of Strangers
1998
3.25 | 391 ratings
Day For Night
1999
4.14 | 735 ratings
V
2000
3.85 | 620 ratings
Snow
2002
3.27 | 346 ratings
Feel Euphoria
2003
3.13 | 347 ratings
Octane
2005
3.35 | 337 ratings
Spock's Beard
2006
3.81 | 517 ratings
X
2010
4.01 | 607 ratings
Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep
2013
3.85 | 285 ratings
The Oblivion Particle
2015

SPOCK'S BEARD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 31 ratings
The Official Live Bootleg
1996
3.67 | 53 ratings
The Beard Is Out There
1998
3.40 | 32 ratings
Live at The Whisky and Nearfest
1999
2.98 | 63 ratings
Don't Try This At Home
2000
3.63 | 19 ratings
Don't Try This @ Home Either!
2000
3.98 | 25 ratings
There And Here
2001
4.00 | 68 ratings
Gluttons For Punishment - Live 05
2005
3.80 | 53 ratings
Live
2008
3.43 | 21 ratings
Live at High Voltage Festival
2011
3.71 | 46 ratings
The X Tour-Live
2012
4.00 | 20 ratings
Live at Sea
2014

SPOCK'S BEARD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.97 | 10 ratings
Live At The Whiskey A Go-Go
2000
4.23 | 46 ratings
Don't Try This At Home-Live / The Making of V
2002
4.20 | 52 ratings
Live
2008
4.88 | 7 ratings
Live at Sea
2014

SPOCK'S BEARD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 8 ratings
Don't Try This/Feel Euphoria
2006
4.63 | 20 ratings
The First Twenty Years
2015

SPOCK'S BEARD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.66 | 20 ratings
From the Vault
1998
3.10 | 10 ratings
Skin
1999
3.15 | 13 ratings
All On A Sunday
2001

SPOCK'S BEARD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 X by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 517 ratings

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X
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Mix of Great and Trite.

Their tenth album, this is the last one of the Nick D'Virgilio era (after this, he left the band, and joined Big Big Train, among other things). Like the other albums of this era of SB, this album is of very mixed quality, even on the same track (for example, on "From the Darkness" which itself is highly mixed in quality). And the main problems (when the quality is poor) are, once again, trite lyrics and less-than-musical song-writing, despite the wonderful tight playing. But like their previous albums, when it works, it works very well. Thankfully this album has a Ryo Okumoto instrumental on it, because that seems to always lift the quality. Indeed, the best track on this album is Okumoto's "Kamikaze". Awesome fast wonderful complex piece of music. The other awesome track here is "The Emperor's Clothes" (penned in part by the Morse brothers, Alan and Neil - yes Neil is occasionally back in the picture by this album). Very musical, and with lyrics that make you think instead of cringe. These two tracks feature among SB's best ever. Another great song is the closing track "Jaws of Heaven", which is (mostly) quite musical. After that, I can also listen to the epic "From the Darkness" but only parts 2, 3 and 4. The lyrics for part 1 make me cringe, rendering that part unlistenable to me, and even part 2 is very iffy. But part 3 - what a great wonderful piece of music! I wish they had turned this into the main theme of an extended piece, either instrumental, or with only a few lyrics. Now don't get me wrong, I understand how difficult it is to write lyrics. But in such times when they don't come naturally, I think it best to stick to instrumentals, if that is what one does best. Indeed, I wish the Nick D'Virgilio era SB had made a lot more instrumentals, and played more solos, as their musical talents are so very clear and it is when they extend those talents that their music feels natural and authentic. But when they try to write lyrics, something that clearly does not come naturally to them, the music (and audience) suffers. The music feels forced and trite. Partly for this reason, the rest of the songs on this album leave me flat, although only part 1 of "From the Darkness" is truly bad. I give this album 6.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

 Feel Euphoria by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.27 | 346 ratings

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Feel Euphoria
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Their Weakest Album.

Ostensibly an odd name for an album made at the lowest point in their career (picking up the pieces after their leader, primary singer and composer, Neil Morse, left the band), there is in fact much precedent of using album titles to try to convince the audience that the obvious is somehow its opposite (the music-industry version of 'fake news?'). Sly Stone released 'Back on the Right Track' exactly when everyone knew he was anything but. Van der Graff Generator released 'Vital' right before they broke up. Well, I would think SB were not feeling too Euphoric when they made this album. Nick D'Virgilio, SB's amazing (then) drummer, took over on vocals (as many have noted, kindof like Phil Collins after Gabriel left Genesis), and became their front man, while compositional duties would now be shared. But they also (wisely) increasingly brought in their friend John Boegehold to help them write the songs. Boegehold would eventually become, in the Ted Leonard era, their best song-writer, but his positive presence only touches a couple of tunes on this album, and it is not enough. Indeed, on this album, song-writing is definitely a work in progress. I actually think that Nick D'Virgilio is/was the best lead singer that SB ever had. He has the best voice of the three front-men, neither whiny like Morse, nor shrill like Leonard, but instead warm and musical (yes, I like his voice even better than Morse). However, among all his talents (an amazing drummer AND singer!), lyric-writing is not one of them, and the rest of the band were not great at this either. Despite his preachiness, Morse at least had a way with words. I would have thought with such musical talent, and with their main lyricist gone, they might focus on instrumentals more, but they seem to want to infuse as much of this music with vocals as they can. If ever there was a need for a Ryo Okumoto instrumental, it is on this album! But alas, there is not. The result is an album with great playing and good singing, but which is laden with too much poor-quality song-writing and trite lyrics. Indeed, this is the least musical SB album, from my perspective, even less musical than 'Snow'. After listening to it for many years, there is only one song that stands the test of time, and that I can still listen to, the wonderful "The Bottom Line". The rest of the other tunes before the epic are definitely weak, not so bad that you have to turn them off, but after putting in my effort to listen to them a number of times now (>6 times), I feel no burning desire to hear them again. Even worse, the 'epic' ("A Guy Named Syd") is very cliché and trite. It is their worst epic, and among their worst-ever songs. I think they learned from making this album, and that learning led to better albums later on. But given there is only one truly good song on this album, I can only recommend this one to established fans and completionists. I give this album 4.2 out of 10, which translates to 2 PA stars.

 Snow by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.85 | 620 ratings

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Snow
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Less musical, too preachy.

For the last of the Morse-era SB albums, Morse wrote a double-concept-album based around a character named Snow who, just like Morse, found himself facing a number of potential life directions and who was eventually led to find religion. The album is made up of a number of shorter tunes, with no epics or even extended songs. Kindof like how Floyd jettisoned longer tunes when it created The Wall. And like The Wall, the character here is full of angst, easily manipulated, and has to face his demons and make a decision about his life near the end, bringing the album to its climax. However, while Floyd's The Wall is rooted in an important political message and said something truly novel, profound and authentic about the human condition beyond/more than the narrow story of the main character Pink, Snow is basically only about the character's (and thus Morse's) personal quest and redemption, in the face of a unredeemable (except through religion) human world. In a way, the album Snow is anti-political, for it seems to assume the world is and will always be morally bankrupt, and that faith and scripture is the only way to truly understand both the world and ones-self, with the homeless person a key metaphor for someone who has not yet found god but who contains the potential. While the lyrics on certain selected tracks are such that one could enjoy them outside the context of the album, the general message of the album is essential one of a religious preacher. Saying this, I still have it in my collection, and there are a few musical songs on it. Of course the main instrumental theme ("Overture") is great, and it is very welcome when that gets repeated, bringing some nice relief from the heaviness of the lyrics (just as Ryo Okumoto's "Ladies and Gentlemen" solo near the end, nice relief). Even some of the otherwise preachy tracks are OK despite the lyrics. "Welcome to New York City" is this album's equivalent to The Wall's "Young Lust" and is very good musically. "Open the Gates, Part II" is great, as is "Freak Boy, Part I". "Devil's Got My Throat" is one of the strongest pieces, musically, making one wish perhaps that the devil still had Morse's throat, as the pieces that are supposed to make the listener identify with Morse's message here are mostly slow sappy ballads. At least one-half to two-thirds of this album leans far too heavily on the latter, making this one of Morse-era SB's most difficult to sit through musically (even apart from the preachiness). And at 114 minutes, that is a lot of slow sappy listening. Overall, I can't give this more than 5.4 out of 10, which translates to high 2 PA stars on my 10-point scale, even if I disregard the preachiness of the lyrics/concept. You have to wade through too much sappy music to get the good stuff. Saying this, if you like Morse and his religious message, you will obviously love this album.

 V by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.14 | 735 ratings

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V
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars The best Morse-era SB, despite some failures.

V is the best of the Morse-era SB albums. Really this should not be the case. It suffers from the same problem as Day for Night: too many less-than-musical pieces - and even worse, is saturated with preaching by Neil Morse who had by this time really found religion and wanted to sing about it. But despite all this (or perhaps partly because of the latter) some of the music here is really excellent. But again, this is a polarized album. The song that many think is the best on the album, and the one that represents this album in their greatest hits collection "The First Twenty Years" - the opening track "At the End of the Day" - is for me the worst track on the album. Again, like Day for Night, it ticks all the boxes for what a good progressive rock song should be. But it is (at least for me) just not at all musical. I have tried and tried. It doesn't flow. It contains really un-musical melodies and chord changes, and just seems forced and concocted, obtuse for the sake of obtuse at the sacrifice of real music (and please remember, I am a huge Crimson, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, and Zappa fan, so I usually like obtuse). But thankfully there are some really great tracks on this album which raise it up high. I actually think that this album contains the two best-ever Morse-era SB songs: "Thoughts, part II" and "Revelation", despite the fact that both were written by Morse and related to his religious conversion. "Thoughts part II" is not only musical, the lyrics speak about someone who is contemplating discussing important (to them) issues with a loved one who they know will just not understand. While for Morse such issues were (likely) religious in nature, the way the song is written it could refer to anything, and I think we all have had those same experiences/thoughts/feelings when trying to discus personal matters with others. It really hits home as authentic, and the music is perfect for the song. "Revelation" is of course even more directly related to Morse's religiosity, which would normally turn me off, but this song is just SO musical. It works amazingly well, and thankfully on this album Morse is talking about himself and not seemingly telling others what to think (so the lyrics are, for me, tolerable). The third, and final, track that I really like on this album is the extended 27-min epic "The Great Nothing". Here Morse seems more subdued and ambiguous with his lyrics and singing, which is nice, given so many of the other tracks on this album are just too preachy for me. This epic is great music. Together, "Thoughts II", "Revelation" and "Great Nothing" make up 60 percent of this album, and are such strong tracks they help raise this album up into the 4-star realm, even though the other tracks are weaker. I give this album 8.0 out of 10, which translates in my 10-point scale to 4 PA stars.

 Day For Night by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.25 | 391 ratings

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Day For Night
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

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.

 The Kindness Of Strangers by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.75 | 448 ratings

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The Kindness Of Strangers
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars This album sees SB continue the process, began with "Beware of Darkness" in making their albums more radio-friendly with more shorter and punchier tunes. I actually like this album better than "Beware of Darkness", but I admit they are really very similar in form and style. This begins with one of the best on the album, "The Good Don't Last", a great SB classic. Then come a number of shorter tunes. The best of these is "June", perhaps the only Neil Morse ballad I can actually listen to still. It is in face a lovely tune, and not at all preachy! (although, being Morse, it borders on sappy). "Strange World" and "Cakewalk on Easy Street" are decent, if leaning a bit mainstream. "Flow", which closes the album, is the longest track here, and it is great, almost as good as the long tunes on their debut. The two track I have a harder time with are "Mouth of Madness", which is too mainstream and forgettable, and even more, "Harm's Way", which I don't find sufficiently musical, even though there are some musical sections in it - but the main vocal themes are too sappy sounding for me. After multiple listens, on balance I give this album 7.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translate to 3 PA stars.
 Beware Of Darkness by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 453 ratings

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Beware Of Darkness
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars For their follow-up to The Light, SB focused more on shorter and punchier tunes, and began experimenting with some newer-ish styles, such as the multi-vocal Gentle Giant choral style (on "Thoughts"). This was the album that saw Ryo Okumoto join as the main keyboard player, and he gets some nice solos in. The album is not quite at the same level as "The Light" though. It is not as inventive (despite "Thoughts"), and I find Morse a touch preachier with each passing album. The album opens with a progressive cover of George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness", which works decently, but nothing I would write home about. The best tracks include the wonderful "Thoughts", which even with the choral vocals manages to be quite a diverse and free-flowing tune. The multi-part choral vocals sound remarkably like Gentle Giant, but the rest of the piece is very much SB. "Chataqua" is a beautiful acoustic guitar solo from Alan Morse, and to my mind the best track on the album ? I wish there were more of these on each SB album! "Time has Come" and especially "The Doorway" are also very musical. Meanwhile "Waste Away" is the weakest track. I have to say, I don't find myself putting this one on nearly as much as other Morse-era SB albums though. I give this album 6.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to mid 3 PA stars.
 The Light by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.84 | 594 ratings

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The Light
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Second-Best of the Morse Era.

Here I will review some of the Morse-era SB albums (SB can be broken into three eras, the Neil Morse era, the Nick D'Virgilio era, and the current Ted Leonard era). It is easy to see why SB's debut was so popular. Very tight, interesting complex arrangements, virtuoso playing, yet not at all cold like it could have been, but instead warm and emotional. I think this is the second-best of the Morse era (my favourite of that era is V). Among other things, this album is notable for having every track here listenable, unlike virtually every SB album that would follow (including V), although there are a few sections within each song that are a bit hard to take (such as the FU section of 'The Water'). This album comes before Neil Morse would be born again, and so the lyrics are not nearly as preachy as would come later, although this being Morse, some of the singing is downright sappy, or in the case of the FU section of 'the Water', overly self-indulgent and self-pitying. The best track by far, and still to this day up there among the best SB compositions, is the opening track, 'The Light'. This combines the best of the talents and strengths of SB, but with less emphasis on the weaknesses. 'Go the Way You Go', the second track, doesn't fare quite so well, as half the song borders on skip, but the good parts are enough to sustain it and keep it in the track list. 'The Water' is another great track, although I had to make a tape for the car without the FU section, both because I can hardly stand that section (Morse yelling FU at his parents!), and also/even more because I wanted my kids to like SB (and their parents)! The closer, 'On the Edge' is very decent, a nice end to the album. While this is a bit more raw than subsequent SB albums (which I have to say, is a plus for me), and the sound quality is not as good as later releases (they apparently recorded the whole thing in three days or something), it stands as one of their best. If you don't like Morse's later preaching, you might also prefer the lyrics here. Saying this, it is not a masterpiece. I give this album 7.9 out of 10, which is the minimum needed to garner a 4 PA star rating on my 10-point scale.

 Feel Euphoria by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.27 | 346 ratings

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Feel Euphoria
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars It must have been crisis control mode in Spock's Beard land when charismatic frontman Neal Morse decided to leave the popular crossover prog group in 2002, more or less right at the peak of their ever growing popularity and furthering status as a modern progressive rock group of note. Mr Morse wished to continue to make music fuelled by personal religious beliefs that had become hugely important to him, clearly realising that it wasn't appropriate to present that in the framework of the band (although religious references certainly popped up throughout many spots on their first six albums, with the final Neal-fronted Spock's album `Snow' rife with them!), and his departure left the remaining members with not only having to decide whether to carry on or not, but also leaving them with the unenviable task of having replacing their likeable frontman and key songwriter.

The band must have surely realised they had worked hard at building up their reputation through six albums since the 1995 debut `The Light', so they deserved to be given the chance of proving their worth without Mr Morse. An easy choice was the promotion of insanely talented drummer Nick D'Virgilio to frontman, an engaging vocalist in his own right, having sung plenty of backing vocals and occasionally taken the lead singing himself a few times on their previous albums, as well as on his own solo album `Karma' way back in 2001. The `reboot' of the band also meant an opportunity to shake up and experiment with their existing sound, to play around with a range of styles that perhaps wouldn't have worked so well on their earlier works (helped with the addition of a few close associates of the band assisting with the song-writing), and when `Feel Euphoria' arrived within a year of both Neal's quitting and their previous double album `Snow', it was instantly obvious the new Beard were not simply going to remake their past albums and were full of an emerging inspiration and determination to impress.

`Onomatopoeia' attacks with the force of a mule-kick, an up-tempo ballsy rocking opener that shows the band is all business, the whole track blasted with Alan Morse's strangled guitar aggression, Dave Meros' grumbling mud-thick bass and Nick's D'Virgilio's powerhouse pounding drums. The piece is permeated with a sleek metallic heaviness and a very modern sound, Nick's confident voice laced with more than a bit of a `rock-star' swagger to it, whooping excitedly then roaring the next with ease, but it still finds time for some brief yet lighter acoustic interludes backed to keyboardist Ryo Okumoto's eerie rising Mellotron. The introduction to `The Bottom Line' comes pretty close to the previous version of the band, starting with a super-dooper proggy opening of whirring synth wig-outs, snappy drumming, searing Mellotron veils and a soaring symphonic theme that glides with pride. The track then settles into an eclectic range of melodic vocal-driven passages, always remaining melodic with constantly top-notch multi-tracked silken harmonies from Nick, although the ballad-like reflective finale seems uncomfortably shoe-horned in and is a bit of an anti-climax.

The seven minute title-track `Feel Euphoria' is unexpected and intriguing, sacrificing tunefulness for a slinking electronic danger, tortured heavy guitar wildness and a distorted snarling vocal from Nick. There's almost a skewed jazz-fusion experimentation going on here, and along with frantic ranted rap outbursts and an improvised runaway gnashing tantrum-throwing instrumental finale it's easily one of the strangest and most schizophrenic pieces to appear on a Spock's album to date! The divisive `Shining Star' then proves a nice come-down, an unapologetically romantic and radio- friendly popper with a killer melody, warm inviting chorus and lovely harmonies that should have won the group a whole bunch of new female listeners at the time!

`East of Eden, West of Memphis' may not be the most memorable tune of the album, but the sly rocker purrs with a cool groove, has nice dreamy vocals in the chorus and a jaw-dropping break- neck skittering instrumental burst in the middle. But it's on his first Spock's song-writing credit that bassist Dave Meros delivers the sublime `Ghosts of Autumn', a haunting piano tune that grows in dignity and power with a glorious intelligent chorus, but it's the instrumental stretch in the middle from the three minute point onwards and climax that marks it amongst the very best pieces from the band, with Alan delivering the most soaring of guitar solos alongside Ryo's cascading Mellotron serenity that completely captures the same magic and grace of classic era Genesis. It proves to be one of the greatest moments any version of Spock's Beard has ever committed to disc.

And if we were in the Seventies and the age of vinyl, that would have been the ideal place for `F.E' to wrap up, delivering a strong thirty-eight minute LP that would be easier to give more replays, with a great selection of challenging rock pieces, a couple of compact tunes and just enough grander prog-rock moments.

But the band obviously felt the need to reassure their fans that they still had their `prog' credentials ready to go (although much of the album up to this point already showcased that just fine!), and they delivering a six-part, twenty minute suite `A Guy Named Sid'. Starting with an introduction of twitching electronics, pulsing bass, swirling synth soloing and mysterious guitar chimes all sounding like a James Bond soundtrack meets the Ozric Tentacles, it settles into a grunting Hammond organ-roasted heavy rocker, breaks for some more reflective softer ballad passages flecked with dreamy electric piano, wild and loud percussion-dominated interludes, luscious Gentle Giant-like group vocal complexity and reaching Mellotron-lifted grandiosity to close on. It's perfectly reliable, has (of course) terrific musicianship and improves on repeated listens, but in some ways it comes across as a cut-and-paste/tick-the-prog-boxes epic-by-numbers that doesn't quite have enough in it to warrant being dragged out as long as it is, almost like a bunch of unrelated sketches slung together for the sake of putting together an `epic' that prog fans so often demand. It perhaps seems like an early practice run for the similarly presented (but more inspired and successful) multi- part epics on their next few albums like the `Octane' suite and `As Far as the Mind Can See', but that's discussion for another time...

But it's STILL not over - the ironically titled `Carry On' is a final very Neal Morse-flavoured uplifting pop-ballad with sparkling piano, jangling acoustic guitars and warm group vocals, and there's even a pinch of Beatles-esque orchestral fanfare sprinkled throughout too.

Speaking of carrying on, the disc does just that if you have one of the special editions that adds even more bonus tracks - `Moth of Many Flames' is a throwaway but harmless runaway acoustic rocker performed by Alan Morse that sounds like a one-take demo and has a little bit of a nod to Jethro Tull's `Skating Away' throughout it, but more interesting is Ryo's exquisite `From the Messenger', a pure electronic solo piece in the manner of Tangerine Dream with plenty of the tastiest ambient Mellotron atmospheres. Both would have severely jarred with the rest of the album, but they still perfectly capture the `anything-goes' approach of the recording sessions for the disc!

Although right from the start there were those who never accept this `new Beard', this band of impeccable musicians more than deserved the benefit of the doubt, so the chance that things would turn out fairly well were always pretty high. If anything, `Feel Euphoria' is a far more challenging, experimental and less obviously accessible album to the instantly enjoyable previous double `Snow' that soared with winning commercial vocals and golden harmonies. Yes, it's overlong, darts in endless directions that will likely annoy some listeners and showed the band initially struggling a little with lengthier compositions that their former colleague used to so effortlessly pull together, but it was clearly a group of musicians finding their feet and seeing what worked, something that would continue over the next few Nick-fronted albums to equally inconsistent but highly admirable results. Besides, all the sh*t-hot playing the group is known for was more evident and unrestrained than ever, truly a band giving it their all.

Almost fifteen years later, `Feel Euphoria' remains one of Spock's Beard's most fascinating, unpredictable (perhaps even a little frustrating!) and diverse discs that has only proven its worth more and more since its release.

Four stars.

 The Light by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.84 | 594 ratings

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The Light
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's not always easy to write a fair review of a debut album when you are hearing it 21 years after its release and you already own other later albums by the same band. Already owning "V" and "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep", I recently decided to check out Spock's Beard's 1995 debut because someone mentioned the album's significance in the 1990's prog revival. I noticed a few reviewers pointed out similarities to classic Kansas, but I had already committed myself to getting the album.

I can imagine in 1995 this must have made quite an impression. Very much in the vein of The Flower Kings, this album and band sounded yet another trumpet that it was safe for prog to go back in the water. I personally don't hear Kansas as much in there as I hear, well, Neil Morse era Spock's Beard. Though there are obvious differences between "The Light" and "V", it's very apparent that this is the same band, except that they added Ryo Okamoto on keyboards shortly after this album was released. In fact, I can't help but being reminded of "The Great Nothing" from "V" as I listen to "The Light's" opening title track.

Though this album doesn't include vocal counterpoint and harmony tracks like "Thoughts (Part II)" or "Afterthoughts", the music and songwriting is still very much Spock's Beard and it's quite clear that this band knew where they were going right from the beginning. There is a certain rawness to the guitar sound in particular that was cleaned up later. My image of the music on this album is that of a pair of sneakers that are a little worn and tattered while by "V" they have new shoes which are not only snazzy-looking but a little more expensive too. Some of the song part stitching sounds a little inexperienced once or twice. There are a number of enjoyable parts throughout, but nothing can top the title track as a well-written and performed song. I like the longer track "Water" mostly but the final song from the original album, "On the Edge", slips past my attention namely because I'm not keen on it.

As my second Neil Morse Spock's Beard album, I am not really surprised by anything. It's a fine piece of work for the most part. The vocals are treated a bit roughly in the mix, though I believe this is intended, and not everything is genius, but certainly a worthy album of having in my collection. Also, it has inspired me to consider looking into Spock's Beard more in the coming year. It seems some reviewers have a pretty low opinion of this album. I guess that's partly because the band gets better later. Almost four stars but not quite.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Rune2000 for the last updates

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