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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 810 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of those love/hate albums that I choose to love...just not enough for a masterpiece. From the cool cover art to the twin epics, this album has enough solid prog for a four star rating.

At the End of the Day. When the synths are tastefully selected, the dual keyboard sound of Morse and Okumoto is though to beat, and just about everything about this song is tasteful to my ears. Fabulous intro: well-paced, interesting arrangements, and lively. The majestic mellotron-ish section is obviously influenced by Yes' And You and I (but not a total rip-off), and the spanish section works for me as well. The mellow mid-section can get a bit boring, but the jam that follows is great: cool synth and organ flourishes, with the drums and bass being very distinguished. It all concludes with a nicely done refrain and fade-out. I love the production, though be warned: this song is VERY catchy, and like all catchy tunes can get old with overplay.

Revelation. Slow and kind of grungy--not my style, but listenable nonetheless.

Thoughts, Part II. There is a lot of creativity in these short five minutes: voilin harmonies, Neal's trademark vocal rounds, and a cool jam in the middle. I especially enjoy the bass in this tune.

All on a Sunday. Bubble gum pop. One listen is more than enough. The pop influences in Neal's style here are not enjoyable.

Goodbye to Yesterday. A mellow tune that attempts to be dreamy and reminiscent. Not bad, though no highlight.

The Great Nothing. Right from the beginning, you know the Beard is not holding back. No doubt the blaring synth vocal choirs at the start are tacky and rediculous, though it's different enough that I love it. The song then goes into a groove that reminds me of Yes' Heart of the Sunrise, though a bit more restrained. I'm not a huge fan of Alan's guitar, but I really like his contributions to this song--there are many instances of entertaining and creative keyboard/guitar interplay. This epic closes with a few refrains from earlier (though with cool additions), a quick chorus, and then an inspired guitar/keyboard final groove. This is one of my top ten epics--no really annoying parts, lots of nicely woven (but not overly extended) jams and instrumentals, great tunes and variations on themes, and a remarkable build for the finale.

Basically, the bookend epics are the highlights and worth the purchase. They convinced me to dig into Neal's solo works (something I'm quite glad I did). This is somewhat derivative and poppy (from a prog perspective), but there's enough creativity, musical talent, and structure to make this a solid four-star. A must for fans of well-produced, keyboard-heavy, symphonic prog.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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