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Spock's Beard - The First Twenty Years CD (album) cover

THE FIRST TWENTY YEARS

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

4.44 | 33 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Without a doubt, Spock's Beard from California is one of the very biggest prog bands of the modern era, whether measured by the pure artistic achievements or by the commercial success. The 1995 debut album The Light was a bold, uncompromised set of epic symphonic prog at the time when the prog genre was gradually making its return. Each further album, the next two released in 1996 and the fourth one Day for Night in 1999, convinced the listeners of the band's strong personal style that in addition to the YES-like symphonic orientation has complexity comparable to Gentle Giant, but also an AOR-related catchy side to it all, plus the fine. e use of vocal harmonies.

The most notable individual figure in the SB history, keyboardist-vocalist Neal Morse left the band after the conceptual double album Snow (2002) and continued to write and perform ambitious prog under his own name and in the supergroup Transatlantic. But Spock's Beard put their drummer Nick D'Virgilio as the new frontman and soldiered on. Later entered yet another vocalist Ted Leonard from Enchant. For this 2CD+DVD compilation all members past and present contributed to the new epic, nearly 20-minute track 'Falling for Forever'. This Neal Morse composition with three different lead vocals has everything one expects from SB.

The two long discs contain well chosen tracks (1 or 2 per album) from each SB studio album up to The Oblivion Particle (2015). When you look at the lengths -- many of which are well over ten minutes -- it's obvious that we're not talking of a radio-friendly Greatest Hits kind of compilation to lure more casual listeners. Instead this is an unashamed celebration of progressive rock from the mid-90's to 2015, and a good, chronological representation of SB's career.

My favourites include the epic 'At the End of the Day' (from V, 2000) and the emotionally powerful 'Solitary Soul' from Snow.The post-Neal albums are represented equally, and I think that's a wise approach, regardless of how much the listener may see Neal's era as the halcyon days.

The DVD is in comparison the less easily consumed part of this set. It contains at times rather low-fi live performances from the 90's and interviews in which the members look back at the band's history. As usual, there are no subtitles. I felt this retrospective a bit tiring to view. A die-hard fan nevertheless will get a lot out of it, I suppose. To whom is this compilation aimed at? A dedicated fan will already have most of the material on the CD's (no previously unreleased pieces, rarities or remixes here, not that I would want them either), but the DVD and the new epic made for this set will seduce the fans. With a nice lay-out featuring the album covers and an essay written by Dave Ling of Classic Rock Magazine, this set functions as an introduction or as a picture-widener to a prog listener who's familiar with just some of the original albums.

Matti | 4/5 |

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