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Spock's Beard - The Kindness Of Strangers CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 480 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I have never done a Spock's Beard review before, I had only ever heard two or three tracks by them, (June, from this album, being one of them,) before three days ago. I knew they were held in high regard by some, and slagged off by others. I, of course, waited to hear an album before I could give an opinion of my own. Then, a friend of mine lent me this three days ago, not passing any comment as he did so. My first impressions, after playing it six times so far, is that this band is neither brilliant, nor crap. To me, they are almost a straightforward rock band, but one with a penchant for lengthy improvisation at times. The singer, Neal Morse I believe, has a quite annoying voice at times, and lyrically they are not very strong, quite predictable in fact. I believe Morse has left the band now, and it would be interesting to hear them without him. The other thing that lets this album down, is the guitar playing. Too loud, too predictably heavy in parts, and too modern sounding. Nevertheless, at times, when it is quieter and more fluid, it can be effective; the fade out on the last track is very nice indeed. The bass player is adequate, sounding at times like another 'Squire wannabee', but not in the same class as, say, Reingold or Babb. Drums are decent, and keyboards are impressive at times. Going quickly through the tracks, the opener, in three parts, is one of the better tracks, with nice interludes and mood changes, almost sounding like The Flower Kings at times, (although this band is nowhere near their league!) 'In The Mouth Of Madness' isn't bad either, a more straightforward piece, with a quite aggressive verse, but nice melodic chorus. 'Cakewalk On Easy Street' is not as good, lacking somewhat in melody, and sounding like a track they used to fill out the album. Too rocky and predictable for me. The aforementioned 'June' is a strange one to have here. This doesn't sound like anything else on the album. It doesn't really fit in, although the song itself is pleasant enough, being a quieter, more acoustic effort, with decent harmonies and a strong melody. Could almost be an Eagles track. 'Strange World' is another of those too straightforward rocky pieces for me. Nothing actually wrong with it, but not very prog, and not to my taste. Average. However, the last two tracks on here are undoubtedly the best. 'Harm's Way' is excellent, with a good melody and catchy chorus, nicely balanced with subtle touches to counterbalance the more aggressive verse. And then we have the last track, the three parter, 'Flow', which is very good actually. Three distinct movements, with the first part being refrained at the end of the third. A nice piece this with a memorably melodic ending, and, if the rest of the album had matched this, it would have got four stars from me. As it is, it gets three. Not a weak album by any means, but not different enough for me.
chessman | 3/5 |


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