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Spock's Beard - The Light CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 682 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Seeing as I've been curiously playing Neal Morse's "Momentum" on repeat over and over again, I felt it necessary to revisit his back catalog of music, starting, unsurprisingly, at Genesis, "The Light".

I still find it odd to this day that this was a record released in 1995. The opening track shows little evidence of its age. Perhaps the studio quality could've been a lot finer. Neal's voice at the 2:30 mark feels a bit muddled. Then again, I'm sure that was the point, but I still feel the quality could've been improved. A lot of synth stylings here also definitely hint at a bit of an 80's sound. That's not necessarily a bad thing, merely an observation.

Still, despite the obvious age of this 15 minute goliath, it's still a very enjoyable track. The melodies laid down by Alan are absolutely unique unto themselves. The way this outfit just picks up and moves into a different direction instantly is baffling to me. If you weren't paying attention half the time, you'd figure you were listening to about 5 different songs, when in reality, the song never changed. Honestly, the song goes through so many changes, it's nigh impossible to state them all. In short, this may be the first song of Spock's first album, but it's a doozy, and one of my absolute favorites.

"Go The Way You Go" is a bit of a misfit to me. Even in the intro, the song snakes back and forth between chaotic chords and playful little melodies. Right from the get-go, though, the quality sounds much better here. Right up to the moment where the entire band cuts out to go to Neal and the guitar melody. It feels a bit, I don't know, cut-and-pasted together. That said, the chorus is catchy and enjoyable. It's not a bad song, but the main reason why it's not one of my favorites is because Neal seemed to take a lot of liberties with the vocal line, and as such, the transitions seem to be abrupt and not totally smooth, same with the rest of the band. It doesn't feel as smooth connected as "The Light". The licks just don't flow smoothly into the next phrase, the key signatures just don't match up half the time.

And, I'm sorry, I'm all for the crowd noises. But that sample just sounded way too cheesy.

Still, the jams in the middle were nice. And that's always nice.

Still, in terms of length, neither of these two tracks can stand up to the 23-minute length that is "The Water". Again, from the intro, I hear no real quality issues. You'd never be able to tell how old it was if you didn't know when it was released. Until the 2 minute mark. The bell chords are decidedly 80's-ish. Still, Neal's harsh tone of voice pulls it back into 1995, while the guitar licks sound eerily 70's Pink Floyd-ish (a mash of generational sounds here). Even the female chorus sounds like it came straight out of Pink Floyd's repertoire.

Not like that's a problem though. This is, quite simply, an epic track. It's one of those you just can't listen to everyday. You have to make an occasion for it, put some time off to just encompass those 23 minutes. The songwriting is epic, you can just tell these guys worked their tails off to put this piece together. The transition (unlike the ones from "Go The Way You Go") from the bluesy ballad to Neal's "f*ck you" rant is seamless. The whole song, really, is just expertly put together, a memorable song and one of the prog greats.

"On The Edge" feels like a misfit as well. The shortest track (at ONLY 6 minutes), it's not a really great intro. There's a sense that it was quickly cobbled together to form a quick B-side track, if you will. This song definitely feels its age here. Yes, the chorus is catchy, but it definitely feels like a dated track today, and as such, it's just a bit cheesy. No fault of the Morse brothers and the rest of Spock, though. This was the sound of 90's prog, as the new age of prog was still in its infancy.

VERDICT: "The Light" and "The Water" just don't feel dated, though. They just feel better, like all those melodies and phrases were just made to be together, like puzzle pieces, and as such, you should buy this album for those two alone. Granted, the two best tracks are also the two longest ones, but that's not to say the other two are bad. They're just not in the same sentence as the former two. And, of course, throughout the record there are a few reminders that this was an album made in the 90's, where hints of the wretched 80's-pop war machine are still present. All aside, though, this is a must for any Spock fan, and a great album for anyone looking for past classics of melodic prog.

Wicket | 4/5 |


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