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NICK D'VIRGILIO

Crossover Prog • United States


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Nick D'Virgilio biography
Nicholas "Nick" D'Virgilio - Born November 12, 1968 in Whittier, CA, USA

Nick D'Virgilio is a US born and based composer and musician. As a child he was fascinated by drums, a fascination that became much enhanced after getting a drum kit as a Christmas present at an early age.

He joined his first band at age 15, although at that stage the music itself may now have been the most important aspect of being in a band. That would come later though. After High school he attended the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, at first specializing in drums but later switching to vocals, songwriting and music theory. He kept playing the drums though.

In 1992 he encountered fellow musicians Neal Morse and Al Morse at a blues jam, which was the start of what would eventually become Spock's Beard. One year later he met Kevin Gilbert, and soon became a close associate of him, lasting until Gilbert's passing in 1996. D'Virgilio had worked close enough with Gilbert to take it upon himself to finish his last album, which Gilbert had merely started working on when he passed. And in 2000 this resulted in the album The Shaming of the True.

One year before Gilbert died, Spock's Beard had gotten their major breakthrough with their debut effort The Light, and they were working on their sophomore effort at the time Gilbert passed away. They continued issuing popular titles for the coming years, which kept D'Virgilio rather busy. And besides his mani band, he was also brought in to be the drummer of Tears for Fears in this period, a task he has continued with to this date. At the same time he was also brought in as the drummer for what turned out to be the last studio effort by Genesis, the 1997 production Calling All Stations.

See also: BIG BIG TRAIN

Around 2000 D'Virgilio managed to find the time to assemble a solo album long in the making as well, and in 2001 Karma was issued. Shortly after this band leader Neal Morse left Spock's Beard, and D'Virgilio took over as lead singer. He still has this role to this day, and along with his commitments with Tears for Fears, hooking up with The Mike Keneally Band and a few select side projects - like Rewiring Genesis - his solo production has so far been limited to the one studio effort from 2001, and a live album - Live & Acoustic - issued in 2004...
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NICK D'VIRGILIO discography


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NICK D'VIRGILIO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 17 ratings
Karma
2001
3.25 | 28 ratings
Invisible
2020
3.83 | 13 ratings
D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Troika
2022
3.84 | 19 ratings
D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore
2023

NICK D'VIRGILIO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Live & Acoustic
2004

NICK D'VIRGILIO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NICK D'VIRGILIO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NICK D'VIRGILIO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.19 | 8 ratings
Pieces
2011

NICK D'VIRGILIO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 19 ratings

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D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars As one can see from the title here is the follow-up to the debut from Nick D'Virgilio, Neal Morse and Karl Jennings. Until I was looking through my records I had forgotten I had reviewed 'Troika', and when I re-read the review I had to smile as I had pretty much the same feelings over this one as I did with that. I was again very much reminded of Neal's second solo release, 'It's Not Too Late', while CSN are the main band influence. Triple harmonies are heard throughout, with everyone taking turns in providing the lead. Three singers, three guitarists, two bassists, two keyboard players but just one drummer, it is amazing what sounds can be produced from a trio when everyone is a multi-instrumentalist and a great performer. Last time around the album was recorded separately due to the pandemic but given there is a live in studio video of "The Weary One", I am guessing they were able to be in the same place this time around.

I have been a fan of Morse ever since I came across the original independent release of 'The Light', and then searched for anything to do with Spock's Beard, picking up his album with Nick along the way and always loved the way they harmonised and worked together in concert. Adding Haken's Karl Jennings to the mix is a stroke of genius as the third layer of harmonies takes this to a totally different level. The album has nothing to do with prog, apart from having prog musicians involved, as throughout this has much more of a modern country feel, with The Eagles having an influence here and there, with a series of shorter, wonderfully constructed songs than one would expect from any of their multiple individual projects. While there is plenty of acoustic guitars, we also have some nice crunch here and there, with the different composers all making their presence felt, and overall I think this is a better-balanced album than the debut. Well worthy of investigation from those who enjoy multiple harmonies, country and straightforward rock.

 D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Troika by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.83 | 13 ratings

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D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Troika
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars This project came about with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies, so of course he turned to his old friend Nick D'Virgilio. One must remember that not only have they worked together in bands and on albums, but they have toured Europe together in this format (check out the excellent 'Nick 'n Neal live in Europe - Two Separate Gorillas' release from 2000). They have a relaxed camaraderie, and as soon as this commenced I was reminded of the feeling of Neal's 2001 solo album 'It's Not Too Late', not musically but just with the atmosphere. However, they decided it would be nice to bring in a third voice so they approached Haken's Ross Jennings and collectively pooled their resources, working on each other's material.

Incredibly this, like many albums from this period, was recorded individually as it really does sound as if all three are in the same studio bouncing off each other. The focus is very much on three-way harmonies, a modern taken on CSN if you like, with the three of them not only providing all the harmonies but whatever instrumentation was required. They move through different styles, and while there is little here which could remotely be thought of as prog, even though that is the genre with which they will always be associated, there is no doubt that fans of Spock's Beard "June" will soon get into this. But there are times when I think of The Byrds, CSN, and the other great bands who relied on vocal harmonies like this, but interestingly they have kept the accompaniment complex yet simple, so one never thinks of Steely Dan as this is just too clean and acoustic for this.

While there is no doubt that fans of Spock's Beard and Haken (plus all their other ventures) are going to seek this out, but those who enjoy the classic American vocal harmony rock style also needs to give this is a listen as this is sheer fun throughout

 D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 19 ratings

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D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by AlanB

4 stars If you liked their first album, Troika, you will like this too.

The acoustic feel is still there, as are the wonderful vocal harmonies.

The album consists of four songs by Neal and three each from Nick and Ross. There are also two bonus tracks which are stripped-down versions of two of the Neal Morse songs. If I have one minor criticism it would be that some of the songs written by Neal would have fitted easily on one of his singer-songwriter albums, Songs From November and Life and Times. I would really want this collaboration to take on a different style.

But having said that, this is a great album. The one real rocker, Mama, is in a different league to the two heavier tracks on the previous album. So much more accessible, and it has a brilliant talk box guitar solo in in middle. There is an unusual use of xylophone on Tiny Little Fires too.

I hope this trio go on to make more albums as good as the first two.

 D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 19 ratings

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D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Sophomore
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars The dream team of vocalists (but also terrific multi-instrumentalists) continues their venture with this rather too obviously titled Sophomore release. Nick D'Virgilio and Neal Morse, coming from Spock's Beard, and Ross Jennings, from Haken avoid carefully both the Symphonic and the Metallic flourishes associated with their aforementioned origins, in order to go straight to the melodic core of these folk-tinged compositions, fleshed out in acoustic guitars, vintage synths sounds, fresh retro-sounding percussion throwing back to the golden hippy era, and, last but not least, the crystallyne purity of their voices, evoking the emotional magic of Crosby, Stills & Nash, but with Styx and Kansas oriented overtones, for good measure. And maybe it's that so precise as lovable universe of sonic references what places this record right beside the shortly before released Spooky Action At A Distance, by Pattern-Seeking Animals (at least in my ears and mind).

And it's not the case that these extraordinarily gifted musicians keep always the same tone, because you will find, for example, in track 2, Linger at the Edge of My Memory (great title for a great tune!) a more vaporously elusive atmosphere than in the rest of the album, as well as a harder rocking edge and dense Hammond layering emerges distinctly in track 6, Mama. Nevertheless, one can hear even here a nod to the Rock'n'Roll Man persona of Stephen Stills steaming up in the upper psychedellic register of his tasty blues-rock workouts of yore. And preventing the whole thing from becoming too serious, we also have high-pitched vocal harmonies pointing towards the more ingenuously simple direction of another vocal trio, called America, in track 8, Weighs Me Down (some may even accuse the early Bee Gees, let them talk).

In short, I can hardly imagine a prog-hearted rock fan (or a rock-hearted prog fan?) disliking any of these primorously crafted vignettes of an era that shines here so loaded with splendid ideals and inapprehensible longing one has to look away to be able to finally grasp it with a last glance.

 D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Troika by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.83 | 13 ratings

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D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings: Troika
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by AlanB

4 stars Copied over from a review I wrote on the forum in the "non prog album reviews" thread.

I tried to get this trio added to Progarchives because the three individuals are all prog musicians, but it was deemed not proggy enough. Which is fair, the sound is more Crosby Stills Nash and Young or Simon and Garfunkel, than the usual output of Nick D'Virgilio, Neal Morse, and Ross Jennings.

The idea for this collaboration came together during the covid lockdown, and was at the instigation of Neal Morse, who had wanted to do a more acoustic album for a while. He invited his long-time friend Nick D'Virgilio to come on board, and the trio was completed by Ross Jennings of Haken. Because of covid the album was recorded remotely, making it all more remarkable that the harmonies turned out so well.

So what we have is a collection of pretty much acoustic songs, occasional use of electric guitar and drums, great melodies, fantastic harmonies. Five songs are attributed to Neal, three to Nick, two to Ross, and a final song which appears in two alternative versions, one attributed to Jennings and Morse, and the other just to Jennings.

Track list:

1. Everything I Am (Morse): A bright start with a chorus that sticks in your head

2. Julia (Jennings and Morse): This is the song that also appears in longer form as a bonus track attributed only to Ross Jennings. Ross submitted it to Neal but he didn't feel it fitted the style of the album so he shortened it and tweaked it. The bonus track version is longer and quite different, both versions are excellent.

3. You Set My Soul On Fire (D'Virgilio): Another nice song, though in my opinion not as good as the first two.

4. One Time Less (Morse): Very catchy, bouncy song

5. Another Trip Around The Sun (Jennings): Another catchy tune, Neal's favourite vocal trick of counterpoint vocal lines a la Gentle Giant is used in the middle of this song.

6. A Change Is Gonna Come (Morse): Taking the tempo down now, this is very much in the vein of a 1960s protest song

7. If I Could (D'Virgilio): Yet another catchy tune, nice use of keyboard here (a windkey, whatever that is).

8. King For A Day (Jennings): Probably the heaviest song on the album, and one that it took me a while to get into.

9. Second Hand Sons (Morse): Another heavier track, this one is better than King For A Day. Puts me in mind of Neil Young's "Southern Man" at one point.

10. My Guardian (D'Virgilio): Still a bit on the heavier side, though less so than the previous two songs. Nothing special about this one.

11. What You Leave Behind (Morse): Beautiful song to finish. Acoustic guitar based, great vocal harmonies, lovely message.

I can totally recommend this album to anyone who likes CSNY and similar bands.

 Invisible by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.25 | 28 ratings

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Invisible
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most exciting drummers to come out of the scene in the last 30 years has been Nick D'Virgilio, who of course these days can be found behind the kit for Big Big Train, and while he recorded with Genesis and played with Tears for Fears for many years, for me he will always be the man at the back during the classic years of Spock's Beard. I was fortunate enough to interview him a couple of times during that period, and also saw him with the band on four different occasions, the last time when he had moved to become the frontman following Neal's departure. Now, it must be said I was not a fan of his previous debut solo album, 'Karma', which came out some 20 years ago, and his time as singer with Spock's Beard is probably my least favourite period, but this has nothing to do with his abilities as a singer and drummer, but more with the songs and arrangements he has utilised. There are many bands who would relish having him at the front of the stage, while he is definitely one of the best drummers around today, so what would his new solo album be like?

He has been able to bring in a host of famous guests, and there is no doubt that these guys are all at the top of their field, with the likes of Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Jem Godfrey (Frost*), Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Steve Hackett), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X), Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) and Carl Verheyen (Supertramp) all involved. Although many of the musicians are from a prog background, I would not have necessarily expected a prog album, and indeed that is what has happened with Nick taking the opportunity to work through many different styles of music. His version of ''Money (That's What I Want)' is a strange hybrid of Motown, rock and pop, and we get plenty of ballads and slower numbers in the likes of 'Waiting For No One'. The real issue for me is that it all feels somewhat middle of the road with little in the ways of excitement and real interest. When the songs and arrangements are good then they can be really uplifting, whereas there are plenty of others when it feels quite mundane. I realised it got to the point where I was not looking forward to playing the album repeatedly as it felt more like a chore as opposed to a pleasure, which is not what it should be like at all. It is a positive move from his 2001 release, but there is still a long way to go to make it indispensable.

 Invisible by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.25 | 28 ratings

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Invisible
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars I began acquairing a good measure of taste for Nick's vocals since my first contact with Spock Beard's album "V", and the acquisition is still going on with this one. He owns a strong, clear baritone, yet capable of coming across a fairly wide range. Of course, one cannot appear as a prog reviewer invoking nothing else than a good voice, if really expects to persuade somebody. That's why I have to tell you some good, some bad and some bittersweet news.

Regarding the good, I must emphasize (never enough) the classical sweetness of the orchestral arrangements, particularly in the strings rank. The bill presented by the studio must be justified for sure. Also sweet for the progger's ears must sound the clear Kansas influence imprinted specially in the singing, along with lots of dexterous instrumental interplay.

Now, regarding the bad (for the prog mind, at least), I've detected here a generous portion of Alternative Rock influence, mainly in the form of saturated, angular guitar riffs, and that classic blend of voice and acoustic guitar inherited from folk-rock. Not that I personally had a problem with that, it just doesn't sound like proper prog stuff

┐Prepared for bittersweet? Well, there's a fair share of balladesque material here, check out, for example, tracks 6 "Waiting for no one", and 8 "Where's the passion ?". Besides, midway pops up ... yes, the cover version of "Money (That's what I want)", a song invested with Beatle fame, but in no way progressive.

Still, I like what I heard, but I can't recommend it as addition to a prog collection, just as a very, very good album.

 Karma by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.75 | 17 ratings

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Karma
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

2 stars This is Nick's debut solo album, and he has brought in help from many quarters, including from his day job with the Beard, but has also provided all of the drums and vocals as well as some guitar and keyboards. One is never sure what a solo album from a drummer is going to sound like, even one that can really sing, and the verdict is still out on this one.

Some of the songs are very rhythmic; such as opener, "The River Is Wide" yet also contains good hooks while others just aren't strong enough for one reason or another to be on an album. Nick is one of the best drummers in the business, but he really comes to the fore when playing other people's songs. Probably one for Spock's Beard devotees only.

Originally appeared in Feedback #64, Oct 01

 Pieces by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.19 | 8 ratings

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Pieces
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Nick D'Virgilio, of ... about 20 project's fame, but relatively new to releasing albums under his name directly. He is certainly skilled (one of the best drummers of today's Prog) musician and he handles virtually all instruments here, except the third of five (7 of 9 anyone?), which is a shame, because it's the best one, the one that sounds fullest, most lively, filled with fine sounds, which is a strange thing, because other songs doesn't lack anything in particular, but they limp behind it. Others gets a little bit close to Kevin Gilbert's work, but not so much. And average album.
 Karma by D'VIRGILIO, NICK album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.75 | 17 ratings

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Karma
Nick D'Virgilio Crossover Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Shortly after the new millennium took its turn I was pretty much into Spocks Beard and noticed back then some of their members made solo releases. Well, Neal Morse wasn't really a big surprise because he was they great songwriter of the band but Ryo Okumoto and mr. D'Virgilio were more unexpected to me for I didn't really expect these qualities with these guys.

If I look back at the three members and their solo efforts I have to say mr. Morse is by far the outstanding songwriter and the keyboardist and drummer have delivered some nice work with their respective solo albums Coming Through and this release Karma. Okumoto took the heavier road with his effort but D'Virgilio has chosen more middle of the road kind of approach with Karma. Real songs (instead of complex compositions) with prominent vocals and less important instrumental bits and pieces is what I notice most when I compare and have to describe this album.

Solid songs for sure but nothing mindblowing is another conclusion after hearing the whole album once more. The vocals are really good but the compositions are hardly prog I'm afraid which is also proven by the average length of the songs. Ok, not really the only element to call something prog or not but it's a significant feature of most prog in history. And the songs are quite straightforward, sounding a bit like a calmer version of Black Crowes or Live for instance.

It's just the final multi layered song Paying the Price clocking almost 19 minutes that can be called progressive in many senses. But all in all that's not really enough if you ask me. Like I said, a solid release but nothing really to go overboard about. The only outcome can be 3 stars for me because of all the mentioned aspects. Maybe slightly rounded down but it's the best I can do. Nick's drumming and singing are the definite highlights and if you are interested you could go for this release but it's not highly recommended for everyone I dare to state. It could be nice for Beatles fans or probably people who like the Van Morrison approach.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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