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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover

SNOW

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 623 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The clutching lamb lies down on the wall

"Snow" was the final album Neal Morse recorded with Spock's Beard. He then left with what appeared to be indecent haste before they could promote it properly. It has been compared to "The lamb lies down on Broadway" (Genesis) and "Clutching at straws" (Marillion) in terms of the circumstances of its recording, i.e. the band "leader" dominates his "project", prior to departing.

The album title has nothing to do with weather conditions, but reflects the name of a young man with a slightly albino appearance who moves to New York from the mid-West of the USA, where he discovers he has a special gift which he uses in a positive way.

The concept only came about after a number of the songs had been written, and was used to "tie them together". Further songs were then composed to develop the story resulting in sufficient material for a double album. Lyrically therefore, the album is a mixture of tracks clearly written to tell the story, and stand alone numbers which are superfluous to the tale, but tend to be the stronger ones musically.

It all makes for what should have been a great product, but sadly the most important aspect, the quality of the music, is where this album falls short. Neil Morse is just too dominant here, his decidedly average vocals seemingly being ever present, with far too little in the way of instrumental development. (The "Lamb lies down.." parallels therefore continue!). What instrumental breaks there are, such as the opening track on album 2 ("2nd Overture") are disjointed and haphazard.

At the risk of labouring the point, other "Lamb.." references which struck me were the "Back in NYC" sound of "Welcome to NYC" (coincidence?), which also has Slippermen like vocals, and the "In the cage" like synth solo on "Open Wide The Flood Gates". Was Snow perhaps really drawn to New York to help Rael save his brother John?!

There are of course many pleasing moments on the album, including ELP and Tony Banks like keyboards, soft ballads, and more commercially orientated straight forward rock ("Devil's got my throat"). If the melodies had generally been stronger though, this would have been a far better album, there's simply too much padding. The jazz influences which drift in an out of Spock's Beard's music tend to be stronger than usual in "Snow", which perhaps explains why for me it is slightly disappointing.

In all an enjoyable but rather overblown effort, with wonderful packaging but a shortage of top quality music.

The limited edition, expanded version has a third disc which includes work in progress, studio chat, and demo versions of some of the tracks. It is however worthy of note for the cover of Yes' "South side of the sky", complete with "Perpetual change" introduction.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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