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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover

V

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 742 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars <At the end of the day, supper's not ready

The rather unimaginative title of "V" disguises what for me is one of the better Spock's Beard albums. With six tracks in all, the four shorter pieces are book-ended by two magnum opuses (or is that opi?).

The opening track, "At the end of the day" is 16½ minutes of magnificent prog. The track is quite commercially orientated, with a rather catchy chorus. Structurally, it resembles "Close to the edge", especially in respect of the use of the title as the main hook throughout. The brief symphonic opening belies the upbeat nature of the song, which moves through various themes including Chicago like brass, and some Beach Boys multi part harmonies. The softer section followed later by an organ solo further extends the "CTTE" comparison.

The four shorter tracks are adequate, but hardly memorable. "Thoughts" is a rather naïve composition, with soft verses preceding the harsher contradictory punch line. The multi a-cappella vocal section is striking, although the limited vocal capabilities of the band are perhaps better concealed behind their instrumental prowess. This is emphasised further on the rather off-key pop-prog of "All on a Sunday". Likewise "Goodbye to Yesterdays", an older song of Neal Morse's, is not developed to its full potential.

The final track "The great nothing" is a sprawling, multi-sectioned piece, lasting for over 27 minutes. If "At the end of the day" is "Close to the edge", Neal Morse describes "The great nothing" as "Spock's Beard's very own Supper's Ready". That I'm afraid is wishful thinking, as this rambling monstrosity is nowhere near strong enough to justify its extraordinary length. Lyrically it is poor, with children's rhyming such as "Fatter with "matter", Musically, the track plods along, the sections being incoherent and disjointed. There is some good guitar and organ work, but it is lost in the sprawling enormity of the piece.

The digipak version comes with a fine booklet which includes an interview with the band, and detailed sleeve notes. Also included is a brief multi-media section with low quality home movie footage of the band rehearsing the album in various studios.

In all, something of a one track album, but that track, the lengthy "At the end of the day" is one of Spock's Beard's finest pieces.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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