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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 809 ratings

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4 stars Two words: Neal Morse. Why isn't this guy a household name? Spock's Beard was one of those bands that I wished I'd discovered earlier. Speaking with a fellow prog friend of mine, every time he mentioned SB I would think to myself, "Man, that's the dumbest name for a band that I've ever heard!" He was pretty persistent in introducing them to me because he was 100% confident that I'd latch on to Spock's, given my music tastes.

I bought this together with Snow about 2 1/2 years ago and both are probably my favorite Beard discs. V not only has prog influences, but you can also hear some of Neal's punk years with songs like "Thoughts (Part II)" and "Revelation". Both have less a prog feel to these ears, and more a harder edged sound; whereas, "All On A Sunday" is a bit more poppish like a Styx tune, with some fine organ and drumming by Nick D'Virgilio. As much as I like Spock's Beard, however, the more I wish there was a different guitarist. I've just never been a fan of Alan Morse's effects and little sounds. I think he relies more on them than just being a good, sound guitarist. He's quite capable, too. The solo on "She Is Everything" from Octane is amazing and the best solo I've ever heard him execute. Unfortunately, a drop-your-jaw solo by Morse is few and far between. Not like Marillion's Steve Rothery who relies less on trying to be flashy, and more on actually making an impact with a solo (refer to "The Great Escape", "Easter", or "This Strange Engine").

The songs that bookend V are nothing short of amazing, though. The album kicks off with "At The End Of The Day", which is jump started by Dave Meros and Nick D'Virgilio doing a nice little intro before the band just explodes and Neal comes in with his amazing vocals. "The Great Nothing" could be SB's masterpiece, though. So many different moods and time changes powered through with such aggression, and then pulled back in with a little tenderness. The ending never ceases to make the hairs stand on end. And if you've ever seen The Making Of V, you know that Morse had a tough time making it through the triumphant ending without breaking down. One of the best endings to a song I've ever heard.

I am still following Spock's Beard and have enjoyed the post-Neal Morse efforts of Feel Euphoria and Octane. That said, however, a piece of their heart and soul left when Neal left. The music is still very good, but there's a void. To me, Neal Morse was Spock's Beard.

E-Dub | 4/5 |


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