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


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 666 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Forging new light for Prog

Okay, okay, okay. This album may not be loved by all, but it really was a necessary album. Spock's Beard's debut can easily be seen as one of the albums that re-lit the progressive torch at the dawn of the 90s, and would also be the first time the world heard from the (by now) esteemed composer Neal Morse. It's clear from the album that the band really wanted to make pure progressive music, and that's what they did - something not very common since the end of the 70s. The album contains only 4 songs, and only one of those falls bellow 12 minutes. This is a fairly threatening first listen for some, but the album has enough hooks and excellent parts to pull you in and submerge you into the world of the Beard for an hour and keep you there as a willing hostage.

What's incredible about this album is just how fast the band found their niche. While many bands will have debuts that can be called searching or raw, the Beard knew what they were going to do right off the start. Granted, it does have a bit of a different feel than later albums, this may be due to the fact that they only have one keyboard player on this album or that Neal Morse was still in a point of turmoil in his life, but in general there's no surprises between listening to this album and, say V. Not to say that all their material sounds the same, but their style was distinct right off the bat. A little bit of listener friendly melodies mixed with a heavy dosage of prog (if it were a drug we'd be on the verge of OD here), some hard rock elements and some excellent guitar work blended with strong synths from the Morse brothers. Dave Meros provides an excellent number of bass lines as usual and Nik is his frantic self on the skins.

We're treated right off the top with likely the finest song to ever be recorded by the band. The Light is a tour-de-force of modern prog, starting with a slow intro and blasting right into some heavy synths as the song kicks off. Some strange segments in near the end such as Senor Valasco's Mystic Voodoo Love Dance and The Return of The Horrible Catfish Man add some needed quirk to this composition and while some raise an eyebrow, these parts really do make the song with their abnormal melodies and off-beat charm.

Coming into the end we get another song which may never find it's match in the Beard catalog. On The Edge is a hard rocking, semi-short (6-minutes) and all around fun coda with a strong riff from Alan and some grumbling vocals (surprisingly) from Neal. The final scream of ''ON THE EDGE!!!'' is strong enough to resonate with the listener long after the final chords stop humming. Very well done - it's a shame they didn't do more songs like this (until much later anyways).

In the middle we have another two epic-lengthed tunes. First up is the uplifting Go The Way You Go, in it's typical Beard fashion - lots of guitar and synth interplay with uplifting lyrics, heavy and soft sections and some excellent solos from each member. Of course it's The Water which is going to gain the most attention with it's 23-minute long track listing. This is one of the few Beard songs to actually overtake 20-minutes (the others being The Healing Colors Of Sound and The Great Nothing) and like the others does so gracefully. This song also includes the infamous FU section in which Neal gets out all his angst, but quickly apologizes in the I'm Sorry section, along with some apologies in the remastered liner notes. Honestly Neal - it's okay! The people who go to Spock's Beard to hear some uplifting music will be more than happy to hear that even our muses have their moments away from the sun. Back to the section - the FU section is a surprisingly fun one since it is so heavy and cataclysmic. The beginning and end sections with the harmonized voices singing ''I-iii am the Wa-ter!'' also reach at the audience with a sort of malice which is, ironically, very enjoyable.

While the impact of this album is debatable by some it has to be said that at some point in collection prog you're going to have to listen to this album. It really is essential - 5 Lights out of 5 - a masterpiece of modern progressive music. Although if you're not one for the supposed ''retro prog'' movement this one may not be for you. Although for everyone else this is as recommended as any album can be!

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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