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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 692 ratings

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5 stars If you look at my Last FM charts (at the time of this review) you'd notice that Snow by Spock's Beard has 1615 listens, or I've listened to 1615 songs from this album. If you take a straight average, that translates to listening to all 26 songs on the album 64 or so times each. Yeah, I'm giving it five stars.

Much like Genesis, I discovered Spock's Beard long after their original lead singer had left. Much like Genesis, the last album with the previously mentioned lead singer was a double concept album. Much like Genesis, the concept album is absolutely fantastic.

Neal's last effort with the Beardites showed leanings towards his faith, though it certainly isn't the 'over the top, beat you about the head until you're in a stupor' brand of Christianity that I find detracting.

Snow details the story of an albino kid who can read minds. He travels to New York City and becomes a cult leader. I won't give too much more of the story away but there are parallels to the movie Powder. I always found the choice of the lead character to be an albino to be curious; someone had to have told them of the 'Powder' connection. It wouldn't have detracted from the story to drop that aspect, but I digress.

Musically, the album is fantastic. Made Alive / Overature starts the album out with an indication of what is to come. Stranger in a Strange Land is good but Long Time Suffering is one of the great bits on the album. The chorus sticks with you like the smell of McDonalds fries; the Gentle Giant-esque vocal run is superb. Welcome to NYC is a great little bit of funk followed by the forgettable Love Without Words. Devil's Got My Throat is my personal favorite on this album, all the way from the Deep Purple like opening organ to the second four part a cappella bit of the album, this song rocks.

The album cools off with a trio of mellow tunes that gives the listener a chance to breathe. Wind at my Back is a terribly uplifting song, though the lyrics can be a bit hokey and repetitive, the sentiment and music is very upbeat and energetic.

Disc 2 starts with the appropriately named Second Overture which again, gives a portent of what's to come. 4th of July and I'm the Guy are dark scene setters that match the story. Reflections is a jazzy little number but Carrie is just plain awful, though, it's necessary for the story. Looking for Answers is forgettable as well.

From Freak Boy on, the CD shines with a series of hard hitting, well crafted tunes that wrap up the album beautifully. Freak Boy is in your face soul searching that every one of us goes through; All is Vanity features a great Ryo solo, I'm Dying features another catchy Neal Morse chorus. Freak 2 and Devil's 2 both revisit earlier themes and continue down the roller coaster ride as the album gains more and more momentum. Snow's Night Out is the first of a pair of instrumental bits showcasing the band and continuing the avalanche. Ladies and Gentlemen . . . is Ryo's time to truly shine as the ride increases until. . .

Everything crashes at I Will Go. The bottom of the ride, the emotion and the story as well. I don't mean to say that the song is bad, it's just where the out of control coaster of the previous seven songs finally lets up. The song itself features some great harmonies and is a perfect segue to Made Alive Again / Wind at my Back. The closer of the album revisits two of the earlier uplifting themes and brings the album to a gratifying finale.

When I was first getting into newer prog, I was tooling around iTunes and found a review for Snow in which someone posted that this was the album to start with for Spock's Beard. I'm glad I took their advice because this album renewed my interest in prog with vigor.

Highly recommended.

Roland113 | 5/5 |


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