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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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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars All of this in one man

With debut albums, it seems to always be a hit or miss success. Sadly, many of the great bands in prog history have sadly mediocre debut albums. Whether it is poor compositions, amateur instrumentation, or the real killer, poor production quality, too many debuts go down in history as rather poor. Occasionally, however, some bands are able to present a fantastic introduction to their music. Spock's Beard, one of the early bands in the modern symphonic movement, can easily lay claim to this honor. The Light contains four tracks (five in the re-issue) of pure prog greatness, with countless dynamics and quickly shifting parts and movements of the two lengthy epics. Even early on, Spock's Beard is able to display their fantastic sound, their promising potential, and their obvious destiny of going down as one of the modern greats.

The Light opens the album with a mellow (and a bit cheesy-sounding) piano/vocal piece, titled "The Dream," with some really nice atmospheres made by Morse's keyboard work, as well as some great melodies. The song quickly shifts into "One Man," a rocking symphonic prog masterpiece, with some fantastic harmonies between each of the instruments and some extremely memorable lines of vocal melody, lyrics, and instrumental grace. The eerie "Garden People" comes next, with some mellow melodic passages transitioning in and out of rocking sections, making for another fantastic movement of this track. "Looking Straight Into the Light" is the final movement of the song, which is comprised of various sections. The instrumental section of this part is really the best feature of the whole song, with some sublime pieces of music given by these guys. Within thee is a much more mellow passage, as well as some nice transitions into rocking section before transitioning into "Seņor Valasco's Mystic Voodoo Love Dance," a fantastic new dynamic for the band, bringing some Latin fusion into the music, as well as some really great lyrics. The song closes with "The Return of the Horrible Catfish Man" and a reprise of "The Dream," which ties up this stupendous track fantastically. Overall, this debut track of this debut album is spectacular. It really shows the whole sound of Spock's Beard in one song, making it a beautiful addition to this album.

Go The Way You Go continues the theme of great dynamic symphonic prog music, with some really cool riffing and harmonies between the parts even in the heavy intro. The song takes no trouble in swiftly transitioning into a jovial melodic piece, before then again transitioning into a heavy distorted amalgam of incredible prog rock. Once the vocal melodies start, you can see how obviously diverse this music truly is. The song shows its true self as an overall rather happy song, with some really pleasant vocals and sincere instrumentation. The track, although not as movement-centric as The Light still contains numerous themes to contend with, as well as some really fantastic moments. Overall, the track contributes another tasty 12 minutes to this album, and continues to show the band's amazing compositional prowess.

The Water is the massive 23-minuter of the album. Opening with some really great contrast between Morse's mellow piano work and More's crunching guitar riffs, it soon transitions into a swiftly rocking symphonic prog masterpiece. Again split into multiple movements, the song contains countless theme changes and incredible progressive dynamics and transitions. With howling guitar solos and growling rhythmic backings, the song has some of the album's better instrumental moments, as well as some rather interesting lyrics, including the rather expletive-riddled movement "F**k You" and the odd (and somewhat detractingly cheesy) comeback of "I'm Sorry." Overall, however, the song is easily my favorite on the album. It is filled with some of the better Beard moments, although moments on V and other albums still trump it, it is certainly quite the achievement to have so many memorable moments even on the debut album. In the end, the track is spectacular, and an obvious necessity in any Beard collection.

After the three spectacular tracks preceding this track, On the Edge seems almost arbitrary to be included. A scant six minutes in comparison to the rest of the album, the band is still to shove another 6 minutes of incredible music into this album. A suitable closer for the album, the lyrics could easily symbolize the risks the band took in producing a debut prog album all by themselves with no help by a label in an attempt to succeed in a music business that seemed to be dying ? and yet they succeeded. Musically, the song contains some really fantastic moments, riffs, and other tidbits, making a fourth incredible track on this album?and closing the album with a motivating and uplifting feel.

ALBUM OVERALL: For a debut, this album is near perfection. There still remain the very minor flaws of amateur production, some slightly cheesy synth voices, and other extremely minor defects to this album, but overall this album is damn good. The four compositions are incredible, showing the band's new twist on the symphonic sound and their ambitious foray into the world of progressive music. Spock's Beard is now a well-established powerhouse in the world of prog, and this album no doubt helped this status album. 4+ stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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