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Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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Spock's Beard The Light album cover
3.88 | 716 ratings | 83 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Light (15:33) :
- a) The Dream
- b) One Man
- c) Garden People
- d) Looking Straight into the Light
- e) The Man in the Mountain
- f) Senor Valasco's Mystic Voodoo Love Dance
- g) The Return of the Horrible Catfish Man
- h) The Dream
2. Go the Way You Go (12:03)
3. The Water (23:14) :
- a) Introduction / The Water
- b) When It All Goes to Hell
- c) A Thief in the Night
- d) FU / I'm Sorry
- e) The Water (revisited)
- f) Runnin' the Race
- g) Reach for the Sky
4. On the Edge (6:11)

Total Time 57:01

Bonus track on 2004 remaster:
5. The Light (home demo) (15:18)

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / lead vocals, Mellotron, Hammond organ, keyboards, acoustic & electric guitars, co-arranger & co-producer
- Alan Morse / lead electric guitar, cello, Mellotron, vocals
- Dave Meros / bass, French horn
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums & percussion, vocals

- Molly Pasutti / backing vocals (3)
- Wanda Houston / backing vocals (3)

Releases information

CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14181-2 (1995, US)
CD Giant Electric Pea ‎- GEPCD1017 (1996, Europe) Different cover art
CD Radiant Records ‎- 3984-14494-2 (2004, US) Remastered by Ken Love with a bonus track
CD Inside Out Music ‎- TACS 001 (2004, Germany) 'The Artwork Collector's Series' in a special 7" sized cover and include a poster and postcards (strictly limited and numbered to only 3000 copies)

2LP Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLP 160 (2012, Germany) Remastered by Ken Love

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SPOCK'S BEARD The Light ratings distribution

(716 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

SPOCK'S BEARD The Light reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars This is one of the best debut albums ever made by a progressive rock group. SPOCK'S BEARD from California, USA, is already with their first release a full-grown and matured band, and "The Light" don't have any weak moments at all. Three of the four tracks are passing 12 minutes. I really love long tracks when they aren't suffering in quality because of their length. Another great thing is that they use the great Mellotron and Hammond organ. A great combination indeed! The most obvious band influence is GENTLE GIANT without being a clone. There's also traces of BEATLES, GENESIS, YES, KANSAS and PINK FLOYD. They are skilled musicians with Neal MORSE being a great singer too. The music that is progressive symphonic rock, are very complex and intrigued, but it has got a lot of strong melodies and rich vocal harmonies too. It can be rather tiring when musicians obviously are trying to show of their technically musical skills, and just forget about the melody and to make an all in all good song. SPOCK'S BEARD has got the technically brilliance but also the capability to write memorably melodies. That's good! This is challenging and dramatic progressive music that will grow on you with its many emotion, mood and atmosphere changes. I recommend it to all lovers of complex symphonic prog. This is a good investment to your CD collection.
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars At the time , I had gotten excited at it like most people but today I wonder why. I suppose this was the novelty of a US band with a different sound as the Magna Carta standard , but this is still with a huge sound obviously influenced by that ever important Leftoverture album from Kansas mixed in with some Gentle Giant and Yes.

As I said above at first listen SB is interesting and can get your enthusiasm up (maybe a bit too much), but with repeated listenings, this gradually wears off and you find that their influences are a bity too evident, and actually stops them from having their own sound.

Count 2.5 stars, tops

Review by loserboy
5 stars This is one of the best '90's prog acts going today for obvious reasons. You will find lots of great keyboard work woven with grand bass and guitar moments making all prog heads drool with delight. Each delicious song is nice and long, allowing the semi-psychedelic ideas to groove nicely. Neil Morse's vocals are superb and the group add nice harmonies making "The Light" a very strong vocal recording. The album is very well produced and has a slight underground feel to it with no apparent concern for pop culture. Highly recommended!
Review by lor68
4 stars Apart from some common places and a few derivative parts in the vein of GENESIS (period regarding the album "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"), which make this album deserve-in some circumstances only- a "3 stars score" maximum (in the average between so many "clone-bands"), this suite is stunning and with a great impact on the European crowd of such Prog-Fans. It's very personal, even though in some circumstances the sound is easier and most accessible. The start is that one of an unforgettable band, then the tension doesn't increase, but they prosecute to alternate excellent solos with some odd time signatures in the final mini-suite and - for this reason - the output is memorable. The suite is always a must have, also during their performances live on stage.


Review by maani
4 stars [N.B. Greger and I don't agree on much. However, I completely agree with his review of this album, which you should read.] Like King Crimson and Gentle Giant - and precious few other prog bands - Spock's Beard "sprang full-grown from the head of Zeus." I agree with some of my colleagues that this is among the best debut albums by any band in any genre. / Although there are influences - Gentle Giant (though I don't hear it as much as Greger does), Kansas (though I don't hear nearly as much as Hughes does), Yes (a little), Floyd (a little), Genesis (a little), and even a bit of Supertramp (which is not an insult) - SB filters those influences beautifully to create something new and often exciting, if not always successful or compelling. [N.B. Contrary to other reviews, the Genesis influence I hear does not come from The Lamb, but rather from the ATTWT/Duke period. Indeed, I continue to be absolutely stunned at how influential the "sound" on ATTWT was on later prog bands.] And although the band uses some fairly standard chord progressions in the verses and choruses, they use them well, and the "jam" sections flow beautifully in odd progressions and shifting time signatures. / Have you ever had an extended dream that moved from "sequence" to "sequence," but you couldn't quite "hold" the "segues," and none of the sequences seemed to have anything to do with each other? "The Light" is such a dream sequence, brilliantly set to music, and is one of the best opening tracks of any prog album I know. [As an aside, the main theme of "Senor Velasco" sounds suspiciously like "Aint Nobody," the latin-based 70s hit song by Chaka Khan. Go figure!] "Go The Way You Go" has some very nice prog bits, but is not quite as successful as the other tracks. (The last three minutes or so are "lifted" (gently) from something on Genesis' "Duke".) "The Water" is the third lengthy composition - as cohesive as "The Light," and equally good, with lots of good to excellent prog bits. Among the best sections are: "When all goes to hell," which has some serious Floydian touches, from the organ to the guitar, from the rhythm to the female chorus of "oohs"; "FU/I'm Sorry" which (although the lyrics offended my "ministerial" ears...) is one of the most compelling sections on the entire album; and "Runnin The Race," which has an interesting Steely Dan feel to it. The final track, "On The Edge," is a good, solid prog song. / As others have noted, Morse's vocals are not only excellent, and integral to the music, but help to keep the entire thing together. (And you can clearly hear Morse's influence on Transatlantic's music.) [N.B. Something about Morse's approach here makes me think of a latter-day Brian Wilson. Don't ask me why...] / It is extremely rare that I give four stars to a debut album, especially by a band I've never heard before. However, despite some minor criticisms and misgivings, I give this four stars not only for the creativity involved, but because the album truly is "an excellent addition to any prog collection."
Review by Menswear
3 stars I'm actually speechless. Not by the record, but by my reactions. Am I the only one thinking this is not the real mckoy? I've heard so, so many comments on how superior this record is. Well, I'm disappointed. I've heard too much and my expectations were...well...I tought they were prog-messiahs. But, listening a lot to it and trying to figure myself back in 1995 (I was listening to Bristish-pop at that time...Blur, Oasis, Supergrass, Pulp, Elastica, Menswear, Echobelly and Sleeper) made me realize that the stuff was seriously refreshing. I mean, the influences are there but Neal Morse has a cool rocker voice and the pace is agressive at times and relatively fast. But, once again at that time, I already knew Images and Words from Dream Theater and The Light doesn't matches it (and I'd be still not blowed). Echolyn does it better. Except in one category....noisyness. Morse has the knack to make his songs VERY noisy and distorded at times. A little break of noise here and there is great innovation. Alan Morse's guitar make me think of Joey Santiago's in the Pixies. Big distortion breaks and telephone-like voices. A bit of Sonic Youth also, for the distortion noises. But somebody's got to do something for the lyrics. I know Morse's a VERY religious person, he should be more aware of what he writes. Man those lyrics blow serious chunks. The funniest one: "I am senior Valasco, I drink my milk with tabasco....". Made me laugh out loud. Great sense of humor or he has exceptionnaly nothing to say (maybe a relative of J-Kwon?). I vote for the sense of humor. But I'm not laughing when it comes to free obscenity. The FU song really made me shake my head in disapproving. I don't wanna be the local Flanders, but there is some other ways to express feelings than using poisonous insults. Anyway, a great album to explore and to see that America, against all odds, knows good prog.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I instantly liked SPOCK'S BEARD- a modern but mature and distinctive take on the prog sound who seems to have a bit of fun with it all (a lot of prog albums are so unflinchingly serious). This is neither difficult prog nor saccharine pop prog; like ECHOLYN they find brand new ways to interpret the genre, but in contrast SPOCK'S BEARD has a bluesy, groovy, funky feel to bring to the table.

"The Light" is a convoluted but organic and energetic sonic journey through big synth fanfares, playful piano-accompanied narratives, flamenco-tinted caricatures, a brief party, a nicely abrasive distorted vocal verse, and even a chorus section which reminds me pleasantly of CHICAGO. The more unified "Go the Way You Go" has ties to classic rock anthems, but throws in left turns with intricate instrumental breaks and some exhilarating organ and guitar interplay. The pointedly tongue-in-cheek "The Water" has a lot of FLOYD groove-and-gospel, but also a bit of 'primal scream Lennon-meets-Trent Reznor' venting (where Neil gets to say "[%*!#]" more than anyone else in prog, except maybe ZAPPA), and even a tiny bit of country-rock harmony. "On the Edge" begins with a GENESIS piano arpeggio and then blasts off with aggresive, infectious energy (and am I crazy or does Neil sound a little like Jeff Lynne here?) to close the album with a barnstormer.

Besides an affinity for YES, they seem to have more KANSAS influence than I'm used to seeing in the new crop of bands, but that may be due to the big open-air production quality (I can see where a live show would be ideal). Neil Morse has a very distinctive voice- more soulful and ragged than I've come to expect in prog. Lyric-wise, I don't know what to make of it all; I hear sometimes an ingenuous prodigy like early Jon Anderson, an allegorical fancy like very early Bolan and Bowie, but also an ironic prankster like Zappa...but I'm probably reading too much into it. Among the other excellent instrumental performances, the bass playing is some of the best I've heard since "Close to the Edge- in the raspy fuzz if nothing else you can hear the Squire influence throughout.

On the downside, infrequently the songs seem strung together from unrelated parts- there's not always a logic to adjacent passages (probably due to the Canterbury influence). And it can feel pretty indulgent at times, but in an almost self-deprecating way, and definitely no more indulgent than the majority of prog albums, even many classics. But it does so many things so well and so distinctively (and on a debut no less) that I'm almost having a tough time NOT giving it five stars, because this is really the cream of the modern crop.

Review by penguindf12
4 stars Sorry, I've had to drop the star rating from 5 to 4. It's just not as good as I origninally thought.

The BEARD's debut album begins with the 15 minute title track, divided into movements. It is by far my favorite song on the album, with classic progressive shifting time signatures, changing themes, and, of course, the fact that it is divided into movements.The beginning movement is "The Dream", and it sounds sort of Disneyesque. It is a short piano piece, with fantasy-type vocals over it and an, of course, dreamy feel. A short sort of overture follows, simply amazing. Better than anything I could've hoped for, which leads into "One Man." The overture section is practically vaccuumed up into a thudding piano background. "One Man" is another excellent movement with "21st Century Schizoid Man" type vocals at first, giving way to the overlapping chorus. Then it "comes down" to "Garden People," a psychadelic interlude broken up by a gutar at intervals. Then it grows into "Looking Straight into the Light", a very nice section with what sounds like an electric violin or very distorted guitar. After this, "The Man in the Mountain" interrupts the loudness to bring us down to earth. It is very lonely, but soon leads into a sort of story ending with...a party!? Some decidedly out-of-place Mexican guitar strumming enters as does the refreshing "Senor Volasco..." movement. This soon gives way to the crunching "Return of the Catfishman" and its unpleasant (but by no means bad) vocals. This is followed by a reprise of the "One Man" chorus and finally a reprise of "The Dream."

Following this amazing song is "Go the Way You Go." It is a softer song at points, but then soaring and clashing. Although it is not divided into movements as the previous songs are, it shifts themes throughout its 12 minute running time just the same. I used to dismiss this song because of its incoherence and lyrical pointlessness, but now I realize it deserves just as much recognition as the other songs.

"The Water" is another good song, it has the most comprehensive lyrics of all the songs. The title movement reminds me of "The Thin Ice" on PINK FLOYD's "The Wall." Then it dips into "When it all Goes to Hell," an angry sort of bass theme, which goes even lower into the brooding bluesy/Floydian/gospel-backed "Thief in the Night." All of them very good. Then an angry sort of blaming threat, and some brewing reverse sounds, and we have reached "FU!!" This song doesn't offend me nearly as much as I thought it would. It is merely the song's protagonist's hateful rant, but at least it is a musically planned rant. Actually a good song which is not entirely out of place in a prog album. The "I'm Sorry" part completely reverses all that was said in the last part, and does so with a folksy guitar backing it. "Runnin' the Race" follows a quick reprise of the original theme, a fast-paced, brighter version of the "When it all Goes to Hell." Then it closes out with "Reach for the Sky," a nice ending for the 20 minute opus. I've noticed that this song and the following song have better lyrics than the first two, which seem to have lyrics there just for effect as they certainly have no point.

Then we have "On the Edge," a shorter, edgy, psychadelic piece. Very ambient, but again it pales in comparison to the longer tracks. Still worth many listens, however.

In conclusion, it's a good introduction to neo-prog/symphonic rock of the 90s. If all you've heard of prog is 70s material, get this. If you don't mind the explicit lyrics on track 3, of course. But it pales in comparison to other new prog I've heard recently, and that's why it's only 4 stars.

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars THE LIGHT, the 1995 debut release from American act Spock's Beard, is one of the best entries in the latter-day progressive rock field that I have yet heard. With intelligent, well-crafted lyrics, impassioned vocals and harmonies, soaring guitars, choice piano and superb "retro" Hammond and synth sections, the disc does a very good job of recapturing the sound and spirit of classic 70s prog, but without being hopelessly derivative.

Sure, we can readily point to influences from early prog bands, but, for my grateful ears, the result is not slavish imitation, but a solid album that I enjoy listening to. I'm glad that singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse and company seem, in their formative years, to have absorbed the classic works of their pioneering forebears, and then had the courage to inject some much-needed new blood and vitality into a genre that had almost dropped off the musical radar, and/or degenerated into radio-friendly lightweight pop. (You want fries with that new Genesis disc? Extra cheese? Maybe slathering it in ketchup would make it more palatable....) "The Beard," if nothing else, deserve credit for choosing to pursue their muse in a rock sub-genre that (perhaps regrettably -- perhaps not) now seems to preclude radio play, riches and fame. Clearly, they're not "only in it for the money" -- there's a palpable love of, and commitment to the music here.

The title track is a top-notch fifteen+ minute suite (try getting that into regular rotation at the local FM station!) with varied sections and themes that are in turn sensitive and pretty, powerful, and humourous. A tasty, generous and satisfying helping of pure prog!

"Go the Way You Go" is perhaps my overall favourite of a first-class set. While somewhat more pop/accessible than the other material here, it is still heavyweight progressive rock. The speaker-shaking ending has a majestic feel that would be especially effective live -- crank it!

At over twenty-three minutes, "The Water" is the longest piece on the album. This suite contains some of the album's heaviest moments, and the crunchy Hammond riffs at the beginning are particularly welcome to this old rocker's ears. A very varied piece, it holds my interest despite its length, but is a trifle marred for me by the inclusion of the abrasive, almost shouted "FU" section. As a father, I don't play this one when the "shell-pink" ears of my young children are within range!

The final number, "On the Edge," at only six minutes, is, perforce, not as "epic" as the tracks that precede it, but is still a terrific, hard-rocking song that brings this excellent album to a strong finish.

The radiance of a hopeful new day has dawned upon my once "frozen in time" prog collection, and there is fresh growth upon the old tree -- long may THE LIGHT and Neal Morse shine!

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
5 stars Out of nowhere comes Spock's Beard's Debut. This is one of the finest debuts i've heard thus far. Musicianship is top notch, solid (and at times meaningful) lyrics, and an undeniable flow all come through from second one to the last note played. Neal Morse's vocals are unique (at least in my eyes) and he really sings with a passion like other famous singers (Fish and P. Hammill come to mind, but that is not saying he sings in their style). although his voice is not as "perfected" as on other albums. The rythym section is as solid as bands that have been around 20 years. And Alan's guitar playing is the last cornerstone that needs to be placed, and a very solid cornerstone it makes.

First up is the epic (although not the longest song on this album) title track, The Light. Starting off with a simple, quiet piano part, the song sprawls into many directions. There are quiet interludes, fast paced action, loud and gritty sections, and an overall cohesiveness to this song. While i feel it doesn't compare to the other epic on this record (or others in their catelogue) in terms of complexity, it still is a high quality song that many people should enjoy. Next up, is the gentler Go The Way You Go. I still feel this song is a little too long, but its nothing that takes away from the pleasure of the album. Good vocal harmonies, and cool piano riffs lead this solid song. After that comes the hard hitter of the album, the 23 minute giant The Water. This epic winds its way through many moods, including anger, regret, mysterious, and arrogance. It is also notable to mention that this is really the only vulgarity this group has produced (specfically in the FU/I'm sorry part of the song). Anyway, a catchy piano intro starts off this monster, and it grows in intensity until the first part is unleashed (also notable is the cool cello part). One thing that i like (and dislike about this song), is the fact that the music is always changing, always progessing into something eles. While a good thing, it makes the better sections too short. But this is not a major complaint by any means. There is not a weak part to this song and is, IMO, one of the best modern examples of progressive music. Finally, the album ends with the shortest song (and the only one under ten minuets), On The Edge. A nice little more agressive song, with a cool lyrics and vocal line. While there is nothing stellar about this song, there is nothing terrible about it either.

All in all, I strongly feel that if there is a Spock's Beard album to check out, it is The Light. There are only a few downsides to this album (as mentioned in my reveiw), that get totally outweighed by the positives. There is certainly a unique feel to this album, that for whatever reason, decided to adbondon for their future releases. 5/5 no question. Highly recommended.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spock's Beard's debut album took the worldwide prog fan community by surprise, catching everybody's attention and gaining a good reputation almost instantly. Now, 10 years later, it has obviously passed the test of time and remains one of the best appraised prog albums from the 90s, as well as an absolute SB classic. Basically, SB's prog style is pretty much inspired in 70s Kansas, Wakeman-era Yes, classic Genesis, and some of the acoustic sensibility of CSN&Y. Recorded and released while they were still a quartet (Neal Morse took care of all keyboards, except for some mellotron portions played by brother Alan), the album was a catalogue of exciting musical ideas, skillfully performed, and collectively ordained and distributed into four tracks. 'The Light' and 'The Water' are two multi-part suites, full of varied motifs and effective contrasts between the rockier and the calmer moments, containing some occasional reprises in order to keep the sense of integral unity. Both suites are great, but I particularly prefer the former, since I find that the inner articulation among all sections is more fluid; besides, some motifs contained in 'The Water' tend to meander a little, somehow affecting the whole unit - but generally speaking, let me reiterate that both pieces are great. The third long track 'Go the Way You Go' is not exactly a suite, since it is not divided in particular sections. But that's not strictly a formality. Each portion of tracks 1 & 3 is designed to have their own personality and be part of a whole at once; on the other hand, 'Go the Way You Go' comprises a fewer amount of motifs, integrated with each other in such a compact way that not one of them can afford a place of its own. All of these motifs are properly developed and adorned to expand the song to 12- minute duration, without dragging around or becoming unnecessarily repetitive - IMHO, this is the best track in the album. The sense of epic splendour achieved in the most pompous passages is well accomplished, and it also contains some of the best interplaying between the foursome, particularly in the jazzier moments. Last but not least, we are treated a shorter song ('only' 6 minute long), 'On the Edge': this piece is so catchy that you might as well want to listen to it after the album is over, or maybe you'll go humming its main theme in your head for a couple of hours. Anyway, it's clear that this track is accurately placed to cause a lasting impression of excitement in the listener's mind. "The Light" was an excellent starting point for SB, and as such it will always be remembered: one of its major merits was that it helped strongly to reinforce the new found faith that prog rock had found during the 90s.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Neal enjoys a wee swearie

Whether or not you enjoy the music of Spock's Beard, there is no denying that they make progressive rock music in its purest form. For me though, the main reasons their music sometimes fails to hit the mark is that:

a) The vocals are weak. Neal Morse is unquestionably a highly talented musician, but he is at best an average singer.

b) They do not develop themes sufficiently before moving on

c) On long tracks, the various sections which make up the piece do not always sit well together, resulting in the music sounding disjointed.

"The light" was Spock's Beard's first album, so the band can perhaps be forgiven if they appear to be finding their way a bit. It is though an excellent first offering, full of invention and complexity. While the album lasts for almost an hour, there are just four tracks in all. These range from the (comparatively) short closing track "On the edge" at 6 minutes to the 23 minute, seven part, "The water".

The opening (title) track, which clocks in at over 15 minutes and consists of 8 contiguous sections, is an excellent introduction to the band. The listener is immediately presented with a myriad of reminders of the prog greats such as Yes, ELP, Marillion and Genesis, not to mention The Beatles! There are time changes a plenty, loud and soft passages, and more themes than most bands manage in an entire career. The paradox is that these factors are both the strength and the Achilles heel of Spock's Beard. There is no time to enjoy a theme before it has been replaced by another then another. The magic of "Close to the edge" by Yes for example is that they develop each theme before moving on to the next, so when the first theme returns, it has the familiarity of an old friend. With Spock's Beard it's more like the return of an acquaintance with whom you are on nodding terms only, the music seems cold and aloof.

"Go the way you go" continues in the same vein, with an ELP ("Black moon") like intro, leading into some Chris Squire like dominant bass. The track gets a bit messy at times, before the slower big ending.

"The water" is the longest, and most rambling track on the album. There are lyrics here in the "FU" section which I'm sure the post "rebirth" Neal Morse would be extremely reluctant to sing, in fact in the sleeve-notes for the remastered version, he actually apologises for them! The use of female backing vocals is however interesting and effective, if more than a little derivative of (Pink Floyd's) "Great gig in the sky". Once again, the time and mood changes are frequent and at times jarring. The final track, "On the edge" is the most commercial and accessible, with more of a straight rock feel. Morse says of the track that it was written for use as an encore at live gigs.

In all, a highly creditable first album, which indicated that Spock's Beard were more than capable of helping to keep the prog fire burning. Yes it has its faults, but worthy of investigation nonetheless. Some of the final recordings were taken straight from the original demos by Neal Morse and his brother Alan.

The version of the album I have is the "Artwork collectors' series" edition. It is presented in a 7" (vinyl single size) double fold out digipak style sleeve, resembling a mini LP. The lavish packaging includes a poster, postcards, and an excellent booklet with sleeve notes written by Neal Morse. It also has a bonus demo version of the title track.

Review by Blacksword
4 stars Some albums impact on you immediately, others take time to sink in. 'The Light' by Spocks Beard was an instant hit for me. I had been unfairly sceptical of US prog after hearing Echolyn, but SB's strong debut has restored my faith. I had expected a collage of re- hashed British prog cliches, without any soul, but 'The Light' is distinctly Amercian, while still managing to capture that classic prog spirit.

The album opens with the title track, a fifteen minute, well structured piece that shows off Morse & Co's obvious technical skill, and moves through a variety of moods and styles. There is humour and Latin groove in the 'Senor Valascos mystic Voodoo love dance' and by contrast anger and drama in 'Return of the horrible Catfish man' although humour is still in evidence. Some of Morses lyrics are best ignored IMO, and I feel he is at his best as a lyricist when expressing rage, an emotion that reapears later on the album. The anger gives way to a gentle reprise of 'The Dream' This opener is a strong and addictive musical package, and my cynicism led me to believe that it probably wouldn't be topped by any other track.

'Go the way you go' follows, and although I dont feel it is as strong as the opener, it is still a great song. With a gentle memorable chorus, 'GTWYG' keeps the listerners attention in place in preparation for what follows; the 'EPIC' 'The Water' weighing in at 23 minutes. As far as epics go I would perhaps hope for a little more. Some chapters are much stronger than others in this song, and for me the 'F*CK YOU' section is perhaps the strongest, certainly the most memorable part of the piece. MY immediate thought was that this is what John Lennon may have sounded like had 'The Beatles' been a punk band! Sorry, but I think there is a trace of Lennon, without the love and peace, in Morses voice at this point. Like all epics this takes time to get acquainted with, but even after many listens I dont think its the strongest song on the album, and according to my own 'stuck in the mud' symphonic prog rule book, the epic should always come out on top. Nevertheless, a pretty good work.

The albums closes with the shortest track 'On the Edge' am upbeat, attention grabbing rocker of a track, once again allowing SB's musical prowess to shine. Fine percussion, good lead guitar work, and strong keyboard work throughout. A fine close to a very strong, well produced, well performed debut album.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Magnificent debut from Neal Morse and co. Unfortunately, some flaws hinder it from a 5/5. Anyway, as a debut, one could not ask for more. 3 epics lasting more than 12 minutes each, bizarre concepts, watery hammond organ, and searing guitar solos, who could ask for more? Alan Morse plays a nasty lead guitar that has a nice rough sound that doesn't stray into the metal foray. Neal Morse plays some awesome piano throughout, hammering through vocal sections with precision. Dave Meros plays a jagged bass, with a sound similar to that of Chris Squire and Geddy Lee combined. And finally, Nick D'Virgilio plays some complex patterns and sings some very nice back up vocals. This ensemble combines into a cohesive progressive unit better known as Spock's Beard.

The highlights of this album are Go the Way You Go and the Water. Go the way you go begins erratically, but after a minute or two of this jagged riff, some nice acoustic guitar comes in and Neal begins to sing. The rest of the song has a very hard-rock oriented sound, but keeps the rest of the instruments at the forefront. The wah guitar and the solo on this song are also among the best of the album. This song also has a very catchy chorus, a thing that Spock's Beard would become good at doing. The other song, The Water, is a 23 minute epic of harsh and pretentious scale. With a section that features some very premiscious vocals (Neal Morse swearing over and over again), and some very impressive guitar and bass interplay. But that's not saying that Neal's Hammond is left out. It is one of the main features of the song, with its watery sound that is very fitting of the mood.

Overall, I did enjoy this album. I only had a few problems. The sound quality during some of the vocal sections and instrumental parts was questionable, and the vocals from Neal aren't terribly spectacular (they're adequate). Minor faults aside, this is a brilliant debut that no one should miss. 4.5/5.

Review by Zitro
3 stars This is a strong debut from one of prog rock revivers in the 90s and today. It contains many flaws (incoherence, sound quality, and not so good lyrics) but I highly recommend this to any spock's beard fans.

The Light 7.5/10 starts off this album on a very high note and is easily the best song in the album. It draws influences from Kansas, Yes, Genesis, and most notably : King Crimson. It is a huge epic with many different sections, but sadly, it has too many themes for its duration, making the themes feel short and unexplored. It also suffers from some incoherence. Anyways, all negatives aside , This is one beautiful song.

Go The Way You Go 7/10 has more genesis/yes influences and is more melodic than the title track. It still suffers from the same problem (incoherence) and some parts seem out of place.

The Water 6/10 is the most coherent song from the album, and flows nicely ... the problem is that the influences are so heavy that seem almost like rip-offs (bass line in the intro like roundabout, female vocalist like 'Time', etc etc). Besides, the song seems to drag. Nevertheless, The F**k You - Im sorry transition always makes my day =D

On The Edge 7/10 : This is a good track. It contains one of my favorite basslines from Spock's beard, good melodies, and nice solos.

Overall, if you don't mind the main weakness of the album, you may enjoy it a lot.

My Grade : C

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let me confess this way: I have owned the first three albums of The Beard since 1998 and I rarely spin the CD since I purchased all of them. I purchased all of their initial albums because my progmates in Bandung who influenced me to buy as he said that the band was one of prog icons in the nineties. What I got was a complete disappointment especially with the composition - it sounded to me so many influences from many bands that The Beard did not package 'em into truly the Beard sound. The most obvious influences were coming from Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis and . surprisingly The Gypsy Kings! I could not believe it. This album comprises three epic tracks plus one track with normal duration.

Yes, I have to admit that the band members' virtuosities and musicianship they perform in this album. Just take an example on the opening track "The Light", no one would argue on the neatness of Beard's music especially with heavy and solid bass guitar work by Meros combined with soaring keyboard work by Neal that sometimes sounds like Keith Emerson. Nick d'Virgilio's drumming is also marvelous. It's an enjoyable music, basically. But, look at the structure. There are many disjointed parts that the band did not make a proper effort to smooth the transition piece that glues all parts into a cohesive composition. The music sounds to me like "being forced" to show that this is a prog tune. There seem like many unplanned tempo changes even though some segments are really memorable and melodic.

"Go The Way You Go" starts off beautifully with a music harmony combining keyboard and solid bass lines. I really like the opening part even though the piano parts during quiet session in the intro part reminds me to Van Halen's slow track in "Balance" album (hey, any hard rock fans down here? Anybody knows who Van Halen is, right?). I don't remember the title of the track but I think the lyrics something like "To love somebody peacefully ..". Got that? But, overall it's not exactly the same style with the Beard.

"The Water" starts off with a blast of music featuring Emerson like keyboard work in a packed musical composition. The opening choirs remind me to Gentle Giant but with keyboard sound in the vein of Emerson. The alternate play between Hammond organ and guitar work during lyrical verse is really wonderful. Unlike other tracks this one is performed in an accentuated voice line augmented with Hammond and guitar fills in rocking style. This track contains word that is strongly prohibited from this site.

With some caveats and weak points, I still consider that this is a good album - a promising debut by the band. The musicianship is excellent. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by kunangkunangku
4 stars Spock's Beard was the first band I listened to among those who emerged during progressive rock's 1990s revival. And it was their debut album, this one in question, that has brought my enthusiasm for the genre back into life once again.

OK, I have to admit that there was a vacuum in my life in which I practically stopped keeping myself up-to-date with anything new coming from the music scene -- well, sometimes I listened to radio or watched television, but I did not go to record stores and buy albums. Amazingly, I did not crave them.

Until I got my hands on this self-financed four tracks effort. It was a gift from a friend. And what a great gift: in first listening, the opening title track immediately blew me away. A smart combination of strong melodies with complex arrangements, superb musicianship and stunning performances, although some parts exposing rather disjointed movements or structures. It reminded me to Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and all -- those considered by progressive rock fans among the greatest of 1970s.

I keep listening to this album since then. And when I do putting the disc into my player's tray, the impression of capturing almost pompous but splendid music (this is also the case with "The Water", the second multiple-part suite) is always there. Overall, throughout the album, not only Neal Morse, the frontman, who can prove confidently his awesome talent as a song writer and keyboard player, but the rest of the band too has their moments to exhibit their virtuosities.

This is a must have album.

Review by The Crow
4 stars This is the Spock's Beard debut, and a very good album, but not a masterpiece, of course...

Here we can find the classic Spock's members (except Ryo Okumoto) and sound, but with a weak production sometimes, and Neal Morse doesn't sing very well here... But the Spock's style it's well defined from their beginnings, with the Gentle Giant influences, the 70's feeling, and with amount of pop and symphonic cliches too...I like specially the suite The Light and Go The Way You Go, two great songs... The epic The Water it's not bad, but it's a little boring and repetitive sometiemes. On The Edge it's the classic Spock's Beard's hard rocking song, but nothing really remarkable...

Excellent album, with true wonderful moments and a stunning bass playing by one of the best bassist in the world: Dave Meros!!!

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars Not my favorite album by the Beards. Reasons being: Neal's voice, (way too nasaly and flat), and Alan's guitar, (pitched too high and whiny with way too many spots where he distorts the guitar). The other gripe I have with this disc is the length of the songs. There're drawn out, (especially 'The Water', with that notorious "F**K" section..) and wordy. Neal could have used an editor and put his point across without going on and on. Lastly, I tend to zone out on the music. There's no life, or snap to the songs, (other than the Genesis inspired 'On The Edge' which is the best in the bunch). It could have boiled down to first album jitters or production, but for most of the album its pretty lame and boring. There are spots, tho, that I enjoy; the senoir valasco section of 'The Light' and all of 'On The Edge', those have spark. The rest....ugh! I won't say that this is an overall terrible album, its just not great. I would start with Neal's last album with the band and work backwards. A decent album, but definately not as good as their later ones. 2.5 stars for me.
Review by Fight Club
5 stars Spock's Beard exploded into the prog scene with this album back in 1995. It got critical aclaim from reviewers everywhere and with justification. The Light is a fantastic album for both traditional and new proggers! Leading man Neal Morse and the band managed to come up with 57 minutes worth of pure prog magic that just clicked in all aspects. The Light manages to fuse highly melodic hooks with the complexities we all know and love in prog. 3 out of the 4 songs clock at over 10 minutes in length yet I still find myself humming them at work.

The band has quite a few obvious influences here, notably Gentle Giant and Genesis. However, don't be fooled, they aren't mere copies of these bands. They manage to combine all their influences into one highly unique and enjoyable sound. Every musician here is practically a virtuoso, but Morse stands out above the rest, taking lead mostly on piano. However he blows away the listener with pretty much everything practically smothering the album in mellotron and hammond organ. It's really a pleasure to hear such melodic tunes yet be amazed by the stunning musicianship. Few bands managed to do this in the 90s which is why Spock's Beard became one of the best selling prog acts at that time.

The Light might as well be the perfect track to introduce anyone to the band. There's some real melodic twists that can't really be heard by anyone band before them. Spock's Beard formed their own signature sound with this kind of orchestration. The harmony arrangements are absolutely masterful through the entire album. The 23 minute magnum opus, The Water is brilliant. The infamous "Fuck you" section is always a burst of adrenaline for me, which I found comes very frequent with the band due to their zaniness. The thing that makes the band so unique is the converging of all the diverse influences that is just executed so well. This is really demonstrated beautifully in The Water.

And of course there's enough mellotron use and time signature changes for any prog lover! All in all this album has something enjoyable for anyone. Not only can prog fans appreciate it for it's complexity, but modern rock and pop fans as well! One of the most essential albums of the 90s by one of the decades most essential bands!

Review by obiter
4 stars It's over 10 years since I fist heard this album so I suppose I should chuck in my tupennce worth

Light always reminds me of quite early Yes spiced up with a smidgeon of Marillion and gently stirred with a little AOR. Like a lot of concoctions in the kitchen (most of which occur after a night out with your mates in the pub) the result falls into 3 categories:

1 tastes fantastic at the time but oh dear ... next morning the dog puts it's tail between tis legs and backs out of the room keeping eye contact 2 your masterpiece is immediately consigned to the netherworld of the bin while the local take away is called to the rescue 3 somehow, it just works. you can't tell why, and you can;t remember what it was you did, or what you put in.

The light is most defintiely in the third category. The sense of smug self-satisfaction which warms you after listening to the album is priceless.

I like recommending this album to the uninitiated I just wish the band had a better name. "You've got to listen to this album ... The Light" (no rat eating aliens in sight but the band is called Spock's Beard. (or you default to the Evil Dead 3 mumble as you pass over the disc).

A progtastic offering but not essential

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars I tend to agree with most of the collaborators' reviews: The Light has a large number of tantalizing moments and we're all grateful that the Beard threw their hats into the prog ring, but there are serious flaws that just can't be ignored, such as irritating distorted vocals, silly (and pointless) parts, and a general lack of direction to the music. Because it's a debut, I think The Light warrants 3 stars: it takes guts to release music like this, especially without any kind of a fan base.

The Light. Let the inconsistency begin. We start with a nice rocking, building intro, giving the impression that these guys are serious about making good music. Then we get awful distorted shouts about the catfish man. The result is neither serious nor fun--it's just goofy. Too bad, because the chorus is decent, and things improve from there: parts that remind me of Yes on TOPO and then a bit of IQ later, but then we get Senor Velasco drinking his milk with Tabasco and more catfish man to bring down the quality once more.

Go the Way You Go. The most consistent tune, and fortunately they would later improve at making this kind of music. The intro is where I hear the Kansas influence most (though not really that strong for me overall, compared to others), and I like the fat bass. The rest is very enjoyable: a series of melodies and a nice refrain at the end to set up the excellent climax. This is the skeleton for my favorite work of theirs: The Great Nothing.

The Water. Sometimes you just have songs that don't agree with you. I come back to this once in a while, and every time it's a struggle to make it through. Just know that the truly cringe-worthy moments (FU, the initial verse and chorus) are frontloaded in the beginning ten minutes of the song, so if you can make it past that point, the rest provides a lot of what we enjoy about the Beard: keyboard/guitar call-and-response, good keyboard flourishes, and overal tasteful melodies.

On the Edge. It's easy to write this one off, but I think that's a mistake. This is evidence that the Beard could combine prog and rock in a consicse package, and as such it's my second favorite tune from the album.

When I think of Neal's other work, I am almost astounded that some of this material bears his name. It's not THAT bad, just different enough to surprise me. If a few bad spots don't ruin your enjoyment of extended pieces, you'll find plenty here. That's not the case with me, and this album is just a bit too much work to recommend.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...

SPOCK'S BEARD is among those bands that helped to the revival of progressive rock during the 90's.They were formed in Los Angeles,USA in 1992 by two multi-instrumentalists brothers,Neal and Alan Morse,who have been lovers of 70's progressive rock for years.Their debut album ''The light'' was released in mid-90's and it was a fantastic mix of the modern technologies available in producting an album with 70's influences and instrumentation.The band's first work is an endless list of vintage sounds through the heavy use of analog keyboards like the Hammond organ or the mellotron and the undoubtful hints of old bands like GENESIS,YES,KANSAS,GENTLE GIANT and KING CRIMSON.However,in a weird/majestic way,their compositions are quite easy-listening for even a mid-listenester and that's what ''The light'' is all about:Creating a classic progressive rock album with changing moods and climates but without being overly complex.I can only say that this is a very decent definition of progressive rock!Grab this nice little gem!

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
5 stars I credit Spock's Beard's The Light as the album that brought me back to progressive rock. At the time, at least for me, the newest releases on the music scene were at best deplorable and dismal. I was hanging on to prog rock by just a thread with Talk by Yes and the newest incarnation of Asia, and then eventually discovering the tribute albums by Magna Carta. On a whim, I saw this album by a group named Spock's Beard, noticed the long playing times, and bought it from a record store that no longer exists. I was literally blown away. These guys were not only giving a strong nod to their predecessors of the 1970s, but they were taking it to new and higher levels of musical composition and ability.

The Light is probably the best progressive rock debut album ever released, at least to my ears. It contains, mind-boggling lyrics (I just love those), extremely skillful playing, two incredible multi-part epics, beautiful melodies and hooks mixed in with delightfully complex time signatures, and a raw energy that I think separates Spock's Beard from all of their contemporaries as well as their predecessors. There are influences present all over the place and intertwined with each other to create something quite unique. At best, I can pick out influences from Yes (mostly in the bass playing, Dave Meros is as skilled as Chris Squire in my mind), Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Kansas. I'm sure there are more, but these were the more obvious ones. But don't think that Spock's Beard sounds like Yes or Genesis. They don't for the most part and that's probably because they don't put the keyboards as forward in the mix as Yes and Genesis did, relying more heavily on Hammond organ and Mellotron (one of my most favorite instruments).

Neal Morse, for the most part, is the man behind this group. His voice, though not on the level of a Jon Anderson or Peter Gabriel, carries a raw and emotional feeling to it. His voice is just perfect for this music and I can't imagine anyone providing the proper delivery that Morse does. Nick D'Virgilio is probably one of the best drummers I've ever heard. He's definitely in the same league as a Mike Portnoy, or a 1970s Phil Collins. Neal Morse's brother Alan is the guitarist and is also quite skilled for this style of music. Although not in the same league as a Steve Howe or David Gilmour, his playing style is quite unique and has a reliance on making effective use of feedback to produce some really cool sounds.

Clearly a masterpiece, possibly the best prog rock debut ever, and the attention-grabber that brought me back to prog rock to discover the new movement that was taking place in the mid-to-late 1990s. Definitely in the same league as the 1970s greats, possibly even better. Five stars and very highly recommended.

Review by progrules
3 stars I bought this album in the nineties when Spocks Beard's reputation wasn't really as significant as it is now. And I have to say there wasn't really any reason for a great reputation after this album. This is a nice debut but not really impressive inspite of the two epic tracks, the ones I'm usually very fond of. But I feel this band (songwriter Neal Morse that is) had to warm up before they got slowly but surely better and better. The epics are ok but far from really impressive. I even like the shorter songs better this time. Go the way you go is a bit ballad like and very nice but the best track of the album is the shortest and last track. On the Edge is even one of their better efforts ever I believe and saves the album for me. But all in all this isn't good enough for 4 stars to me, so I will have to leave it at 3. (3,25)
Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A bonafide gem of '90's progressive-rock reveling in the legacy of the genre's '70's glory days, performed with boundless enthusiasm and energy which will absolutely appeal to fans of the classics and will more than likely attract newcomers with its catchy lyrics, melodies, and infectious feel.

The real magic is in the songwriting, which sprawls its dynamic signature over the songs extended length allowing for exceptional variety of tone and themes; The Light features heavy, straight-ahead rock and fine balladry in equal portions, and uses them to weave fine, memorable tunes. Neal Morse's distinct vocals are powerful (and I think secular), while Alan Morse demonstrates his virtuosity for both big, bombastic solos as well as wild creativity with his guitar-- top notch; the fat sound of the rhythm section rounds things out powerfully.

Ultimately, The Light remains one of the band's finest albums, most exciting albums; a brilliant homage to the old greats while simultaneously creating a new voice for the genre-- highly recommended, a great place to start listening to classic progressive rock for newcomers.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Moatilliatta
3 stars Spock's Beard turned a lot of heads upon the release of their debut, The Light. Featuring a blend of classic prog-rock favorites including Genesis, Kansas and Gentle Giant, the band activated nostalgia in many and also became one of the leaders in the modern progressive movement.

Spock's Beard has a great melodic strength to coincide with their skillful instrumentation - and this album boasts a bunch of moments that will have you smiling with sheer delight - but on this debuting outing, be it the band's immaturity at the time or their low budget, the group have not yet clicked. Do not be misled by my using the term immature; these guys are clearly fine musicians, and they work well together. It is apparent, though, that they still have more potential to activate. Daring as the pieces may be, they fail to captivate from start to finish and seem to have some unpolished ideas. As the years pass, we will see this potential gradually be actualized up until the departure of frontman Neal Morse, whose vocals on this record are really rough. I don't think Neal is too proud of this record anymore - he has done much better since then, though this was a solid starting point - especially considering the precocious lyrics. The lyrics here aren't awful, but they can be at times quite silly. You can decide whether you laugh at them because they are hilariously bad or just plain funny. Then, of course, you have the unprecedented barrage of foul words he spews on the FU segment of The Water. Frankly, that is a bit much. Dr. Dre doesn't even drop that many F-bombs in that span of time.

What we have here is merely a foundation. Good as it may be, the polished Spock's Beard will outdo this record. Don't feel like listening to this is a waste of time though, there is bound to be something you will get out of it.

Review by The Pessimist
5 stars One of my favourite albums from this band, it has a unique charm to it that none of their albums have yet to touch upon again. Sometimes I do wish that they would return to the style of their routes, as it is a unique one, not mainstream in any way, yet it is very melodic, humourous in places and a downright jem. Yes, arguably it has it's bad moments, but who cares? I surely don't, and those mediocre moments are absolutely nothing compared to the music this album has to offer. Now for a track by track, as this is a very deep album:

1. The Light - An excellent start, this still gets played at most of their concerts, and is dubbed as their best song by many fans. There is a very good reason for this: it is reminiscent of the earlier days, still holding a unique structure and top quality musicianship. It is their architypal prog song that should appeal to most classic-era fans. Not the incredible 5/4 intro section, the eerie Garden People section and the finale. Second best off the album - 9.5/10


2. Go The Way You Go - Yes, here it is, the highlight of the album. This is one of my favourite tracks of all time by this underated band, and they have taken one leaf out of Gentle Giant's book with this song. Not in musical style to say the least, but in their approach to making music. They cram into 12 minutes what most bands would stretch into 20 minutes, keeping the listener interested throughout, and that's the magic of this incredible song. I cannot possibly break this down into sections as there are so many intricate twists, turns and changes in mood. Let us put it this way, you won't be disappointed. Masterpiece - 10/10


3. The Water - The second epic of the album. A lot of people slate this album because of its unecessary swearing, but I'm a Tool fan, so couldn't care less TBH :P A remember hearing this song live at the Robin Hood 2 in Dudley last year, and I was blown away. It is almost perfect, but this is where the faults lie: first of all, it is too cheesy to listen to more than twice in one day. It's like overdosing on the Beach Boys! The bit I blame for this is the FU/I'm Sorry section. The surrounding areas are very good however. You should note actually that this song is Dave Meros's finest moment, the bass playing is fantastic - 9/10


4. On The Edge - It's very strange from any band to finish with the shortest song on the album, but these guys have done it, and it doesn't drag the album down in any way. It is, like Go The Way, crammed full. Nothing much can be said about this album, apart from the incredible guitar work, bass playing and melodic structure. It fits the standards of the other 3 tracks very well indeed - 8.5/10


Total Marks, 37/40

Yes, this is a masterpiece for me. It is almost perfect, and I really cannot see why people slate it so much. Spock would only repeat this sort of standard in 2 later albums: Kindness of Strangers and V. 5stars easily.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars This is a very good start to the band. I don't have much depth to add to what else has been said, but here goes with my opinions:

The Light - this track, while more than just a tad overrated, is nonetheless pretty consistent. A lot of the keyboard sounds are pretty dated to me (which seems to be the case only in the pre-Ryo stages of the Beard). But this song proved to the world that, yes, Spock's Beard could rock; yes, Spock's Beard could write cohesive epics; and yes, Spock's Beard has a great sense of humor. I can't think of any other band I've ever listened to who could pull of yelling, I AM THE CATFISH MAN! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Pure gold, lyrically. It makes no sense, except maybe the bracketing from which the song got its name, but it's fun. And I think that's the general aim the Morses and their bandmates are taking here: Spock's Beard are going to be fun to listen to. The instrumentation is pretty fiery, the drums as always inspiring, and the vocals raw and quite different (I think) to later SB and Neal Morse solo work. His voice sounds different--thinner, lighter, raspier. It's not bad, but if you have only listened to, say, V before, Neal will sound completely different.

Go the Way You Go - I'll admit it. The first half of this track really drags for me. I love slow starters, and I love mellow songs, but I always catch myself staring at the timer, waiting for that magical moment to kick in at 6:11 or so. Alan here proves he's in possession of some amazing guitar chops. Once some of that musical wizardry plays out in the midsection of the song, the ending is much more fitting and interesting. Not a song I liked at all on my first listen, but I really do appreciate it now. Mostly.

The Water - My favorite song on the album, even though as far as epics go, it's not particularly cohesive. The title section carries a very strong Run Like Hell Pink Floyd vibe, at least for me, except it sounds completely fresh and not derivative. Really cool. And throughout the entire song, Neal is on fire. The man sings like he has nowhere else I've heard. What's more, there is a section full of some rather graphic language which to me, who before this album was mostly only familiar with Neal's solo Christian work, sounds absolutely ridiculous. The same voice that embodies Oh Lord, My God to me is now screaming, And I don't give a [&*!#] about anything, so [%*!#] you! It throws a very eerie, abnormal light on the whole part. Fans of Neal's Christian work need to be warned about this, because it will color everything you hear the man sing now.

Out on the Edge - I don't have a lot to say about this one. It's a fairly standard song, at least in my mind. More the direction of how Spock's Beard's shorter songs will sound. Fun and more cheerful than the last two. I don't skip it ever, but I never start with it, either.

All in all, a fine and worthy album. If you like Spock's Beard or Neal Morse or Transatlantic, I think it's worth checking out. They do get much better over the next five albums, though. At least in my opinion.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. First of all a big thankyou to King By-Tor for pestering me into reviewing a SPOCKS BEARD album. He's not the only one on this site(you know who you are !) who is good at that. I thank him though because like with THE FLOWER KINGS I have put off too long reviewing this band who in the mid nineties really caused a buzz among prog fans all over the world."The Light" was the album that gave hope along with ANEKDOTEN, ANGLAGARD and others,that prog was on the way back. SPOCKS BEARD signed to Greg Walker's label "Syn-Phonic", and he promoted them by allowing them to play at his Prog-Fest 95 in Los Angeles that same year. So 1995 was a huge year for this band. Interesting that the late, great Kevin Gilbert who was a friend and fan of this band did the mastering of this record. Funny, but the band that I thought of the most when listening to this album was THE FLOWER KINGS. One thing I love about THE FLOWER KINGS is that they all can shoot the lights out with their playing. The bass, drums, guitar, keys you name it, these guys are pros of the highest order. And I can say the same about SPOCKS BEARD. The lead guitar by Alan Morse is killer. The bass is absolutely huge, monstrous from Dave Meros. Nick on drums has played with some amazing bands in his career and is incredible. Neal on piano and vocals needs no introduction or praise, he's one of a kind in my mind.

"The Light" is slow to get going as piano and vocals lead off but when it gets going it's fantastic. This is a 15 1/2 minute song with many twists and turns and repeated themes. The drums and bass are so good, and check out the ripping guitar 2 minutes in ! Vocals before 3 minutes. A calm with mellotron after 5 minutes. Nice. The piano is impressive after 9 minutes. Spanish sounding after 11 1/2 minutes. More aggressive guitar before 13 minutes.The lyrics are meaningful as well. "Go The Way You Go" is a 12 minute track. Check out the amazing mellotron floods early. I'm completely melted before a minute with the gorgeous soundscape. No words from me here. Nice chunky bass changes the mood as outbursts of sound play at a fast pace. Vocals 3 minutes in as it calms right down. More great bass 5 minutes in. The last half of the song instrumentally is just a joy.

"The Water" is a 23 minute epic. Beautiful piano melodies early before deep bass, drums, organ and guitar come in, then vocals arrive that remind me of THE BEATLES. Two minutes in all I can say is that I feel like i'm home. It gets a little jazzy. Guitar is outstanding and so is the bass that follows. A calm after 6 minutes with mellotron. Some guest female vocals in this one. Then we get to the controversial section where Morse drops the F-bomb 10 times during the sing-a-long chorus. Tee hee. Some vocal harmonies 11 1/2 minutes in along with an uplifting melody. Two minutes later the drumming and vocals remind me of FLOYD("The Wall"). It gets jazzy a minute later. It ends in a high and emotional way. "On The Edge" has such a cool intro. These guys are so good. The bass is very fat after a minute. Fantastic sound ! The guitar 4 1/2 minutes in is killer.

One of the reasons it took me so long to delve into this band and THE FLOWER KINGS was because of all the negative comments i've seen over the years. I put them off thinking neither band were very good. WRONG ! And as Morse says so eloquently earlier in this album (10 times in fact)...nevermind.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Light is the debut album from american symphonic prog rockers Spockīs Beard. I was introduced to Spockīs Beard via their fifth album V, but shortly afterwards I bought The Light ( and every other album by Spockīs Beard) as I was very excited about V. Spockīs Beard play retro seventies symphonic prog rock inspired by such groups as Yes, The Beatles, Genesis and especially Gentle Giant.

The Light consists of four songs. Three of them are over 10 minutes long and the last one called On the Edge is a more straight forward rocker which lasts for about 6 minutes. The album opens with the title track which is a very beautiful and structurally complex song. Itīs a great song and a Spockīs Beard classic. Go The Way You Go is the next song and itīs a great melodic track as well. Not as good as The Light but enjoyable never the less. The Water is a 23 minute + epic track which is the best song here IMO. Truly symphonic prog rock heaven. This song reeks of class. On the Edge has never dazzled me much. Itīs my least favorite song on The Light. The music is generally very melodic and memorable. There are lots of arranged instrumental sections but Neal Morse vocal lines are the focus of the music.

The musicianship is excellent. Frontman, keyboardist and main composer Neal Morse is an extraordinaire artist, but his sidemen brother Alan Morse on guitar, Dave Meros on bass and French Horn and Nick D'Virgilio on drums, percussion and vocals are also very accomplished musicians and all members bring something special to the sound.

The production isnīt as good as it would be on later albums, but the message comes across, so I guess itīs allright.

If you can see through the pretty obvious christian messages in the lyrics ( which I canīt stand) and Neal Morse sometimes too sensitive vocal approach ( Read: Cheesy) this is great music. The Light is one of the albums that helped re-ignite the american prog rock scene in the nineties which Spockīs Beard should be credited for. The Light isnīt my favorite Spockīs Beard album but there are plenty of quality music here to justify either a big 3 star rating or a small 4 star rating. Iīll go for a big 3 star rating. I know many people canīt stand Spockīs Beard either because they make retro prog rock or because of their obvious christian lyrical approach. For me itīs not a problem that Spockīs Beard is influenced by the great seventies prog rock bands but sometimes the christian approach does take itīs toll on me and destroys my listening pleasure. Itīs very seldom though as the great music overshadows the problem most of the time. Itīs like that on most Spockīs Beard albums for me.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars After being duly impressed with both "The Kindness of Strangers" and "V" I decided to venture back to the beginning of Spock's Beard's career. Sometimes backtracking to a band's starting point can be risky because more often than not you hear an understandably amateurish, embryonic version of what they would become years down the road. However, with "The Light" I found a group of musicians who were not only talented but studio savvy, stepping confidently into Progland with an album that suffers little from their lack of experience. In the liner notes of the 2004 reissue Neal Morse relates that, despite their high level of ability, they still had lousy luck in securing a recording contract. (Ya think?) I can just imagine a scene set in the early 90s in the Hollywood office of a major label. A know-it-all executive has just sampled their demo. He puts down his nasty cigar and looks them straight in the eyes: "So, what kind of music did you say this was? Prague rock? Sorry, fellas, we don't take Czechs here. Har, har, har! Seriously, though, I thought you dudes were from Culver City! Where's the grunge? I got news for you kids. No one wants to hear this convoluted crap! Come back when you've got a catchy hit single and a video with lotsa half nekkid women dancing around. THEN we'll talk."

Thank heaven they stuck to their guns and recorded this album on their own nickel, only aiming to please themselves. This is a wonderful debut. Some other reviewers complain that they sound like Kansas but I don't hear it. The only thing they have in common with that courageous band is A. They're Americans and B. They play symphonic prog. It's like saying Yes and Genesis sound alike because they're of the same genre and they're both from Britain. That lame argument just doesn't hold up under scrutiny. What these guys create is a unique brand of energetic, U.S.A.-styled rock containing traces of jazz, salsa, metal and California folk in an imaginative brand of progressive music. And, since we can count on one hand the number of State-side prog groups, a certain amount of respect should be granted them for defiantly swimming against the overwhelming tide of crass commerciality.

Neal relates that "The Light" was his first prog rock composition and, that being the case, it's no wonder that he's still one of the best at planting and harvesting in this particular realm of the music world. It's a very adventurous eight-segment piece that works well on multiple levels throughout its fifteen and a half minute run. After a brief, light piano intro "The Dream" explodes into a driving 5/4 jag from the ensemble that grabs your attention immediately. "One Man" follows and any notion that this is going to be some timid, new-age undertaking is dispelled by Alan Morse's rude but strangely gratifying electric guitar spasms. Lyric-wise it's a jumble of abstract images that seem to be presenting a portrait of society in general as if it were embodied in a single personality. "I am rock & roll/I am classical, country and soul/I am the nun and the flasher/I am the father, the son and the bastard," he sings. Next comes "Garden People" and it only serves as a short transition to the lively tempo of "Looking Straight Into The Light," where their admiration for their English prog predecessors is evident in its bouncy lilt. The movement ends with a trip into the wall-of-sound, cavernous dimension that I crave. "The Man in the Mountain" is a piano-based interlude where Morse delivers an emotional vocal, expressing a sadness that many of us have felt at one point or another. "I stand alone/I've been drowned/in a sea of loveless illusion," he cries. But before they allow things to get morose they slide into the spicy, humorous "Senor Velasco's Mystic Voodoo Love Dance," a Latin-styled song that showcases Neal's impressive Flamenco guitar playing. "The Return of the Horrible Catfish Man" snaps that festive mood right in half, though, with Morse shouting out a menacing vocal that'll make your hair stand on end. The whole number comes full circle with a return to "The Dream" where Neal conveys that the only thing he's trying to accomplish is to make music that can "stand up in the light." He, along with his bandmates, did.

"Go The Way You Go" starts off in a big, dynamic way and then segues into a smooth-running groove fueled by the great rhythm section of Dave Meros with his fat bass tones and Nick D'Virgilio with his clean but ever-punchy drum technique. These two are the unsung heroes of this whole album. This tune about searching for truth ("you can't know what you don't know") eventually drops down into a ballad mode for a while but they never let it overstay its welcome or get boring as they soon stoke it back up to a fiery rock beat with Alan blazing a swath with his hot guitar solo. (I don't recall him being this expressive and downright dangerous in his approach on other albums. It's like he's tiptoeing along the edge of losing control throughout and I kinda like it.) Neal tosses in a too-brief jazzy piano ride before they build up to a huge, satisfyingly grandiose finale. This tune is a fine example of Morse's uncanny genius for arranging that characterizes everything I've heard from him right up through his most recent solo album. His ability to seamlessly connect what should be conflicting musical ideas never ceases to amaze me. He is one of the all-time masters.

"The Water," a 23 minute extravaganza, is the epic centerpiece of the project and it's a doozy. A no- holds-barred statement of personal frustration and a maniac's rant against the human condition, it's as good as it comes. Neal's grand piano and Alan's cellos cruise along for the introduction until the group kicks in sporting a razor-sharp edge as the mighty Hammond organ steps to the forefront. Cascading vocal harmonies lead you to the scathing "When It All Goes To Hell" with its incredibly tight track supplied by Dave and Nick. The addition of a full chorale and Neal's tactful use of the Mellotron is a nice touch but it's Alan's tortured, deranged guitar lead that really twists your brain. On "A Thief in the Night" Morse's tone takes on an admirable Billy Joel-ish quality as he sings about how unfair life has been to him, how he's been callously abandoned by those he most trusted and how none of this is his fault as female vocalists wail in false sympathy behind him. All of this finally reaches the boiling point in a brutally honest, outraged outpouring of vicious venom on "FU" as Neal angrily screams at all within earshot that, as far as he's concerned, we can all take a phallic-shaped object and cram it up our personal orifice of choice. While some find this uncensored expression of pure hatred to be offensive, I find the use of this particular expletive to be most appropriate. It's not uttered gratuitously and it's absolutely necessary to the story. I admire the artistic integrity it took to leave it in because it makes a stark impact that gentler words wouldn't have. "I'm Sorry" follows right behind and its pitiful sentiment delivered in crisp, three-part CSN-like harmony is very effective. It's as if he thinks saying those two words makes everything okay. (I know people just like that.) Perched atop a pulsating bass line, the number reprises the initial "Water" melody before slipping into another slick, jazzy feel on "Runnin' the Race." If there's a dip in the momentum it's in the slow, bluesy aura of "Reach for the Sky." They break it all down to a lone piano and then gradually build to a crescendo complete with a soaring chorale and Neal's impassioned warblings about a "storm raging" in his soul. I think they were shooting for a spectacular gnashing of teeth effect here but it just doesn't pack the punch they hoped to land. Yet I won't criticize too harshly because this epic cut succeeds way more often than not and I consider it to be one of their finest moments.

After that almost anything would pale in comparison so the shorter "On The Edge," a life-in-the-fast- lane tune Neil wrote to be an encore in their stage show, works as well as any tune would. It's more of a straight-ahead, hard rock approach by the boys but it's nothing to look down your prog nose at, either. It has a heavy-rocking bass/guitar riff and features another tight-as-epoxy rhythm track that can't be beat. I especially like the deep synthesizer lines they employ on some of the connecting passages. Not bad.

The bonus track is a home demo of "The Light," interesting only in its display that this group had their parts nailed down pat before they even strolled through the studio doors. It shows the level of dedicated preparation on their behalf that led to this album being so professional sounding. My hat's off to them for doing it right.

As debut albums go this one's a blue-ribbon winner and an exemplary place to start for the Spock's Beard neophyte. As stated earlier, American prog bands are as rare as interviews with Bigfoot and what these guys had to fight against to even get "The Light" distributed would probably have made lesser groups throw up their collective hands in disgusted concession. Lucky for us they stubbornly persevered in pursuing their dream. 4.3 stars.

Review by 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!

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars For sure, the music represented in this album is truly symphonic. For sure, the musicians are skilled. For sure, production is fine. For sure, they weren't a lot of US bands playing this type of music in the mid- nineties.

BUT, like some other fellow countrymen, Spock's Beard do sound too much to "Yes". I have heard these guitar breaks or piano interlude so many times already. And vocals sound partially too much "Schizoid" oriented (The Light).

I have no major problem while listening to this debut album, but frankly I can't find a lot of novelty in here. "The Light" is probably the best song featured on this album. Some fifteen minutes of pleasant, yet predictable music.

With these few lines as an introduction, I guess that no one will be surprised that my opinion is not as laudatory as the majority of my (many) predecessors. If you are keen to listen to some sub-par ''Yes'' music, this might be a great experience. But I prefer the original model, sorry.

In the genre, TFK is more melodic (vocals) and more poignant (guitar work). A song as "Go The Way You Go" being so childish and far too much on the popish end to me. Only the instrumental intro saves it somehow (but the whole clocks at over twelve minutes). At mid-time, a great "Yes" parody can be heard again. Is this really necessary? I suppose that you know my answer.Fortunately, a fine final guitar solo comes at the rescue.

And I'm afraid that it is not the epic "The Water" which is going to propel this album into the masterpiece ones. Somewhat jazzy, far too long, not convincing (me at least): fine parts are scarce and again, only the finale is splendid. But that's rather short to fill a twenty-three minutes song.

Crafted music, long compositions, lack of personality, excellent musicianship, average song writing and déjā vu feeling are a difficult mix to handle. The music ranges from average to good (five out of ten). I will upgrade it to three stars. No sight of a masterpiece IMHHO.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Here it is... where Spock's Beard began, and let me tell you, they got off to a good start. The album starts out with the epic The Light (and I saw live at 3rp '08 and it awesome!!!). The song is a masterpeice, a great way to kick off an album. The skill of Neal Morse particulary shines here, but the rest of the musicians are great too. Next comes the 12-minute masterpeice Go The Way You Go. The song has Gentle Giant influences and has a great message and melody. Next comes The Water, which is a bit of a problem. The melody and songwriting is not Neal's best, but is still pretty good. However, the FU section is completely unneeded. I realize that it goes with the story of the song, but there had to be other ways to do that section than dropping the f bomb 25 times. Concluding the album is On the Edge, which is really kind of a throwaway. It's just mediocre stuff that was needed to complete the album. The Light and Go the Way You Go are great songs, but the rest of the album is just okay. Not a perfect example of Spock's best work, and it shouldn't be the first album you buy from them, but for people who already like Neal Morse's work, this is a must own.
Review by MovingPictures07
3 stars A very disjointed debut where some promise of potential manages to shine through occasionally in the mass wreckage. The range of bad and good material on this album is extremely radical.

1. The Light- The musicianship is good, but this song could have been so much better with a more coherent structure. Some parts are really good (like the main guitar riff at 5:00 or so), but they are sporadically illustrated throughout many other parts that just. aren't. The first 4 minutes are not that good, and the disjointed feel really kills the impact of this song. 4/10

2. Go the Way You Go- Here we go! This is a masterpiece composition from Morse and the crew. The instrumentation is great and the structure is MUCH better than the previous song. This is so enjoyable and is fun to sing too. Catchy, complex, always interesting piece of modern Symphonic Prog. Flawless. 10+/10

3. The Water- Uh oh. Okay, many good ideas here, but this is overall a disaster. This is the definition of disjointed. Many of the themes are not expanded upon well and the whole song simply does not connect well. Man, this one was disappointing. The good instrumentation and some interesting parts scattered throughout make it better than an absolute failure. It still is one of their worst compositions ever. 2/10

4. On the Edge- An average closer that doesn't excite me near as much as I know they are capable of. Nonetheless, this is easily the 2nd best song on the album and the instrumentation is fantastic (the singing is good too). The keyboards are of note. It definitely has its flaws in form, but overall it's a pretty decent composition by the Beard. It is still WAY better than the Water. 7/10

Okay. This has to be one of the most uneven albums I've ever heard, if not the most. They had better compositions and albums to come, fortunately.

I cannot rate this any lower than 3 stars because of Go the Way You Go, so that is what it's getting. Too bad there's no version of this album without the Water and with a revised version of the Light. Still, this messy debut shows promise.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The music on Spock's Beard's debut is strong overall, but nowhere near what they will achieve as they mature together as musicians. Like many great progressive rock bands, this first album merely intimates what greatness will follow. Still, the first two tracks, which are as lengthy as they are enjoyable, make this album well worth having.

"The Light" Beginning with piano and Neal Morse's clear vocals, Spock's Beard's debut soon gives way to their trademark sound, which consists of Dave Meros's punchy bass underneath layers of wild keyboards. The guitars are gritty throughout the introduction. Neal Morse uses granular distortion on his voice, similar to what will be applied on his vocals in "The Water." The song evolves through several segments, giving us a rough idea of what Spock's Beard will sound like on later albums. Sometimes the segments flow together well, and sometimes they don't, but overall the piece is enjoyable. Some parts are a bit wacky (like the "so they had a party" bit or the singing with a bad Mexican accent that follows), which occasionally makes it hard to take them seriously, but even on later releases, which are much stronger, they retain this bit of silliness, refining it so that it's no longer laughable (like on parts of "The Great Nothing" from V). There's a lot of Mellotron, organ and electric guitar throughout, and the piece as a whole shows a great deal of energy. I absolutely love the way the soft piano that begins and ends the piece, and how the lyrics change slightly the second time. For some reason, I cannot help but interpret them through the lens of Neal Morse's later conversion to Christianity.

"Go the Way You Go" The finest track of the album, "Go the Way You Go" opens up with a loud descending riff, Mellotron, and some growling bass. A second main theme plays, which is one of the best parts of the song, just before a jovial little section that gives way to heavier section. Three minutes in, the music ceases, and Morse comes in, singing over a single acoustic guitar. He has a pleasing voice, even if it one could readily accuse him of lacking an original sound. The vocal harmonies are exceptional, however, as is the music throughout. At one point, there's a guitar part that leads into a completely different section, which includes an audience applauding (like Rush used on "The Spirit of Radio"). After this, Dave Meros demonstrates just what kind of capable bassist he is, as Neal Morse shows off his skills on the piano. Some variations on the introduction bring the song back to the vocal section, which is sung over full instrumentation. The final moments consist of the second main theme providing the background music for some rather good guitar work.

"The Water" Quite frankly this is the weirdest song on the album. The cello and the piano are good at first, but soon give way to raucous music similar to what came before, only it's crazier. The intermittent vocals are laden with effects that sometimes just don't sound right. During the second part, the band employs some Pink Floyd-like feminine backup vocalists, perhaps in an attempt to add to what sounds like a band attempting Pink Floyd. The flashing string sections aren't fooling anyone, however. Mellotron takes the listener through the next section, which carries on the pseudo-Pink Floyd sound, especially with the female vocalists, but the rest of the music sounds so melodramatic it's goofy. The next section is the worst, and not because of the language of the section- it just lacks any artistry whatsoever. It's honky-tonk piano and Neal Morse trying to be mellow-dramatic. Throwing around profanities could be effective, but not here. It sounds ridiculous. "Everyone sounds so pathetic," you say Neal? No, just you here. Also, the way the craziness moves into the apology is also musically absurd, but might have a stake in being conceptually correct, since an apology can happen so soon after a terrible fight. What comes after is more like a song from Alabama. The pieces are stop-start, and don't really flow together like good progressive rock should. What's most unfortunate is that the seemingly strongest jab into the belly of progressive rock is just a collection of unrelated pieces that range from vulgar and insipid to just insipid. The piano section doesn't really flow into the next section well at all. The last part is enjoyable, but seems to bear no relation on anything that came before it.

"On the Edge" With piano and Mellotron, the opening few notes sound like "The Carpet Crawlers," but quickly do not. Soon an electric guitar comes in, as do Morse's vocals, crazy guitar work, and innovative bass playing from Meros. Morse's voice goes from one speaker to the other, then to the middle. Overall, the music isn't bad- it's a step ahead over the previous track, but is lackluster really, save for some great bass. The keyboard solo is top notch, as it runs right into the guitar solo. Better progressive rock songs have been heard.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars I'm afraid this one won't stand up, at least for me.

It sounds to me that Spock's Beard had a ton of ambition going into making this record. But ambition alone a great record does not make, and THE LIGHT might be the prime example of that.

Spock's Beard sound relatively inexperienced here. And as the fans get their tomatoes ready, let me explain what I mean; if we use the big epic ''The Water'' as an example, it suffers from several pitfalls. While it looks like a multipart epic, I see it as nothing more than seven different ideas that have nothing to do with each other smooshed together by an obscure lyrical theme that I'll never be able to grasp. It jumps from marching piano to a Yes-like thing to boring padding to screaming rock to acoustic rock to subpar jazz fusion to ''The Great Gig in the Sky'' in its 23 minutes. Having a broad range of influences is fine, but I don't like eighty-one different styles all played in cliche mannerisms.

The pieces as a whole can get small lift-off from something I like, but get grounded by something that sounds ''out of place''. The title track jumps too many styles way too quickly and come and go in a manner which leaves me confused. There are even a few sections in songs like ''FU/I'm Sorry'' and the ''Senor Valasco'' thing that just don't serve any kind of purpose at all, and I'm readily confused as to why they exist. I find ''Go the Way You Go'' avoids the previous pitfalls I've already describe, but I find the ending to be so expected that I hate it, not to mention the whole piece sounds like Kansas on a creative dry spell with tinges of live Rush.

I think KINDNESS OF STRANGERS represents a Spock's Beard that is a bit more mature and more restrained. THE LIGHT sounds like Spock's Beard wanting to do too much to appease prog fans. This version of Spock's Beard doesn't work for me as the epics do nothing more than leave question marks over my head.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I still don't understand how this early Spock's Beard line-up managed to make an album that starts off so well but eventually fails so miserably.

Although the sound-quality of The Light leaves much to be desired of it can be overcome as long as there are enough interesting compositions to to balance things out. It really starts off on a promising note with the wonderful album-titled track. I really love this performance from the begining to the very end and can listen to it non-stop. The whole performance of this piece feels so well balanced and there is just no weak spots to even talk about.

This is unfortunately the only great instance that this album offers its audience since the rest of the release doesn't even come close to the first excellent 15 minutes. Go The Way You Go and On The Edge feel like chewing gum and once the tracks end you basically spit them out and forget they even existed. This is something that unluckily can't be said about the 23 minute multi-suite simply titled The Water. This composition is probably one of the worst long composition that I've ever heard. It's long, boring and extremely pretentious. I seriously can't think of one good thing to say about it and instead just have to ask Neal Morse how he managed to go for the excellent album title-track to this monstrous disaster.

Luckily the band's sound would improve over the next few releases until the band would finally perfect and master the long track format on their fifth album simply titled V. The Light will remain a novelty record for the fans of Spock's Beard and Neal Morse who are interested in hearing how much the two have actually developed over the years.

***** star songs: The Light (15:33)

*** star songs: Go The Way You Go (12:03) On The Edge (6:11)

** star songs: The Water (23:14)

Total Rating: 3,14

Review by fuxi
3 stars Boy, how I wish I'd known about this album when it came out! In 1995, when it appeared, I'd been enjoying progressive rock for twenty years (I particularly liked symphonic prog, Canterbury Scene and jazz-rock), so I spent most of the 1980s/1990s throwing up my hands in despair at the sorry state of the genre. I found myself clutching at straws: CREST OF A KNAVE was one of them (the only noteworthy Jethro Tull album to emerge in the period I'm referring to) but why, oh why weren't there any younger bands which tried to emulate the ambition, the energy, the colourful variety of classic prog?

If I'd discovered THE LIGHT when it was released, I'm sure I would have been delighted, since Spock's Beard were doing something revolutionary, which myriads of bands have tried to repeat in the years since (The Tangent, Beardfish and Karmakanic are just a few that spring to mind): create lively and varied 15+ minute "epics" in the styles of Yes and Genesis, full of sudden tempo changes, rumbustious guitar solos and pseudo-orchestral climaxes. (At least that was the ideal.) Why, Dave Meros's Squire-inspired bass playing alone would have had me in ecstasy.

As it turned out, I actually bought my first Spock's Beard album early in the new millennium, and its name was "V". I was well pleased with it, but meanwhile I just can't call THE LIGHT a genuine masterpiece. The title track is a revelation, it's true, but after that, whenever I play this album, I soon get fed up with Neal Morse's hectoring moods, whether he's dishing up existential doubt or cursing the universe in his best Lennonesque voice, his Springsteenian voice or whatever... To make things worse, the inner sleeve picture of him lying naked in his bathtub totally grosses me out. One of the main problems with the early Beard was that Morse never had anything remarkable to say. Nor did he devise interesting ways of saying it.

But as a historical document, a token of symphonic prog's rebirth, THE LIGHT has its importance.

Review by The Quiet One
5 stars New Wave of Symphonic Prog sees the Light in the 90's!

Back in the 70's and 60's, a debut album generally meant a bunch of pretty amateurs not knowing what direction to go thus either experimenting a lot or playing plain simple music, though it was only a matter of time until these amateurs would get proficient and write quality music. In the 90's however this changed for the Progressive Rock scene with bands like The Flower Kings, Anglagard, Echolyn and Anektoden, to name but a few, right from the beginning they sounded like proffessional Prog bands with clearly top-notch musicians and knowing well how to compose. Well, Spock's Beard is no exception with their debut entitled The Light.

Already with their debut Spock's Beard shows us their well-known style of Prog which is a mix of straight- forward 70's(esque) Symphonic Prog plus some ocassional jazzy or agressive or even light-hearted bits. However, unlike the band's and Neal's later known classics, this fortunately doesn't have the samey epic song-writing from Neal Morse which at first sounds incredible but after listening to it in another 5 epic suites makes you wanna seek for copyright infringements in Neal's own catalogue!

Anyways back to The Light. Obviously it's not flawless, that's pretty hard to find in a debut, but still the writing and musicianship sounds very professional and mature, specially on the title track and Go the Way You Go; both are one of Spock's Beard finest compositions, repleted with mellotron, piano, synths and organ played solely by Neal as well as full-filled with catchy melodies with Neal's up-lifting attitude. Also the various twists and turns ala classic Symphonic Prog are to be expected.

Then when it comes to the bigger epic, The Water, this one clearly shows that it's a debut that we're talking about in which the band tends to experiment and adventure a bit further than it should, so do expect some flaws in it, yet most of it is pretty brilliant full of Squire-esque bass, pretty agressive parts with Neal shouting ''so [%*!#] you!'', haha, so yeah it's still pretty awesome.

Finally the last track, On the Edge is a very concise ''short'' Symphonic Prog song which is by no means filler: it makes up a very up-lifting ending to this splendid album.

Like a stated in the introductory paragraph, these debuts from these relatively ''new'' Prog bands are really incredible from almost any point of view, and The Light to me, besides being one of Spock's Beard finest, is probably one of the best debuts from that bunch.

5 stars: A masterpiece by Spock's Beard which I recommend to anyone who is seeking for brilliant modern Symphonic Prog and still hasn't checked Spock's Beard neither their 'relatives', The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, Echolyn, IQ, The Tangent, Transatlantic and all of that kind.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Some days ago a guy from my Parish knocked the door to ask for used books, clothes and albums for the poor kids (I believe they use the clothes and sell the rest), so decided to help and give them like 100 original CD's that I don't listen or bought God knows why, albums that only use space I need in the house.

Among the CD's I took from the box were all the ones by SPOCK'S BEARD, a band that not being bad, has never caught my attention, but before giving them, decided to try again, so started with "The Light".

The album begins with the self titled song, a track that is an example of what I call light Prog, because despite pomp and brilliance of some sections it seems too derivative and mainstream oriented. Yes, the performance is good, but the music says nothing to me, specially the annoying vocals

"Go the Way on You" starts promising, with elaborate and contradictory passages, the soft melodic sound of the previous track are dissonant and interesting, with Dave Mero's playing a killed bass, but as soon as Morse enters, the song looses all this achievements to turn into some sort of dull Neo Prog (Not that Neo Prog is dull, there's a lot of exiting music in this genre, but there's also dull Neo as in this case), with Alan Morse trying without success to demonstrate his skills in the guitar and Neal playing a decent but average keyboard.

"The Water" is a long song (for me the term epic implies more than just length) and starts exiting with an excellent demonstration of Neal Morse's keys and Nick D'Virgilio drums, but soon is clear the song lacks of coherence, with a terrible guitar performance that simply destroys the good initial impression, as usual happens with SPOCK'S BEARD, I can't find head or feet and bores me to the point that I normally press the skip button.

If everything was boring and unimpressive up to this point, with "On the Edge" things got even worst, the vocals are specially annoying and the music turns from average to simply bad, hardly heard a song so bad from a band so well considerate by Progheads.

The album ends (at last) with "The Light (Home Demo)" and as I imagined, even less impressive than the final version except for the good acoustic guitar section.

Still haven't decided what to do with the album, probably the people from the Parish won't be able to get money for it, so if some friend wants to buy it from me, I'll sell it without remorse and give the money for charity.

Even when "The Light" is in my opinion one of the worst albums I ever heard, will go with 2 stars instead of 1, being that most of the band members are good musicians, and this is worth at least an extra star.

Review by Andy Webb
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.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Spock's Beard's debut album remains one of the best by the band before Neal Morse was ordered by his jealous savior to leave the band.

The album begins softly, sounding much like an early Genesis album. The band soon joins in fully, and the album proves to be a roller coaster ride of different prog styles. The Beard pays homage to some of the classic great bands, especially Genesis and Yes, but there are some Pink Floyd references as well. Most of the time this group demonstrates it's own original style as well. Morse's vocals, often falling somewhere between John Lennon and Tom Petty, is usually the weakest point on a Spock's Beard album, but here he sings so forcefully that he rarely pulls the music down.

The best songs are the two epics, The Light and The Water. On these, Morse and company seamlessly blend different styles of music into some great prog classics. The musicianship by all four members (Ryo Okumoto had not joined the group at this point) is superb, and keeps these pieces exciting from start to finish.

The other two pieces are more Genesis styled than anything else, although Go The Way You Go veers away from this at times. On The Edge is the weakest track, sounding like a mixture of ideas borrowed from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

A fine start for a modern giant of prog.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was one of the first Prog albums I've heard by purpose, once I started my Prog journey in 2008. Not sure why "The Light", why this particular album, but it still holds special place in my heart. Here is where Neal started to put his visions in form of Symph music, epic lengths and grand visions. Indeed, entire Go the Way You Go is basically study of one motif (from all points of view), various aspects of it. All of which while remaining interesting. Of course, when dealing with work where Neal Morse left his signature, there is always an issue of cheesiness. You can't help it, these two goes together. The Water is different, more experimental (but still accessible, it is after all still Neal Morse). The wonder continues. What they are able to do with such minimalistic tones is simply magic. Oh, but the best song here, the most epic (too many epics, but I like them anyway) is The Light, one of my all-time favourite prog songs. Such a weird a variable lyrics (exploring various parts of what being crazy means) and also many genres and styles, moods and flavours. The song simply has everything, melodic, dissonant, weird and plain-forward parts, uplifting and slow ones. This all while liking Neal's voice a lot can result in the only thing:

4(+), but only if you can overcome a bit less-than-your-usual masterpiece sound.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars How strange, to already feel a twinge of nostalgia for those heady days of the mid-1990s, when Progressive Rock enjoyed a resurgence of interest fueled by the rise of the world-wide web, and by the usual 20-year loop of cultural recycling.

The newly-formed Spock's Beard was one of the ensembles driving that bandwagon, and recycling was very much their MO: not creating a new musical vocabulary, but reviving an older language gone dormant. In other words, Prog but not Progressive, and I write that with all due respect and affection. There weren't many bands at the time so willing to embrace the musical and lyrical pretensions of the symphonic rock 1970s. And even fewer able to do so with such energy, ambition, and ostentatious old-school musical chops.

But here it was: a glutton's feast for starving Progheads, right down to the enigmatic, amateur cover art. This is a band that flaunted its role models (primarily YES, GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT) with outspoken immodesty, naming one chapter of the eight-part title track "The Return of the Horrible Catfish Man" (instead of "the Giant Hogweed"), and calling another song "On the Edge", in ironic contrast to the 1972 Yes epic, which only came close.

But they certainly weren't STARCASTLE copycats. And I don't fully understand the KANSAS comparisons either (if only because, unlike SB, the music of Kansas makes me retch). Neal Morse always had a knack for writing catchy, uncomplicated musical hooks, although the infamous "FU" section of "The Water" took me completely by surprise. Was this really the same, soon-to-be bible-toting ambassador of Bronze-Age superstition, dropping more F-bombs per minute than Johnny Rotten? It's all in the context of the song's larger narrative, of course, but hats off to you, Neal, for letting your doppelgänger off its leash, something Peter Gabriel and Jon Anderson never could do.

"The Water" is actually one of the lazier 23-minute multi-section suites in the Prog music library. Individually each part shows a lot of promise, but in total it follows a tendency that would dog Morse throughout his prolific career: stringing unconnected ideas together into a single Frankenstein opus. When the track finally segues into the afterthought of "On the Edge" (the only cut off the album shorter than twelve minutes, by the way) it's easy to mistake the new song for just another sub-section of the earlier saga.

Spock's Beard would almost immediately fall into a counter-clockwise rut. But their debut shouldn't be criticized just because subsequent albums didn't vary the formula much. At the time, they were a fresh, invigorating new voice in a not very crowded retro-prog choir, knocking the conventional wisdom of the early '90s on its myopic, grunge-based head.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Recovering from the poorness of the 80s was not an easy thing. I, too , have actually abandoned the prog to follow newage and other music genres in search of something able to give me the sensations of the classics and I ended up to discover the 90s prog around 2005, when a colleague introdeuced me to Spock's Beard, Ayreon and mainly, to Progarchives.

This debut album hasn't been my first approach to the band's music so I can't avoid making comparisons with their further releases.

Effectively, listening to the album my first impression is of a little pretentious band. Neal Morse hasn't found yet his characteristic singing style, but the embryo of what the band will becomne up to his leaving is already present.

Probably, if I had discovered them when the album was released I could have thought to a neo-prog masterpiece: a 23 minutes long song, two other above 10 minutes and just one below. (I don't consider the bonus track).

As somebody else has written, the long tracks are patchworks of shorter songs which apparently don't have the structure of the typical prog epic. Probably this wasn't effectively in the band's intentions. The various parts in which "The Light" and "The Water" are divided are born as songs tied together. Let's say that the transitions are very well "engineered" so that they flow seamlessly as a single suite.

Not a bad album at all, very promising from a band made of very good talents (other than Morse's quite huge discography check also Ryo Okumoto's solo albums). Still immature under certain aspects, but it's a debut.

It's good enough to be not only for Spock's Beard's completionists and fans. Good and non-essential, can of course be of interest for who already knows the band. My favorite part is "Reach Of The Sky", the last section of The Waters, that's also the most "Neal Morse's standard"

Not an album to die for but nothing to be ashamed of.

3 stars

Review by Wicket
4 stars Seeing as I've been curiously playing Neal Morse's "Momentum" on repeat over and over again, I felt it necessary to revisit his back catalog of music, starting, unsurprisingly, at Genesis, "The Light".

I still find it odd to this day that this was a record released in 1995. The opening track shows little evidence of its age. Perhaps the studio quality could've been a lot finer. Neal's voice at the 2:30 mark feels a bit muddled. Then again, I'm sure that was the point, but I still feel the quality could've been improved. A lot of synth stylings here also definitely hint at a bit of an 80's sound. That's not necessarily a bad thing, merely an observation.

Still, despite the obvious age of this 15 minute goliath, it's still a very enjoyable track. The melodies laid down by Alan are absolutely unique unto themselves. The way this outfit just picks up and moves into a different direction instantly is baffling to me. If you weren't paying attention half the time, you'd figure you were listening to about 5 different songs, when in reality, the song never changed. Honestly, the song goes through so many changes, it's nigh impossible to state them all. In short, this may be the first song of Spock's first album, but it's a doozy, and one of my absolute favorites.

"Go The Way You Go" is a bit of a misfit to me. Even in the intro, the song snakes back and forth between chaotic chords and playful little melodies. Right from the get-go, though, the quality sounds much better here. Right up to the moment where the entire band cuts out to go to Neal and the guitar melody. It feels a bit, I don't know, cut-and-pasted together. That said, the chorus is catchy and enjoyable. It's not a bad song, but the main reason why it's not one of my favorites is because Neal seemed to take a lot of liberties with the vocal line, and as such, the transitions seem to be abrupt and not totally smooth, same with the rest of the band. It doesn't feel as smooth connected as "The Light". The licks just don't flow smoothly into the next phrase, the key signatures just don't match up half the time.

And, I'm sorry, I'm all for the crowd noises. But that sample just sounded way too cheesy.

Still, the jams in the middle were nice. And that's always nice.

Still, in terms of length, neither of these two tracks can stand up to the 23-minute length that is "The Water". Again, from the intro, I hear no real quality issues. You'd never be able to tell how old it was if you didn't know when it was released. Until the 2 minute mark. The bell chords are decidedly 80's-ish. Still, Neal's harsh tone of voice pulls it back into 1995, while the guitar licks sound eerily 70's Pink Floyd-ish (a mash of generational sounds here). Even the female chorus sounds like it came straight out of Pink Floyd's repertoire.

Not like that's a problem though. This is, quite simply, an epic track. It's one of those you just can't listen to everyday. You have to make an occasion for it, put some time off to just encompass those 23 minutes. The songwriting is epic, you can just tell these guys worked their tails off to put this piece together. The transition (unlike the ones from "Go The Way You Go") from the bluesy ballad to Neal's "f*ck you" rant is seamless. The whole song, really, is just expertly put together, a memorable song and one of the prog greats.

"On The Edge" feels like a misfit as well. The shortest track (at ONLY 6 minutes), it's not a really great intro. There's a sense that it was quickly cobbled together to form a quick B-side track, if you will. This song definitely feels its age here. Yes, the chorus is catchy, but it definitely feels like a dated track today, and as such, it's just a bit cheesy. No fault of the Morse brothers and the rest of Spock, though. This was the sound of 90's prog, as the new age of prog was still in its infancy.

VERDICT: "The Light" and "The Water" just don't feel dated, though. They just feel better, like all those melodies and phrases were just made to be together, like puzzle pieces, and as such, you should buy this album for those two alone. Granted, the two best tracks are also the two longest ones, but that's not to say the other two are bad. They're just not in the same sentence as the former two. And, of course, throughout the record there are a few reminders that this was an album made in the 90's, where hints of the wretched 80's-pop war machine are still present. All aside, though, this is a must for any Spock fan, and a great album for anyone looking for past classics of melodic prog.

Review by FragileKings
3 stars It's not always easy to write a fair review of a debut album when you are hearing it 21 years after its release and you already own other later albums by the same band. Already owning "V" and "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep", I recently decided to check out Spock's Beard's 1995 debut because someone mentioned the album's significance in the 1990's prog revival. I noticed a few reviewers pointed out similarities to classic Kansas, but I had already committed myself to getting the album.

I can imagine in 1995 this must have made quite an impression. Very much in the vein of The Flower Kings, this album and band sounded yet another trumpet that it was safe for prog to go back in the water. I personally don't hear Kansas as much in there as I hear, well, Neil Morse era Spock's Beard. Though there are obvious differences between "The Light" and "V", it's very apparent that this is the same band, except that they added Ryo Okamoto on keyboards shortly after this album was released. In fact, I can't help but being reminded of "The Great Nothing" from "V" as I listen to "The Light's" opening title track.

Though this album doesn't include vocal counterpoint and harmony tracks like "Thoughts (Part II)" or "Afterthoughts", the music and songwriting is still very much Spock's Beard and it's quite clear that this band knew where they were going right from the beginning. There is a certain rawness to the guitar sound in particular that was cleaned up later. My image of the music on this album is that of a pair of sneakers that are a little worn and tattered while by "V" they have new shoes which are not only snazzy-looking but a little more expensive too. Some of the song part stitching sounds a little inexperienced once or twice. There are a number of enjoyable parts throughout, but nothing can top the title track as a well-written and performed song. I like the longer track "Water" mostly but the final song from the original album, "On the Edge", slips past my attention namely because I'm not keen on it.

As my second Neil Morse Spock's Beard album, I am not really surprised by anything. It's a fine piece of work for the most part. The vocals are treated a bit roughly in the mix, though I believe this is intended, and not everything is genius, but certainly a worthy album of having in my collection. Also, it has inspired me to consider looking into Spock's Beard more in the coming year. It seems some reviewers have a pretty low opinion of this album. I guess that's partly because the band gets better later. Almost four stars but not quite.

Review by Warthur
5 stars The Light finds the brothers Morse, their anagrammatic buddy Meros, and Nick D'Virgilio setting off on a prog adventure which, despite its twists and turns, hasn't come to an end yet.

Sure, Ryo Okumoto hasn't joined the lineup yet - but just look at where the core musicians on this debut album have gone since The Light was released. These days, Alan Morse and Dave Meros are still providing the bedrock of continuity underpinning the current lineup of the band, Nick D'Virgilio has helped take Big Big Train to new levels of success (and once had a quick side gig in a small group you've probably never heard of called Genesis...), and Neal Morse is a one- man musical cottage industry, not only helming his own diverse solo career but also playing a key role in a range of acclaimed side projects like Transatlantic and Flying Colors.

No matter how you cut it, between the four men that's an impressive CV in the prog world, and you can certainly make the case that it was The Light which launched them on those respective trajectories. But is it an album of only historic interest, or does it still hold up today? I'm glad to report that it does.

Consisting of three fairly epic compositions and the closing On the Edge, which at six minutes is practically terse compared to the other material here, the album certainly wasn't out to win people over with slick, commercially- oriented material that fit the conceits at the time. At the same time, I think it would be wrong to lump this in with the sort of retro-prog which is out to merely replicate the approach of the 1970s masters of the form.

Sure, there's obviously parallels you can here - if you imagined a sort of mashup of Gentle Giant and Kansas and then added the theatricality of Genesis you wouldn't be completely off-base - but there's more to it here. It was Neal Morse who composed the vast majority of the material here, and if there's one thing that's very obvious from Morse's overall discography is that he's a man of broad musical tastes who likes to be able to perform in a wide range of different styles. Just as Neal's output without the backing of the beard has run the range from pop rock to symphonic prog to devotional Christian music to Beatles covers and beyond, so too does he work an intriguing range of musical influences into the compositions here.

There's the deep bench of prog predecessors to take inspiration from, of course - and that's where the centre of gravity lies - but you also get poppier moments, snatches of Latin music, and more besides. Crucially Neal doesn't seem to have completely ignored what's been going on with more modern musical styles as well. Don't get me wrong: Spock's Beard aren't a prog metal band and they certainly show no sign of becoming one here, but there's moments with a bit more crunch to them here which suggests that Neal wasn't entirely writing off the harder, heavier end of then-current alternative rock. (This is particularly apparent in some of the ways his vocals are produced in some parts.)

There's also something of the torch song or the off-Broadway musical in some portions of the proceedings here - perhaps unsurprisingly, since before Spock's Beard came together Morse had applied himself to writing a couple of musicals (Homeland and Hitman), which would go unproduced until he knocked out renditions of them for his Inner Circle fanclub. The Water, in particular, feels a bit like sections of a musical strung together in a sort of "best of" condensation, rather than a more typical prog approach.

This can mean that sometimes things come across a little cheesy, in the way that musical theatre often is, and not all of the musical sections here are as proggy as all that even if the song structures certainly are. Then again, I think a knack many of the original prog bands often had - and which some of the proggier-than-thou high-technicality groups out there sometimes miss - was a capacity to go simple at the right moment, rather than err for unceasing complexity all the time.

One could even argue that The Light represents a sort of American heartland equivalent of Script For a Jester's Tear and other products of the UK's neo-prog wave in the 1980s, in the sense that it's a prog album put out by musicians who'd grown up listening to the original wave of prog artists but who added some modern sensibilities to the formula. The distinction is that whereas Marillion were able to hit the big time when most of the band were in their twenties, most of Spock's Beard were in their thirties when it all came together for them here. Both albums were put out there in a musical environment where prog rarely troubled the commercial radar, and found success.

Of course, there's differences. Marillion stormed the charts quickly; Spock's Beard took longer to build up a head of steam. Nonetheless, they wouldn't have been able to get that momentum going to begin with had The Light not been as good as it is.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
5 stars I feel there is still something that can be added to the discussion concerning Spock's Beard glorious 1995 debut album 'The Light' (released on Metal Blade and Radiant) - there are numerous examples in the universe of progressive rock where bands release their best works with their first ever try, and the Beard kind of fall into this category, too, depending on who you ask. Certainly a classic album by all means, what 'The Light' did was to open the gates for the reincarnation of the classic 70s-influenced progressive rock sensibility to writing music, and has since become a signature of that mid-90s 'rebirth'. Not only this, but 'The Light' also showed that a band can successfully blend this prog rock framework with a more easy-going (even Beatles-esque) mentality, ultimately presenting a set of highly enjoyable, experimental, and intelligently written long songs.

Just a four-piece on this album, the Beard in 1995 consisted of Neal Morse, Alan Morse, Dave Meros and Nick D'Virgilio, all of them very well-known and beloved musicians - of course, all the songs on here have been written by no other man but Neal Morse himself, presenting vividly his approach to writing 'prog epics' (and later on, we would get numerous of those).

Opening up this classic record is the 15-minute title track and this is one of the most dense, epic, and lively songs that one could ever hear, I am quite certain about this, as the band go in with full power, shifting styles, going through eight different parts comprising this phenomenal composition, and playing their hearts out. Deservedly, this is one of the band's signature songs - it has so many things going on inside, there is a myriad of characters coming in and out, and the band seem to reference so many other classic bands, that the unprepared for this prog fiesta might even get confused. Then comes the excellent 12-minute track 'Go the Way You Go', another brilliant and energetic composition, the memorable hooks and choruses are everywhere across 'The Light', the instrumental sections are mind-blowing, and the writing and production are stellar. 'The Water' is another helluva ride, once again confirming that 'The Light' is simultaneously intricate, memorable, and fun. On this 23-minute song the band dare to display some jazzier and funkier leaning, adding up even more intricacy to their masterful first album. Finally, we have the shorter 'On the Edge', perhaps eclipsed by the magnificence of the longer compositions, and therefore, a bit forgotten. Still, this one is no less excellent than what precedes it.

As said before, 'The Light' is a classic, it is a gateway and a pinpoint for progressive rock, one of its most excited episodes - Neal Morse & Co. present a stunning, sophisticated and extremely joyous collection of grandiosely composed songs that rank up high among the best modern progressive rock albums, rivaling other great and important records from that same period, such as 'Images & Words' by Dream Theater, 'Stardust We Are' by The Flower Kings, or 'Signify' by Porcupine Tree. In terms of significance, Spock's Beard debut studio release is quite essential for the genre.

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Report this review (#295189) | Posted by Earendil | Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok, this is going to seem quite biased because these guys are like my favourite band on the planet, but I will tell you why I believe them to be so magical. This band just are the best band on the world, and act very therapeautically to me. Any time I'm in a bad mood or annoyed, I'll just put ... (read more)

Report this review (#285359) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, June 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Spock's Beard enters the scene with a progressive proposal to have a modern sound with one foot in the gold standard of style, and in the future please fans of Dream Theater and related products, consider a median band, but if we can bring all of their albums can be drawn 2 "the best of" this ... (read more)

Report this review (#260270) | Posted by nandprogger | Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Beard's debut album is a difficult one to rate, and I think most of this is due to the fact that its merit is so dependent on its context. I agree with the last reviewer who argued that THE LIGHT may have helped to revitalize the progressive rock scene into the 90's. Check your prog catalogu ... (read more)

Report this review (#178874) | Posted by The Progmatist | Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is such a strong debut. ''The Light'' spans about 15 minutes and it'll be a memorable 15 minutes at that. The harmonizing in it.The keyboard playing really stood out for me.It's something reminiscent of early Genesis. This is a good way to get to know the band. ''Go the Way You Go'' r ... (read more)

Report this review (#178185) | Posted by ziggystardust360 | Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Spock's Beard had to start somewhere, and The Light is certainly a decent piece of prog rock. The title track is often heralded by fans of SB as absolutly fantastic, but it's a little overrated. Not bad, just overrated. Neal Morse has a very good voice, and the whole I Am section is fun to liste ... (read more)

Report this review (#159798) | Posted by AmericanKhatru | Saturday, January 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For me the album the Light is all about Dave Meros on the base. It is one album that is best served with a healthy side of sub woofer. The singing is good and overall passionate as is Neal Morse's way, but at the same time the lyrics are on the simplistic side. The time signature changes are a tre ... (read more)

Report this review (#128291) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Friday, July 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Listening to The Light gives me a sudden appreciation for Kansas' Leftoverture, an appreciation which Spock's Beard must certainly have shared while recording The Light. Spock's Beard draw nearly every trick and sound on The Light from that classic (as well as notable scatterings of other classi ... (read more)

Report this review (#127988) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Monday, July 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars No point in buying this album if you have Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer etc etc. Each song is just taken from any of those bands and the lyrics have to be the worst lyrics I have ever heard ever "You gave me a home then you left me alone.. f**k you!" Hmmm.. Neal Mor ... (read more)

Report this review (#102550) | Posted by Frippertron | Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Probably one of the best debut albums ever. Great songs, good clear production and top notch performances from Neal and the rest of the band. Yeah, it ''steals'' from several classic prog bands, but in a balanced and tasteful way, but The Light has great and varied prog rock from beginning to en ... (read more)

Report this review (#87775) | Posted by mistertorture | Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was my second SB ablum that I heard, and the first one that caused me to actually start to appreciate this band (Beware Of Darkness I didn't like the first several times I heard it, though now I consider it their best along with "V"). I've never been a huge fan of this band, and it took qui ... (read more)

Report this review (#76569) | Posted by | Friday, April 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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