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Spock's Beard - Feel Euphoria CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 386 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Okay, let's get the Genesis comparisons out of the way at the beginning shall we? A well- known band releases what is seen by many as a concept album masterpiece of great complexity, only for the singer to leave (in this case, even before a full tour is undertaken ? at least Gabriel was Rael), who was then replaced in turn by the drummer as lead singer. The band continued in a different musical area than before, and released 'A Trick Of The Tail', um, sorry, 'Feel Euphoria'. Right. SB are not Genesis, and Nick D'Virgilio is not Phil Collins, and by the way, I really enjoyed 'Snow' and return to it often, playing all of it, which isn't something that can be said about 'Lamb'.

Like many SB fans I was extremely concerned when Neal left the band. This is because he was the main songwriter, the band leader, and a multi-instrumentalist to boot. Just how were they going to replace him? I don't think that there was ever any doubt that Nick was going to take over as singer ? he always sang the encore with Neal on drums, and he has a great voice. For the new album the decision was eventually taken not to bring in a new musician, with Ryo taking over the entire keyboard playing, although the band did collaborate with some outside songwriters. Without Neal they have moved away from much of the overtly proggy material and more into a hard rock area, although in many ways they could argue that they are more progressive than before as they have now moved away from much of the Spock's Beard 'sound'.

The album starts with "Onomatopoeia", which my dictionary defines as 'using words that imitate the sound they denote' and with hissing fires and ticking clocks they probably have it right. When I first played this I couldn't believe what I was hearing, as this is a rock song first and foremost ? blasting along, certainly for the first section. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, where was the SB I loved? The more I played this the more I fell in love with it. I believe that the guys have placed this as the opener just to wake everybody up and demand to be met on their own ground. They are not the band that they were when Neal was involved, they have evolved. Evolution means change, and this is something I now welcome, although it was hard the first time. Actually, there is a lot going on in this track, with gentle harmony vocals as well as crunching guitars.

From here on the band show that they have plenty of musical tricks, with Ryo showing what a fine keyboard player he is. Simple ideas such as stopping the music so that Nick can sing unaccompanied works extremely well on "The Bottom Line", with harmony vocals abounding. They are trying new ideas, the feeling that here is a band that has bonded together over time, and then been thrust together and have grown even more because of it. The title track is particularly dark and menacing, with a bleak verse contrasting against the more vibrant chorus.

The highlight of the album is the lengthy "A Guy Named Sid" which shows just how Nick has changed as a songwriter. The second section, "Same Old Story" rocks and bounces, and even if in the future they drop the whole song from the set, this is going to be in there for years. In my mind's eye I can see Nick strutting the stage as this is blasted out. The 'choir' is a bit contrived, as I cynically felt that it had been put there to show that Nick and Alan can sing fine on their own, thanks, but overall this is a masterpiece, moving through loads of different styles and rhythms.

Originally written for Feedback #76, 2003

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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