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Spock's Beard

The Light

Review by Gary Hill

This album shows influences from many prog directions (Yes, Genesis, Alan Parsons) and nonprog directions (metal, Elton John). In many cases the songs are so dynamic, shifting directions so quickly, that it makes the track by track reviews difficult to do. When one measure sounds like one thing, the next is in another direction, and then we jump to yet a new leaning, it makes for a difficult review. Suffice it to say this is dynamic and solid prog work. The personnel on this album is Neal Morse, Alan Morse, Dave Meros and Nick D`Virgilio.

The album should be available in stores everywhere or you can order it directly from the label. The price is $17.00 plus $3.00 shipping, and can be ordered by mail at Radiant Records, PO Box 123, Cross Plains, TN, 37049 (make checks payable to Radiant Records), or on-line at http://www.altura.com/jordanz/Spocks_beard/sb/cds.html.

Track by Track Review
The Light



i The Dream
A pretty (and ever so slightly jazzy and disonant) piano intro is joined by some beautiful and evokative vocals. The piano textures have a very slight Elton John feel to them, in places.
ii One Man
Early on, the piece has a Kansas texture as progressive exuberance explodes out of nowhere and runs free. There are processed vocals which call to mind King Crimson`s 21st Century Schizoid Man.
iii Garden People:
Garden People is a Beatles styled song with moments of strong and frantic prog flash added to the mix.
iv Looking Straight Into the Light
Some very metallic tones are added to progressive rock strengths in this movement. The ending moments here are very much in a Genesis` Wind and Wuthering sort of mode.
v Man in the Mountain
The piano on which this segment is based seems to be a cross between Keith Emerson and Elton John. The last verse takes on energetic progressive leanings that are very dynamic. Much of this has the feeling of old Genesis.
vi Senor Velasco`s Mystic Voodoo Love Dance
This movement has a slightly Spanish, beautiful, groove oriented guitar running through the duration.
vii The Return of the Horrible Catfishman
Powerful and crunchy prog, Catfishman features more of those 21st Century Schizoid Man styled vocals for a time.
viii The Dream
A beautiful and brief reprise of the opening movement wraps the piece up nicely.
Go the Way You Go
An edgy, jumpy prog segment drops to piano dominated moments. Next, more traditional progrock work shows up, somewhat Genesisesque, but with bass work that is very Chris Squireish. The number keeps evolving, never staying in one place very long, and that is just the introduction! The first verse features an acoustic guitar and vocals format, and the song builds back up from there. Later segment include a traditional prog arrangement that is heralded by some quite metallic guitar work. Also featured are some jazzy moments, including wonderful fusion styled bass work.
The Water

I Introduction/The Water
A driving format works its way out of an emotional and powerful intro. The bass work here takes a funky approach, while still seeming Chris Squire influenced. The instrumental break which joins these sections is quite Yesish.
II When it All Goes to Hell
Containing segments that are both Alan Parsons oriented and Pink Floydish, this considerably funky movement also contains Yes influences.
III A Thief in the Night
Early on, the movement is quite mellow, nearly acapella. Once the piano joins in, it is rather Elton John influenced. This movement keeps building gradually and there are gospel backing vocals here as well. At times, the segment almost reminds the listener of Pink Floyd`s Great Gig in The Sky.
IV FU/I`m Sorry
If you get offended by the "F Word", then this is not the piece of music for you. This is a very angry prog movement with no holds barred. The angst of this segment gives way to the "I`m sorry sub-segment". As it makes that change, it winds up in chaos, then restarts with acoustic guitar and vocals. This serves as a very pretty contrast to the anger that preceded it.
V The Water Revisited
A bass drone brings us into this reprise of the earlier section. This is essentially just a short reappearance of that movement.
VI Running the Race
More jazzy music, which includes Dimeolaish guitar at times, make this cut move well. The percussion is nicely accented adding good character to the movement.
VII Reach For the Sky
Piano with instrumental accents make up the intro here. As the piece progresses, another pretty and emotional melody appears. This segment is quite Alan Parsonsish.
On The Edge
There is a heavy prog sound to the introduction, and the instrumental break includes a classic prog musical punctuation approach. This work is very mercurial, shifting this way and that. The main focus is alternating between solo sections and faster prog grooving.
Bonus Track (The Doorway (Live)(excerpt))
This is a section of a cut from Beware of Darkness performed live. It is based on some a beautiful acoustic guitar format with a bit of keys near the end of the piece. Vocals complete the arrangement.
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