Spock's Beard - Feel Euphoria

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD126
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:58:00

This review is excerpted from Clayton's June 24, 2003 The Prog Life column found here -ed.

Herewith is a track-by-track rundown on what you can expect when you slap Feel Euphoria into your CD player. Each song concludes with a "prog meter" value, which is, in my opinion, the track's progressiveness on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most proggy.

"Onomatopoeia" -- This is a solid, hard-rock piece in the Deep Purple vein. Not overtly progressive, which makes it a risky opening number for a band whose new line-up is being closely watched by the prog world. The arrangement, however, includes a sudden meter and mood shift, replete with layered vocals and mellotron-like strings that definitely add proggy spice. Ditto the cool mellotron washes in the song's outro. The confident playing and excellent vocals show that the new Beard is working as hard as ever before. Prog meter: 2.

"The Bottom Line" -- Style-wise, this proggy number would have fit perfectly on Snow. The song opens with some Genesis-like instrumental melodies, before the first verse. The main verse melody is sort of a cross between the Beatles and Frank Zappa, if you can believe it, with each verse ending with glorious multi-part, harmony vocals. You'd almost swear you can hear Neal in there somewhere. After a couple of verses, the song moves into a slower, atmospheric section, before changing again into a more upbeat section. Prog meter: 4.

"Feel Euphoria" -- This is a slinky, sexy number that features a breathy, yet, somehow tough, lead vocal from D'Virgilio. The choruses bring to mind UK, the great John Wetton/Bill Bruford/Alan Holdsworth prog vehicle from the 70s. This song demonstrates what I mean by progressive attitude. "Feel Euphoria," the song, isn't progressive in the strict sense, but is far from commercial. Like most of the tracks on this album, you can expect a couple of meter and mood shifts. Have I mentioned D'Virgilio's terrific vocals? Also, Alan Morse's guitar solo at the end of this number is absolutely insane. Ditto Ryo Okumoto's awesome organ solo. Wow! Prog meter: 3.

"Shining Star" -- This is the album's obligatory attempt at a radio-friendly single. Nothing progressive here, but the track demonstrates that the Beard can turn out commercial fare with aplomb. A genuinely hummable melody and a powerful bridge work together to make this track the hit that SB will probably never have. Prog Meter: 1.

"East Of Eden, West Of Memphis" -- Here, the Beard show how well they have mastered the art of contrast in their songwriting. Specifically, the rolling, monophonic verses lead directly into contrasting melodious choruses. This song, too, features a stylish shift in the center, with lots of proggy soloing underpinned by mellotron washes. Some Flower Kings-like instrumental sections. Alan Morse turns in another wailing guitar solo. Man, that dude can play! A very Beatle-ish ending that could have been produced by Sir George Martin himself. Prog meter: 3.5.

"Ghosts Of Autumn" -- This track is exactly what you might expect from its title, a piano- and vocal-based ballad. A great song, with D'Virgilio channeling Neal Morse on the vocal. The Genesis-like instrumental centerpiece introduces a few odd time signatures, not to mention a build-up into a powerful, climactic ending. Prog meter: 3.

"A Guy Named Sid, Parts I to VI" -- A six-part opus, clocking in at over 20 minutes, "Sid" is, not surprisingly, the most progressive piece on the album, although that's as much due to the fact that it's a multi-part suite as it is to the progressiveness of any one part. A lot of this stuff would have fit the Snow album just fine. In fact, "A Guy Named Sid" is not unlike a mini-Snow, minus the Christian references. Styles run the gamut, from a cool spy-theme-like intro to magnificent, almost Gentle Giant-like, choir sections. Deep Purple influences, again, are hard to miss, especially due to Okumoto's overdriven organ parts accompanied by Alan Morse's Blackmore-like rhythm guitar. As with many of the other tracks, terrific keyboard and guitar solos adorn the arrangement, which closes with a powerful Yes-like climax. Prog meter: 4.

"Carry On" -- Like "Ghosts Of Autumn," "Carry On" is another straight-forward ballad. This one sounds as if it could have been written by Neal Morse himself. In fact, D'Virgilio's vocal, too, brings Morse to mind. The track's regal sound concludes the album with power and class. Prog meter: 2.

All in all, the Beard still sounds like the Beard. Although the entire band is in full force here, Nick D'Virgilio deserves special kudos for so expertly taking up Neal Morse's rein as the SB front man. Is Spock's Beard still progressive? Absolutely. But, no matter how you slice it, Feel Euphoria is one terrific album. Neal who?

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2059 )

Onomatopoeia (5:16) / The Bottom Line (7:33) / Feel Euphoria (7:20) / Shining Star (4:06) / East Of Eden, West Of Memphis (7:05) / Ghosts Of Autumn (6:53) / A Guy Named Sid : Intro (3:02) ? Same Old Story (4:25) - You Don't Know (3:11) - Judge (3:20) - Sid's Boy Choir (1:09) - Change (5:16) / Carry On (5:20)

Nick d?Virgilio - vocals, drums, percussion, loops, acoustic and electric guitars
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
Alan Morse - electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Dave Meros - bass

The Light (1991)
Beware of Darkness (1995)
The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
Official Live Bootleg (1996)
The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Day For Night (1999)
Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Don't Try This At Home (2000)
V (2000)
Snow (2002)
Feel Euphoria (2003)
The Light - The Artwork Collector's Series (2004)
Octane (2005)
Gluttons For Punishment (2005)
Spock's Beard (2006)
Live (2008)
X (2010)
Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep (2013)
The Oblivion Particle (2015)
Noise Floor (2018)

The Beard Is Out There Live (VID) (1995)
Spock's Beard's Home Movie (VID) (1998)
Live At The Whisky (VID) (1999)
Making Of V (VID) (2001)
Don't Try This At Home & The Making Of V (DVD) (2002)
The Making Of Snow (DVD) (2004)
Live (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 24th 2003
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 830
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]