Spock's Beard - V

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 063
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:19:00

I was pretty gutsy saying three years ago that Spock's Beard were the future of prog rock. I said such a thing in my review of The Kindness Of Strangers. I meant it at the time, and still do, though they are but one part of the future. They are certainly a band that evokes strong reactions on newsgroups - rec.music.progressive at least. But they haven't yet reached a point where there are, or so it would seem that there aren't, a dozen or so bands imitating Spock's Beard. At least not that I've heard yet. Should there be? Well, to be truly progressive in the strictest dictionary sense, no, I would suspect not. So perhaps it's a good thing that along side this review, we're not reviewing Sulu's Sword, for example (or was that the "The Naked Time" episode? Though Sulu was only half-naked...I digress). But they are having some affect on the prog landscape, whether you like that affect or not. Overall, I have to say I do. And anything that sparks a dialog cannot be all bad. So, if Spock's Beard isn't your cup of tea, I appreciate that you're reading this review anyway.

Spock's Beard caught my ear with their first album, The Light, more than ten years ago now. How time flies. Especially since the release of V, which I'm finally getting to hear and review nearly a year after its release. There are a little bits and bobs here that seem a little out of sync to me, but overall I think Spock's Beard have come up with another winning album. Strangely, I kept thinking of "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg and the Eagles in general during "The Great Nothing: One Note." Sort of a cross between Fogelberg and Don Henley, with a little America thrown in for good measure. And yet there's no mistaking that it's Spock's Beard. There are sections of this multi-part epic that remind long time listeners of "The Light." There some brief bass heavy passages that remind me of Yes, and of Chris Squire specifically, of course. There's another bit where it's more 80s yes, on the expansive "The Great Nothing: Missed Your Calling" where I thought of Rabin-led Yes, around the period of 90125. And there are some keyboards that could be Genesis. But, essentially, this is Spock's Beard as we've come to know them.

Some of the more pop elements of the previous Day For Night have gone, but the same contrasts between bombast and quiet are here, a sound that seems peculiar to Spock's Beard of the modern prog bands. Though I can see some influence from Flower Kings here as I saw some SB influence in the recent Flower Kings album. Stronger there than here, though. The band hasn't repeated themselves, but they also haven't changed their sound a whole lot. You won't be surprised by what you find here - that isn't to say that the band aren't branching out a little with their sound, stretching it, experimenting, but it's not a full blown change or 180 in their direction. Well, I say that haven't repeated themselves, but the first epic "At The End Of The Day" does have elements that can be found on previous albums. The French horn here though and bits of the arrangement have hints at the Beatles. The Hammond passage has a moody jazz feel, which moves into brassy brass. You'll also here warm trumpet accents...all this about half way through the 16-minute plus track. Take all these and grind it up, rough it up and you get the angrier, more frenetic section where Okumoto attacks his keyboards in an almost Emersonian fashion. The underlying melody to the track is rather nice, and the band join in chorus for parts of this middle to end section.

What I've liked about Spock's Beard, and what is here on V, is their big sound. Everything seems designed to be played out in the open in a big field somewhere. In fact, the way the multi-part epic "The Great Nothing" finishes, it is out in the open in a big field somewhere at twilight as the sunset fades and the sky changes from soft blue velvet to diamond studded black velvet. "Goodbye To Yesterday" is the mellow, introspective, acoustic track. Low key, it is this album's "June," but it's even mellower than that.

Certainly recommended to Beard fans, but if you are just now venturing into this territory, it is also a nice introduction to the whole "Beard thing." This edition of the album, the digipack version, also has a short video clip of the band in the studio working on this album. The booklet has not only the lyrics, but also an interview with the band.

At The End Of The Day (16:28) / Revelation (6:05) / Thoughts (Part II) (4:39) / All On A Sunday (4:05) / Goodbye To Yesterday (4:40) / The Great Nothing (27:02) From Nowhere - One Note - Come Up Breathing - Submerged - Missed Your Calling - The Great Nothing

Neal Morse - vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar
Alan Morse - guitars
Dave Meros - bass
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
Nick d'Virgilio - drums

Special guests :
Katie Hagen - French horn
Chris Carmichael - violin, viola, cello
Kathy Ann Lord - English horn
Joey Pippin - trumpet

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: May 8th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 889
Language: english


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