Spock's Beard - Snow

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 14406
Format: CD
Total Time: 166:29:00

As a prog rock purist, I've always had a hard time placing Spock's Beard. While their early albums could be neatly included in the post neo-prog movement, their music is not really neo-prog. After employing long, complex musical variations, their albums have recently sounded more song-oriented and therefore more accessible to wider audiences. That was certainly true with Day For Night and in places with V.

The 2-CD set Snow has its song-oriented moments, especially on side one. Yet, being a concept album, the greater whole is obviously more important. The concept is not unlike Tommy meets The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, with a bit of the movie Powder thrown in. Neal Morse's lyrics aren't as eloquent and obscure as Gabriel's, but they are certainly more developed then The Inanities of Tommy. "The outcast blessed with special powers and heeding to a higher calling" concept is certainly not a new one.

Musically, Snow is filled with Spock's Beard's infectuous hooks. But the Beard are not afraid of throwing the prog-fusion instrumentals right off the start. For me the stand out on side one is "Solitary Soul," a gentle, beautiful piece that may bring to mind songs like "Carpet Crawlers." It's nice to hear the mellotron used so frequently and so well on an album. Ryo Okumoto's keyboard work stands out on the album, achieving the virtuosity of Emerson's work, especially on side two, without the pomp.

Both CDs have a nice flow, ebbing into softer moments, sandwiched by edgier rocking material. It still seems that the material is more pop oriented than proggish, but there's no doubt that Morse's music is full of twists and turns and the playing is second to none. Also, both CDs are well balanced, with only the occasional weak moments on each CD.

The Limited Edition contains the 2 CD digibook version of Snow with a 28 page, four color booklet. It comes in a special box plus an extra bonus disc with a cover song, live acoustic versions, and some outtakes and dialogue. Also a 4 page booklet with the story of Snow and 3 stickers with the album covers of Snow, V, and Day For Night (all color).

So here it is - the long awaited concept 2-CD set by Spock's Beard. The 115 minutes of music won't disappoint the fans and it may turn some heads as well. While the Beard can't be placed into a niche in the progressive rock world, perhaps they are helping to redefine it.

[I must note, since I think it's otherwise misleading, the four page booklet that comes with the limited edition, deluxe version is really only two pages, as the "first" and "last" pages are essentially the cover (front, back), leaving the inner pages to sketchily, but adequately, give you the story of Snow. But, it is a fabulous package, and the 28-page book is very well done. -ed.]

Released also by Radiant Records, and in Europe by InsideOut (IOMCD 100/IOMLTDCD 100)

Disc 1: Made Alive Overture (5:32) / Stranger In A Strange Land (4:29) / Long Time Suffering (6:04) / Welcome To NYC (3:33) / Love Beyond Words (3:24) / The 39th Street Blues (I'm Sick) (4:06) / Devil's Got My Throat (7:17) / Open Wide The Flood Gates (6:14) / Open The Gates Part 2 (3:03) / Solitary Soul (7:34) / Wind At My Back (5:12)

Disc 2: Second Overture (3:47) / 4th Of July (3:11) / I'm The Guy (4:48) / Reflection (2:49) / Carie (3:05) / Looking For Answers (5:16) / Freak Boy (2:12) / All Is Vanity (4:36) / I'm Dying (5:09) / Freak Boy Part 2 (3:01) / Devil's Got My Throat Revisited (1:55) / Snow's Night Out (2:05) / Ladies And Gentlemen, Mister Ryo Okumoto On The Keyboards (2:40) / I Will Go (5:09) / Made Alive/Wind At My Back (8:28)

Disc Three: Southside Of The Sky (9:11) / Good Don't Last/Open Wide The Flood Gates (Live Acoustic) (11:26) / Working On "Devil"/Fiddly/Disco (4:41) / Looking For Answers (Live Acoustic) (4:59) / Stranger In A Strange Land Demo (2:34) / 4 O'clock (0:24) / Working on Ryo's solo (7:42) / Lost Bass Solo Demo (2:01) / The Light (Live Acoustic) (6:08) / Working on "I Will Go" (2:10)

Neal Morse - lead vocals, piano, all synth, acoustic guitar
Ryo Okumoto -hammond and mellotron
Dave Meros - bass, vocals, French horn
Alan Morse - electric guitars, vocals
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, percussion, vocals


Chris Carmichael - violin, viola, cello
Jim Hoke - saxophone, clarinet, autoharp
Neil Rosengarten - flugelhorn, trumpet
Molly Pasutti - background vocals

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: September 8th 2002
Reviewer: RIPZ

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 538
Language: english


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