Spock's Beard - The Official Live Bootleg

Year of Release: 1996
Label: Radiant Records
Catalog Number: RA 002
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:07:00

[BoBo dipped into files for this review here published for the first time -ed. Apr 2000]

It had been on everyone's tongue within the progressive circle. Without having heard one single note of music, rumours had it that Spock's Beard were the next big thing! The American power trio had seen the opportuntiy to mix the complexity of the seventies with the intensity of the nineties! The result is The Light, an album which you simply can't afford to miss!

If you're into Gentle Giant, Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator, long tracks and a perfect control of instruments then you're sitting in the front row with this band! Neal Morse's voice (also keyboards) has the same timbre that I found so interesting and accessible with Chris Thompson from Manfred Mann's Earthband. In fact if they ever start writing shorter songs (although I luuuuuv the long ones!), then I guess they could become as successful as Supertramp and Styx during the halcyon days of the genre!

In "The Light" they even integrate some salsa, which illustrates the huge amount of irony within the band. It's exactly that humor which is so necessary to reach a bigger audience. Then again, the 23-minute long "The Water" is an amalgamation of every influence from the big golden book of prog rock in order to release a damn good track. Without any doubt the band of the moment.

That's what Greg Walker and David Overstreet thought, too; so they invited the band over to play during Progfest in November '95. On Musea's 2CD set Progfest '95 highlights you can hear "The Light" in all its live glory, but like Änglägard and Solaris before them, Spock's Beard decided they had to release their entire live concert in full. So they did, on their own Radiant Records. The album The Official Live Bootleg is a statement of their great concert that particular night.

To do live what they did on record would probably be impossible (although with the use of samples you never know!) hence the fact that the trio of Spock's Beard suddenly becomes a five piece (seven if you include both female backing singers). Next to brothers Neal and Alan Morse and drummer Nick D'Virgilio, the band is augmented with bass player Dave Meros and the great keyboard player Ryo Okumoto (using mellotron, Hammond and Arp Odyssey here, wow!)

During Progfest they played all four tracks from their debut album plus a couple of new songs. Although the songs from The Light are played with more panache, they mainly remain very loyal to their studio equivalent. So we have to focus on the brand new tracks. The band performed "The Doorway," an excerpt from "Time Has Come" (which would have been the album's title, but which later on became Beware of Darkness) and "Thoughts" the latter to be featured on the live album. Neal Morse tells us: "It's about a guy whose thoughts are on the fritz, he can't stop his thoughts." It begins with some weird keyboard noises before it evolves into a children's theme which brings different voices together. A fierce rhythm suddenly halts whilst Neal sings in a Beatles-like fashion on top of some outstanding mellotron. It again contains some great guitar parts as well, and has the Spock's Beard hallmark all over it. I just wonder if it'll be on the new album? As I called Dave Mulloy who runs the Spock's Beard fanclub, I know it does together with the entire version of "Time Has Come" as opposed to the excerpt, which was performed at Progfest.

The Light (16:19) / Go The Way You Go (12:40) / Thoughts (7:05) / The Water (23:12) / On The Edge (7:01)

Neal Morse - vocals, synth, piano, acoustic guitar
Alan Morse - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
Dave Meros - bass, vocals
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, vocals
Ryo Okumoto - mellotron, hammond, ARP odyssey

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: April 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 879
Language: english


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