Back in 1996 (oh it seems so long ago when I think about it), I was looking for something new and fresh in the progressive rock category. I had been out of touch with the scene and had worn my classic Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, etc. records to the mat. I discovered… Dream Theater. Not completely happy, I went back to my favorite record store and said “I’d like something like this, only with a less metal edge and not as shrill vocalist.” I was lucky the guy I was talking to was a prog fan. He directed me to a list that Mike Portnoy gave of his favorite bands in the current issue of Modern Drummer. The one name that stood out for me was Spock’s Beard and I picked up this CD. This started me on a journey that has yet to end as I discovered (with the help of the World Wide Web) countless bands and festivals over the past several years. However, Spock’s Beard (and all its offshoots and permutations) still remain a favorite.
I mean, as a prog and pop music fan, how could I not like this record? It has two multi-part epics, big harmony vocals, memorable melodies, incredible musicianship, a warm and engaging vocalist, this is what I had been searching for. Thank you Poobahs Records in Pasadena, California!
From Neal Morse’s plaintive and simple vocal asking “What makes a dream so very different from any other dream?” to what evolves into a progged out masterpiece, I was seriously floored. This is where the “Catfish Man” originated. This is where the very first “Senor Velasco” flamenco guitar (echoed on several subsequent CDs from SB and Neal solo) originated. This is where the widdly loud part and then played soft and jazzy part began. Where Spock’s Beard very bright future started, their classic melodic prog meets Beatle-pop style that took the prog world by storm.
Only one warning needs to be included. If profanity in the lyrics is something that might bother you, there is one song here that repeats a word quite a few times that is not completely socially acceptable. This alone, I’m sure precludes Neal from performing this piece in any of his solo concerts with his current Christian inclinations.
There is no reason to go into depth for every song. I have notes prepared here to do just that, but the whole of this recording is so strong on every cut. Suffice it to say if you don’t own it, you should.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on July 30th, 2010