Friday, July 5, 2013

‘Spock’s Beard’ Album Review: ‘Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep’

By Ray Shasho

The progressive rock ingenuity of ‘Spock’s Beard’ has been mesmerizing music aficionados since the groups’ inception in 1992. 
The band was formed in Los Angeles by Brothers Neal Morse (Eric Burdon’s i Band, Transatlantic) and Alan Morse (Chad & Jeremy, Spencer Davis). Alan Morse devised the ingenious pseudonym from a Star Trek episode entitled “Mirror, Mirror” about a parallel universe in which a Mr. Spock evil counterpart sporting a beard was characterized.

The group instantly generated a devout following with their first two critically-acclaimed studio releases … The Light (1995) and Beware of Darkness (1996).

Subsequent studio releasesThe Kindness of Strangers (1998), Day for Night (1999), V (2000) and their concept album Snow (2002).

Neal Morse left the group in 2002 to pursue a solo career. Drummer Nick D’ Virgilio took over lead vocalist duties for the group after Morse’s departure.

Feel Euphoria their seventh studio album was released in 2003. It was the first recording without their longtime vocalist and songwriter Neal Morse. The group’s songwriting responsibilities were now equally shared between its band members. 

Subsequent studio albumsOctane (2005), Spock’s Beard (2006) and X (2010).

In 2011, Spock’s Beard performed at the Sweden Rock Festival and the High Voltage Festival at Victoria Park in London. Neal Morse reunited with the band briefly during the High Voltage Festival.

Later in 2011, Nick D’ Virgilio left the group to work with Cirque Du Soleil.
It was announced that Ted Leonard (Enchant) would become their new lead vocalist while Jimmy Keegan (Santana) became their new drummer. 

The latest album from Spock’s Beard is exhilarating new music on a double- CD release entitled ‘Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep.’ It’s their eleventh studio album. The band’s current lineup is Alan Morse (guitar, vocals), Dave Meros (bass guitar, vocals and keyboards), Ryo Okumoto (keyboards, vocals); Jimmy Keegan (drums, vocals) and Ted Leonard (lead vocals, guitars).

Original lead singer and songwriter Neal Morse contributed on two tracks of the album.

Notable tracks on the new album are (Disc 1) “Hiding Out”… A hard rockin’ melody hybridized by Ted Leonard’s brilliant lyrical content, Kansas-like vocalization and intricate synthesized keyboard and electric guitar arrangement. It’s a powerful track and evocative to the progressive rock glory days of the 70’s. While the entire group shines brightly on this track, Alan Morse’s guitar solo is positively explosive. “Treasure Abandoned”… Is another exciting track. Leonard’s vocals are first-class, reminiscent to the early days of Steve Walsh and Kansas, while   orchestrated and performed by unadulterated rock wizardry. “Submerged”… Is a laid-back musical journey transcending progressive realm. “Afterthoughts”… Veers into Gentle Giant-type musical arrangements supported by heavier rock riffs, synthesizers and hard-core drumming. “Something Very Strange” …All the necessary elements for the quintessential progressive rock song are apparent on this track and on the next one “Waiting For Me” …An epic 12:36 music arrangement co-written by Brothers Alan and Neal Morse.  

(Disc 2 bonus)  “Down A Burning Road”… Emphasizes awe-inspiring lyrical content and musical expression. “Wish I Were Here” …A vibrant and intelligent avant-garde musical creation penned by Alan Morse. The track features elements of psychedelic and progressive rock.

Additional credits on the album …Stan Ausmus (songwriting and guitar), John Boegehold (songwriting, vocoder), Craig Eastman (violin, viola, hurdy gurdy) and Neal Morse (songwriting, guitar).

Spock’s Beard is triumphant! Virtuoso musicians + profound songwriting = incredible and awe-inspiring music! I gave Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep’ by Spock’s Beard …FIVE (5) STARS

Spock’s Beard recently concluded a European tour in support of their new release. The tour was supported by Swedish prog-rock group Beardfish and British prog-rock band Sound of Contact (Featuring Simon Collins, Phil Collins son).

Spock’s Beard also recently released the “Submerged” video.

Purchase ‘Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep’ the double- CD release by Spock’s Beard at amazon.com
Spock’s Beard official website www.spocksbeard.com
Special thanks to Billy James of Glass Onyon PR.

Contact classic rock music journalist Ray Shasho at rockraymond.shasho@gmail.com

Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’ -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com   - Please support Ray so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting.

~~Pacific Book Review says Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. I found Check the Gs to be pure entertainment, fantastic fun and a catalyst to igniting so many memories of my own life, as I too am within a few years of Ray.  So to all, I say if you have a bit of grey hair (or no hair), buy this book!  It’s a great gift for your “over-the-hill” friends, or for their kids, if they are the history buffs of younger generations trying to figure out why we are the way we are.


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