Spock's Beard (in the opinion of some) is the band that breathes new life into the more 'hardcore' progressive rock music genre. They started out in 1992 with Neal Morse and his brother Alan aiming to take a musical direction in the true spirit of Yes in the early 1970s. The outcome of their now eight-year-old career is, according to their fans, brilliant in every aspect. They produce one classic album after another, and with each album experiment and take new directions in the true spirit of progressive music.
The Men With The Plan
Their back catalogue includes five albums, which have benn hailed as masterpieces. The discussions among the fans about which album is the best can be summarised pretty quickly by saying that nobody agrees on any best album. See the discography at the bottom for a full list of Spock albums.
The members of the band are:
Neal Morse - lead vocals, piano, all synths, acoustic and occational electric guitar
Alan Morse - main electric guitar, 'cello, Mellotron and vocals
Dave Meros - bass and vocals
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, percussion and vocals
Ryo Okumoto - Hammond organ and Mellotron
Neal Morse has recently involved himself in several side projects. These include his solo album, and involvement in the 'progressive supergroup' Transatlantic, which also includes Roine Stolt of Flower Kings, Pete Trevawas of Marillion and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. Their first album SMTPe, released in early 2000, quickly became a hit among the prog rock culture, with people describing it as a 'Yesish, Gentle Giantish and Beatleish affair. It rocks!' and that is just one gentle quote. Neal has also appeared on Ayreon's latest album, The Dream Sequencer.
A Brief History
The history of the band starts back in 1992, when Alan and Neal played together in their parents' house, trying to come up with some material of their own. Some of their early demos can be found on the 1998 release From The Vaults which includes an early and very interesting demo of 'The Light'. This song later appeared on their praised debut release, originally enough called The Light.
They understood that they needed manpower to play their music, and soon drummer Nick D'Virgilio was on the team together with the two brothers. Neal had known Dave Meros for several years, and when Dave heard the stuff they were working on, he asked to be in the band immediately. When the subject of a keyboardist came up, they originally went for a 'session musician position', and that man was Ryo Okumoto. He came in before the debut release was recorded, and just played through the thing almost without a glitch. He was later made a full member of the band, and is by now the most popular figure on stage because of his silliness and sheer musical ecstacy. During a Spock concert in 2000, Ryo did a solo with his '80s synthguitar Hammond, and he proceeded to jump into the audience, wires flying, while screaming at the top of his lungs and playing the thing like it was an explosion which was set off and still going strong.
For the second CD, Beware Of Darkness, they got the musical genius Kevin Gilbert to co-produce. Kevin died later that year, and the band took over his studio and has been there ever since. Through the years, they've released several CDs and there's something on them for everyone except for the most die-hard rapper and technofreak. Although this displays the versatility of the band, they mostly stick to their pretty unique 1990s prog rock style to this day. Their latest album to date is V which also exists in a limited edition with an extra multimedia track and larger booklet.
Spock's Beard back catalogue comprises:
- The Light (1995)
- The Official Bootleg (Live, 1996)
- Beware Of Darkness (1996)
- Kindness Of Strangers (1997)
- From The Vault (Rarities, 1998)
- The Beard Is Out There (Live, 1998)
- Day For Night (1999)
- Live At The Whiskey And NEARfest (Live, 1999)
- Don't Try This At Home (Live, 2000)
- V (2000)