Spock’s Beard assured their presence in the symphonic-progressive “Hall Of Fame” thanks to their first three albums, “The Light” (1995), “Beware Of Darkness” (1996) and “The Kindness Of Strangers” (1998), three CDs which have been quite difficult to find due to their independent condition. Inside Out, as they’ve done, or they’re doing, with other bands like The Flower Kings, Tiles, Threshold or Vanden Plas, is releasing special editions from the back catalogue of Neal Morse’s former band.
There’s not much to write about “The Light” that hasn’t been published since its release back in 1995. I must admit that this is not my favorite SB album (maybe the honor goes to “Beware Of Darkness”), but undoubtedly this was an excellent letter of introduction for one of the most influential bands in the last ten years.
CD opens with the title track, an archetypical epic divided in eight sections which concentrates Beard’s sound, philosophy and aesthetics within its fifteen minutes, where the band articulates naturally and brilliantly a wide range of styles (there’s the memorable lysergic tex mex of “Señor Velasco’s Mystic Voodoo Love Dance”) which surround Neal’s delicious voice and his ironical and surrealistic lyrics. Then follows “Go The Way You Go”, probably the best track on the CD and one of the band’s unquestionable classics. The formula on the first song repeats here, but it’s even better, with perfect time changes and brilliant trademark choruses; and the instrumental middle section is still a live highlight.
“The Water” takes 23 minutes of the CD to build another seven-section epic, rich in shades and well balanced, which precedes “The Great Nothing” and is far better than the recent “A Guy Named Sid”. It’s curious, with the perspective that time gives, to read the lyrics on the “FU/ I’m Sorry” section, where “fuck you” is repeated over and over again, and think that Neal Morse is now a fervent servant of The Lord; Neal makes a perplexed comment on the liner notes.
Original recording finishes with “On The Edge”, the shortest and straightest song on the album, with a strong Genesis “Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” feel. There’s a bonus track, the home demo of “The Light”, which is quite close to the final version, even featuring unfinished lyrics and a drum machine doing Nick D’Virgilio’s future brilliant job. Interesting, but very similar to the album version.
Remastered and with restored artwork, “The Light” is an essential record to understand the evolution of the prog-sympho genre on the last ten years.