Spock's Beard - Gluttons For Punishment

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut/Suburban
Catalog Number: IOMCD 221
Format: CD
Total Time: 118:40:00

During the band's ten year history, for sure they have released a couple of live albums next to their occasional live recordings as part of the Progfest festival. Some were issued on the Inside Out label, whilst others saw the light of day on the band's very own label, making them only available through their website and on tour. However the brand new double live album Gluttons For Punishment [in the seventies there was a Deep Purple bootleg called Glutton For Punishment - bobo] is their very first in the current line-up, thus with Nick d'Virgilio taking on the role as the "new" Neal Morse, whilst drum duties are executed by the wonderful Jimmy Keegan. Rob Aubrey, who takes care of the band's mixing whilst on tour, took the tapes home to his cosy little studio outside of London and made sure every single second sounds as crisp and honest as can be. As always he has done a remarkable job.

Ever since Nick took over from Neal, I'm sure I can say that everyone who was into Spock's Beard was pleasantly surprised, as after all, Morse not only was a great singer he also was (and still is!) a very crafted musician as well as someone who could fill the stage with ease. So, all in all, not an easy task for Nick to get from behind his drumkit and into the bright spotlight. But he does it brilliantly, whether in acoustic songs such as "I Wouldn't Let It Go" and the more aggressive, hard rocking songs such as "Surfing Down The Avalanche." The band very much took music from their more recent releases, which I think is the best way to still be accepted as Spock's Beard, albeit with a slightly different line-up. The length of "NWC" live simply doubles that of the studio version, thanks to a superb drum solo by Jimmy Keegan, who gets the company of Nick towards the end. It's just like the old Genesis magic is getting a second chance with Nick and Jimmy stepping in the shoes of Phil Collins and Chester Thompson. That's how progressive rock should sound today by injecting as much energy into the whole as possible whilst daring to leave blank spaces so that tiny little details can live a life of their own as well.

This new double CD contains one track from the band's Kindness Of Strangers album, one track from V, two tracks from Feel Eeuphoria and the title track from the band's debut album The Light. All of the rest is from the band's latest studio offering Octane. I like it when a band does this as it illustrates they are really very happy with the new evolution the band is taking. I had the chance to see the band live last year when these recordings were made and I enjoyed every single second of it. You have to have balls if you include the entire epic "A Flash Before My Eyes" in your set, all seven parts of it. But then again it contains both intimate parts as well as more heavy outbursts, logical "easy" beats as well as complex time signatures, which also can be said of "At The End Of The Day" which opens the second disc. Three minutes before the end of the song, backed by a funky rhythm, Nick gets the chance to introduce bass player Dave Meros, who gets his well deserved minute in the spotlights. Keyboard player Ryo Okumoto gets no less than six times as much time to illustrate his skills, but then again if there is one showman within the band it has to be Ryo. Twiddling with oscillators and modulators Ryo creates kind of a blank canvas in order to lay down the intimacy of classical piano. You can hear a pin drop for which a big thumbs up has to go in the direction of both the audience and Rob Aubrey. Ryo's solitary piano nicely flows into the intro for "Ghosts Of Autumn" where he meets Alan Morse's acoustic guitar. Even with the slightest bit of arrangement you can hear this will be a superb song, the kind that makes it into history books and sadly also on far too many illegal CD-Rs! It's that same acoustic guitar that sounds like a CSNY outtake before starting "As Long As We Ride."

By now the temperature in the venue has reached boiling point so the audience finds it fair to let the band have a drink before they climb on stage a final time. What better to leave the audience baffled than by playing Spock's Beard immortal tune "The Light," all nineteen minutes. It still amazes me how the band was able to sneak this bossa nova, lounge theme into this prog epic. You have the be genius to do so ? or barking mad! Whatever way you look at it, Gluttons For Punishment is a wonderful recording mainly concentrating on the Nick d'Virgilio line-up, but then again whenever and wherever you are heading to see Spock's Beard, from now on that's exactly what you might expect to hear and see: a great night out for all! "What makes a dream so very different than any other dream? Where is that straight line that I can hold up and say YES! this is alright, this one will stand up in the light!" This one surely will ? with or without light!

Disc One: Intro / The Ballad Of The Impact / I Wouldn't Let It Go / Surfing Down The Avalanche / She Is Everything / Climbing Up That Hill / Letting Go / Of The Beauty Of It All / Harm's Way / NWC

Disc Two: At The End Of The Day / The Bottom Line / Ryo's Solo / Ghosts Of Autumn / As Long As We Ride / The Light

Nick d'Virgilio - vocals, drums, guitar
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
Alan Morse - electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Dave Meros - bass
Jimmy Keegan - drums, vocals

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: September 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 1150
Language: english


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