Spock's Beard - Day For Night

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984-14244-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:37:00

Though it won't surprise most that have been following this ezine these past two years [as of this writing - ed.], Marillion have been my favourite band for quite some time. In some ways, most bands are judged against them - meaning, am I affected the same way by such and such band - does it speak to me? A few have come close - the late Kevin Gilbert being one with Thud. Before Marillion, it was the Eagles, but it was a totally different experience.

Anyway, all this preamble ramble is leading to something - this: Spock's Beard just might have moved Marillion down a peg in the "favourite band" stakes. They got close with The Kindness of Strangers, but Day For Night just might have put them over the top. It may already have stolen the best of 1999 spot, too, and it's only been out two weeks!

Okay, you cynics or those who dislike Marillion may not view that as a positive thing. Should I say that Day For Night is better than sex? Which I guess only works for those who like sex. Hmm...

Oh never mind. Suffice it to say, before I even tell you anything about it, that you should make plans now to go and buy this disk. [Preferably after you've read this review. -ed.]

Spock's Beard have done it again - created a varied and textured album, with just the right mix of cynicism, humor, and insightfulness. While I find it hard to draw any true comparisions between Spock's Beard and their progressive breathren, there are influences here outside of the genre - I hear echoes of the Beatles and the Eagles for instance.

Spock's Beard have always put their own spin on things - odd assortments of noises or rhythms to interupt what might be otherwise ordinary proceedings.

The title track is a tour de force of thundering, majestic keys/drums, punctuated by the signature harmonies and counterpoint vocals that have been a part of Spock's Beard since 91's The Light, and highlighted not only by an electrifying guitar solo, but a brief pastoral passage.

Then track two "Gibberish" seems to be slowing things down with quirky keyboard noodlings, but like Beware of Darkness's "Thoughts," we have their typical out of sync vocals, and another driving rocker.

Vocalist Neal Morse is in fine voice - his tone warm yet occasionally sardonic, eloquent when it needs to be, wry.

The negatives that might be leveled are that, again, Spock's Beard knows what works for them. There are moments that will remind of previous albums, which isn't to say they aren't trying out new ideas. Anyone familiar with Spock's Beard won't think they've done a 180. One other criticism might be that they aren't truly prog. Maybe so, but then they are the most adventurous pop band to come around in a while.

Picking out a favourite here is quite difficult, as the material is strong and solid. The America/Dan Fogelberg/Eagles-ish "The Distance To The Sun" is a beautiful, haunting acoustic based piece, with some warm piano playing by Morse. The main melody is echoed later in the album in "My Shoes"

One thing Spock's Beard do well and often is contrasting tight, claustraphobic sections with big, open movements. For example, "Crack The Big Sky" moves from a fat, jazzy bass led intro (Dave Meros), to rolling Hammond (Ryo Okymoto), to being somewhat understated during the verses, to the expansive choral sections - all the while with the bass and Hammond roiling beneath. Oh yeh, there's another section with a teasing, sultry sax (courtesy of John Garr). All this with a theme that will make you think of what's going on in Kosovo right now.

Well, I could tell you about the rest, but I'm hoping you're anxious to hear for yourself. Though, I will mention that "Can't Get It Wrong" has an intro that made me think of ELO's "Can't Get It Out Of My Head," in what is otherwise a somber track without any of the Spock-isms. Being both bad and good, this should go down a storm on radio - will it play it though?

In the time since I originally wrote this review, I realized the Gentle Giant influence in the layered vocals.

Day For Night (7:34) / Gibberish (4:18) / Skin (3:58) / The Distance To The Sun (5:11) / Crack The Big Sky (9:59) / The Gypsy (7:28) / Can't Get It Wrong (4:12) / The Healing Colors Of Sound (Part 1) (2:22) / My Shoes (4:16) / Mommy Comes Back (4:50) / Lay It Down (3:18) / The Healing Colors of Sound (3:17) / My Shoes (Revisited) (3:54)

Neal Morse - lead vocals, piano, synths, acoustic guitar
Alan Morse - electric guitar, mellotron, and vocals
Dave Meros - bass and vocals
Ryo Okumoto - Hammond organ & mellotron
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, percussion and vocals
John Garr - sax (5)
Joy Worland - French Horn (7, 8)
Eric Brenton, Tom Tally, John Hrovoza - string section (8)
Byron House - string bass and cello (2, 7)

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: April 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 1487
Language: english


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