|Spock's Beard - 'The X Tour Live' (Mascot Records)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Thursday, 08 March 2012 05:00|
US prog merchants Spock's Beard, now in their 20th year, are no strangers to live albums, and this latest double CD set, which also comes in a DVD edition, documents the tour in support of their well received last studio album 'X'.
Disc 1 covers almost the entire 'X' album in its live format, with just 'Their Names Escape Me' escaping the set here. Particularly impressive are the two 17 minute epics 'From The Darkness' and 'Jaws Of Heaven', as well as the instrumental 'Kamikaze'. Disc 2 goes back much further into Spock's Beard's history with 'The Doorway' and 'Thoughts' appearing from the band's 1996 second album 'Beware Of Darkness', as well as 'June' from third album 'The Kindness Of Strangers'. 'On A Perfect Day' features from the more recent eponymous 9th album, with keyboard and drum solos completing this second set.
Instrumentally, the album is choc full of interesting and impressive Genesis-inspired prog, especially in the keyboard department, and as a prog fan I found myself warming to the album's instrumental passages a great deal after a few listens. The downside for me is that as with Spock's Beard's fellow American progressive rock forefathers Kansas and even Styx in their earlier years, there's a tendency to fuse the prog with a slightly pompous and overblown AOR style, especially in the vocal department. Consequently, I struggle with tracks like 'The Emperor's Clothes', 'Thoughts', 'The Doorway' and the CSN-inspired 'June' simply because the vocals can veer too much towards a sickly sweet, saccharine and highly harmonised commercial vocal style.
That, of course, is a matter of personal taste, and I freely admit that my prog preferences head in a much darker direction than Spock's Beard. If you're already a fan, this is pretty much an essential purchase, especially with a DVD edition on offer. Similarly, I'd say this album can also serve as a pretty good introduction to the music of Spock's Beard, as it has with me here. The sound quality is superb, the performances faultless and it's a really lengthy affair, so it's value for money too. On this evidence, Spock's Beard will continue to live long and prosper.
To pick up your copy of 'The X Tour: Live (2CD and DVD Limited Edition)' - simply CLICK HERE