Spock’s Beard: The First Twenty Years

Peak Beard: a live-long retrospective collection.

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Prog perennials Spock’s Beard’s Best Of flattens any suggestion that a cherry-picking collection might not be their own choice. They gladly top it off with a new epic, written by the now-departed Neal Morse, featuring every member of the band past and present.

Now that’s what you call amicable. The only let-down is that the track’s a mere nineteen and a half minutes long: would it have killed them to eke out an extra thirty seconds and call it a minute to celebrate each of those twenty years? Honestly, these prog bands and their concise soundbites.

If in recent years the LA band have veered towards solid adult rock rather than maverick labyrinthine suites, this reminds us of how untethered their highlights were. Lengthy multi-sequence treks like The Light and At The End Of The Day take the bones of 70s templates and turbocharge them for the next generation. Jaws Of Heaven and Waiting For Me are equally ambitious, wide-eyed with the possibilities that arrive when three chords are not the only truth.

The new track, Falling For Forever, makes a Genesis/Rush-tinged grandiose finale. A bonus DVD offers rare live footage. A perfect primer for their alternative universe.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.