Dream Theater Fans...Thoughts on Spock's Beard

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Paul E. Fox II, Nov 27, 2002.

  1. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    Last year around this time, I was given burned copies of "When Day and Dream Unite" and "Images and Words". These two CDs led me to buy the ENTIRE Dream Theater catalog (minus the imports). At that time people were also talking about Spock's Beard. Now, I'm ready to take the plunge but I guess I'd like to know from fans of both bands on what I can expect.
    Is the musical style of the bands similar or totally different?
    Is Spock's Beard as musically proficient as the guys from Dream Theater?
    I'm gonna start with ONE album, so which one would you guys recommend?
    I'm Listening[​IMG]!
     
  2. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Paul, I'm a huge fan of both bands.

    The two bands support each other and admire each other musically. In a Spock's Beard DVD I have, Neil Morse (lead singer and songwriter up until last month) wears a couple of different Dream Theater T-shirts. SB has opened for DT in a tour. Morse and Portnoy collaborated in Transatlantic.

    DT is more flashy than SB, but no one can be dissappointed by the skill of the guys in SB.

    Stylistically, DT is much heavier. I would consider them to be a metal band, while SB is more of a rock band. They have a stronger pop sensibilities, and their influences may be more Yes and Rush, wereas as DT has Maiden and Metallica in them, which SB lacks. SB's music features strong melodies and a bit of humor sometimes. They even have a couple of songs that are direct stylistic references to Gentle Giant.

    The first SB album I heard was The Kindness of Strangers, and it got me hooked. Beware of Darkness and V are the other two essential Beard albums. I consider those to be the cream of the crop. The others are great, too, but these are truly special.
     
  3. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    Mike,
    I was kinda hoping you'd jump in here and reply to this. I was at the CD Now website and read a review for "V" and it sounds pretty cool. I'm ready to explore some and I've heard SO MUCH about Spock's Beard, I thought I should try it now.
    In fact, I may run over to the mall right now and see if I can locate the album (However, I doubt they'll have it since I live in the "Land That Time Forgot![​IMG])!
     
  4. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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    Fans of Dream Theater looking for progressive bands that lean more towards metal than rock should look into the band Symphony X. They're an excellent progressive metal band. There are similarities between them and Dream Theater, though I would say that Symphony X have more neoclassical influences in their music. A good album to start with would be "The Divine Wings of Tragedy".
     
  5. Peter Mazur

    Peter Mazur Second Unit

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    I first heard Spock's Beard back in 95. I was sent a sampler tape of bands that would be playing at that years Progfest in L.A. The song "The Light" was on this tape, and I was just blown away by it. They performed the whole "The Light" album as well as "Thoughts" from their not yet recorded second album. I absolutely love that first album. The under produced sound is intentional on the bands part. They wanted it to sound like it was recorded in the 70's. It has a very Gentle Giant influenced sound.

    I also enjoy "The Kindness of Strangers" as well. The rest are very hit and miss for me. The newest one "Snow" is musically pretty good, but the story-line IMO is very weak. It's kind of a cross between the movie "Powder" and The Who's "Tommy".

    I would actually recommend you pick up Transatlantic's two cd's as well, they are excellent.
     
  6. Peter Mazur

    Peter Mazur Second Unit

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    Sorry, double post.
     
  7. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    Well...

    As it turns out, The Land That Time Forgot actually must have been on the mailing list this month. I drove over to The Mall (ARGHHHH!) and found both "V" and the newer "Snow" by Spock's Beard.

    I purchased "V".

    I'm currently halfway through the CD here at work, but that doesn't really do a CD justice. So far, they are reminding me a lot of what I could describe as Yes meets ELP with a heavy dose of Journey (all the Harmony Vocals) but so far VERY mellow in comparison to Dream Theater.

    Still on the fence, but I like what I hear so far.

    Thanks for the recommendations so far and since you mentioned it, where would Transatlantic fit in this picture? More like Spock's Beard?
     
  8. Rob M.

    Rob M. Stunt Coordinator

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    Transatlantic sounds a little Beard-ish, especially on the first CD. Bridge Across Forever seems to be a much more collaboritve effort. It was, by the way, my favorite album of 2001. In particular, the song "Stranger in Your Soul" gives me chill bumps every time I hear it. Anyway, TA was sort of meant to sound like 70s prog, so if you're looking for the Dream Theater sound, look elsewhere. Portnoy proves how good he is by being very restrained at times on the two TA albums.

    V is a good place to start with Spock's Beard. I don't think it's their best, but it does provide a good overview of what you'll hear on other albums. The more I listen, I think the Snow is their best album, followed closely by Beware of Darkness.

    If you can't get into them now, wait until they release something in 2003. Neal Morse has left, and Spock's v2.0 will probably have a completely different feel. Since I enjoyed drummer Nick D'Virgilio's solo CD (who will most likely be handling vocals now), I'm actually looking forward to what they do next.
     
  9. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    And don't forget to pick up Porcupine Tree's new one "In Abstentia" which goes right along those bands. Very inventive harmonic Rock music.
    Fans of 70's Rock will love this album.

    PT just played the Knitting Factory in LA and rocked the joint.
     
  10. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    I guess I should've explained a little. I like bands that can PLAY...whether their style is the more heavy stuff like Dream Theater or more laid back, like Spock's Beard seems to be.
    I didn't mean to confuse anyone asking for a Dream Theater Clone. I've heard SO much about Spock's Beard that I wanted to experience them, thus the question. I like bands that can PLAY period[​IMG]!
    I'm likeing what I've heard so far and since I'm home for the T-Day holiday now, I can probably get a bit of critical listening time in now.
    Now, you guys have me curious about TransAtlantic[​IMG]!
     
  11. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    Transatlantic is great. Both albums are fantastic. Buy the first one SPTME and if you like that, get the next.
     
  12. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    Well, I've been listening to "V" by Spock's Beard exclusively for a couple of days now and I am gonna go on record here and say that they are Very Good! I love the little acapella part on Thoughts, Pt. 2. Great stuff and quite a bit of comedy in that one too...."May NOT!".

    They are quite proficient musically and while very different from Dream Theater, I can see where they are similar as well. I guess I'm gonna try to locate the first Transatlantic Album as well as pick up "Snow" in the very near future.

    Thanks for all the help with this guys.!

    By the way, while looking for these guys on the 'Net, I keep hearing about a band called Marillion. Have any of you guys heard them and what do you think?
     
  13. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    Spock's Beard gets way too much attention. Sure, their a great prog band but I'm sick of hearing them listed as second best behind Dream Theater. Over at the dreamtheater.net message boards a new band has taken over. Pain of Salvation, a Swedish prog band that absolutely blows Spock's Beard out of the water in every way. I recommend checking them out.
     
  14. Peter Mazur

    Peter Mazur Second Unit

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    Paul,

    Hmmmm...where to start with Marillion. Let me say this, they are my third favorite band of all time. The album "Clutching at Straws" is my second favorite album of all time. Lets just say that I absolutely love their music.

    They have had two singers that give the band two distinct sounds. Their first singer "Fish" has written some of my very favorite lyrics, although they are sometimes depressing. He is compared a lot with Peter Gabriel (and their music with early Genesis), but I personally think his voice is quite different than Gabriel's. He is a really tall Scotsman who tells very funny stories at his shows.

    Their second singer Steve Hogarth is a much more passionate singer. Their music is not quite as progressive, but it is still outstanding. I'm not sure how I would categorize it.

    My favorite albums from the Fish years are:

    Clutching at Straws
    Fugazi

    My favorites from Hogarth are:

    Afraid of Sunlight
    Seasons End
    Anoraknophobia

    They are not at all heavy the way Dream Theater are, but IMO are much better musicians. No offense , but I myself don't like solos that go at Mach speed.

    I don't think they have made a bad album. They have a two cd best of, you might start with that to see if you like them.
     
  15. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Jeff, I tried to listen to Symphony X and, while they are good performers, the cheesiness of the lyrics and bombastic sound was a little much for me. I love 80s power metal, but this was a just a tad much for my tastes.


    Quote:



    where would Transatlantic fit in this picture? More like Spock's Beard?






    The first Transtatlantic album, SMPT:e, was written primarily by Neil Morse, so it's almost like that lost Spock's Beard album. The second one, Bridge Across Forever, had much more input from the other guys. Note that Roine Stolt, of The Flower Kings, is the primary songwriter of his band as Neil Morse is to his, so you're getting a collaboration between two top modern prog creative powerhouses.


    Quote:



    I didn't mean to confuse anyone asking for a Dream Theater Clone.






    My advice is not to look for one. I've heard them and it just sounds so sad.


    Quote:



    Still on the fence, but I like what I hear so far.






    The last track on V is, IMO, the best and one of their masterpieces.

    Ah, Marillion. As of right now, they and King Crimson are the two bands that I'm currently obsessively collecting every CD I can from their web sites and such.

    Just to add to what Peter said, you will find that most prog fans prefer the early "Fish" stuff. However, Marillion are currently making a deliberate effort to distance themselves from those days. Hogarth has been with the band since '88 and their musical direction has changed with mixed results, mostly good. Their latest album, Anoraknophobia, sounds abosultely nothing like the Fish stuff- which is a good thing! Don't get me wrong- I love the Fish stuff, too (especially Misplaced Childhood), but that was good for 1983. Anoraknophobia is the perfect album for now. There's more Radiohead and Jane's Addiction in it than Genesis. Marillion has done it all from pretentious art rock to hip Brit pop.

    Lyrically, Fish is a lot more complex and clever. Lots of rich symbolism, literary tricks and allusions, and historical references. It's also a lot more personal, dealing with life on the road, drug demons, and lost love. Hogarth's are more "normal." Vocally, many feel that Hogarth is better technically while Fish is more emotive. I personally feel that is simplifying things a bit, as Hogarth is more subtle than people give him credit for.

    A word about Steve Rothery, guitar player- if you like David Gilmour, you will love Rothery. Famous for making the guitar "sing," his playing serves the song better than most proggers. His solos are typically one-note-at-a-time melodic affairs with a beautiful tone.

    Marillion albums:

    Script For A Jester's Tear- a remarkable first effort. The only part I don't like is the poetry reading bit- a bit too artsy for me. But the songwriting is so strong, on monster epics (in theme, not length) like the title track and The Web and catchier fare like Garden Party.

    Fugazi- IMO the most uneven early album. Assassin and Punch & Judy don't know whether to be pop songs or prog. Incubus is a masterpiece and possibly my favorite Fish tune.

    Misplace Childhood- probably my favorite concept album after DT's Scenes From A Memory. All the creative elements finally come together perfectly. Probably your best starting point.

    Clutching At Straws- Keeping up level of brilliance of Childhood, this one of the best in their catalogue.

    Season's End- The first Hogarth album, but much of the album was already written with Fish, so there is a lot in common, particularly in the title track. Easter, however, was written by Hogarth- and it's a damn good song. One of my favorites.

    Holidays in Eden- A good album, but many won't agree with me, so it's more for Marillion completists. It is their big cross-over album, and it failed to do that. Hardcore proggers therefore don't like it, but I likes my pop music, too, and there are some damn good tunes here.

    Brave- The other concept album in Marillion's discography seems like the complete opposite of Eden. Very dense, serious, and The Wall-ish. It's good, and many Marillion fans consider it their best. I personally don't, but I think that's like a Pink Floyd fan saying that Dark Side of the Moon isn't their favorite Floyd album.

    Afraid of Sunlight- Probably the quirkiest Marillion album, one hears the band floundering, looking for a new direction. The title track is another killer melody and none of it is particularly bad, but like Eden, probably best to hold off on it until after getting some others.

    This Strange Engine- If Holidays In Eden isn't slammed by listeners the most, than this one is. But it's my first Marillion album and I love it. It features a heavy emphasis on acoustic instruments and catchy melodies, but damn me if they ain't great.

    Radiation- Now it seems like they were listening to a lot of Radiohead and Massive Attack and have figured out what direction they want to go, as their modern sound is reformed and solidified. There are some great tunes and a few that don't hold really together. They would go on to do better.

    Marillion.com- Despite the awful title, this album is their first masterpiece since Brave. They have now severed all musical connections to prog and are a totally unique and wonderful sound.

    Anoraknophobia- Comfortable in their new clothes, Marillion makes possibly their best album yet. It is just so gratifying to see a band you love who've been around for so long come out with something that tops even their older material.
     
  16. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    Wow, this thread is very familiar. [​IMG] I posted a similar question many months ago. I started out on DT and asked about Transatlantic. Mike Broadman piped in with his usual sage advice and I fell in love, LOVE, with Transatlantic. Push came to shove and I now have all of the Spock's Beard CD's as well as The Flower Kings (BTW, Mike, what do you think of the new FK disc? I really like disc 2 but disc 1 hasn't grown on me yet)
    I can't really add much to what the others have said other than voicing my support for V and Beware of Darkness. Snow is excellent as well.
    Get the Transatlantic CD's. You won't be sorry.
     
  17. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    >>Fans of Dream Theater looking for progressive bands that lean more towards metal than rock should look into the band Symphony X. They're an excellent progressive metal band. There are similarities between them and Dream Theater, though I would say that Symphony X have more neoclassical influences in their music. A good album to start with would be "The Divine Wings of Tragedy".
     
  18. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  19. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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  20. Rob M.

    Rob M. Stunt Coordinator

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    Marillion has become one of my favorite bands over the last year. I started with Brave; a friend recommeded it to me back in 1994 (or was it 95) when it was first released, but it just didn't sound like my thing. Now, it's in my top five favorite albums. I described it recently as "what if Bono and the Edge joined Pink Floyd." Mike pretty much says it all about their albums. His comments on some of their less popular released are spot on; though I HATE some songs on Eden, there are more than enough good songs to own the CD. Radiation's biggest weakness, to me, at least, is the horrid production, particularly the drum sound.

    I'd suggest starting with Brave for the Hogarth stuff, and Jester's Tear (my favorite of the Fish-era) or Clutching at Straws for the Fish stuff. Personlly, I think Misplaced Childhood is a little overrated (still a good album, though).

    Beard fans, be sure to get the new DVD. Not the best sounding disc you'll buy, but a joy to watch (and somewhat bittersweet).

    NP: Ryo Okumotuo Coming Through
     

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