Reviews October/00

Spock's Beard / V / IOM CD 063


Spock's Beard - Neal Morse and Co. progressive as always! Tracklisting:At the End of the Day; Revelations; Thoughts (part II); All on a Sunday; Goodbye to yesterday; The Great Nothing (I:From Nowhere, II:One Note, III:Come up breathing, IV:Submerged, V:Missed your Calling, VI:The Great Nothing).

Spock's Beard has never reciewed any bad reviews. All four studio albums till now has been well reviewed from enthusiastic press and fan alikeall over the world - and the fanbase is still growing.
The Californian quintet released their debut "The Light" in 1994. The album reciewed rave reviews from all listeners and was hailed as on eof the best progressive rock albums of the decade. "Beware of Darkness" came out in 1997 and that album caused Englands Classic Rock Society to name them the Best New Band in the genre. In 1998 followed "The Kindness of Strangers" and on the following tour that led them to Europe, they showed the European audience that they were capable of recreating their complex arrangements on the stage. The tour was captured on the live disc "The Beard is out there". "Day for Night" was released in 1999 and is considered as a milestone, if not a blueprint for the entire genre and was followed by another European tour along with Dream Theatre another live disc was made called "Don't try this at Home" and now I'm sitting with their fifth studio album in my hand simply called "V".
Spock's Beard featuring: Bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse, who has a solo carreer to take care of, too; drummer Nick D'Virgillio, who has worked with Peter Gabriel and Genesis; Organist Ryo Okumoto, who played alongside Phil Collinsand Eric Clapton; Bass player Dave Meros, who worked with Eric Burden and Bobby Kimball; the band is completed with Neal's brother Alan Morse who plays guitar and cello!
As the press statement says: "The care, work, time and costs in the album were clearly worth it. With "V" Spock's Beard have produced an album which does not only repeats the sensational performance of it's predecessor but which outdoes it thanks to its sheer stylistic variety". And if you are into bands like YES, Genesis and Asia this will probably be one of the best records this year!
The bands plays very well and has delicate sense of good melodies along with the long instrumental breaks and complex arrangements - just listen to the over 27 minutes long "The Great Nothing".

Vanden Plas / Spirit of Live / IOM CD 068


Vanden Plas - Recorded live at the Elyssť Montmartre Paris France 13.02.2000 Tracklisting:I can see; Into the Sun; Soul survives; How many Tears; Don't miss you; Journey to Paradise; Spirit of Life; Iodic Rain; Far off Grace; Kiss of Death (feat. Don Dokken); Rainmaker (feat. Patrick Rondat).

Germans metal melodic prog rockers Vanden Plas has finally released a live album. Before starting a new recording session with their next studio album, the band chose to document the "Far off Grace tour".
The event is recorded on a sold out performance at the famed Elyssť Montmartre in Paris earlier this year. The performance was highlighted by guest appearences from guitarist Patrick Rondat and vocalist Don Dokken.
In the past Vanden Plas has released three full lenth studio CD's and a mini album (AcCult from 1996) and all albums featuring the raw, epic and progressive rock sound - powerful and heavy whilst still retaining their typical melodic riffs.
The band has toured as a support act for among others Kingdom Come, Savatage and Dream Theatre - but on this one they have invited two guest stars to join them. On track #10 "Kiss of Death" it features legendary vocalist Don Dokken who also wrote the track back in 1987 (on Dokken's "Back for the Attack") and on track #11 "Rainmaker" guitarist Patrick Rondat shows up and gives the audience a little guitar lesson - good!
All in all I will say that this is a good release, from a bunch of good musicians, with a lot af musical ability and a good melody, it gives a varied picture of their previous work and a couple of fun stuff, in the sense that the two covers are really enjoyable!

Lenny Wolf's Kingdom Come / Too / SPITCD 124


Lenny Wolf is back! Tracklisting:It ain't so bad; Free your Mind; Waiting; Too late; You're my Secret; Hey Man; Tease; Mighty Old Man; Tell me what I've done; Should have told you; Joe English.

My first thoughts surrounding this release was - that Lenny Wolf despite all trends in the music business always has stood up to his rights by releasing rock album after rock album.
And from the first strokes on the first track "It ain't so bad" Wolf's Robert Plant-esque vocals once again took me by surprise - I have always had a soft spot for this german born vocalist , now settled in USA. From the first two record under the Kingdom Come moniker released in the late 80's Wolf's voice and the band group effort had amused me - this is no exception!
The album "Too" like its predecessors, breathes that special Lenny Wolf feeling. I've mentioned the atmospheric opener but the next three tracks very much gives a clue on what Kingdom Come is all about. "Free your mind" is extremely groovy, "Waiting" is very sensitive and "Too late" is a power ballad with a strong feeling.
Mr. Wolf has always been surrounded by good well picked musicians, this time they are: Oliver KIessner on guitar, Mirko Michalzik on guitar, Mark Smith on bass, Marc Cross on drums and BjŲrn Tiemann on keyboards. Together they deliever a good clean rock album with strong and good melodies in musical univers between Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Whitesnake.
I will like to end this by mentioning the two tracks that finishes the album - "Should have told you" with its sexual drum beat and classic powerful rock chorus and "Joe English" a true party track that appeals to my primal senses and dancing legs. Recommended !

© Steen Peitersen 2000