I was asked by a good friend if I would do a “Rank ‘Em” column on Spock’s Beard. And they have had many amazing albums over the years, so they make a great choice. But what makes it more interesting is that they have had 3 different vocalists and thus 3 different eras. The Neal Morse Era is what put the band on the map. But they didn’t fold when he left and are still as great as ever.
So here are all 13 studio albums ranked against each other. I am sure this will cause many folks to think I am an idiot but hey I am used to that! No live albums, no EPs allowed. Let’s go! I should mention that I really like ALL of their albums so this is quite difficult.
Something had to be last and for me, “X” felt like the band was tired. NDV didn’t seem to into it and was gone after the release. There are a few good tracks but adding all the names of the people who sponsored the album to “Their Names Escape Me” is as annoying as it gets.
12. The Oblivion Particle
I started out liking this album a lot and the more I listened, the more I grew tired of it. The issue is that the songs just aren’t that strong. It felt rushed too. “Bennett Built a Time Machine” is easily the best track on it and there’s a big drop off after that. The cover of “Iron Man” on the deluxe edition is a waste of cash.
Here’s where people lose their minds. I think “Snow” is overrated. Why? Like most double concept albums, it’s too damn long for one thing. If it was cut down to one disc, I think I’d like it more. Also, it sounds like Neal is already plotting his exit. It has some amazing songs including NDV’s “Looking for Answers.”
10. The Light
Why is this classic so low? Well, this is where this list gets really messy for me. This album can go up a slot or two from time to time. I think the first two tracks are amazing while the last two aren’t nearly as good.
9. Day For Night
8. Beware of Darkness
These two are basically tied. I could really put them in any order. “Day For Night” has some of my favorites like “Skin,” the title track, and “The Distance to the Sun.” And “Beware of Darkness” has “Waste Away,” “The Doorway” and “Thoughts.”
7. Feel Euphoria
6. Spock’s Beard
These two are basically tied as well. The self titled album has some favorites in “On a Perfect Day,” “Skeletons at the Feast” and “Rearranged.” While “Feel Euphoria” has two of my favorite SB songs in “Ghosts of Autumn” and “The Bottom Line.” Two evenly matched albums! I should point out that this pair and the last pair can go up and down between each other. It’s amazing how consistent this band is regardless of who is singing and writing!
Another pair of albums that are basically tied. “Octane” has a LOT of great songs and now that I think of it, it really doesn’t move down at all. “She is Everything” is one of my favorite songs by ANYONE. Plus it has “I Wouldn’t Let it Go” and “There was a Time” which are two favorites. As for “V,” “At the End of the Day” is a masterpiece. “All on a Sunday is great along with “Goodbye to Yesterday.” There’s not a weak track on “V.” These two albums are fairly locked in this position.
3. Noise Floor
The new album could move up or down in this because it does take a while for an album to settle in with me. There are some incredible songs on it and I think Ryo took more of a lead role on this one and it pays off! So for now, this one is locked at three.
2. The Kindness of Strangers
For the longest time, this was easily my favorite SB album. It has “The Good Don’t Last,” “Strange World” and “June” which are favorites plus “Harm’s Way” and the rest. Easily the best batch of Neal’s songs for me. This is a lock at number 2.
1. Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
I was excited when I heard that Ted Leonard was joining SB permanently after filling in for NDV. I was curious though if he’s be a good fit. He is. The two songs that he brought to SB for this album are amazing. “Hiding Out” is a perfect opener and “Submerged” is one of the best songs that I have ever heard (yes really). “Something Very Strange” is a favorite and both tracks that Neal assisted with (“Afterthoughts” and “Waiting for Me”) are fucking awesome. Then you add the bonus tracks which are just as good, and you have a perfect album. Yes this is probably a surprise number 1 for you all but this album proved that this band really can survive like no other.
So there you have it! I know that people will definitely have a different order so please comment with yours! Spock’s Beard have been a great prog band for so long and just looking at these albums to rank them reminded me how amazing their legacy is.