At the time this two-DVD set was released in 2002, it contained everything Spock's Beard had ever recorded on video, including the band's only promotional clip ("All On A Sunday") and previously unseen footage that included an acoustic performance at a Borders store and live excerpts from U.S. gigs (including "June" with guest drummer Mike Portnoy wearing an Ace Frehley mask). This DVD compilation also appeared mere months after founding vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse left the band to pursue a less-secularized brand of prog following the release of the Beard's monumental concept album Snow.
Watching the Don't Try This At Home live set – recorded with five cameras in Holland during 1999's Day For Night tour – it's remarkable how young the five band members look. And it's easy, with hindsight, for longtime fans to ask themselves questions: Was Neal Morse already disillusioned with his role in the band, even though he would go on to record two more albums with Spock's Beard? Was drummer/vocalist Nick D'Virgilio feeling underutilized? How could a band this solid and full of energy and enthusiasm possibly splinter? Although slightly blemished by an annoying bluish tint, the set features a dozen classic performances on a stage that's about 10 times larger than the cramped spaces Spock's Beard usually played in the States during that era. And fans who never experienced the privilege of witnessing the Neal-led Beard in action can finally see who sings what on tunes like "June" and "Gibberish."
The second disc, The Making of V, is a revealing (but occasionally tedious) look at the very average process of creating an above-average album – the band's best, in fact, until Snow. Home video-camera footage includes the band recording at the late Kevin Gilbert's studio; overdubs in the home studios of Morse, his brother and fellow guitarist Alan Morse, and keyboard player Ryo Okumoto; lyric-writing sessions; and random comments from Neal about the music business and the progressive scene ("We're not supposed to talk about girls, because we're a prog band."). The band obviously had a thing for filming itself in the studio; in 2004, The Making of Snow video diary was released, accompanied with two complete acoustic gigs – Neal Morse's final performances with the Beard.
This region-free video collection, available only in Dolby Digital sound, portrays the members of Spock's Beard as likable guys who truly enjoy making music. The V documentary also shows a lot of interaction with children and other family members. (Incidentally, Alan Morse recently told me that the familial bond remains, despite Neal's alternate musical journey; Neal is a guest musician on Alan's upcoming solo record.)
A bonus 52-minute audio CD (the same one that came with the limited-edition three-disc version of Snow) includes outtakes from the Snow sessions and a fantastic rendition of Yes' "South Side of the Sky."
This is an essential video companion to any Spock's Beard collection.
Don't Try This At Home:
1) Day For Night
2) In the Mouth of Madness
5) Go The Way You Go
7) The Healing Colours of Sound
8) Ryo's Solo
9) The Doorway
10) The Light
12) Waste Away/Free
The Making of V
All On A Sunday (Music Video
The Doorway (Live and Acoustic)
June (Live, with Mike Portnoy)
Go the Way You Go (Live)
Space Truckin' (Live)
Day For Night (Studio Sessions)
The Legend of the Morse Brothers