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Neal Morse - Neal Morse CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

3.21 | 132 ratings

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Mr. Mustard
2 stars Neal Morse released his first studio album in 1999, while already in the midst of his band, Spock's Beard. Of course, Neal was the main songwriting force in the band, so much of the sound and style of the Beard is present in this album. Those familiar with Neal's style know that he is a melodic genius, and is able to flawlessly blend prog and pop. However, the pop and prog seems to be relatively segregated on this album.

In fact, I would venture to say this actually closer to a pop-rock album than full on prog. The first half is comprised of seven songs each of which is built around the simple verse-chorus and 4/4 time signature found in pop. It isn't until the final four songs, (which are bundled into a single suite) that a shred of prog becomes evident.

'A Whole Nother Trip' is Neal's first right solo epic. It's comprised of four songs that blend flawlessly into each other. The Spock's sound definitely permeates through the suite, with crunchy guitar, Nick's pounding drums, Neal's dramatic vocals, and some very fun melodies. The suite is also pretty diverse; there are the classic Spock's Beard-sounding tunes in 'Bomb That Can't Explode' and 'Mr. Upside Down Man,' the former of which is driven by Neal's vocals, and the latter based around a simple, but heavy guitar riff. 'The Man Who Could Be King' is the song where Neal establishes his "Spanish" sounding landscape with acoustic guitar that he abuses frequently in future albums. The ending 'It's Alright' is basically Neal repeating the title for the duration, but it is a warm conclusion.

Overall, besides the 'A Whole Nother Trip' suite, the album is mostly comprised of simple pop drivel. Neal has got away with this in the past on records like A Day For Night and Kindness of Strangers, but they were cleverly masked in a more progressive sound. Fortunately, Neal would re-locate his prog edge in future albums, like Testimony and One.


Mr. Mustard | 2/5 |


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