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Neal Morse - Neal Morse CD (album) cover


Neal Morse

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars Have you ever looked at someone elses little baby and said "wow! it looks just like you !" ... this is how I felt the first time I listened to Neal MORSE's 1st self titled album... it was like SPOCK'S BEARD but then again maybe not.. Let me say that this is a highly energetic and entertaining recording from one of today's most talented musicians. Neal plays all the instruments except for drums which good friend Nick D'Vigilio (aka SPOCK'S BEARD & GENESIS) handles with ease and sophistication. Fans of SPOCK'S BEARD will need to own this recording as Neal brings many of those nifty little "Beardie" elements into the music with Jazz and contemporary rock like structures moving as you would expect in all directions. This album is exceptionally well done and although I love all of the tracks to death it is the nice long last epic track "A Whole Nother Trip" which I can't seem to get out of my mind... just simply hyptnotic.
Report this review (#24834)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well it's obvious to most that Neal Morse was the talent behind Spocks Beard (Not the only talent but the majority) With Testimony and One receiving great reviews i hope his first solo effort isnt overlooked. This album has a lot of the structure of Spocks Beard but Neal somehow seems less restrained in his ideas. This offering has a mixture of rock/pop and grand progressive. The twenty four minute 'A whole Nother Trip' is simply a masterpiece, well okay almost a masterpiece as that word is a little over used these days. But nonetheless it is a track worthy of some of the great prog bands.
Report this review (#24836)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amzing compositions, great vocals. The first solitude work of Neal Morse is a explendid album, full of terrific melodies and precious music. Morse plays all of the instruments except drums, which was played by Nick D'Virgilio, one of the most exciting drummers of the actual progressive scene. The tracks, Lost Cause and Landslide are the best in their genre, which could be called "progressive country". The last trak (A Whole Nother Trip) is a real suite in the Spock's Beard's way.What a wonderful work, reallly!!! However, we must to say that the Testimony album is the greatest Neal Morse's prog compostition.
Report this review (#59734)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Neal Morse is an incredibly talented musician, and the piano playing he does on this his first solo record is outstanding.

This is particularily true of the first song "Living Out Loud" where he really shows off his amazing command of the piano.The thing that impresses me more than his virtuosity with the piano is his song writing skills. I'm not normally one who puts great stock in lyrics, the instrumental part of the song means more to me as well as the vocal ability but i'm just blown away by the witty, humourous, wise, personal lyrics of these songs. Just incredible ! There is some variety on this record, and I would describe the songs mostly as fairly light, almost pop tunes really, but well done pop tunes of course.

It's quite an enjoyable listen.

Report this review (#93543)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the debut solo album from Spock´s Beard´s at the time frontman, keyboard player and main composer Neal Morse. Anyone familiar with Spock´s Beard knows that Neal was the heart of that band. The man is so incredibly talented both as a singer and pianist but especially as a composer. In SPock´s Beard he blended all his progressive ideas with pop sensebilities and succeeded for the most part. On this solo album we hear more of his pop tendencies than his prog influences.

It is said in one of the previous reviews that Spock´s Beard fans needs to own this album. I strongly disagree. If you like the most cheesy pop songs on Spock´s Beard´s albums then yes you will enjoy album as well. But if your interest like mine in Spock´s Beard is because they make great retro progressive rock with lots of symphonic elements you should avoid this album. The only song that reminds me of Spock´s Beard is the closing 23:58 minute long epic A Whole Nother Trip and even that one sounds a bit weak compared to the real Spock´s Beard. That track is worth my time though. Songs like Living Out Loud and Landslide are well composed but they are just too simple and nice for my taste. Even the rock songs like Nowhere Fast reminds me of a soft Brian Adams and that´s not a compliment when it comes from me.

The musicianship is of course excellent. Neal Morse is an outstanding musician and besides singing he also plays some really great piano parts. Spock´s Beard drummer Nick D'Virgilio helps out with the rythm track.

The production is actually rather good when you remember that this was recorded at Neal´s home.

The cover artwork is typical solo album style with Neal´s face on the cover.

I can´t claim to like this much. Maybe it´s because I have always had a hard time with Neal´s most commercial tendencies. I would much rather have seen him pursue a more progressive style, but that wasn´t to be. The man is a pop head and I have yet to come to terms with that. This is definitely a fan thing. I´ll rate it 2 stars and recommend that you check out Spock´s Beard instead.

Report this review (#176847)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The debut from the voice of Spock's Beard is as good as any debut from a solo artist. He is feeling out his audience and capturing a new market here with the Christian content, though it never feels as though he is preaching to us. The tracks are sung beautifully and are uplifting.

There are not as many progressive elements as Spock's Beard or other more recent solo albums, however the lengthy epic, A Whole Nother Trip, clocking 23 minutes is a great addition that would satiate the pallete of any proghead (like myself). I like the way it moves seamlessly from one song to another and there are many time sig changes and wonderful musicianship, though I miss Portnoy, who later featured on the Morse solo CDs.

Other highlights on this debut include the melodic 'Landslide', 'That Which Doesn't Kill', and 'Nowhere Fast'. Morse's vocal performance gives each track a majestic quality outside the realm of the type of material he was doing with Transatlantic or for that matter Spock's Beard.

Morse loves to indulge in the ballad style but is always ready to crank it up, particularly in the last track. There is an emotional depth in the track as he pours out his hear about his pure faith in God. It's not Spock's Beard but it's an effective start to Morse's solo career.

Report this review (#224048)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#953488)
Posted Friday, May 3, 2013 | Review Permalink

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