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Flying Colors

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Flying Colors Third Degree album cover
3.70 | 73 ratings | 2 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Loss Inside (5:50)
2. More (7:10)
3. Cadence (7:40)
4. Guardian (7:11)
5. Last Train Home (10:32)
6. Geronimo (5:20)
7. You Are Not Alone (6:21)
8. Love Letter (5:10)
9. Crawl (11:14)

Total Time 66:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Casey McPherson / vocals, guitar
- Steve Morse / guitar, vocals
- Neal Morse / keyboards, vocals
- Dave LaRue / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums & percussion

Releases information

CD Mascot Label Group (2019, US)

2LP Mascot Label Group (2019, US)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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FLYING COLORS Third Degree ratings distribution

(73 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FLYING COLORS Third Degree reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Flying Colors is a successful Prog Related supergroup that was formed in 2011 from an idea by producer Bill Evans. He wanted to bring together some giants of prog rock to create songs that were accessible and complex. He recruited Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs), and pop singer Casey Mc Pherson (Alpha Rev) who was signed with Disney records. This core line up has survived miraculously enough, through three albums to this point. Their 3rd album, released in October of 2019, is called "Third Degree" and features 9 tracks with a total run time of over 66 minutes. Of course, there is always a danger of hitting that fine line where people that love their music formualaic will find a supergroup such as this to be too complex, or progressive lovers will find it too commercial. The question is, does "Flying Colors" music land on that fine line?

Beginning with "The Loss Inside" (5:50), you get a song that begins with the full band playing at full force with a tasty guitar riff and the deep, somewhat gruff vocals. The music stays rather heavy with some great guitar solos and a nice organ solo. The music takes on the same feel as Asia, accessible but just a notch above the standard pop. The influences of Spock's Beard and Dream Theater are there, but in a more watered-down format. However, this track is a great opener and should get everyone's attention right off the bat. "More" (7:09) continues with the heavier pop sound, this time with vocals that are slightly processed and the song ends up sounding like something by "Muse" this time. I can see, however, that many people are going to hit the "like" button for this one because it is instantly likeable, but I also feel that it will wear itself out quickly, as it sounds like it's been done before, and it has more or less. The symphonic sound that comes in half-way through is a nice touch, and the interplay with keys and guitar is also appealing, but again, the question is whether it will hold up to the test of time. The music slows and quiets down when the vocals come back, and Casey continues with his best Matt Bellamy impression, then the band kicks back in and eventually return to the main theme. The music is professional and well developed, as you would probably expect considering the line-up involved.

"Cadence" (7:40) moves to a softer tone, but is heavy in the symphonic keys department. The vocals are a bit annoying here as the vocalist continues to imitate other vocalists. He can hold his own okay, but so far, I have a hard time hearing a tone or style in his singing that would make him recognizable. The music turns to an accessible Neo-prog style as it goes on, but when I say accessible, it is, so don't expect anything surprising or that really stands out here. The music takes on a slightly pompous attitude, even being lighter than the first two tracks, and more accessible. It's a bit boring. "Guardian" (7:10) starts off with pre-planned studio chatter that is supposed to sound like it was unexpectedly placed on the song and give everyone that warm and fuzzy feeling that we are listening to musical gods at work. Just like the previous track, this one is prog-lite, maybe even to a larger extent. There is a nice bass solo put in there though that eventually develops into a running guitar bridge that takes it all predictably back to the main theme. The problem is, the main theme on this track is a bit weak.

"Last Train Home" (10:31) has a slower, yet majestic sound to it, very "Asia"-like. Casey utilizes his full chest voice, trying to sound a bit operatic, but quickly giving up on that. After a couple of boring verses and choruses, the music speeds up a bit and builds up for an instrumental break, which features a Spock's Beard-like synth solo which finally falls off to acoustic strumming and more vocals. The attempt to be more personal for the listener just sounds contrived. Then there is some embarrassing vocal scatting that follows the guitar. It's impressive that the song is well developed and it does manage to break the 10 minute mark, but you end up feeling like it was 10 long minutes. "Geronimo" (5:19) goes for a funky vibe with layered vocals. There is some nice, tricky rhythmic patterns here, but it still remains quite accessible, and a bit too poppy for my own taste. The funkiness doesn't really feel that believable either.

"You Are Not Alone" (6:21) was penned by Casey about the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Austin, TX, which is where he is from. It does seem heartfelt enough, but it's really quite straightforward and is also obviously intended as a single. This is probably one track, even though it is far from progressive, that seems like the band is the most connected to, and Casey's vocals really connect here. It's also not quite as sappy as I thought it would be. It is straight forward pop though. "Love Letter" (5:09) is another single from the album, and is just way too happy sounding, perfect for skipping down the sidewalk. Definitely ackkkk-worthy. They're trying to make a Beach Boys song here and failing miserably. It's the kind of song that Frank Zappa would make fun of if Casey ever became his lead singer (of course we know that is impossible now), but think of The Turtles "Happy Together" and you'll have the right idea.

The last track is "Crawl" and comes in at an impressive 11:14 minutes. It starts with piano and somewhat annoying vocals. The light symphonic pop sound comes in as the music develops a bit, and then releases the attention in a repeating bridge that move predictably to a chorus. Rinse and repeat with a little more vigor the 2nd time. Then we move into a Asia-style instrumental break, progressive, but predictable, with a lot of the usual rapid guitar notes. Later, the music calms and processed vocals come in, and it sounds like Muse has returned.

For the more "adventurous" listener, there is a special edition available which gives you a bonus disk with 6 more songs! Wow! Don't be fooled into this one because it consists of one more original track, and then 5 instrumental versions of songs that you have already heard on this album. It's not worth the trouble.

In the end, the band definitely does what it was created to do, make progressive-lite music that is very accessible. However, it seems to me that it is mostly uninspired, taking age-old formulaic patterns and regurgitating them into another progressive pop band very similar to Asia and Muse. The best songs are the first two, and then I tend to get lost in the feeling of sameness that follows. You've heard it all before, but I know there is a market for the style. It all sounds good enough on the first go round, but subsequent listenings will be less enthusiastic. If music along the lines of Asia, Alan Parsons and so on is something you love, then you should check this out, but be warned that it feels a bit contrived and predictable. 3 stars seems like a fair rating.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The (likewise called) Third album of FC is their best until now. I got interested from their debut on, because of the known names of the musicians. I heard their music performed in an almost perfected way, but that's not what makes the shiver in my spine - no other than the song itself can do th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2337013) | Posted by Dirkteur | Wednesday, February 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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