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NEAL MORSE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Neal Morse biography
Neal R. Morse - Born August 2, 1960 (Van Nuys, California, USA)

As a young musician, Neal's dream was like many others-to find success in the pop music world. But after years of struggling in the LA singer-songwriter scene, he realized that his dream would not materialize. Eschewing conventional wisdom, Neal took a courageous step: he about-faced and devoted himself to progressive rock, the music truly in his heart. The obscure and fiercely competitive genre held little chance of commercial success. Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named SPOCK'S BEARD with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre's community.

Over the next 10 years, Spock's Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 concert DVDs, ascending to the top of the "prog" world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with TRANSATLANTIC, the heralded prog "supergroup" comprised of the world's finest prog musicians. The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he dreamed of. But something was missing. While on the outside Neal had it all; on the inside, something was missing. Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden-and like with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), Spock's Beard's (with Morse) magnum opus.and swan song.

The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group's finest. But it was the end of the era: Neal made the agonizing decision to leave Spock's Beard. After also leaving Transatlantic, the transformation was complete. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse began all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually. Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music. The 2 CD set (3 CDs for the Special Edition) spans over two hours as one continuo...
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NEAL MORSE discography


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NEAL MORSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 138 ratings
Neal Morse
1999
2.78 | 107 ratings
It's Not Too Late
2001
4.05 | 492 ratings
Testimony
2003
4.11 | 516 ratings
One
2004
4.20 | 661 ratings
? [Aka: Question Mark]
2005
2.95 | 63 ratings
God Won't Give Up
2005
2.35 | 51 ratings
Lead Me Lord - Worship Sessions Volume 1
2005
2.78 | 50 ratings
Send the Fire - Worship Sessions Volume 2
2006
2.94 | 90 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover to Cover
2006
2.62 | 54 ratings
Songs from the Highway
2007
4.19 | 681 ratings
Sola Scriptura
2007
2.56 | 41 ratings
Secret Place - Worship Sessions Volume 3
2008
3.15 | 302 ratings
Lifeline
2008
2.63 | 43 ratings
The River - Worship Sessions Volume 4
2009
2.58 | 36 ratings
Mighty to Save - Worship Sessions Volume 5
2010
3.99 | 608 ratings
Testimony 2
2011
3.96 | 464 ratings
Momentum
2012
2.90 | 61 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover 2 Cover
2012
3.43 | 33 ratings
The Prog World Orchestra: A Proggy Christmas
2012
2.94 | 88 ratings
Songs from November
2014
3.79 | 320 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Grand Experiment
2015
4.12 | 475 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream
2016
2.63 | 38 ratings
To God Be the Glory
2016
2.71 | 61 ratings
Life & Times
2018
3.89 | 310 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
2019
3.75 | 132 ratings
Jesus Christ The Exorcist
2019
3.04 | 23 ratings
Morse/Portnoy/George: Cov3r to Cov3r
2020
3.80 | 121 ratings
Sola Gratia
2020
4.10 | 78 ratings
NMB: Innocence & Danger
2021

NEAL MORSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 15 ratings
Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas - Live in Europe - The From the Vaults Series Volume 2
2000
3.78 | 60 ratings
? Live
2007
4.38 | 94 ratings
So Many Roads
2009
4.42 | 85 ratings
Testimony Two - Live in Los Angeles
2011
4.73 | 17 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour Live in Brno - 2019
2020

NEAL MORSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.47 | 96 ratings
Testimony Live
2004
4.36 | 96 ratings
Sola Scriptura and Beyond
2008
4.45 | 60 ratings
Live Momentum
2013
3.73 | 36 ratings
Morsefest! 2014: Testimony & One Live
2015
3.99 | 38 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: Alive Again
2016
3.92 | 23 ratings
Morsefest 2015
2017
3.84 | 22 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream - Live in Tilburg 2017
2018
4.50 | 12 ratings
Morsefest! 2017: Testimony Of A Dream
2018
3.25 | 9 ratings
Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018
2020

NEAL MORSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.81 | 35 ratings
The Transatlantic Demos
2003
1.96 | 8 ratings
Sing It High
2007
3.73 | 12 ratings
One Demos
2007
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Grand Experiment Demos (Inner Circle March 2016)
2016
3.04 | 4 ratings
Hope and a Future
2020
3.00 | 7 ratings
Morse/ Portnoy/ George: Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)
2020

NEAL MORSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.10 | 24 ratings
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
2000
2.90 | 20 ratings
A Proggy Christmas
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 1) - Inner Circle March 2018
2018
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 2) - Inner Circle May 2018
2018

NEAL MORSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 NMB: Innocence & Danger by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.10 | 78 ratings

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NMB: Innocence & Danger
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by AlanB

4 stars Innocence and Danger is quite a varied selection of songs, some poppy, some with prog elements, and a couple of full- blown prog epics. Lots of great melodies, as you always get with Neal Morse, and really good vocal harmonies. Stylistically there is more than a hint of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yes and other great bands of the past.

There are 10 songs here spread across two CDs. The first CD consists of eight "short" songs between three and eight minutes long. Of these, my personal favourites would be the beautiful Not Afraid Part 1, the Pink Floyd - like The Way It Had To Be, and a very clever progressive version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. The one song I would skip would be Emergence, I just find it a little boring, although as an introduction to Not Afraid Part 1 it does fit in.

On to CD2, and we have two magnificent long songs clocking in at 20 minutes and 30 minutes. Not Afraid Part 2 is the most immediately accessible, but the more I listen to Beyond The Years the more I like it. There is a five minute section halfway through the song, involving Hammond organ and a guitar solo, which is absolutely brilliant and for me is the high spot of the album. Eric Gillette in fact has some wonderful solo spots, Bridge Over Troubled Water is another one that springs to mind.

Finally, for those who are put off by the preachiness of some of Neal Morse's lyrics, you won't be troubled here. There are clearly spiritual references in some songs, but nothing blatantly Christian if that's something that bothers you.

 NMB: Innocence & Danger by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.10 | 78 ratings

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NMB: Innocence & Danger
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by lukretio

4 stars Back in February, Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard) and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) brought you the new Transatlantic record, 150 minutes of prog extravaganza divided across two, differently arranged versions of the same album. Since then, the prog wonder pair did not waste any time, and on August 27th they hit the shelves again with a new The Neal Morse Band's album, Innocence & Danger, a double-disc release that clocks in at nearly 100 minutes of music. This is supposed to be a "simpler", more spontaneous release compared to the band's previous three records, which is probably the case considering how their two prior LPs where a pair of interconnected, double-disc concept albums sprawling across 200 minutes of music in total. Instead, Innocence & Danger is a self-contained, song-based affair, written without a specific overarching theme in mind and with a more relaxed, "let's have fun in the studio" attitude that certainly transpires through the fresh and diverse material of the album.

This is not to say that the 10 songs of Innocence & Danger fall very far from the tree of metallic prog rock that has characterized a great deal of Neal Morse's discography, especially since he joined forces with Portnoy back in the early 2000s. On the contrary, the new songs are still very much anchored in Morse-Portnoy's trademark sound: a blend of prog rock intricacies, robust rhythmical acrobatics, grandiose melodies, and madly skilful playing. Yet, some of the material opens up to new and unexpected influences, like the 80s pop vibes of "Another Story to Tell" and the otherwise Beatles-esque "Your Place in the Sun". Meanwhile, "The Way It Had to Be" is a great bluesy ballad that brings to mind Pink Floyd as well as some of the singer-songwriter material one can find on Neal Morse's solo albums. And then there is "Bridge over Troubled Water", an incredible prog adaptation of Simon & Garfunkel's classic piece. This is actually one of the highlights of the album. The complex instrumental histrionics added to the song structure are absolutely spot on and the vocal arrangements are superb too.

These injections of new and diverse influences give the album a freshness and levity that a lot of contemporary prog rock/metal records lack. However, this does not come at all at the expense of depth and substance: Innocence & Danger contains some extremely rich prog material, that is structurally complex and thoughtfully arranged. Miraculously, however, the music does not feel complex or studied, even when one faces multi-part mammoth pieces like the 31-minute long "Beyond the Years" or the nearly 20 minutes of "Not Afraid Pt 2" (both contained on the second CD). These compositions are so well-thought out and so tastefully arranged that time literally flies by while one listens to these songs. The flow of these tracks is nearly perfect and the songs contain so many moments of melodic brilliance that verses and choruses stick with you only after a couple of listens.

Still, 100 minutes of music ask a considerable time investment to the listener, so the inevitable question is: is all the material consistently high-quality, or could have they slimmed down the album by leaving out some of the weaker songs? To these ears, the opening four tracks of the first CD ("Do It All Again", "Bird on a Wire", "Your Place in the Sun" and "Another Story to Tell") do not quite match the level of quality of the rest of the material, especially of the two long pieces of the second CD. Although these four songs have all some interesting moments, the melodies are somewhat weaker and, despite listening to each piece multiple times, I still cannot remember any specific vocal line or instrumental passage from any of these tracks. The rest of the songs on the first CD are more memorable, but overall I cannot help but feel that there is a slight imbalance between the two discs: the stronger material, the "meat" of the album so to speak, is clearly on disc 2, while disc 1 feels almost like a looser collection of "bonus" tracks, and I notice that I inevitably tend to gravitate towards the second disc in my repeated listens, often skipping altogether the first disc. It's a pity because some songs from disc 1 are truly excellent, like the aforementioned cover of "Bridge over Troubled Water" and the ballad "The Way It Had to Be". I feel that a little more quality control could have make this excellent album, a real masterpiece.

One aspect of the album that initially took me by surprise is the alternation between three vocalists: Morse, guitarist Eric Gilette and keyboard player Bill Hubauer. In nearly all tracks, the three singers swap vocal lines continuously throughout a song, which at first I found slightly unsettling, also in part because they each have slightly peculiar, "acquired taste" voices that takes some time getting used to. But I quickly got into the groove and after a few listens it is actually fun to have three vocalists instead of one in each song. Speaking about things that require getting used to, since the early 2000s a lot of Morse's lyrics revolve around strongly Christian religious themes, and this album is no exception. It's nothing overly preachy and I personally do not care too much about lyrics, but it is something that some people may not find to their liking, so be warned.

Overall, Innocence & Danger may not be perfect, but it is still a great album that will no doubt satisfy progressive rock fans. The main strength of the album are its freshness and diversity. There is something for every taste, from the whimsical corners of prog-pop, to bluesy Floydian ballads, to harder-edged rockers, to full-blown, multipart prog epics. The metallic undertones of much of the material contained on this LP will also appeal prog metal lovers, especially fans of bands like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Pain of Salvation or Threshold. If you are prog-inclined, give this one a try, you won't be disappointed.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

 NMB: Innocence & Danger by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.10 | 78 ratings

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NMB: Innocence & Danger
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by MaxnEmmy

4 stars This band (NMB) continuously evolves with extraordinary musicianship and interesting themes. The current release : Innocence and Danger, is a mixture of accessible beatle-esque harmonies with prog/jazzy flavors. It is a very fine collaboration of the personal and sounds better with each hearing. Neal and Mike can make pop music as evidenced with Flying Colors, but their tendency is to steer in the direction of more complex arrangements. It may not be what techno pop people like as it is definitely organic in nature. The guitar work by Eric is tremendous and he appears to be the perfect fit to round out this group. Randy and Bill complete the sound with excellent work. The longer tracks are the stand out highlights on this album. The shorter tracks compliment the entire project. 4.25 stars.
 It's Not Too Late by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.78 | 107 ratings

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It's Not Too Late
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by lukretio

2 stars Neal Morse's solo career started with a couple of albums that are quite different from the type of releases that will characterize his solo discography after he left Spock's Beard in 2002. His first solo album, the self-titled album he released in 1999, bore only faint traces of progressive rock, focusing instead on a lighter pop-rock sound that only occasionally veered into prog territories. His follow-up release, 2001's It's Not Too Late, is even less prog-inclined. It is a largely acoustic album, built around simple, singer-songwriter tunes that prefer emotional directness and melodic accessibility over technical wizardry and structural complexity.

Oddly, this is an album that I like and at the same time dislike more than Morse's 1999 solo debut. I like it better than his first album because it feels more honest and authentic. It does not try to strike a balance between Morse's simple pop ambitions and his progressive rock "day job", but it fully embraces his singer-songwriter sensibilities, presenting a collection of acoustic tunes written by Morse between 1980s and the months prior the release of the album. However, among the record's 13 songs, I only find a handful of tunes that I can say I truly like. Most tracks are fairly anonymous and inoffensive light pop numbers that disappear from my musical memory as soon as the album moves on to the next song. Others are fun to listen to, but feel quite derivative and make me almost feel as if I were listening to a bar band rather than to one of the greatest prog rock musicians of our times ("So Long Goodbye Blues", "Ain't Seen Nothing Like Me"). Other tracks are just plain boring, as they lack a strong melody to carry them through ("The Eyes of the World").

The tracks I fully enjoy are few and far in between. "I Am Your Father" is one of them. This is a song Morse had written with his old band from the 1980s, which in fact accompanies the singer on this re-recorded version of the tune. It is a very emotional pop-rock number, driven by Morse's piano and powerful vocal delivery and enriched by some poignant lyrics about fathership. "Something Blue" is the other highlight of the record for me. It's a more uptempo number graced by a gloriously catchy chorus that elevates the song to a different level.

There's not much going on instrumentally throughout the album. Morse's superb piano playing shines in some of the song and Nick D'Virgilio precise and sophisticated drumming is always a pleasure to listen to. But the songs feature intentionally simple and essential arrangements that leave little space for musical showmanship.

In short, there's virtually no prog on this one, just a collection of simple and mostly acoustic tunes that are often pleasant, but rarely extraordinary. Morse is a great player, singer and songwriter, so it is really hard to find parts of his discography that are tout court bad, and It's Not Too Late is no exception. Yet, this is probably among the weakest albums released by the man, and, unless you are a hardcore Morse's fan or a completionist, you may want to skip this one and save your money for one of the other albums in Morse's rich discography.

 Neal Morse by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.16 | 138 ratings

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Neal Morse
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by lukretio

2 stars Neal Morse's first couple of solo albums are a different beast compared to his day-job band Spock's Beard as well as to the prog tour-de-forces he will release later in his solo career. His self-titled solo debut album, released in 1999, is a lighter, piano-based affair that properly delves in progressive rock territory only in his final composition, the 4-part mini-epic "A Whole Nother Trip". The rest of the album is built around simple pop-rock singer-songwriter tunes with lean and uncomplicated structures, big choruses and an instrumentation that often simply relies on acoustic guitars and piano. Nevertheless, Morse's signature melodies and songwriting style are still there, so that a fairly accurate description of the album would be to say that it sounds a lot like the more straightforward and poppy episodes that one can find here and there on Spock Beard's albums.

The eight songs of the album flow away pleasantly, although there is no masterpiece in sight throughout its 55+ minutes. One would think that the nearly 24 minutes of "A Whole Nother Trip" represents the centrepiece of the record. This may have been the intention, but the song is just a pale version of the prog epics that Morse is more than capable of writing. The piece lacks somewhat cohesion, as its four movements pull the song in too many different directions without providing enough musical glue to keep them all together. Moreover, not all movements are equally inspired, with the second one "Mr. Upside Down" resulting particularly bland and without a strong melodic punch. This is a general problem for other songs on the album as well: tracks like "Lost Cause" and "That Which Doesn't Kill Me" are somewhat weak melodically, which is surprising given that Morse is usually a highly skilled composer of melodies. Things are better on the uptempo pop-rocker "Nowhere Fast" and the emotional ballad "Landslide". Another remarkable moment is the gently acoustic piece "Emma", which leaves a mark on the listener's psyche thanks to its heart-breaking story of childhood love.

Morse's performance on the album is as strong and skilled as one would expect it to be. He takes care of vocals and all instruments except drums, which are played by his Spock's Beard bandmate Nick D'Virgilio on all tracks but the opener. The musicianship is therefore sublime. The sound production is also excellent, which is impressive seeing how a lot of the music was recorded by Morse in his home studio.

Despite its undeniable qualities, the biggest limit of this record is probably its ambivalence. The album is half-pop, half-prog, but its prog elements are somewhat dumbed-down and its pop appeal is diminished by melodies that are not catchy and immediate enough. I wish Morse had gone more decidedly in either of these directions, either full?scale pop-rock singer-songwriter (as he will do in his sophomore solo release It's Not Too Late) or full-blown prog extravaganza (as he will do in the rest of his solo career, minus the worship albums). As it is, this album is too humdrum to appeal to progressive audiences and probably too intricate to be enjoyed as a simple singer-songwriter affair.

 Sola Gratia by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.80 | 121 ratings

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Sola Gratia
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars While the title of this album obviously has links back to 2007's 'Sola Scriptura', which was about the life of Martin Luther, and this is about the apostle Paul, it is actually all due to a misunderstanding. Morse says, "I was talking to my wife Cherie about debuting this new piece at Morsefest 2020 (Morse's annual fan convention in Nashville) and she said she thought it would be good for me to do a solo album. However, I thought she said, 'Sola album' and ? because some of the new ideas involved Paul's aggressive pursuit of the early Christians, I could see a link to some of the themes of persecution in 'Sola Scriptura'." Unlike his other albums, this was recorded virtually due to lockdowns, with Randy George and Mike Portnoy remotely adding their parts to the basic tracks, without any rearrangements, which is why this led to being credited to Neal Morse and not The Neal Morse Band. Normally the whole band works together on the writing, and while Eric Gillette plays some guitar and Bill Hubauer keyboards, neither provided any input to the composition nor do they sing.

Mind you, given that Neal is a multi-instrumentalist who is as happy on keyboards as he is on guitar, that is not really an issue when it comes to putting together an album. This finds him very much in his element, telling a Christian story but in his own way, with all the bombast and bluster that one expects from him. After the disappointment of the theatrical 'Jesus Christ The Exorcist', and the fun compilation 'Cov3r To Cov3r', here is a composer and performer very much back on form. While it may not have the emotional power of 'Testimony', it is unlikely that will ever come again as it was such an incredible outpouring (being at his London show on that tour is something I will never forget), it certainly demonstrates he is very much back in his element. He has moved on from the overtly Spock's Beard style which came through his early solo albums, as one would expect, and he had broadened the approach so while he provides plenty of bombast at times, and wonderful proggy interludes there are also some great singalongs with "Building A Wall" possibly being one of his most overtly commercial songs for some time.

I have been a fan of Neal since I first heard 'The Light' and have been lucky enough to interview him a few times and seen him play both with the Beard and solo. This album is an absolute delight for fans like me and one which will regularly return to the player.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018 by MORSE, NEAL album cover DVD/Video, 2020
3.25 | 9 ratings

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Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Normally the more I play an album the more I enjoy it, but now I look back at my review of the studio version, I cannot believe I gave it 4*'s. That feeling has definitely come through onto the live version as well, as while the performance from all those involved is wonderful, the complete set is just way too clunky, with the story being shoehorned into the music, none of which have stand out tunes. This was an experiment for Neal, in that he plays the part of composer and musical director and only gives himself a few small roles to play. The lead role of Jesus was taken by Ted Leonard (Enchant, Spock's Beard) and he was joined by Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Big Big Train), Jake Livgren (Protokaw), Matt Smith (Theocracy), John Schlitt (Petra), Rick Florian (White Heart), Mark Pogue, Wil Morse and Talon David. I remember when my sister started getting heavily into Christian music some 30 years ago, she used to play Petra all the time, one of the greatest proponents of that style of music.

I am not sure if it is my own personal religious beliefs have changed dramatically over the years, or whether it is down to Morse providing music which is far more theatrical and less of the style I associate with him, but very little on this album works for me. When I hear a Neal Morse album I really do want to hear the complexity and style I expect which he first cemented in Spock's Beard and then took into much of his solo work. Unlike 'Jesus Christ Superstar', this really does have an air of being preached at, in a very American style. Everyone provides a great performance, with his normal guitarist Eric Gillette showing he is one of those guys who can seemingly do anything as he is the drummer on this performance, while bassist Randy George has been at the top of the game forever.

This is an album which will be appreciated far more by Christians than progheads, while the subset of that venn diagram will have a blast. I can appreciate it, but that is way different from actually enjoying it.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 310 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by bartymj

3 stars Like many people I probably need to review Neal Morse's melody-constructing separately to his lyric-writing, given my love of good prog tunes but aversion to anything particularly overly "preachy". If you're offended by someone singing about how much they love God, don't listen. If that's not an issue, or if like me you can stomach it as long as the music is good, carry on.

So, my rating for this album is based on three things: 1. Is it a solid and enjoyable melody without the lyrics? 2. Does the Christianity theme get too much for personal taste? 3. How does it compare to the rest of Neal Morse's output?

And the answers, for me: 1. If I was rating purely the first 20 minutes or so, I'd give it five stars. Unfortunately the album is over 100 minutes long, and gets too samey too quickly 2. Mostly no problem with it at all. But as you'd expect, the longer it goes on and builds up to the big epiphany at the end, the more overtly God-worshipping it becomes, and yes for someone who isn't a religious man this is hard to ignore. Particularly the final track, which to be honest is one of the more cringeworthy tracks Morse has created. 3. I do firmly believe Morse is a 5-star musician, capable of creating some incredible themes, and generating some serious emotion with his albums whether you're religious or not. However there's nothing new here for me to suggest anyone listen to this album above any of his others, and its really just a bit of a rinse and repeat of his other work.

So, for someone that doesn't get moved by praise of the Almighty, this is a good enough album to listen to as background noise all the way through, the opening tracks are excellent, it tails off as it goes on and by the end is too cheesy for my liking. Where I would say Morse's earlier "Question Mark" album is excellent and a must listen, this is middle-of the road, but you don't necessarily need to be a fan or a devout Christian to enjoy some of it. Three stars.

 Momentum by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.96 | 464 ratings

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Momentum
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars 'Momentum', or one of Neal Morse's most finely crafted prog albums. This one was released in 2012, in a particularly strong period for this kind of music. Of course, this record does not go too far away from what the listener would expect from this creative supernova. The typical symphonic prog with catchy hooks, memorable choruses, and quirky (and sometimes corky) riffs is displayed with fabulous musicianship and graceful exploration of what Neal Morse is best at. Joined by Mike Portnoy on drums, Randy George on bass, and the young Eric Gillette providing backing vocals on one of the tracks, we could say this is proto-Neal Morse band. However, this album is much more reminiscent of the light-hearted but musically astonishing early years of Spock's Beard, when Neal was the frontman.

The title track sets an uplifting mood to the record, that Neal & Co. manage to maintain throughout the whole 61-minute album, with the great guitar work and memorable chorus. Following this up is the very interesting 'Thoughts Part 5' from the Thoughts Cycle that began with Spock's Beard's fan-favorite tracks from the mid-90s. Here the vocal harmonies of Morse and Gillette come forth to establish one of the most enjoyable songs from Neal's catalogue. 'Smoke and Mirrors' is another great song, 'Weathering Sky' has a jolly Beatles taste, and 'Freak' is a softer, slower composition. Finally, the grand 34-minute 'World Without End' closes off this excellently made album, a true contender for the 'Best Neal Morse epic' title (and we all know what the competition would be for such a prize). I truly recommend this magnificent track to any Symphonic Prog fan, along with this excellent album.

Great melodies, memorable songs, graceful playing, fun lyrics, yet nothing very unpredictable or innovative for the Progressive genre, but a successful execution of many interesting ideas, a real achievement for Neal Morse!

 Merry Christmas From The Morse Family by MORSE, NEAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2000
2.10 | 24 ratings

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Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars Christmas is a holiday that many love even if they have no religious affiliations. It's simply a time to kick back with friends and family and reflect on the year that has just about passed and possibly even exchange gifts. Christmas music is as old as the holiday itself but progressive rock hasn't exactly been a genre that has attracted the lion's share of artists flocking to make holiday music. Instead the stores and public establishments are flooded with not only the classics of yesteryear but a legion of truly awful modern acts trying to cash in on the Christmas music trend.

Known for his outspoken Christian beliefs, prolific progger NEAL MORSE seems like a songwriting machine not just as a solo artist with over 50 albums to his name but with the various projects ranging from Spock's Beard and Flying Colors to Transatlantic. MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE MORSE FAMILY shows a completely different side of MORSE who wrote a bunch of Christmas tunes to send to friends and family without the intent to ever release them but in the year 2000 just as MORSE was getting his solo career on track, he released this collection of all original material with his family helping out on vocals and MORSE handling most lead vocals and all the instruments.

This one shouldn't be considered a proper MORSE release and although he is known as a prog musician these are more simple traditional pop songs with the theme of Christmas. While i'm not a huge Christmas music fan there are some classics out there that will melt anybody's heart including Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" and closer to the prog world several releases from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album." Unfortunately MORSE doesn't craft an interesting mix of art rock inspired Christmas tunes and rather sticks to the traditional styles that have been the staple of department store playlists since the beginning of time.

While i do love some MORSE releases for their proggy bravado that keeps pushing the symphonic prog envelop, his vocals are one aspect of his music i really do not like but can tolerate if the music is excellent. That is not the case here as these Christmas tunes seem to be inspired by the classics but fail to capture the spirit with those instantly infectious jingles. Add to that MORSE's vocal style is more irritating than ever. I can't judge this too harshly. This wasn't designed for public consumption and merely released to give his fans some other options in the vast world of Christmas music. Personally i'm not really liking this but it's not as bad as some other misconceived Christmas releases from bands like Twisted Sister for example.

The best tracks on here don't feature MORSE as the main focus. "The Laughing Christmas Song" is a children's song with his kids adding vocals and it provides refreshing comedy relief to an otherwise earnest and saccharin batch of tunes. While this one may be fun for hardcore fans who have to own everything MORSE has released, i'm not sure even those followers would feel this one is a mandatory purchase. All in all, it's a cute little album allowing the world to see MORSE's private world with family photos decorating the cover art but as an interesting Christmas album i think that listening to this one time is more than enough and will certainly never be revisiting it. But the main point of writing this is simply to wish everyone out there a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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