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NEAL MORSE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Neal Morse biography
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 continuous piece of music. It ranges in style from a full gospel choir to hard rock; from a symphony orchestra to contemporary pop. A deftly woven musical tapestry, the album takes th...
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Songs From NovemberSongs From November
Metal Blade 2014
Audio CD$11.39
$11.98 (used)
OneOne
Metal Blade 2004
Audio CD$9.54
$4.87 (used)
Sola ScripturaSola Scriptura
Metal Blade 2007
Audio CD$11.27
$6.89 (used)
TestimonyTestimony
Metal Blade 2003
Audio CD$16.27
$9.75 (used)
MomentumMomentum
Metal Blade 2012
Audio CD$9.26
$5.90 (used)
How Many RoadsHow Many Roads
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$24.18
$14.23 (used)
??
Metal Blade 2005
Audio CD$9.97
$7.00 (used)
Neal MorseNeal Morse
Metal Blade 1999
Audio CD$11.79
$8.52 (used)
Testimony 2Testimony 2
Metal Blade 2011
Audio CD$11.51
$9.00 (used)
Momentum LiveMomentum Live
Box set
Metal Blade 2013
Audio CD$19.33
$30.69 (used)
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NEAL MORSE shows & tickets


  • Flying Colors on 4 Oct 2014

NEAL MORSE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.19 | 76 ratings
Neal Morse
1999
2.75 | 61 ratings
It's Not Too Late
2001
3.99 | 351 ratings
Testimony
2003
4.09 | 367 ratings
One
2004
4.18 | 485 ratings
?
2005
3.06 | 36 ratings
God Won't Give Up
2005
2.29 | 31 ratings
Lead Me Lord (Worship Sessions Volume One)
2005
2.97 | 29 ratings
Send The Fire (Worship Sessions Volume 2)
2006
2.92 | 51 ratings
Cover To Cover
2006
2.47 | 27 ratings
Songs From The Highway
2007
4.16 | 473 ratings
Sola Scriptura
2007
2.90 | 20 ratings
Secret Place (Worship Sessions Volume 3)
2008
3.06 | 202 ratings
Lifeline
2008
2.76 | 21 ratings
The River (Worship Sessions Volume 4)
2009
2.72 | 18 ratings
Mighty To Save (Worship Sessions Volume 5)
2010
3.97 | 474 ratings
Testimony 2
2011
3.91 | 348 ratings
Momentum
2012
2.89 | 28 ratings
Cover 2 Cover
2012
2.64 | 5 ratings
Songs From November
2014

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

3.50 | 6 ratings
Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe - The From The Vaults Series Volume 2
2000
3.74 | 47 ratings
? Live
2007
4.26 | 66 ratings
So many Roads
2009
4.28 | 60 ratings
Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles
2011

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

4.30 | 74 ratings
Testimony Live
2004
4.22 | 78 ratings
Sola Scriptura and Beyond
2008
4.08 | 37 ratings
Live Momentum
2013

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

2.69 | 24 ratings
The Transatlantic Demos
2003
1.96 | 4 ratings
Sing It High
2007
3.37 | 11 ratings
One Demos
2007
3.21 | 19 ratings
A Proggy Christmas - The Prog World Orchestra
2012

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

2.03 | 19 ratings
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
2000
2.62 | 13 ratings
A Proggy Christmas
2011

NEAL MORSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Songs From November by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.64 | 5 ratings

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Songs From November
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by nickel

3 stars Let's get this out of the way: There is no Prog Rock on this album. Neal Morse is not only a multi-instrumentalist, but he's also a multi-genre-ist. Also worth noting: This is not a religious or overtly Christian album. So it may be quite a departure from what you are used to with Mr. Morse (Mike Portnoy does not appear either).

So what is this? It's best described as a Singer/Songwriter album in which Neal uses pop, rock, folk, hints of gospel, and hints of country as an ode to Family (not the band... his actual family) and the concept of love. It's a personal collection of songs from a time when Neal took time for some introspection and personal reflection.

It's actually quite good. I have not been a fan of his non-Prog albums. In fact, this is the first one that I really like. And I really like it. His masterful melodies are in full display here and there are plenty of catchy choruses to sing along with. If you're like me and your musical taste goes well beyond prog and into the world of pop or Southern flavored folk/gospel or "classic rock" or anywhere inbetween, there's something to like on this album.

If this were not a site dedicated to Prog, I'd rate this 4 stars. However, I must consider the audience of this particular site with this review and, therefore, I'm giving it 3 stars.

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 ? by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.18 | 485 ratings

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?
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars In parallel with his progressive efforts Morse started releasing also albums linked with Christianity.In 2005 two of them were released, ''God won't give up'' and ''It's not too late'' on Radiant and Latter Rain Records respectively, containing Christian hymns and pop songs.But a third progressive effort was already in the process, known as The Question Mark album.The album deals with the tabernacle in the wilderness and actually Morse presented it as a 56-min. long track, divided in 12 themes.Exactly one year after ''One'', ''?'' was released on InsideOut and Metal Blade, featuring again Portnoy and George as Morse's main bandmates and a huge guest list, among them are his brother Alan Morse, Jordan Rudess, Roine Stolt and Steve Hackett.

Musicwise Morse's decision to dedicate himself to God and follow a more personal career has done him good, his music has become incredibly emotional, keeping the impressive complexity of Symphonic and Progressive Rock.No epic movements here, the tracks are rather short to build Morse's suite about tabernacle in the wilderness, but the flow and sounds on this album are simply amazing.The man hasn't moved an inch from his familiar style, heavily influenced by Classic 70's Prog, and displays some serious musicianship with the symphonic leanings being pretty obvious, but featuring also the well-known Morse-established Pop sensibilities, not to mention the surprising opening track ''The temple of the living God'' with its monumental VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR-like sax scratches of Jim Hoke, an instant favorite of Neal's playlist on live shows, or ''Solid as the sun'', where a similar style is presented.The music at moments has become a bit heavier and it wouldn't be an excess to say that the powerful grooves, heavy organ runs and mascular riffs recall something of DEEP PURPLE and even DREAM THEATER.But these come just before the tracks enter again some elaborate, lush arrangemets, pretty vintage-style despite the modern vibes, reminding of YES, KING CRIMSON and GENTLE GIANT.Strong use of Mellotron, flashy keyboard washes, solid drumming and sensitive melodies are offered through a mass of grandiose passages, sudden twists, shifting moods and cinematic soundscapes.The lyrics are again deeply religious and Morse's dedication has evolved into consistently nice singing lines, including some beautiful choir parts.

Three albums in three years, three fantastic efforts of Progressive Rock in this period.Yet another winner by the American mastermind, who had already become an icon of the genre's more recent years.Highly recommended.

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 Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles by MORSE, NEAL album cover Live, 2011
4.28 | 60 ratings

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Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars When you think the man is going to slow down to make big concepts albums with huge epic songs, there is a voice from god that tell him to continue. Neal Morse brings his little orchestra to Los Angeles to play the complete Testimony 2 CD plus many more epics. The songs are complex and intense like a big piece of symphonic music that are interrupted by some straight forward acoustic passages with Neal on the guitar.

The visuals of the DVDs are a bit of a disappointment, they added nothing to the performance, while the camera work is professional with some split screen effects. With the 3 hours performance of the show, we have a additional 10 minutes performance with Neal and Spock's Beard in the High Voltage festival. The stereo sound is nice, so you won't be disappointed listening the audio CDs that goes with the DVDs.

If it's impossible to enjoy every minute of this long concert, i really enjoy the first half of the first set, were it seems that every songs was flowing together very well. As usual a concert of Neal Morse is not complete without his "Gentle Giant moment" and a emotional moment when he talks about the miraculous recovery of his daughter from heart failure.

In conclusion, i think its always better to see the band playing their instruments than listening only to the audio portion on CDs. But don't expect to see a visually entertaining video to watch here like his previous live ones. Testimony 2 is a nice piece of music, not as strong as Testimony 1, but strong enough to fit in the discography of this passionate composer and musician who continue to gives us something to satisfy our hunger for symphonic prog rock music. (3.7 stars)

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 Momentum by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 348 ratings

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Momentum
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I only spun this album and pay attention to the music once I listened to the latest album of Spock's Beard and writing the review about it couple of days ago. I have to admit that this is really an excellent prog album with full rocking spirit from start to end. I almost did not believe that in fact Neal is much better as solo musician than being a front man and major composer of his legacy band : Spock's Beard. I do enjoy this album from start to end.

First off ...let me give my say about the concluding track which is actually an epic "World Without End". The epic starts in an ambient mode with keyboard work which is then followed with a blast of excellent music that moves dynamically with no vocal line for such a long period, approximately first six minutes. Oh yes ..the first six minutes instrumental part is so captivating and it sets the overall tone of the epic. For sure I enjoy the intro part which presents great combination of excellent performance as well as tight arrangement that create the music flows naturally. The next four minutes is a musical segment with lyrical verse where Neal sings beautifully in a rockin' style and at the end is the change in mood to slower in tempo and mellow in style. What I really love is the part - a rocking one! - that start at approximately minute 11:53. The music turns into differrent style and mood with excellent keyboard riffs. there arae many breaks aound this area. The guitar solo is really stunning and of course I love this part in particular and love the whole epic. I just cannot believe that Neal still can do this wonderfully crafted epic. The most important thing is that even though the epic runs over 33 minutes overall duration, I never get bored with it. In fact ..the more I spin , the more I enjoy it especially the intertwined work of keyboard and guitar solo in the middle of the epic. It's so captivating!

I think ..considering only the epic, it does make sense to purchase this album regardless the other songs are lousy ...

But that's not the case, really! The other songs are very good and excellent as well. The opening track "Momentum" (6:25) is an upbeat and rocking music composition that I guarrantee you would love it at first spin. "Thoughts Part 5" (7:51) is in fact rockier and faster in tempo than the opening track. the important part of this second track is the choirs like the one Gentle Giant did in the past. The choirs are really great and I do enjoy it as it sounds natural in the beginning part of the track. There is an interesting bass guitar solo in the middle, followed by a stunning guitar solo. Yeah!

"Smoke and Mirrors" (4:38) brings the album into a nice ballad with excellent acoustic guitar work at intro part. This song is mellow with memorable melody. Neal's voice sounds great. There is a little prog component right here but it provides an excellent melody all over the track. "Weathering Sky" (4:15) brings the music into a rocking style again with excellent guitar solo and singing style. This track is heavily influenced by The Beatles. "Freak" (4:29) reminds me to The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby especially at intro part where it has string sounds that accompany vocal.

Overall, this is really an excellent prog ROCK album in its truest sense. The composition has excellent harmony and many style and tempo changes throughout the album. Despite many changes the album still maintains its structural integrity so that produces an excellent cohessive whole. Keep on proggin' ,,,!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Momentum by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 348 ratings

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Momentum
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Some people think they're lucky / Like they thought of heaven first..." That was Neal Morse in his pre-Christian, party animal youth, from the 1996 SPOCK'S BEARD anthem "Waste Away". It was a prophetic lyric for a veteran Proghead who would later turn his entire life into a concept album of sorts: an ongoing hymn of praise to his personal Savior.

I'm not the first listener to point out that his shtick (both musical and metaphysical) grows old after the first several repetitions. Not too many singers can stretch a simple word like "arrive" into five distinct syllables, and fewer cling to their Old Time religion with such insecure devotion. He's been plowing the same straight and very narrow path throughout his single-minded solo career, but sooner or later such a prolific composer was bound to hit pay dirt, and this year 2012 studio album is the one Spock's Beard fans have likely been waiting for, achieving at last that elusive balance between his ministry and music.

Since quitting the Beard the latter should have been (but wasn't always) his first priority. It's usually necessary, when listening to a Neal Morse album, to hear the music while trying to ignore the Flat Earth thinking behind it, further illustrated in the cover art of his newest studio album. Is there a God-fearing American bias to the positioning of the globe, held aloft by the mighty hand of its absentee landlord? And is that meant to be the sun (or the Son?) revolving around it, in defiant opposition to Copernican logic?

But he's not pushing his religion quite so hard in this effort, in effect expanding its appeal beyond the circumscribed limits of his CPR fan base. And the music itself presents some of his strongest writing to date. The initial five songs (the first 'side' of the album, so to speak) pick up close to where the Beard left off with their peak album "V", driven by the old school Symphonic Rock of the aptly named title track. Morse's episodic homage to GENTLE GIANT (again, last heard on the "V" album) continues in the knotted "Thoughts, Part 5", and the slot reserved for the usual ballad is nicely filled by the delicate "Smoke and Mirrors". The only stumble is the too-cute novelty song "Freak", in which the punch-line is telegraphed well in advance and presented, with a self- satisfied smirk, like a rabbit from an old top hat.

And then there's the 33-minute "World Without End": a (melo-) dramatic showcase for Morse's gifts as an arranger, and the equal to any epic in his greater discography. The individual parts were all pressed from the usual template, but the edge never dulls over its more than one-half-hour length, and the pieces all fit together with effortless ease. Too many of Morse's big musical epiphanies, dating back to the earliest Beard albums, have sounded forced or artificial, but by the end of this beast he achieves a real sense of majesty (with a lower case letter 'm', please note).

Like a lot of Neo Prog the songwriting is typically verbose, often defeating its author's purpose, which is to spread the word, not smother the listener. And the sessions were supposedly inspired by a couch-potato fixation with an Australian boob-tube televangelist ("can God speak through a television?" asks Morse in the CD notes, and I suspect it was meant as a legitimate question). But the entire project was completed in a fortnight: an amazing accomplishment all by itself. Hard work, good fortune, and the law of averages all paid handsome dividends this time around, although Morse obviously doesn't see it that way. "Needless to say," he writes about the recording process, "the Lord delivered."

Why needless? And why not take credit for your own act of creation? If you want to claim divine guidance, more power to you, Neal, but I'm not buying it: you're a talented guy, and you did it all yourself...with a little help from your terrestrial (not celestial) friends.

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 Testimony 2 by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.97 | 474 ratings

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Testimony 2
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars As a Christian who respects the Bible as an authority, I agree only in part with the preaching of Morse. There are important insights in his lyrics which, in my opinion, have no foundation in the Holy Scriptures, as it has miraculous healing today. Also, I do not know conclusively until real is his conversion, but it's not my business to judge him.

As for the music, Testimony II is a highly qualified product, essentially the first album, seamless, with intelligent conductive line. well orchestrated and sung with emotion. Seeds of Gold of second album is also essential and brilliant.

The compositions and melodies are transcendent, Morse executions on piano and synths, extraordinary, like the corresponding collaboration of his comrades. Another unmissable gem in vast discography of a leading musician of the last two decades.

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 ? by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.18 | 485 ratings

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?
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My apologies in advance for any snide remarks, but the evangelical music of Neal Morse has always elicited strong reactions, both pro and con. Too many of the latter on this web site are hidden behind the camouflage of a ratings-only single star, so allow me to play devil's advocate (so to speak) in reviewing his otherwise nameless 2005 solo album, identified by title only with an enigmatic question mark.

A less charitable critic might say it's about time someone pulled the curtain away from this charlatan. He abandoned SPOCK'S BEARD at a critical moment in the band's career, claiming his newfound Savior had other plans for him. Nothing wrong there: we should all heed the councils of our inner nature. But has anything really changed in his music since then? Take away all the heartfelt but artless preaching, ignoring for now his ongoing series of CD worship sessions (as they rightly should be, at least in this forum), and what's left are the same pile-driver Neo-Prog gestures, employing awesome musical skills to be sure, but often played with all the nuance of a superstitious bull in a cheap china shop.

His subject here is The Tabernacle, that mystical nomadic temple, usually depicted as a tent of sorts in a neatly fenced yard, toted around the desert by the Jews after their Exodus from Egypt. Legend recalls it as a place of cabalistic ritual and symbolism...the perfect setting, in other words, for a Progressive Rock concept album, illustrated musically by an uninterrupted, 56-minute cycle of typically histrionic but spirited Retro-Symphonic sermons, divided into twelve linked chapters (the number apparently carries arcane significance: see below).

Once again, Morse is recycling riffs and melodies wholesale from his own extensive musical archives. But I have to admit he's playing as if truly inspired, and with enough creative energy to sway even an outspoken skeptic like myself. A stellar guest list makes the project even more attractive. Ace drummer Mike Portnoy invited his DREAM THEATER comrade Jordan Rudess to the sessions, and Morse finally plugged a weak spot in his roster by enlisting brand-name guitar talent, including superstars Roine Stolt and Steve Hackett. The latter has a solo spot at around the 37:00 mark that compares favorably to anything from his own laudable career, in GENESIS or afterward.

So the album deserves four unconditional stars for musical chops, despite its frequent moments of overwrought ostentation, as in the full orchestral bombast (complete with choir) inflating chapter seven, "The Glory of the Lord". But the strictly one-star banality of the libretto almost spoils the experience, at least for listeners old enough to recall the more diverse spiritual aspirations of the same Golden Age Prog that continues to influence Morse's better music cues.

Of course Progressive Rock has always suffered under the burden of occasional lame-brained lyric writing, dating back to when mountains first came out of the sky, and stood there. All Neal Morse did was elevate the same metaphysical quest to a higher, much narrower plane. Let me repeat: it isn't his religious convictions that undermine the album. It's the retrograde way the newly-minted prophet from Van Nuys drags his primitive theology around like a gold-plated ball and chain.

Consider the song "Solid as the Sun". Unless "Sun" is a poetic twist on the word "Son" (of God, of course), it's worth remembering that our local star is really just a bloated mass of plasma and hot air: not the best metaphor in a Born Again prog-rocker's playbook. And his occult embrace of numerology is just plain silly. "Twelve makes a day / Twelve tones in music / Twelve months a year / Do you think it's an accident?" (No, Mr. Morse, it's called a meaningless coincidence, and in the real world twenty-four makes a full day...)

A majority of the lyrics merely quote verbatim from biblical scripture, dutifully citing (and in one instance actually singing) the chapter and verse ("Leviticus 21:18!") And it requires nearly 2,000 words before Morse finally arrives at his point. But it's a point worth making, even to an irreligious dissenter like myself: we are each, if we choose, a vessel of that Holy Spirit he reveres. The Temple of the Living God he sings about is actually a living, flesh and blood shrine, multiplied by the population of earth into uncounted variations of belief. When seen like that, it hardly matters if the deity itself is a fiction.

I doubt if Neal Morse would accept the olive branch of that interpretation, extended from a kindred Proghead across an unfathomable gulf of irrational faith. And his album isn't likely to save any wayward souls here on terra firma. But when Morse finally reaches the Pearly Gates he could certainly teach his Heavenly Father a thing or two about the guilty pleasures of Neo-Prog overkill...provided, of course, that his god is actually a fan of Progressive Rock (given his track record, I tend to imagine the Almighty as more of a Punk). What H.L. Mencken once famously wrote about the prose style of President Warren G. Harding applies equally to this musical effort: "...it drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. But I grow lyrical..."

To which I can only add an enthusiastic (but entirely secular) "Amen."

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 Sola Scriptura by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.16 | 473 ratings

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Sola Scriptura
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A word of caution to oversensitive theists: it can be hard for a freethinking Proghead to review a Neal Morse album without a little tongue-in-cheek cynicism. But at the same time his musical sermons present an irresistible challenge to any halfway decent critic, and nowhere in his solo discography was that gauntlet flung down with more force than in this year 2007 concept album: an Arena Rock interpretation of Martin Luther's 16th century Protestant Reformation.

To recap, for those of you who slept through high school: Luther was a Catholic priest in late medieval Germany who famously nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of All Saint's Church in Wittenberg, challenging the omnipotent Papal hierarchy and its mercantile practice of selling 'indulgences' to contrite sinners shopping for inexpensive penance. In today's vernacular, as explained by Father Guido Sarducci, "stealing a hubcap might cost you $100. Masturbation is 35-cents...it's a small sin, but it adds up."

The ex-SPOCK'S BEARD leader is of course no stranger to blockbuster Prog Rock mega- productions, and it's nice to hear him attempting something with real narrative ambition. But I'm not sure Luther makes the best role model, in life or in music. And Morse's take on the subject is predictably shallow, bringing anachronistic 21st century attitudes to a far more complex historical record. "There is truth that I'm feeling / Love full of healing" says his protagonist in the song "Already Home", but that's Neal Morse singing, not Martin Luther. He's putting Sunday School platitudes into the mouth of a bigot who once wrote "To be a Christian, you must pluck out the eye of reason." And I won't even repeat what he said about Jews and their "wanton blasphemy".

To his credit, Morse actually considered scrapping the project after learning about his subject's rabid anti-Semitism. But he was able to avoid that ethical roadblock by simplifying the facts to fit his own rosy superstitions, and expressing them in poetry more consistent with Dr. Seuss: "God can change the world with just one willing soul / Who will stand up for the truth and give him starring role...Maybe it's you he's looking for!"

Neal's Divine Plan is uncomplicated: believe, and be saved...so long as it's his own narrow brand of Protestantism. Hence the need to protest "false religions" (his own words, in the CD notes). That not-so-hidden agenda prompted a lot of mildly entertaining religious pillow-fighting in the nerdier corners of the blogosphere, all of which underlines a point I'm sure Morse didn't intend to make: dogma is always man-made, never divine. To paraphrase another Prog Rock apostle (C of E skeptic Ian Anderson): God created Man in his own image...and Man, being polite, merely returned the compliment.

I've rambled on at length about the insecure concept behind the album to suggest that its author was out of his depth and treading rough theological waters: surely a moot point if the music itself reached as high as his idealism. And fortunately the trio of main players is on more comfortable ground, albeit trying a little too hard, as always. A composer this gifted and prolific sometimes doesn't know when to restrain himself, and here the results only reinforce every unfair knee-jerk bias ever brought against Progressive Rock: gratuitous virtuosity; performance overkill; arbitrary 30- minute suites; you name it. From the busy GENTLE GIANT syncopation to the big symphonic crescendos, it's business as usual for the workaholic Morse. Expect yet another sappy ballad ("Heaven in my Heart"), one more recycled Spanish interlude ("One Down, Two to Go"), and the same jazzy piano solo from Transatlantic's "All of the Above", copied almost verbatim.

Additional anti-Prog ammo is supplied in the epic musical arrangements, presented with all the ersatz flash and dazzle of a Sin City stage extravaganza, minus only the topless showgirls (alas). But I might have liked it even less without the Technicolor bombast and pomposity, a saving grace when applied like gaudy wallpaper over the album's obvious thematic shortcomings. Musically, Neal Morse is the Thomas Kinkaid of Prog Rock. And if you don't know the late, self- promoting 'Painter of Light', here's a passage from writer Joan Didion that might have been describing a typical Morse album: "A Kinkaid painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire." Hallmark card sentiments and heavy power chords...not exactly the most compatible blend, but hard to resist as a guilty pleasure.

You don't have to share his beliefs to recognize that Neal Morse has expressed them more effectively elsewhere in his career. Ten years earlier, while still in Spock's Beard, he penned a song clairvoyantly named "The Doorway". But that open invitation ("You are the doorway", he sang at the time) was replaced here by the object itself, now locked tight against incursion and bluntly titled "The Door", upon which Mr. Morse would try to nail his own musical theses. Unlike Martin Luther's Reformation it wasn't, however, a purely spiritual epiphany: quite the opposite, one could argue. What he's selling is only a new form of indulgence: 76-minutes of Prog Rock redemption, available with a nopCommerce account direct from his own on-line store.

Too bad there isn't a name-your-own-price option. The album is certainly worth the small mercy of Father Sarducci's 35-cent fee.

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 Sola Scriptura by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.16 | 473 ratings

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Sola Scriptura
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Sol Invictus

5 stars This is without any doubt a true masterpiece and one of my absolute favorite albums in the contemporary "symphonic prog" genre. The album mixes jazz elements with heavy prog and emotional and highly beautiful melodies. You can, with all right, have opinions about the lyrics - but when it comes to the musical compositions, the musical expressions and emotions and the musicians technical skillness, this album is at the very peak. This is one of the few albums that lasts for repeated (and then I really mean repeated) listenings - and an album that you always can return to and find new details. I agree with many other reviewers that "Heaven in my heart" is the weaker track - but it serves as some kind of counterweight - even though it is more like a "christian mainstream" song. A very tight album and Neal Morse and co-musicians at his/their very peak - and an album that deserve a 4.9 star rating.

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 Cover To Cover by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.92 | 51 ratings

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Cover To Cover
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars This is almost like a bonus disc, like Neal Morse does very often, see Transatlantic albums, for instance. This covers album was recorded during the Neal Morse album sessions recording for Testimony (2003), One (2004) and ? (2005).

My highlights: 'Maybe I'm Amazed' (Paul McCartney) 'I'm The Man' (Joe Jackson) 'Feeling Stronger Everyday' (Chicago) 'Where The Streets Have No Name' (U2) 'What Is Life' (George Harrison)

The other versions on the album are: 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' (The Monkees) 'Badge' (Cream) 'Where Do The Children Play' (Cat Stevens) 'Rock And Roll Suicide' (David Bowie) 'Day After Day' (Badfinger) 'I'm Free / Sparks' (The Who) 'Tuesday Afternoon' (The Moody Blues) Find My Way Back Home (Blind Faith)

All in all a good record, but I think it's more a fan thing.

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