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FLYING COLORS

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Flying Colors biography
Producer Bill EVANS had a vision of creating a rock band. Initially, EVANS put together Steve MORSE and Dave LARUE (of the DIXIE DREGS), Neal MORSE (of SPOCK'S BEARD), Mike PORTNOY (of DREAM THEATER) and producer Peter COLLINS, with the vision of a virtuoso band fronted by a pop singer to create accessible yet complex songs. Despite looking at over 100 well known pop singers, PORTNOY suggested that they bring in pop singer Casey MCPHERSON (of ALPHA REV). Well known musicians Kerry LIVGREN (of KANSAS) and Brian WILSON (of THE BEACH BOYS) were also asked to participate but were unfortunately unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. In nine days in January 2011, FLYING COLORS crafted the foundation of their first album. After a second and final session in March, the band brought in Michael Brauer (who had worked with Bob DYLAN, THE ROLLING STONES, COLDPLAY and John MAYER) to mix the album. The result is an energetic and eclectic rock album from some of progressive rock's most renown musicians.

Also, some of the members evidently watched Family Guy during the sessions.

:::Epignosis:::

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FLYING COLORS discography


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FLYING COLORS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 194 ratings
Flying Colors
2012
3.99 | 126 ratings
Second Nature
2014

FLYING COLORS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 30 ratings
Live In Europe
2013
3.07 | 15 ratings
Second Flight: Live At The Z7
2015

FLYING COLORS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

FLYING COLORS Reviews


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 Second Flight: Live At The Z7 by FLYING COLORS album cover Live, 2015
3.07 | 15 ratings

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Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars The first cd of Flying Colors was done by Steve Morse and Neal Morse as the second was the results of the collaborations of each member which gives more variety and quality in the music. The music is still song/vocals oriented almost AOR and Pop with progressive elements. The most progressive and longer tracks are "Open up Your Eyes" and "Mask Machine" with more complex time signatures. Neal Morse's keyboards while not having a major role like in his solo career brings some atmosphere in the music, also McPherson does most of the singing. We are in front of talented musicians here. Dave Larue in the first song add some interesting bass lines to the melody. Steve Morse's guitar solo are abundant and melodic. "The fury of My Love" starts as a ballad with piano and vocals and develop the melody in the Beatlesque fashion. I didn't enjoy the acoustic medley from Casey McPherson repertoire. There's plenty of typical classic pop rock songs in the edge of hard rock that include a welcome little rhythm change for Progressive listeners., but don't expect another Transatlantic or Spock's Beard type of music. Some tracks have too much simplicity, for example "Kayla" and "Shoulda Woulda Coulda", i suspect some humor in the latter, but "Cosmic Symphony" is quiet different and enjoyable. This concert is well presented with 24 cameras in high definition with two types of surround sound.

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 Second Flight: Live At The Z7 by FLYING COLORS album cover Live, 2015
3.07 | 15 ratings

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Review by A3000

2 stars It's probably the first time I'm rating something as "Collectors/fans only" because this release is indeed only for the ones who are crazy about this band and their material, which, in my opinion, sounds as a mediocre cover on all those great prog rock bands from the 70s.

Despite the indisputable performance skills and good mixing quality, this release left me with a feeling like I've just listened to another Transatlantic live album with those very very predictable drum fills from Mike Portnoy. And I still consider him to be one of the best modern drummers.

Perhaps the only thing that really haunted me was the "Colder Months" / "Peaceful Harbor" medley.

Sorry folks, didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings.

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 Second Nature by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 126 ratings

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Review by subassonic

3 stars Here's a question to consider....Does great musicianship automatically guarantee an album of progressive music?? Now, I think everyone will agree that the answer to that question is an unqualified..NO, because progressive music traditionally required superb composition, an attempt to incorporate non-conventional instruments and production techniques, blah, blah, blah....you know....all of the above. Here are four undisputed instrumental giants and...ahhh....a new guy with a very pleasant voice. Fine....so they've got the playing part covered but have they satisfied us on the other level?...you know...the blah, blah stuff? Well....yes and no. What I'm hearing on this and the first album from FC is pretty much, straight ahead melodic rock albeit played by exeptional dudes. That said, the opening track is a fine composition that really does cover a lot of sonic territory and can very sensibly be described as a piece of progressive music. The remaining tracks however are most definitely not. So...what to do? This.....accept yet another entry into the Progarchives that arguably should not be here. Second Nature is a great album and I will listen to it quite a few times but....and here's the test....will I look forward to loading the album 20 years from now, the way I do Close to the Edge or Nursery Crime?....an unqualified....NO.....3 stars for the first track and the hints of prog littered about the rest of the album.

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 Second Nature by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 126 ratings

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Review by Xeroth

4 stars Second Nature was a surprise to me and took a couple of listens to fully enjoy the album and respect its potential. Flying Colors is an arrangement of musicians I highly regard, and throwing in a pop-rock flare with the typical proggy-rock is a refreshing move. With less nasally vocals common in current Neo and Symphonic prog styles held back, which often turn me away from many respectable bands such as Marrillion, Pallas, IQ, and even Neal Morse's solo works, Flying Colors is a fresh sound. With that positive, Flying Colors is a band I've come to really enjoy. Second Nature, the second album to Flying Colors career, is a step in a good direction where a unique sound is solidifying and old cliches from Portnoy's prog-metal and Morse's Neo/Symphonic prog are sifting away. A third album could be expected to be even better.

Compared to their debut album Second Nature is a better listen. There's still a drag halfway through the album where the songs sound generic or bland. But stand alone songs such as Mask Machine, Lost Without You, One Lost Forever, and Cosmic Symphony will make the purchase and the inclusion in your prog-rock collection well worth the investment. I think there are enough prog features to find enjoyment in every song, but these four in particular stood out to me on first listen and I deemed the album worthy of further listening. The other songs, like Bombs Away, Peaceful Harbor, and such are still good listens but not as engaging as I would've hoped. Therefore, with such drawn enjoyment from the album I'd give it a 4/5, deeming this a worthy and excellent addition into not just a prog collection, but any. One nice feature about Flying Colors if is you're in a proggy mood but surrounded by less musically inclined company, Flying Colors has songs that help bridge that gap so everyone is at least in consensus and someone isn't leaning behind the couch saying, "The crap is this we're listening to?"

In conclusion the album is top-notch and fun. It explores a new style and is emotionally moving in portions too. If you were to purchase only one song from the album, Mask Machine I thought was phenomenal, and even if the rest of the album was garbage I would have to say that song made the purchase worth the dime. 4/5, excellent addition to any rock collection.

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 Second Nature by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 126 ratings

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Review by buddyblueyes

4 stars Only a couple reviews? Wha--? Trading star ratings for experience one could fill up the night sky with this motley lot. For the love of all creatures great and small in the beloved world -- just take into account the collective number of albums put out, or featuring, Steve Morse, MIke Portnoy, and Neil Morse! [pauses to actually take account. ...counting ... still counting... well, I don't have that many fingers and toes, so you'll have to count for yourselves. But seriously, wiki that s__t!]

This time they went it alone folks, sans producer (although Peter Collins from the debut is a stellar producer. Check out his credits: one humble release being Queensryche's, Mindcrime). Much like going to Hawaii without your sunscreen, it's usually considered "ill-advised" to go uncovered in the studio with your band. Everything but your banana hammock will get burned! Consider this group, however: do you really think a producer is worth his slice of the pie? Is he or she going to have more experience than what these guys already know about band management in the studio or organization during the songwriting process? Is their name going to carry any more weight than the names of the members associated with this act? "No thanks Mr. Producer, we'll handle this one." There's something about that situation that puts a smile on my face in a similar fashion that it's fun to listen to David Lee Roth expound on trite swill with much mental excrement.

At first mention of a Flying Colors release there was a perplexed "humph?" moment for this reviewer. Although it makes sense now, I never thought about pairing 2/3 of the Steve Morse Band with Neil Morse and Mike Portnoy, the powerhouse duo who've worked together on many a fine release. And who is this new singer I've never heard of? After absorbing their debut I was pleasantly surprised at the result and mixture of signature sounds, especially hearing the mashup of Portnoy and Dave LaRue. Portnoy's work with Billy Sheehan, exceptionally illustrated with the Winery Dogs, resulted in wonderful rhythmic conversations excitingly different from his stint in DT with Myung. With Winery Dogs, Sheehan and Portnoy pulled the best out of each other (BTW, who else was surprised that Ritchie Kotzen could pull such a compelling Chris Cornell out of his vocal orifice?) I find this collaboration with LaRue just as great, knowing that Dave can really dig in and "pop" a good bass when it's his time to spotlight. Although this fan of Van Romaine with the Steve Morse Band is somewhat saddened, the fire and energy Portnoy exudes just drives this band. Leaving Dream Theater on the horizon may have been the best thing he did to broaden his musical career. The drums throughout are propelling. It makes one want to grab the nearest "big block" engine and head-butt it repeatedly and then overturn a table in a public restaurant and set it on fire!

Also noteworthy is the interplay between Morse and Morse (no relation, just pure co-inky-dink), two giants who understand that creating music is a conversation. No toes are stepped on, no overshadowing. Space is given for each contributor. Duplicated lead runs on the keys and guitar blend effortlessly and the tone of instruments compliment each other extremely well. The only thing missing for this reviewer is some excellent chicken pickin from Morse a la "Gina Lola Breakdown" or funky "Ice Cakes" from the Dixie Dregs days (Ah! the glory days, which seems like a never-ending wish since the string of Morse's recent solo work is pretty straight ahead rock influenced ... sans Angelfire, the album with his neighbors daughter. Let's all just pretend that never happened). At least there's a little hint of the celtic influence which brought back thoughts of "Highland Wedding" or "Looking Back" from High Tension Wires -- [chuckle] the only time we've seen photos of Steve on an album with short hair! :)

Casey's voice has a unique timbre, but it's compelling. His emotive inflections bring songs like "Peaceful Harbor" to the next level. It didn't hit me for awhile, but when I just recently heard a song from Five for Fighting there was the "ah ha!" moment. There are some parallels with John Ondrasik. The longer phrasings suit his tone and add buoyant moments of contemplation and pleasantry. Neil, of course has his featured vocals sprinkled in, but showcased more predominately in "A Place In Your World", a song I find myself unwittingly thinking about sharing a malt shake with my sweetie down at the local Burgerville.

And this leads us to the only possible shortcoming with the album, which is the continued, goody two-shoes lyrics -- no doubt influence carried over from Neil Morse's solo work. If I'm wrong then Casey must attend the same church :). Fluffy even, perhaps the next album cover should contain images of unicorns and pink slippers. Who knows, perhaps this reviewer has spent too much time listening to pretentious dynamic word slinger-songwriters like Sting, Rufus Wainwright, Tom Waits, or Tori Amos in his past, but there is too much overuse of the word "love" in a cutesy, done-to-death way, which causes some prog listeners ears to... well, the equivalent of a cat wharfing up a hairball. Regurgitated pop generalities are great for crossover audiences, but for those of us who want great storytelling or compelling topics of discussion (see Headspace, Big Big Train) Second Nature will fall a little flat in that regard.

Overall, Flying Color's sophmore effort manages to continue the feel good prog pop brigade and it is a great, entertaining listen; if nothing more than a way to cross pollinate fans of all the iconic individual members. It's good music business strategy, too. Dig this band and you're work is cut out for you. You'll have to amass a library of albums as you explore the enormous bodies of work these individual, talented, and inspiring artists have spent a lifetime achieving. Dwelling on that fact alone, nothing but heaping piles of deep respect must be given.

Wishful concert band pairing: Sound of Contact.

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 Flying Colors by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.52 | 194 ratings

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Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

2 stars What happens when you put a group of fabulous musicians in a room to write a killer album? They produce the unthinkable, something glorious, right? Well, not always. For all the talk in Flying Color's pre-release videos about how they felt like the stars were aligning for this album, they sure managed to produce something which, to my ears and tastes, sounded like decent pop music. Just to clear things up, if this was their aim, they did a really solid job at writing good pop rock.

Now, here are the things you probably want to know about my opinion on the album (after all, you are reading my article). First question: How are the performances? Answer: Great. Second question: How are the songs? They didn't even come close to doing it for me. Mr. LaRue, Morse, McPhearson, Portnoy, and Morse may have been amazed at how naturally the songs came together, but when you get musicians as good as them together, it shouldn't take long to hammer out some good pop songs, which is exactly what's going on here. What's hard is for a bunch of guys as good as them to meet up and produce high quality, original, ambitious music. I'm not saying virtuoso or technical, but ambitious, something that aims high, that seeks to go beyond the mundane. All I can say is that I hope that they get a hit single and make a huge buck on this album.

Are there no redeeming moments? Of course there's some great seconds that happen. There's a couple of good choruses, Steve has a really cool guitar solo on "The Storm," Mike's drumming overall fits the music very well and has several sweet moments, etc. But don't be expecting a prog album here. Even saying this is a prog influenced pop album I think is a bit of a stretch for 90% of the songs. Let's get to that 10%. The last track, "Infinite Fire," is the gem of the album. Here's the thing; it's catchy, but not corny. It's got hooks, but doesn't scream out generic pop rock. Apart from that, it's got all the prog elements we want from these guys. It doesn't need to be insane and over the top with time signature changes every three seconds to get its point across. In other words, it's got all the proggy goodness without being overly pretentious. The themes are great, the vibe is nice and melodic, and I'm not gonna lie, I actually enjoyed the vocals on this one. Amazing, right? At least they closed off the album strong.

I'm going to commit heresy and say that unless you are wanting to add some pop rock to your collection, skip the album and just buy the mp3 of "Infinite Fire"? if you can find just the mp3.

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 Second Nature by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 126 ratings

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Review by strangelybrown

5 stars Flying Colors - Second Nature

Just sublime melodies and song writing here on what was, for me, a highly awaited second album by this almighty line-up. A huge leap in sophistication has occurred on Second Nature with its beautifully sculpted atmospheres, particularly on the mini-epic opener "Open Up Your Eyes" and the emotion evoking three-part piece that closes the album 76 minutes later.

"Open Up Your Eyes" sets the stage perfectly almost like a Transatlantic number with its climactic, majestic movements and motifs. It's almost impossible not to sing along and get out the old air guitar to the middle chorus and subsequent, screaming Steve Morse guitar solo. A charging build up then leads us towards the looming, massive crescendo 10 minutes in that will leave you with goosebumps.

Neal Morse clearly was hitting his creative expectations with his contributions to the song writing throughout the album. Regarding the vocals I feel that Second Nature uses Casey's tone and range much better than on the first, self-titled album. Mr Portnoy, well he's always exemplary!

The closing segment of the final three parter, "Pound for a Pound" is awesome with its beautiful melody and powerhouse final guitar solo. Other parts to enjoy include the excellent ballad "The Fury Of My Love" and the awe-inspiring Peaceful Harbour.

9 out of 10 from me rounded up as it's my first review on this amazing website!

Keep on proggin!

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 Second Nature by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 126 ratings

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Second Nature
Flying Colors Prog Related

Review by AlanB

4 stars The first album by Flying Colors got mixed reviews. Some people loved it (I was one of those) whilst others were disappointed that a band that included Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse had made an album that wasn't very "prog." Well, the second album from this band can't be criticised in that way because this is most definitely a prog album. Opening with a 12 minute song, and ending with a 12 minute, three part suite, these are the obvious progressive songs, but most of the shorter songs also mix pop/rock with progressive elements.

So, starting at the beginning, Open Up Your Eyes is like a mini-Transatlantic epic, with the first four minutes consisting of an instrumental overture before the vocal come in. There are plenty of swirling keyboards and lead guitar, and Portnoy's characteristic drumming is there too (something that was largely absent from the first album.) The next two tracks are more in a heavy metal style, something not usually to my taste, but certainly Mask Machine has a catchy hook and is an obvious choice for a single. After Bombs Away comes a more straightforward ballad, then the rocker A Place In Your World with some nice guitar riffs and keyboard lines, plus a singalong chorus. Lost Without You is another Power Ballad and the shortest song on the album at under 5 minutes. Then we get to the point at which the album really hits the heights. I defy anyone to listen to the last 3 tracks, one after the other, and not be amazed at the genius of this band. Kicking off with One Love Forever, which has an infectious acoustic guitar riff and a celtic feel, we then move on to what is probably my favourite song on the album. Peaceful Harbour has a beautiful spiritual feel to it, and the beginning and end put me in mind of Mostly Autumn. Finally we have a real gem. Cosmic Symphony is a three part suite with sections approximately three, three and six minutes long. It starts with thunder and rain effects and a simple repeated piano line before vocals, drums and guitar come in. Finally these are joined by a melodic bass line. The second section is more jazz keyboard based and then we move on to the final part which reminded me of REM. The song ends with the same piano line and thunder effects which began it.

A superb album, even better than their first and certainly proggier.

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 Live In Europe by FLYING COLORS album cover Live, 2013
4.02 | 30 ratings

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Live In Europe
Flying Colors Prog Related

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars By now everyone know about Flying Colors, another side project by the Prog hard workers and creators of Transatlantic Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy.

If you don't know yet allow me to explain that this band is not Transatlantic! Although the band is indeed another super group with Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Neal Morse, Transatlantic and Winery Dogs), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, solo), Steve Morse (Dixie Dreggs, Deep Purple), Dave LaRue (Steve Morse Band) and the little known Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev, Endochine). Thing is, FLying Colors is not a Prog band, at least not in their first album. The band is a very good example of Crossover Prog with a Rock/Pop formula but with chops, real clever moments and parts and great melodies.

I heard their first album Flying Colors (2012) and thought it was a great album, but it didn't really knock my feet off the ground. When they announced a live album the next year I was thinking to myself "Why a live album now?!?"

Live In Europe (2013) is a double album with little less than 2 hours recorded in the Netherlands and where they play the whole first album. To pull it off a full concert they also played a song from each solo careers, so here you go with a Dream Theater song, a Spock's Beard song, a Dixie Dreggs song and a Alpha Rev song.

Don't get me wrong, this is a great concert in all means and I would be really glad to be there at the concert. The band is flawless and the songs are very strong live. But it keeps popping out in my head that doesn't make any sense for a band with one studio album to release a live one as a following. But it became quite normal for Neal Morse's career.

Now the band's second album is out and you can bet there'll be another live album next year! But it's ok, you can go for it because it's high quality material!

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 Flying Colors by FLYING COLORS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.52 | 194 ratings

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Flying Colors
Flying Colors Prog Related

Review by Tull Tales

2 stars Despite all the cheese on this album, I probably still would have given it three stars if they had just let Neal Morse sing. I intensely dislike the vocals of Casey McPherson. He will be singing along just fine and then inexplicably add this bizarre nasally twang (not uncommon to current pop singers). I can't stand to listen to it.

Some of the extended instrumental sections in the longer songs are pretty cool, but not so profound that it keeps me coming back.

In the end, the album isn't terrible, but I honestly don't care if I ever hear it again. Considering the personnel, rather disappointing.

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