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Jordan Rudess - The Road Home CD (album) cover

THE ROAD HOME

Jordan Rudess

 

Crossover Prog

3.18 | 93 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Great interpretations of the Titans!

When I knew about Rudess was about to release this album that contains a tribute to the legendary bands, I was not quite excited about it. But I received many prog SMS from prog colleagues in Indonesia as well as Singapore that informed me this is a great tribute album, I wanted really to proof it myself. Thanks to my prog colleague Koni, who has loaned me this album for my own experience enjoying the album. Well. it blew me away at first spin! It's fabulous! It's especially true for those of you who have been familiar with songs of prog in the glory days of 70s. Right away, I thought that this album would be a great "marketing tool" to educate young rockers or young prog lovers who mostly think that prog music equals to Dream Theater. Now, having enjoyed this album, the youngsters would get a complete horizon on the beauty of glorious music of the 70s. Hopefully they would collect the 70s prog albums like from Genesis, Yes, ELP and in fact Gentle Giant, King Crimson etc. I am enjoying this album with a very big excitement not that the old songs being tributed but with the fact that Mr. Rudess has great interpretations about old prog music and he has put different arrangements in some segments of the songs.

The cover art of this album with Rudess walking back to great castles representing great music of the past, it indicates two points. First, the music of the past who have been laid down wonderfully by pioneers of progressive music are gems that we need to maintain and revisit to give appreciation on their contribution. Second, it shows that Rudess is an open minded person that wants to explore the past gems created by the pioneers. In rock / metal scene, Yngwie Malmsteen has done it quite well when he released "Inspirations" album where he played songs by Deep Purple, UK, Rainbow, Kansas, etc.

Let's have a look in a bit details .

Dance on a Volcano which originally appeared in Genesis "A Trick of The Tail" album sounds like having nothing different from original version. But hold on .. this is happening only at the opening (intro) part where there were guitar fills in the original version - and being maintained so by Rudess. The only different thing is that the guitar fills are produced from Rudess' keyboard instead of real thing. But it's okay .. it sounds much modern, indeed. What makes the song interesting is on the music nuance with the use of (originally) Taurus bass pedals and is now replaced by his keyboard's bass pedals. It sounds so symphonic and captivating listening pleasure. You will get best subtleties if you play this song VERY LOUD in your decent home stereo set. WOW! It's great man! One distinctive nature of this composition is the music interlude where Jordan provides his full-fledge skills to make multi-layers keyboard work and making this song so powerful. It's really different from the original version. I really enjoy this masterpiece composition!

Sound Chaser which was originally appeared in Yes "Relayer" album with Patrick Moraz as keyboard player is delivered wonderfully by Rudess. The toughest part (I think) during the interlude part has been made in such a way that inquiring the mind of the listeners - be it a Yes fan or not. It's so powerful. In fact, since the opening part with ambient keyboard work plus dynamic drums work, it clearly indicates that this is a nice piece of composition. It's surprising to me that this song flows in a unique way but Rudess still can trace back the routes precisely and making excellent modifications on some segments of the music. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is made totally different with Mr. Howe's version in Relayer album. This interpretation is also a masterpiece.

Just The Same surprised me, really. It's not that this is not famous song by regular prog lovers. But, I cannot imagine and I have never thought before that Rudess paid attention in fact to the complicated band like Gentle Giant. Bravo, Mr. Rudess! I salute you on this. In fact, this song has been made differently in the interlude part - and not so much on the main structure / melody of the song. The choirs that appeared in the original version by Gentle Giant have been overcome beautifully by Rudess and it does not create any harm at all listening to this v=version. The interlude is so powerful and it moves to different style than what it supposed to be with bass guitar solo and guitar solo in addition to keyboard. It's truly a masterpiece! No doubt about it!

JR Piano Medley represents great classical music comprehension of Jordan Rudess. It's truly nice during the opening until "Soon" (Yes) being bluntly shown as melody and it then moves brilliantly to the opening part of "Supper's Ready" (Genesis). I'm sure that those of you who have adored the legends must enjoy this medley. At the end of Supper's Ready we are then surprised with the first verse of "I Talk To The Wind" (King Crimson). It's truly brilliant, my friend!

Beware of "musical" Multiple Orgasms!

Tarkus by Emerson Lake & Palmer interpreted brilliantly through this version. It starts similar as the original version and moves smoothly from one segment to another. It's quite surprising to me especially, hearing this song which has been more than 35 years, played with modern equipment makes the nuance enriched in such a way. Again, I never imagined Jordan would play this song as good as this one. With Tarkus as concluding track, Jordan wanted to show that this is the peak of his interpretations. As he acknowledged (thanks, Bang Ijal!) that he has been inspired by Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz, Rick Wakeman, it's clear that he fully explores his talents and skills through this great composition. Beware of "musical" multiple orgasms when you enjoy this track because each segment creates WOW experience for me. Oh man .. .this is truly an orgasm for me. It blows me away! Jordan is great in making this song such interesting and powerful. I have spent two hours writing this review because I cannot help it . this record is absolutely marvelous!!! In each segments he provides acrobatic interlude demonstrating his dazzling keyboard genius! In fact, the guitar solo has been made differently and it sounds much better. Well, I'd better stop this review. Otherwise, you will be tired reading it. It's masterpiece man!

Overall, this album is a MUST for those who love legendary prog music and who have not been familiar with Jordan Rudess. He has been known for his pulsating keyboard talents in Dream Theater songs since "Scene From a Memory" album and he proves now that he can play legendary songs better. It's a true masterpiece of prog music. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and A MUST! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

A review by Rizal B Prasetijo

Right after writing the above review, my prog mate Rijal (Ijal) purchased the CD and last night (20 Dec 07) he wrote his views:

Jordan Rudess' The Road to Home by Rizal B Prasetijo

Under the influence of Gatot "Top Markotop" Widayanto (I should probably say, under his encouragement), I listened to Jordan Rudess' The Road to Home (Magna Carta 2007 pressing). The CD consists of Mr. Rudes' (his real born last name only has one s) interpretation on a number of his keyboardist idols' artworks, such as Patrick Moraz's Sound Chaser (Yes, Relayer, 1974) and Keith Emerson's Tarkus (ELP, Tarkus, 1971), as well as his fave bands, such as Genesis (Dance on Volcano, A Trick of the Tail, 1976) and Gentle Giant (Just the Same, Free Hand, 1975). Simply put, this is Jordan's' musical adaptation on the "golden era" of progressive rock. He collaborated with his old friend, Rod Morgenstein, the Dixie Dreg's left handed drummer (the band that Mr. Rudes was associated with before joining Dream Theater) in this album.

As other prog rock keyboardists, Jordan had initially a classical training in Juilliard School of Music when he was nine years old (He thanked his mom, Rita, for driving him taking piano lessons in the album sleeve). But what make him different to other keyboardists is his interest on synthesizers. By early 1970s (he was at his late teens by that time), Mr. Rudes has already played the instrument in the prog rock space. If you are a Dream Theater fans, you will notice Jordan' unique fast tempo complicated style using a lot of "pitching" techniques (electric slinky sounds), much more agressive than the one adopted by his idols, Messrs. Emerson and Moraz, in early 1970s.

The album started with Genesis' Dance on A Volcano. One thing immediately struck my ears is--thanks to John Gutch's great recording technique--Morgenstein's drumming is more powerful than Collins or Bruford's (when the song was played alive in Second Out) original drumming, while Mr. Rudes' digital bass pedal is also more forceful than Rutherford's original analog bass sound. Indeed, his digital bass pedal sonic boom gives the composition a new meaning, in my view, though you need to have a good sound system and sub woofer to really enjoy Jordan's sub 500Hz bass pedal sonics boom.

At 4:20", the original composition was altered completely, Mr. Rudes introduced his own notes, surprisingly somewhat similar to Moraz's alternate progressive jazz rock notes in Yes Relayer (comments welcome). One drag in this composition is Neal Morse's (Spock's Beard) vocal. I think his voice color failed to match Collin's theatrical singing style.

Having been somewhat set into Moraz's ambiance, Sound Chaser is an obvious choice for the next piece. Rod Morgenstein's drumming rhythm is richer than Alan White's original drumming, while D'Virgilio and Winger's duo color voices matched Jon Anderson's high octave voice at the beginning of the song. Unfortunately, Jordan's digital bass pedal failed to replicate the Squire's Rickenbacker 401 dynamic analog bass sound.

At 2:55", the composition changed completely. It was initially led by Ed Wynne's guitar solo, then followed by Mr. Rudes' keyboard, and closed by Ricky Garcia's guitar solo. The 5:35" "free interpretation" section is an exciting one. It definitely captures Moraz's spirit in experimenting his synthesizers (the bulk of his equipments were directly obtained from developers and were still in prototype stage) during the recording of the Relayer.

The composition returned back to its original format at 8:20". I also note that Mr. Rudes was able to make the "cha cha cha" chorus more lively than the original one. I wonder what Messrs. Anderson, Squire, Howe, White, and Moraz's comments will be having heard Jordan's interpretation on their own artworks.

Frankly speaking, I would rather not commenting in details the 8:22" third track, adapted from Gentle Giant's Just the Same as I have almost zero knowledge on the band. That said, you could hear some syncopation as well as hocketing techniques (especially in between 6:00" to 6:20") played by Mr. Rudes via his Korg Oasys and Radius rather than via two different instruments. Note that these two techniques are part of Gentle Giant Kerry Minnear's uniquenesses (comments welcome) in composing Gentle Giant's music.

The next track is called JR Piano Medley. The 8:22" composition is the combination of Yes' Soon, Genesis' Supper's Ready, King Crimson's I Talk to the Wind, and Yes' And You and I. The medley was beautifully played in the Steinway D Concert grand piano. Through his genius mind, Jordan was able to pick the "right" part of these songs, re-composed and played it in gentle and subtle manners. The quality of the composition is further boosted by John Gutch's recording technique, resulted in a clean reproduction of the brightness (the trademark) of Steinway D Concert grand piano in my sound system. Bravo!!!!

The 3:05" "Piece of the " is the only Mr. Rudes' own artwork in this album. It started with digital outer space sound, followed by the like of Mr. Moraz's progressive jazz rock sound in Yes Relayer, intermitted by a brief country piano, and closed by digitally wheezing liners (I thought something has gone wrong with my CD player). In my humble opinion, the album would be better without this track.

Finally, the album is ended by the 22:47" Jordan's interpretation on one of ELP's finest symphonic rock songs--Tarkus. This is the best track in my view as Mr. Rudes was able to distillate ELP's Tarkus war epic (the birth of half armadillo/half tank creature, called Tarkus, its fight against Manticore, and its transformation into Aquatarkus) in richer notes than its orginal song and, therefore, appealing for a wider audience.

I sense that Jordan's keyboard and bass pedal were more articulate than Keith Emerson's keyboard and Greg Lake's original bass, respectively, while Morgenstein's drumming was equivalent to Carl Palmer's in the "Eruption" section. But, what really makes the composition is richer than its original recording is Ricky Gracia's jazzy subtle solo guitar on "Stones of Year" at 2:40" to 3:40", followed by Steven Wilson's vocal (sorry to say, his voice is better than Greg Lake's) backed by Mr. Rudes' jazzy keyboard.

Jordan's keyboard and Rod's drumming adaptations on "Iconoclast" between 4:49" to 7:20" really blew up my mind. I've never thought that the composition can be played in a such beautiful manner. Winger came in and sang for the "Mass" section. My ears were further surprised by Messrs. Rudes and Morgenstein's abilities to revive the spirit of and to enrich ELP's Manticore and Battlefield notes and sounds between 8:00" to 13:10". Similar to the Dance on a Volcano, the usage of Jordan's bass pedal and pitching (listen to the booming sound at 9:30" and 10:38") made these section more lively than their original songs.

The track was finally closed by 11 minutes adaptation on "Aquatarkus". Ron Thal (Gun N' Roses guitarist) added a heavy metal touch on the section. But, the real climax is Jordan's last 2:47" play, in which he inserted the progressive jazz rock element as the "finale" part of his 22:47" interpretation on Tarkus. What a great ending!

While I would rather opting the original composition, no matter how inferior they were, Jordan Rudess' The Road to Home clearly offers you another perspective how these legend songs could be played. At the end, I wonder had these legend songs been recorded according to Mr. Rudes' way, what these songs would have been. Happy listening. Best regards, Rizal B. Prasetijo

Gatot | 5/5 |

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