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Jordan Rudess - The Road Home CD (album) cover


Jordan Rudess


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 93 ratings

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4 stars When talking about modern progressive rock genius, some names come pretty fast. Steven Wilson, Neal Morse, Nick D'Virgilio and of course... Jordan Rudess! The well known keyboardist decided to give himself a little gift with this epic six track cover album.

After a brillant effort with his 2004's Rhythm of Time, Rudess is back with four great covers from classic prog giants, a piano medley that resume both his acoustic piano talents and his love for old progressive music and a brand new song that is definitely not in the same vein. All this combined give an album that will satisfy Jordan fans, Dream Theater fans, pretty much every progressive rock fans, electronic music fans and of course every known rock keyboardist on this planet.

The names I have mentioned earlier as the prog rock genius, actually all play a role on this record (all providing vocals). Their contributions all perfectly fits the song they sing in. Another well-known Rudess contributor, Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) plays drum on most of the album making honor to the such of Phil Collins, Alan White and Carl Palmer.

Now, does Jordan pays a nice tribute to these great bands or does he mess it up with his well known tendancy to play too much that he should? He stated many times that Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giants and Emerson, Lake and Palmer are among his biggest influence in his technique and sound. That's why the choice of artists was no big matter for the keyboardist.

He went with the song Dance on a Volcano for Genesis and to be really hbonest, this is the only track (not mentioning the piano medley) that is asolutely flawless. The song which is considered as one of the last from the Genesis prog era, was originally a beautiful arrangement of guitar, keyboard and vocal melodies. Jordan decided to use profusely his know famous fretless keyboard known as the Continuum on it. Of course, there are large parts which do not sound anything like the original and he have stated that it was intended. He could have searched for all these old hammond sounds and moog replica, but he went with his own stuff trying to put his personal touch (huh! oh!) to these classic. Don't panic, never in this track does he go on a as fast as i can madness, the electronic and keyboard arrangements are always perfect inputs all through the song and the vocal works of Neal Morse are not too much Collinesque, but perfectly fits the Rudess style.

As for Yes, he could have chose something classy like Roundabout or Siberian Khathru... saying is that is not knowing Rudess. Of course, he always cited Patrick Moraz as a big influence for him compared to Wakeman. His known love for fusion music made Sound Chaser an evidence. When the song starts, it seems like it could be Yes playing, but it's not. We clearly sense a deep love for this song for Rudess as he tries, in opposition with the Genesis cover, to create the perfect Yes sound and ambience. Even the vocals harmony are pretty similar (thanks to Nick D'Virgillo on this one). The first three minutes are definetely some candies for the Yes fan's ears, but suddenly everything goes down. Ed Wynne kicks in with his re-endition of Steve Howe classic guitar solo, but immediately the deep Yes fan, or really anybody knowing the original is left with a strange taste of this electrified demonstration of his guitar capacities. What Rudess has avoided to do on the whole record, Wynne achieved to do it in 3 minutes. Then, the song seems like a big improvised jam without any emotions. When the track is over the only thing that you want to do is to edit out the last 10 minutes of the song. As a song, it's not bad at all, but as a cover Rudess missed his shot in the end.

There is so many Gentle Giants tracks that Rudess would pay a good tribute to... Knots, Peel the Paint, Nothing at All, but Jordan went with Just the Same. Bringing back his continuum this is probably what you would like the most from JR covering Gentle Giant. Great arrangements and electronic parts all through the song, plus technically a superb tribute. A wonderful keyboard solo with Rudess trademark lead is preceded by a guitar solo from Bumblefoot (Guns 'N Roses). Again, the guitar is in wrong on this cover. You feel that the guest appearance is artificial and unpassioned. Still, Rudess himself can be proud to give the GG fan what he paid for, but the Yes fan is still angry to the disgrace made to Sound Chaser. The following track will change their minds.

Following these three cover Jordan goes on a tasty piano rampage. Combining all the passion he have for music with his great talents, he plays a superb snipets of Yes' Soon and Hearts of Sunrise on his Steinway acoustic piano. The true hero in this track is again Genesis with JR's very own Supper's Ready which is powerful and full of his great piano experience. To truly understand the greatness of these piano covers, you absoultely need to listen to it. A track that everyone who loved Rudess' 4NYC or Christmas Sky will adopt.

The fifth track is the only original material on the album. Remiscent to his work on Feeding the Wheel and the Rudess Morgenstein Project he demonstrate both his skills on many keyboard styles and his incredible collection of keyboards (you can hear the Continuum, Roland VP-550, Korg Radias, V-Synth among others). The track ends abruptly with a cacophony of electronic noises. Not a bad track, but we could have done without this one.

The final track is not the least... there was no way Rudess could pass by this ELP epic. Tarkus is one of the most respected and complex rock keyboard composition. Keith Emerson would be very proud to hear this cover as the overall sounds and playing is respected. Even the guitar for the first time on the album sounds good (thanks to Ricky Garcia). Steven Wilson surprisingly sounds good on this one (who would have guessed). Once again, this song have two little negative points. First, there is a large section where Rudess decided he would go on a electronic-hip-hop-like frenzy. This would have been well received on an original song, but on this ELP cover it sounds just too strange. The other thing is Kip Winger contribution which does not sounds good at all (the famous vocal Mass part). JR's organs and leads patches are simply great all through this song and conclude a superb tribute album.

In overall, a great tribute, some guests could have done better, but the arangements are superb all long and this is really all that matters. Great playing!

Recommended for every Yes, Genesis or Emerson, Lake and Palmer fans who wants some fresh air on their favorite tracks from an experienced modern musician.

Santerre | 4/5 |


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