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Neal Morse - It's Not Too Late CD (album) cover

IT'S NOT TOO LATE

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

2.79 | 94 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Who?

While on holiday in California a few years ago, I picked this album up from an electrical goods warehouse for $1.50. Clearly, the name Neil Morse is not widely known outside of progressive music circles, and the store felt that the sole copy they had constituted an overstock. Morse was of course the guiding light (in temporal terms at least!) of Spock's Beard, up to and including their "Snow" album. He was also a member of the prog "supergroup" Transatlantic. This album was recorded while Morse was still a member of Spock's Beard, and released between their "V" and "Snow" albums.

Here we have 13 tracks, most of which were recorded in Nashville with Neil and only drummer Nick D'Virgilio playing on them. Also present is one track ("I am your father") which Neil wrote in 1982, and re-recorded with his old band mates from the 1980's. Finally (although not last on the album) is "The eyes of the world", subtitled "George's song" recorded by Morse alone in is own home. The songs were written by Morse over a long period of time, the oldest going back to 1982.

It is perhaps worth saying up front that this album is not in the vein of the complex prog of Spock's Beard or the ambitious solo projects of more recent times. This is primarily a collection of straight forward rock songs. This is Morse (and d'Virgilio) having a bit of fun; we even get snippets of studio chat on "Leah".

The 6 minute opening title track is about as close as we get to prog, but even here the slightly funky, slightly jazzy interludes disguise a straightforward pop number. Morse even has the nerve to echo Ian Hunter's (Mott the Hoople, "All the young dudes") closing "I've wanted to do this for years" as the track concludes.

The following "All the young girls cry" sounds like it is taken straight from Todd Rundgren's Beatles tribute "Deface the music". Here we have a girlie chorus to emphasise the repetitive, catchy nature of the song. The aforementioned "Leah" would bring a tear to a glass eye, the lyrics seeing a father trying to explain to a daughter why mummy has left home. "Leah, mothers love their daughters, I'm sure that she still cares for you now?. I'll be taking care of you now". Excuse me a minute?..

OK, back again. The bearing the soul type lyrics, which will become a feature of Morse's solo works, are rather in their infancy here. As such they can become somewhat cringe-worthy and grating.

The songs are best described as generally adequate, as are the arrangements which are primarily live in the studio. The occasional embellishment of horns ("So long goodbye blues") or strings ("Something blue") add welcome colours, although to be fair Morse's frequent switching between keyboards (and guitar) for different tracks also helps retain a level of interest.

The highlight for me is Neal's track with his old mates, "I am your father". Sentimental tosh perhaps, but lyrically it hit hits the mark, and Morse's impassioned vocals contribute to a genuinely moving song. Got to say the mellotron and Hammond help a lot too.

In all, an adequate but pretty lightweight album from the man who has done so much to further the cause of prog in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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