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Jordan Rudess - The Road Home CD (album) cover


Jordan Rudess


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 93 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Fair Novelty Album Showcases Chops on some Old Favorites

I came to Jordan Rudess' The Road Home trying to give him a fair shake as I've been a long sufferer of nostalgia for Kevin Moore era Dream Theater. Rudess has always seemed to be more of a shredder and less of a musical texture composer, simply a little less artistic to my ear. Given the fact that part of the appeal of DT was hearing remarkable players go off on their instruments, Rudess certainly fits in to the group.

The album in question did not change my opinion at all. It is pure candy, but you can't deny that both artist and listener get to share in some fun. Playing mainly covers of prog classics, Rudess combines with a variety of other heavyweights to create some fun, if uncreative music. Most of the songs are played quite faithfully early on, only to explore a bit during middle sections and then return to the original at the end. The renditions range from good to poor.

My favorite is Gentle Giant's "Just the Same" on which Rudess actually sings admirably. One of later GG's only weaknesses was Derek Shulman's strained vocals, and Rudess's timbre is coarse enough to add a new sound to the song, but actually more precise in execution. Rudess, as usual, overplays solos and adds way too many ornaments to an already complex song, but the cover catches the balance between fresh and original ideas better than any others on the disc.

The worst cover is Genesis' "Dance on a Volcano," which is extremely stiff, sounding as if the band is struggling to pull it off. Neal Morse's experienced vocals are worse than Phil Collins' rookie album performance, which is a very sad statement indeed. The powerful danger of the original is replaced by clinical precision, making one realize how great the old bands were in making complex time signatures groove and emote. More than anything else, this song already did what Rudess does best, which is make cool-sounding keyboard soundscapes. There was nothing he could improve. Most of all, the drumming on the cover simply highlights just how phenomenal Collins was at that point in his career.

The longer covers of "Tarkus" and "Sound Chaser" are mixed bags, with some nice nostalgia, plenty of wankery, and a few bad choices. Trying to fix the "Cha Cha Cha" section of the latter was a mission doomed to fail from the start. The former sports some interesting key sounds, but it may be truly impossible from a historic point of view to eclipse Emerson in that department.

Rudess composed two of the pieces himself, and they couldn't be more different. The JR piano medley is an overwrought mess utilizing parts of Yes' "Soon," and "And You and I," Genesis' "Supper's Ready," (what is the point of that song without lyrics???), and King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind." The renditions add absolutely nothing to the ideas of the originals except self-indulgent speed runs. The purely original "Piece of the Pi" is just a fun prog key romp which doesn't aspire to much but succeeds in pleasing key and chops fans. Now that's something Rudess can do.

Overall, this album is a fun thing to sample but not worth spending any money on. I used up my on-demand streaming on internet radio, and that was probably more time than it deserved. Clearly two star material. Not unpleasant but good for novelty value only.

Negoba | 2/5 |


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