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Jordan Rudess

Crossover Prog

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2 stars A keyboardist's album for keyboarders! I wouldn't suggest even giving this a chance if you're not a keyboard player. Rudess definitely plays like a champ but for anyone who's not interested in keyboards so much but in the music as a whole is going to get bored by this one. Some nice covers of classic prog songs but most are radically changed in the middle section of the songs so you won't recognize them. Anyways, not much to say here, I wasn't exactly surprised by this album and it turned out to be just what I thought it would: an album that doesn't interest me so much because it focuses on keyboard wizardry rather than good compositions.
Report this review (#130400)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another great release in this amazing year (07) of modern prog music. It's one of JR most diverse albums, that touches his classic prog loving influences & modern kb. wizardy from Dream Theater! And what a killer combination that is. You don't have the filling like listening to cover songs at all,it's more like new LTE album , as JR changed songs ALOT, so only main compositions stayed the same! All guest musicians did a great job! Especially the drummer, and singer on Tarkus, which sounds mindblowing & it's like Sc-Fi version of original! :P

Superb album, by one of the best keyboard players off all time!

Report this review (#131800)
Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jordan's best solo album by far, both for the tribute he pays to his inspirations such as Yes and ELP, and for the magically complex arrangements he has added that blend well with these compositions. Kieth Emerson himself has said of Tarkus: "Jordan's version...takes no prisoners, and handles it head on, even the solos...taking a composition I am proud of to another level." Keyboard fans and Dream Theater fans alike will enjoy this as Jordan once again raises the bar.
Report this review (#132198)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jordan Rudess has found his Road Home through music. The versatile keyboard player that was once a classical pianist entered the world of progressive rock with Dream Theater many years ago and has never looked back, except on this album where he stops to reflect upon the music that got him where he is today.

Rudess is prog-metal royalty now and it is obvious to me after listening to The Road Home that his love for this music has not waned at all over the years; on the contrary, it feels strong and poignant. The keyboard wizard makes every track his own by improvising and adding his special touch to give each one the respect it deserves while making sure his stamp is left everywhere in between. There are six tracks on this CD with the classic ELP track "Tarkus" running for nearly 24 minutes alone; it's packed with long stretches of keyboard virtuosity. This is what you want to hear if you happen to love the original tracks and appreciate the talent and genius of Mr. Rudess.

It is only fitting that Rudess surrounds himself with others from the same category to pay tribute to the music he loves. Jordan gets some first rate assistance from the prog world's best such as singer Neal Morse, who does a terrific job with "Dance on a Volcano," then Kip Winger and Nick D Virgillio (Spock's Bear) trade off on vocals with "Sound Chaser" and Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) contributes his fine vocalizations on "Stones of Years". On the instrumental side of the equation, the excellent drummer Rod Morgenstein (The Dixie Dregs, Winger) contributes heavily while Ricky Garcia and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns n' Roses) peel off some scorching guitar solos.

On "I Talk To The Wind" Jordan turns in a surprisingly good vocal treatment. It comes as a surprise of course as he normally performs instrumental pieces and does not contribute vocals on the Dream Theater albums. So overall there are plenty of instances that alert your senses while taking The Road Home with Jordan Rudess. The album cover art is typically progressive and filled with fantasy, depicting Rudess following his path to the futuristic metropolis that sits in front of him with all its glorious architecture and power - much like the music he makes and the imagery it creates throughout this entire package. I could not have asked for a better solo project, and best of all it comes right from his very soul transported directly to your ears. ©

Report this review (#135307)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars I don't know in other countries, but here in Brazil there's a lot of keyboardists wanting to punch Jordan Rudess. Why? Because he did a completely pointless and uninteresting album of covers.

Jordan Rudess seems unsure if he's going to play like in the original versions or going to change them (to me, an album of covers only has a point in the second option), so he just goes destroying prog classics in poor arrangements. Some comments on the music: Greg Lake's gentle but powerful voice is really missing in I Talk to the Wind and Tarkus. Both songs become hollow without Lake. Jordan plays Soon on the piano without any emotion at all. It seems to me as if he was playing a song he never heard before and was reading in a partiture. Where has the song's utter calm and beautiful emotive melody? Not here. Sound Chaser with no bass. How dare you, Jordan?? And the guitar solo in the middle, an avant-garde and inventive solo in Howe's version, became a poor heavy-metal solo with a distorted guitar. Oh my god.

In two words: completely pointless.

Report this review (#138349)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I don't know too much about the work of Jordan Rudess in Dream Theater but I was so surprised to come across this in a local shop that I thought I'd give it a try. A bit of a risky enterprise - taking on some of the great prog classics including the full Tarkus epic - but I would say he has managed to pull it off. Starting off with an excellent version of "Dance on a Volcano", featuring Neal Morse on vocals and some embellishments in an extended instrumental section, this shows Steve Hackett how he should have done it on "Genesis Revisited". He then takes a bigger risk with "Soundchaser" but again it's a success as he plays on the jazzier aspects of the song, replacing the Squire bass with a funky keyboard sound and using a similar bendy keyboard sound to Moraz. The guitar solo section (from Ed Wynne) is changed to more of a shredding solo and the ending section doesn't quite have the manic qualities of the original, but a good effort at what must be a very difficult number to cover. Good vocals from Nick D'Virgilio and Kip Winger. Gentle Giant's "Just the Same" from "Free Hand" gets a sympathetic treatment with a great synth solo.

The solo piano medley is a good idea, featuring melodies from "Soon", "Supper's Ready", "I Talk to the Wind" and "And You And I", but is far too over-embellished and unfortunately ends up sounding like Richard Clayderman plays prog. "Piece of the Pi" is a short but manic Rudess jazz-fusion number.

The CD ends up with the full version of "Tarkus", soon after Zip Tang attempted the same and, whilst more similar to the original than the Zip Tang version, the vocals are better and there's some excellent and occasionally surprising use of keyboard sounds here (although that has to be weighed against the also occasional moment where he veers alarmingly back towards Richard Clayderman territory). Steven Wilson is the lead vocalist on "Stone of Years"

Rudess has taken a risk and I feel he has succeeded on the whole. Although some of these versions are bound to come off worse in direct comparison to the originals because they're such classics, this is an enjoyable listen, well-played by a stellar cast of musicians, and a CD I will probably be playing quite regularly.

Report this review (#151620)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
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 ţ" 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

Report this review (#154706)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Don't bother to buy this, unless you want to complete your collection of albums from Jordan Rudess or Dream Theater or a list of keyboard players whose only talent is to play fast. This album is nothing but a proof that JR can play keyboards faster than anybody. His composition parts are totally uninteresting and the piano medley is only a big bunch of notes in a short lapse of time. I like Dream Theater, but I think that JR isn't good unleass he is surrounded by John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and John Myung. Do yourself a favor, don't buy this.
Report this review (#154753)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Do not waste your time and money: don't buy this album.

Unless you have heard and enjoyed it. I didn't, and thanks to my personal politics about music (and the internet) I didn't buy this wanna-be tribute of prog giants.

Don't like Dream Theater, but I didn't see any shadow of this group here. It wasn't this factor that made so bad my perception of this album. It was the literal covers of pieces of music that cannot be covered decently without the creation of a totally unexpected re/desconstruction. Something like Devo's Satisfaction cover (which I don't like, but must agree that it is THE cover as they take possession of the song).

The only not-totally uninspired music is the piano medley (very flamboyant-Wakeman excessive, but beautiful in some parts). I liked the I talk to the wind section followed by quotations from And you and I.

Cover albums are very dangerous. The majority of them, in any music style, is (are?) redundant. This one is just another more-of-the-same cover's album.

Very important post-scriptum: how can anyone cover Sound Chaser note by note and PRETEND to be paying tribute to its creators?

Report this review (#170181)
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great tribute to the progressive roots of today's bands! I picked up this album after getting into Dream Theater, after which I was interested to hear more of Jordan Rudess' solo material. I was immediately intrigued by the tracklist which included some of my Yes and Genesis favorites. It was immediately familiar but still nicely refreshing to hear a new take on classic songs as well as a tiny bit of new material.

The opening track, Dance on a Volcano, is from one of my all-time favorite progressive rock albums ever, Genesis' Trick of the Tail. This cover does the original much justice, while infusing it with a much edgier, aggressive sound. The ending section is quite wild with some new guitar parts thrown in which are very rockin'.

Sound Chaser is probably one of my most favorite Yes songs from my favorite Yes album, so I was excited to give this track a listen. Jordan fills Patrick Moraz's shoes quite well, keeping up the blistering tempo of the original and giving him a chance to do what he does best. The extension of the guitar solo in the middle was a mistake, in my eyes, however-no discredit to the guitarist, for sure, but an extra three minutes in length on a solo that was rather lengthy to begin with is just plain boring. I usually skip the solo while listening to just get to the end part, which is very intense and well played by Jordan.

Gentle Giant's Just the Same was one I had never before heard, though my opinion of it is very high. It's a very catchy, syncopated song that I think sounds great. I could only find a rather poorly recorded version of the original to compare but in this case I think I can say that this version, if in quality only, succeeds in bettering its original reference material.

The fourth track is a beautiful surprise and showcases the other side of Jordan's keyboard wizardry. In listening to this I hadn't any idea what was in store thematically and was just floored to hear the themes of some wonderful favorites so expertly played on solo piano. Every section of the song segues well into the next and the selected songs are all wonderful melodies. Jordan is obviously as big a Relayer fan as I am-it's a shame he didn't do Gates of Delirium instead of Sound Chaser or Tarkus!

Piece of the Pi is the weakest track on the album (and the only original one). I finally gave it an honest listen and while it's rather nifty and novel, full of synth effects and plenty of notes, it's just not a very interesting song. It's full of the usual Jordan Rudess lightning-fast arpeggios and ragtime piano solos which are just tiresome in such volume in such a short time. An impressive track technically but listening-wise I often skip it.

Tarkus, on the other hand, is an amazing cover of the ELP magnum opus. Keith Emerson's keyboard flair is a perfect match for Jordan's style, and he manages to quote enough of the original note-for-note and still give it his modern edge. Instrumentation-wise Jordan's version is a lot fuller and high-quality compared with its 1970s counterpart, and I feel like the modern synth infusion he gives the song really does a lot to boost the song's impact and energy.

Overall this is an excellent album full of tributes to the best of the best. 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#172361)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#173308)
Posted Sunday, June 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#224242)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Listen, I am not a covers guy. I avoid them like the sour milk. It is just not in my makeup to seek them out. Sometimes they are done well and I usually don't mind them as add-ons to proper albums. But a whole album of them? Forget it. But this is really good stuff we have here.

Let the purists rip this one but it is a rollicking affair that takes some great material, enhances it in some instances and changes it in others but keeps the originals basically intact. Dance on a Volcano is great and has a ripping guitar solo in it. Soundchaser lets Rudess show off his speed chops. I am not a Gentle Giant fan but if all their stuff sounded as good as Just the Same on here, I would be buying their albums. The Piano Medley is just that. Beautiful music but it does stick out a bit on here. The album probably needed a break from all the energy before and after. Piece of the Pi is an interesting little piece that is the only original music on here. I like it.

Tarkus is the grand finale and JR lets it all hang out on this one. Every section gives him a chance to blow your doors off in a new fashion. Sometimes, the song veers off to where you might not recognize it, but it always comes back to the familiar (yet different). There is supposedly no bass played on the album, replaced by some Rudess keyboard effects and bass pedals. You won't miss it. Just don't waste your time thinking about the lack of it, just sit back and enjoy the ride. The vocals are handled by a few different guests. Most of what we have here is much less distinct than the original vocalists, which is fine by me, since I want to let Rudess and his music be the star.

So get your nose out of the air and enjoy this for what it is. JR puts his spin on a few classics and with today's production techniques made them more enjoyable than I could have hoped for. Four solid stars and a unique gem in my collection.

Report this review (#236298)
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not related that well with the original songs, so I hear it as with virgin ears, not comparing the album with nothing else... So, everything is fine with me, if you can handle a billion notes per second for an entire album, then maybe you can either...

The selection of songs he decide to cover are really odd... you know, pure master songs from the masters of prog rock... I found that the covers are great, the guess players are at the level of the Wizard, but sometimes I get bored with overplayed solos, here and there you get pure billion notes from guess guitar players or Jordan himself with his trademark keyboard-guitar- sound... I stil enjoy it... but to be honest, I think the piano medley is the real thing here... I truly believe jordan should take only a piano and quit with the synths... I know comparisons are bad, but Kevin Moore's sounds were better and fit great with the rock sound of DT (and those are 15 years dated...!!!) but being fair, I would say the album on it's own is great... as someother reviewer said, great fun, but lack of creativity... at the end that is something unfair because you know is a covers album... so I think we don't suppose to expect a lot more...

Is a good album to show that keyboards can rock as well as guitars... and to testify the limits of the instrument... is difficult to reach this amount of technic and quality of playing... so... my advise is that you should give it a try...

My favorites: "Dance in a Volcano" and "Jordan Rudess piano Medley"...

Report this review (#245718)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Admittedly, I've been a Yes fan much longer than I have been a Dream Theater fan, but in my attempts to branch out I thought I'd give this album a try. One thing is undeniable: Jordan Rudess has incredible talent. His technical expertise is unmatched (at least in my musical forays) by any other modern keyboard player. I believe he has the chops to be up there with wizards like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. However, after listening to "The Road Home", there's no doubt in my mind that Emerson and Wakeman are better musicians. This is made incredibly obvious on the solo medley of songs Rudess compiled. The technical ability is there; the musicianship is not. Part of what makes some of those songs beautiful is lost in the flourishes that Rudess inserts virtually every five seconds, to the point where towards the end of the piece it actually gets pretty irritating.

But that's not to say every song Rudess attempts comes off flat. His take on "Sound Chaser" blends perfectly into his playing style; the jazzy- fusion-esque take seems very natural and is not at all difficult to listen to. He does a particularly excellent job of layering each keyboard he adds to the mix. The guest performances are also superb; I have to extend kudos to Nick D'Virgilio for giving an excellent treatment of Jon Anderson's lyrics. "Dance On a Volcano" is also very well done; there is a great balance between the instruments and the mixing is fantastic. Overall, it's a decent album, and if you're a keyboard enthusiast there's no really good reason to pass this one up. Just don't be expecting a masterpiece, because it's not quite there.

Report this review (#258651)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Jordan Rudess'' 2007 "The Road Home" album showcases the Dream Theater keyboardist covering and reworking some of his favorite Prog Rock classics. Be warned, these are not your average "covers". Rudess re-arranged and transformed the songs into his own personal interpretations. "I wanted to play the right pieces and play the parts that I felt were really important to the composition," says Rudess, who penned the original "A Piece of the Pii" for The Road Home. "I also added my own sections that aren't there at all [in the original songs]. So there is a lot of originality even within these new arrangements."

Here are a list of songs on The Road Home with the original artist in ( ).

Sound Chaser (YES) Dance on a Volcano (Genesis) Just The Same (Gentle Giant) Piece of the Pii (Jordan Rudess) Tarkus (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)

"Piano Medley" merges bits of the Jon Anderson vocal showpiece "Soon", King Crimson's gentle, supernatural "I Talk to the Wind" (with vocals by Rudess), Yes' "And You And I", and Genesis' sprawling "Supper's Ready."

Rudess, who is used to being surrounded by immense musical talent, had some help on this record from leading prog talents. Guests include Spock's Beard vocalist Neal Morse, Kip Winger, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, Bumblefoot (Guns 'n Roses), Ozric Tentacles' Ed Wayne, and drummer Rod Morgenstein.

A fusion which results in an all star "prog tribute album" by one of the genres' leading keyboardists.

Report this review (#263182)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Being a fan of Jordan Rudess' work with Dream Theater I wanted to hear how he would sound on his own and The Road Home felt like a plausible gateway to his work. The videos on YouTube where Jordan Rudess talks about the album definitely played an important part in that decision.

Well it's obvious that Jordan is a creative artist but somehow his work here rarely touches me in a way the original recordings of these compositions have done over the years. The only nice surprise here was the cover of Gentle Giant's Just The Same that, in my opinion, came close to sounding almost as good as the original.

The list of guest appearances is quite impressive but most of them result in somewhat uninspired performances that drag the album down for me. I'm also not that keen on the new sections (so called "original bits") that Rudess added to the compositions. It was definitely an interesting idea on paper but the results are far from impressive.

Still it's hard to hate the album for not trying so cheers to Jordan Rudess in hope of that his future recordings will be more appreciated by me.

**** star songs: Just The Same (8:22) Piece Of The Pi (3:05)

*** star songs: Dance On A Volcano (8:44) Sound Chaser (12:54) JR Piano Medley (8:22) Tarkus (22:47)

Report this review (#266940)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Jordan Rudess has been around for more than 20 years in the prog-scene but I must admit I have always been on the verge of commenting his musical efforts as butteflying between some eclectic-crossover prog, jazz rock-fusion and progressive metal. Sometimes I strongly have the feeling that his true nature manifests itself only in his solo efforts, his deeds often get crossed in DT where the stress falls on metal-in-prog rather than artistic purety. However, while Jordan's professional pianism has never been and never will be demanded nor his technical background knowledge, his solo thingies vary in every sense. Some seem half finished, some seem full or lacking of emotion, some seem to be too much into some amateruish-jazz things, and some seem very far from what great music can be created by simple weaving pianistic sounds together, quirkied, ramified and chromatically structured. While he can realize albums like the two superb ones with R. Morgenstein and LTE, and he is in the position to create almost anything he likes and to get circumvallated by such good musicians like the ones here, he can make such albums like his Christmas cd, Feeding the wheel, Notes on a Dream, which are without any depth, and void in a whole. This album about covering prog-works from the past is quite the same. Only one thing can come everyone's mind putting on this record: Why make things again and again? With Dance on the Volcano, Sound Chase etc. needing no introduction and being piled up with the Pi-thing and the Piano medley, this album still lacks of any originality, simply it turns the originals out of their magfnifying and histrocial skin, adding some jazz touched-improvised-like things into their lines of inside. Tarkus, which is quite a long but good one en originale, is the low tide. As said before, technically is okay, musicians are very shaped, but in vain, it is empty. No more words just two stars.
Report this review (#290589)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mapping the journey...

The eighth solo album from virtuoso keyboardist Jordan Rudess.

The Good: This is an album very close to my heart, as it was my personal gateway to the world of Prog. At the time I was obsessed with both Rush and Dream Theater (and had some interest in Camel), but other than that I knew little of what lay 'beneath the surface'. And so, like many people who run out of studio albums to listen to, I decided to investigate the band member's side projects and solo albums.

I had already listened to 'Feeding the Wheel' by Jordan Rudess and so the overall sound on 'The Road Home' felt familiar, what surprised me though was the quality of the compositions. The songs on this album were amazing! I think it was a full week before I noticed in the liner notes that the songwriting was attributed to other musicians. I knew Genesis and Yes from Land of Confusion and Owner of a Lonely Heart, and recognised King Crimson as 'the band that Tony Levin from LTE used to play for', but had never heard of ELP or Gentle Giant. Ah, to be young and naive! These were all bands that had influenced Jordan Rudess in his early years, and so this was a tribute of sorts with an all star line-up including Rod Mogenstein, Neal Morse, Steven Wilson and Nick D'Virgilio.

Nowadays my music collection has grown exponentially in all directions and features over 500 albums from some 200 artists, with the superb track selection on this disc being largely responsible.

The Bad: Despite some new material and interesting artistic interpretation, this is essentially just a 'cover' album and as such I find it hard to consider it an 'excellent addition'.

The Verdict: It certainly doesn't feel like four years.

Report this review (#540753)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Keyboard speed merchant Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater; The Dregs) assembled an impressive guest list for his '07 covers album, paying enthusiastic tribute to the Prog Rock heroes of our collective adolescence. Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio from Spock's Beard were both on hand; so were Ed Wynne (of Ozric Tentacles) and the ubiquitous Steve Wilson, plus several other players who weren't Tony Levin (the celebrated Stick Man must have had another dozen sessions scheduled that day...)

The good news here is the material itself. Honestly, who among us wouldn't leap at the chance to hear this all-star roster rummaging through the back catalogues of Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, and ELP? That instant familiarity is the ace up the album's sleeve: no effort is required to get into the music, especially when so little apparent effort went into the actual arrangements.

And that's the not-so-good news. These new versions stick uncomfortably close to the originals, typically adding little interpretation beyond (no surprise here) a lot of virtuoso soloing. Otherwise the structure of each selection is more or less intact, and too bad: a challenging song like "Sound Chaser" is crying out for an unexpected facelift.

"You better start doing it right", sings Neal Morse in "Dance On a Volcano", and it's a pity Rudess didn't take that admonition more to heart. Jon Anderson's mournful ballad "Soon", performed here as part of an extended solo piano medley, is a model of ostentatious over- embellishment, leading directly into a flamboyant abbreviation of "Supper's Ready", located on a scale of keyboard tackiness somewhere between Rick Wakeman and Liberace, minus only the candelabra. And the extended solo guitar spot during "Free Hand" only shows how resistant the music of Gentle Giant is to this kind of adaptation.

It's all fun stuff to be sure, and totally self-indulgent in a not altogether bad way: these guys have serious chops, and aren't ashamed to show them off. But it's too bad even a small crumb of subtlety wasn't included in their instrumental menu. With a little more nuance and a lot less grandstanding, Rudess and company might have touched real magic.

Still: it would be hard for anyone who grew up with this music not to respond to the dynamic production, and all the performance machismo. At its worst the album presents little more than a clinical display of cold virtuosity. But at its best it's an affectionate, often forthright stroll down memory lane.

Report this review (#866788)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars The Road Home is an album of cover songs by Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. Among the eight songs he reinterprets are three Yes and two Genesis songs, making this one especially interesting to me.

The strongest tunes here are the first three, 'Dance on a Volcano,' 'Sound Chaser,' and 'Just the Same.' Each adds some new interpretations to the original, although none is terribly interesting. Rudess, drummer Rod Morgenstein, and celebrity vocalists Neal Morse, Nick D'Virgilio, and Kip Winger - - all are technically very good, although the final results are a little clinical in my opinion.

Rudess's take on 'Tarkus' is OK; the problem for me is the choice of source material. Winger was the perfect choice to sing on the 'Battlefield' section - - who'd've thought? Of the non-cover song, 'Piece of the Pii' (which is how official sources tend to spell it), I'll just say that it's short and not as showboaty as it might've been.

My chief complaint, though, is with the piano medley. Mostly it consists of Rudess shoehorning about five times as many notes as needed into several classic prog-rock tunes. (To be fair, during 'I Talk to the Wind' it's only about three times.) Unlike 'Tarkus,' 'J.R. Piano Medley' has excellent song selection but poor realization. I saw Jordan Rudess play a solo concert once, and the guy is absolutely phenomenal. Technically, he must be in the same league as Wakeman and Emerson were in their respective primes. It just seems unnecessary to prove this, especially on a studio recording.

Speaking of using the studio to one's advantage, Rudess's vocals on 'I Talk to the Wind' are obviously sweetened, but why not? As others have pointed out, he's a decent singer (he even sang a verse or two at the concert I attended). But I guess his voice isn't suited for Dream Theater.

The Road Home is good for what it is: a chance for Rudess to pay homage to some of his all-time favorite progressive-rock songs and keyboardists - - and a chance to include an impressive roster of guitarists and singers as well. It was obviously a pet project for Rudess, and I think it's great that he reached a point in his career where he could record whatever he wanted, and have a nice album cover, without worrying what anyone else thought. It's cool that he can slip this one into the tape deck every once in a while.

Rudess's lack of concern for commercial appeal is refreshing, but it's resulted in an album that (perhaps not surprisingly) isn't very appealing. The Road Home is definitely one for Rudess fans and Dream Theater completists, but probably not many others.

Report this review (#2233136)
Posted Monday, June 24, 2019 | Review Permalink

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