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NEAL MORSE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Neal Morse biography
Neal R. Morse - Born August 2, 1960 (Van Nuys, California, USA)

As a young musician, Neal's dream was like many others-to find success in the pop music world. But after years of struggling in the LA singer-songwriter scene, he realized that his dream would not materialize. Eschewing conventional wisdom, Neal took a courageous step: he about-faced and devoted himself to progressive rock, the music truly in his heart. The obscure and fiercely competitive genre held little chance of commercial success. Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named SPOCK'S BEARD with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre's community.

Over the next 10 years, Spock's Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 concert DVDs, ascending to the top of the "prog" world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with TRANSATLANTIC, the heralded prog "supergroup" comprised of the world's finest prog musicians. The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he dreamed of. But something was missing. While on the outside Neal had it all; on the inside, something was missing. Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden-and like with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), Spock's Beard's (with Morse) magnum opus.and swan song.

The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group's finest. But it was the end of the era: Neal made the agonizing decision to leave Spock's Beard. After also leaving Transatlantic, the transformation was complete. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse began all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually. Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music. The 2 CD set (3 CDs for the Special Edition) spans over two hours as one continuo...
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NEAL MORSE discography


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NEAL MORSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 124 ratings
Neal Morse
1999
2.81 | 98 ratings
It's Not Too Late
2001
4.05 | 463 ratings
Testimony
2003
4.11 | 488 ratings
One
2004
4.19 | 629 ratings
? [Aka: Question Mark]
2005
2.91 | 57 ratings
God Won't Give Up
2005
2.31 | 46 ratings
Lead Me Lord - Worship Sessions Volume 1
2005
2.82 | 47 ratings
Send The Fire - Worship Sessions Volume 2
2006
2.92 | 82 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover To Cover
2006
2.49 | 48 ratings
Songs From The Highway
2007
4.19 | 645 ratings
Sola Scriptura
2007
2.58 | 36 ratings
Secret Place - Worship Sessions Volume 3
2008
3.14 | 289 ratings
Lifeline
2008
2.68 | 40 ratings
The River - Worship Sessions Volume 4
2009
2.61 | 33 ratings
Mighty To Save - Worship Sessions Volume 5
2010
4.00 | 590 ratings
Testimony 2
2011
3.97 | 448 ratings
Momentum
2012
2.88 | 56 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover 2 Cover
2012
2.93 | 82 ratings
Songs From November
2014
3.77 | 302 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Grand Experiment
2015
4.09 | 446 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream
2016
2.52 | 31 ratings
To God Be The Glory
2016
2.57 | 49 ratings
Life & Times
2018
3.96 | 270 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
2019
3.77 | 97 ratings
Jesus Christ The Exorcist
2019
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morse/Portnoy/George: Cov3r To Cov3r
2020

NEAL MORSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 15 ratings
Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe - The From The Vaults Series Volume 2
2000
3.78 | 59 ratings
? Live
2007
4.40 | 90 ratings
So many Roads
2009
4.40 | 80 ratings
Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles
2011
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour Live in Brno - 2019
2020

NEAL MORSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.47 | 92 ratings
Testimony Live
2004
4.35 | 91 ratings
Sola Scriptura and Beyond
2008
4.45 | 57 ratings
Live Momentum
2013
3.68 | 31 ratings
Morsefest! 2014: Testimony & One Live
2015
3.96 | 35 ratings
Alive Again (as The Neal Morse Band)
2016
3.89 | 19 ratings
Morsefest 2015
2017
3.77 | 15 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream - Live in Tilburg 2017
2018
4.43 | 7 ratings
Morsefest! 2017: Testimony Of A Dream
2018

NEAL MORSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.76 | 31 ratings
The Transatlantic Demos
2003
2.00 | 6 ratings
Sing It High
2007
3.71 | 10 ratings
One Demos
2007
3.44 | 27 ratings
A Proggy Christmas - The Prog World Orchestra
2012
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Grand Experiment Demos (Inner Circle March 2016)
2016
3.00 | 2 ratings
Hope and a Future
2020
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morse/Portnoy/George: Cover To Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)
2020

NEAL MORSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.14 | 23 ratings
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
2000
3.00 | 20 ratings
A Proggy Christmas
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 1) - Inner Circle March 2018
2018
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 2) - Inner Circle May 2018
2018

NEAL MORSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hope and a Future by MORSE, NEAL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2020
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Hope and a Future
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars From Neal Morse: "As we all crowd around our televisions and read our news feeds concerning the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus, I am sensing a wave of hopelessness, fear and uncertainty unlike anything I can remember. Many times there have been extreme difficulties in regions or nations, but this is a trial for all humanity?and, as in any time of testing, many will fall into the depths of hopelessness. When hope disappears, all seems lost. But it's not. So I have been thinking?what can I do? How can I help? I shared that feeling with the Radiant team and we came up with this idea: a free collection of Neal Morse songs titled 'Hope and a Future'. I've tried to interject elements of hope in my music for as far back as I can remember, so we have made a special album of songs from my entire catalogue, accenting the uplifting and affirming, to help you navigate these unchartered waters with peace and blessed assurance. Effective immediately, you can download this collection of songs free of charge from the Radiant website. My deepest desire is that you will find something in these songs ? a word, a phrase, a concept ? that you can latch onto and will help you and your family through this season. Your download will also contain a document that we put together containing some great quotes regarding hope. In closing, let me encourage you with this. No matter the circumstances or how things appear, let "the love that never dies" fill your heart today and be the "wind at your back" that brings you to a "peaceful harbor" in the days ahead."

So there you have it, that is exactly what this album is about, and what it is intended for. Is it a perfect introduction to Neal's work? Well, no to be honest. It is a thematic collection of songs as opposed to a "greatest hits" set, and unless you are a committed Christian there is a lot here which will probably wash over you. But that's okay. There are some people who will find solace in this album, and that is the intended market. Me? I always enjoy Neal's music, and although there are some here which I can happily pass over having played them a few times, there are also some gems in a demo version of "We All Need Some Light" and a superb live version of "Wind At My Back" from 2007. As a pure musical set, I will turn to many of his other releases before playing this one, but that is due to personal likes and dislikes as opposed to any lack of production or song quality. Get this album free at Neal's site.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.77 | 97 ratings

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Jesus Christ The Exorcist
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Listening to the introduction had me checking I had put on the right album, as the first minute of this 109-minute- long epic had me convinced I was listening to a new release by Clive Nolan. In recent years Clive has moved away from his more overtly progressive releases into musical theatre, and now Neal has followed the same trend. I grew up in a Christian household, one of my favourite albums as a child was ' Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', the first musical I ever saw was 'Godspell', and still enjoy 'Jesus Christ Superstar' to this day (I thought the recent all-star cast was excellent, Alice Cooper as King Herod? Inspired). So, this is a musical and lyrical style I am comfortable with, and I was intrigued to see how Neal would approach this. The first thing which struck me was just how little we hear from the man himself, in that he has given himself a few minor parts but that is all. In the two main roles of Jesus and Judas we have his fellow Spock's Beard lead vocalists Ted Leonard and Nick D'Virgilio respectively, and as one would expect they do a mighty fine job indeed, but the biggest change for me is the writing style, which is not what I would expect from Neal at all. Although there are bits and pieces such as the acoustic 'Gather The People' and the dramatic 'The Madman of the Gadarenes' which do remind listeners of his roots and normal approach, overall there has been a dramatic change in how Neal approaches things. Literally.

This is an album which is designed to appeal to people who wouldn't normally know who Neal is, and instead this is a rock musical to be viewed as a logical updated version of 'Superstar'. Consequently, we have music which flows and ebbs, taking the listener with them. Songs such as 'Get Behind Me Satan' are out and out rockers, while others are designed to get the audience clapping in time, others more prosaic and gentler in style. By now Neal has become a dab hand at producing the odd concept album, and this isn't the first time he has approached a Christian story either, but here he has moved further in both directions. This is bound to be listened to by progheads and White Metal fans alike, but really this is aimed at a new audience altogether, namely Broadway as opposed to the Garden.

In 2002 Morse was responsible for what is undoubtedly one of the finest concept albums of all time, 'Snow'. He followed it up the next year with his first solo release since leaving the Beard, with 'Testimony', which is still my favourite solo album. That told his personal story, and I don't think anyone who saw him perform it in London and hear him talk about his daughter Jayda could fail to be moved. She is referenced again in this album, just briefly, but it shows again just how personal this for him and just what it means. Regarding the idea behind the musical, Neal explains, "Sometimes providence comes with a whisper; sometimes it comes with an unexpected phone call. A friend of mine who works in the music business called me from New York one day in 2008 and said, "Hey man, a friend and I were listening to Jesus Christ Superstar last night and were saying, 'Man, somebody ought to do a new rock opera based on the Jesus story'. I told my friend, 'I know the guy!' He went on to tell me I ought to write an epic prog piece based on the gospels. With a New York accent he said, 'Ya gotta do it!' I laughed and said, 'Well, I'm busy right now, but I'll think about it.' Over the next couple of months, I began to feel that "yes" inside and spent a few months writing the first draft. The strong sense that I was onto something continued to grow and the people that sang on the original version were really into it.'

For me, this is an interesting idea, and there are undoubtedly some good songs on it. But there are times when it feels clunky, something I never expected from him. The story is pushed very hard, as one would expect, but sometimes this is to the detriment of the music. On a personal level I have always enjoyed his vocals, but here he is asking to be judged as a songwriter and arranger as opposed to a performer. The result is something which is probably going to gain him a much wider audience than normal for his work, and is a very good album indeed, but from a personal perspective I think I'm just going to go back to 'Testimony' and pass on this for now.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.77 | 97 ratings

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Jesus Christ The Exorcist
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

4 stars (I'm not a big fan of musicals, and I already got a Neal Morse album this year that I have thoroughly enjoyed, so I really thought I would sit this album out. Only by chance did my wife want me to try her new set of headphones and put something she thought I would like on to try them out. Of course just five minutes was enough to get me totally hooked, and I ordered it that night.)

Have you ever wanted to hear what it would sound like if Neal wrote an extended piece himself (as opposed to the everybody writes model he often uses now) but without him doing triple duty in the vocal and instrumental roles? That's about the best way I can sum up this album.

There are some truly excellent moments to be found JC the Exorcist, and it is really enhanced by the choral arrangements. It's almost like a cover band or composer taking existing Morse material and reworking it just enough so that it sounds interesting to those who were familiar with the earlier pieces. Structurally this strikes me as most similar to Neal's Testimony albums, which involves more single-length songs arranged into larger acts. Then you'll hear clear call backs to Spock's Beard here and Sola Scriptura there. I mean, come on--the Love Has Called My Name chorus is a crystal clear rework of Wind at my Back, complete with NDV hitting the high harmony. When you're as prolific as Neal, self-plagiarism is going to happen to some extent. I'm totally fine with it for the most part here, because the choral elements make those eyebrow raising moments just different enough from where I've heard them before, but if this has turned you off from Neal before, it's highly likely to happen again here.

Highlights: Jesus' Temptation, Woman of Seven Devils, He Must Go to the Cross, the Crucifixion. Given my discussion of similar themes above, I do have to point out that there are also many, many moments of pure, delightful, originality. Special shout out to Rick Florian as the devil in a Dio-esque performance. Talon David really delivers as Mary, and her duet with Ted Leonard to close out the album is flat-out beautiful (and that's a compliment coming from me as I'm not a sappy ballad guy).

Lowlights: There's a Highway, Get Behind Me Satan, Hearts Full of Holes. I love probably 80% of what Neal puts out, which often makes the other 20% so confusing for me sometimes. I understand these songs are here for thematic (and not just musical) reasons, they don't fit in my opinion. No one needed a straightforward, plain Jane Ted Leonard rocker in Highway, or the unnecessary Black Sabbath Paranoid clone in Satan. The previous song ends with Peter saying that he would follow Jesus anywhere, anywhere but the cross. The first song of Act II is called He Must Go to the Cross. It would have been a perfect transition between acts if the Satan song just wasn't on there! And Holes is is a sappy NDV vocal feature, and I never really dug those moments back in the Beard days either.

I would start with 3 stars for this album, mostly from the borrowing from previous material, but then bump it up to a super solid 4 stars when considering the cohesiveness and quality production. It's a beautiful sounding and thematically intriguing (and spiritually inspirational and rewarding, depending on your religious persuasion) album, and it sits right up there with many of Neal's best works.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.77 | 97 ratings

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Jesus Christ The Exorcist
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by The Duke of Prunes

4 stars I do believe it won't be an exaggeration if i say that "Jesus Christ | The Exorcist" is probably Neal Morse's best solo album. Before delving into the music, i would like to talk about the line-up a bit and why it makes the key difference between his other records. Probably the most devastating for the fans will be the fact that this album does not feature out beloved Mike Portnoy and instead, behind the drum kit, we have the young talent Eric Gillette. Odd decision, since Gillette excels in Petrucci-styled guitar fretboard excursions, but it seems like he is equally good pounding the drums. The usual suspects - the keyboard magician Bill Hubauer and Randy George on bass are presented as well. Another fresh idea - there are 12 total vocalists, and that serves to maintain the interest throughout. Of course, it can't be Neal Morse if there is no instrumental virtuosity, so, to the fans that are tired of the needless, over-the-top wankery, in some of his last albums, i will say: the symphonic and orchestral arrangements outweigh the Dream Theater-esque moments. Most of the times there is a strong, cohesive idea, melodic-wise, which the listener can get lost into, and easily follow.

The first 5 songs float seamlessly one into another and create an epic 16 minute prog tour-de-force, encapsulating the essence of Morse's music. It starts off with 1 minute bombastic symphonic arrangement introduction and the first thing i notice, are the drum fills, and overall punchy sound. They are so heavily reminiscent of Portnoy that he really doesn't feel missed. Then, Ted Leonard(Enchant, Spock's Beard), portraying Jesus Christ himself, joins with his emotional, soft vocals, leading to another instrumental part, this time feeling more dynamic. 1 minute in, and we hear Bill Hubauer's 70's oldschool, Purple-ish Hammond, leading to a really memorable keyboard melody, up to be reprised a lot later, sounding positive and uplifting, later joined by brass section, fitting surprisingly well. The overture ends in the vein of Dream Theater - Paul Bielatowicz shines with his tapping and sweep picking and Gillette shows his double bass turbulent drumming. "Getaway" introduces Mark Pogue's classic rock vocals, reminding us of Steve Lukather a bit, and Wil Morse's rasp-y vocals, contrasting well and creating that "dialogue" feel. The song ends in classic neo-prog vibe, with soaring guitar and keyboard unison. "Gather The People" features the incredible Matt Smith (Theocracy). The song alternates between his vocals and beautiful choral arrangements, symbolising Jesus coming to the people. Pretty happy atmosphere. "Jesus' Baptism" feels pop-y, with really catchy vocal lines by Ted and Matt, culminating into another heavenly choral section. Basically, that formula is applied to the whole album, with some exceptions. There is really well-thought and articulated "vocal battle", lyric-wise also, between Ted and Rick Florian's wailing high vocals in "Jesus' Temptation" - another highlight, feeling rather dramatic. Of course, there are some kind of fillers here and there, but that's inevitable given the lenght of the musical. Like "There's a Highway", which is just pop rock song on a moderate beat with acoustic accompaniments, and could've been on Rush's Counterpart for example. Absolute favourites for me are "The Woman of Seven Devils" and "Free At Last" featuring the stunning Talon David, carrying the female blues and jazz vocal style. A pleasant surprise. And just before we thought we lack craziness, we come to "The Madman of the Gadarenes", which just screames Gentle Giant, for the atonalities in the beginning, but mostly for the bizarre vocal harmonies, interweaving 4 vocalists. "Get Behind Me Satan" is heavily influenced by Rainbow, or some other classic 70's hard rock band. Another highlight is "Gethsemane", reminding of "Jesus' Temptation", since it features again the "devil" theme.

All other tracks are just revisiting themes, reprises, but that structure is what makes Morse's songwriting distinct. To sum it up: crystal production, the sound of all instruments feels more organic than ever, big amount of incredible vocalists, instrumental virtuosic parts are not everywhere, but only when they serve a purpose. Will be enjoyed by any symphonic prog fan, not minding some occasional cheesiness.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 446 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by The Ace Face

5 stars I've been a Neal Morse fan ever since High School when someone turned me on to Spock's Beard, and have been following him ever since, through Transatlantic and his solo career. As a long time student of his music and discography, I can tell you this: he has many, many ideas, all of them great, but he is best when he is collaborating. I love his solo career from Testimony through One, Question Mark, Sola Scriptura and Testimony 2, but felt he slipped a little on albums like Lifeline and Momentum, and even the first Neal Morse Band album The Grand Experiment. For the first time, it seemed like he was running out of inspiration, but I think in hindsight he was just doing too much himself. Randy George and Mike Portnoy have always been excellent collaborators, but they can only do so much when it comes to the lead instrumentation. The Similitude of a Dream is, I think, one of Neal Morse's finest albums ever, and I think that credit is due to the new members of his band, Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer. Neal's lead guitar parts have never been particularly inspired, and I think he does better work on the keyboards, so bringing in a guitar player to fill that role must have freed Neal up more to work on concept and songwriting, with the rest of the band chipping in on that second part. For the first time, as far as I can tell, the lyric credits go to Neal as always, but music is credited to all five members. It really, really shows. The sheer volume of variance of mood, theme and genre here eclipses anything even on Testimony or Snow, perhaps Neal's most broadly creative albums.

Concept and Story: I know the concept is based on a Christian Allegory called the Pilgrim's Progress, but the lyrics skew toward a more broad appeal, speaking on human nature and spiritual themes without being overtly religious. As a non-religious person, I've never had a problem with Neal's more overt religious themes, but I connect more with the journey here and the more universal application of the themes. If there's a criticism to be made here, it's that the two discs can often feel like they tell the same story in two slightly different ways: man lives in corruption, struggles, casts around searching for meaning, finds it, loses it, is at his lowest, and eventually finds redemption in spirituality. These are familiar themes to Neal, but the enhanced creative force behind this album seems to have reinvigorated the story and given it significantly more punch and depth.

Music: Overall, the first disc is much stronger, but the second disc contains plenty of excellent music. My personal favorites are City of Destruction, Makes No Sense, Back to the City, So Far Gone, Breathe of Angels, Shortcut to Salvation, Road Called Home, Sloth More, and the climactic string of instrumental pieces. As I said before, the creativity is just at a level rarely seen in Neal's other work. Admittedly, a lot of the heavier stuff reminds me of Dream Theater in the gothic metal kind of melodies, but Neal's never been one to be entirely original, and there's nothing wrong with inspiration. I also have to mention, I don't know which of the two new guys does it, but on songs like Ways of a Fool, Makes no Sense, and a couple others, there's another vocalist that takes over on the higher notes, presumably that Neal isn't able to hit anymore, and the voice is quite unique and beautiful sounding. I have to mention also, there are several instrumental sections, usually a showcase for a guitar solo, that just hit that prog sweet spot, like the second half of The Slough, a jazzy drum-piano-bass backing, reminiscent of the breakdown in "Open Wide the Flood Gates Part 1", that kind of stuff has also been absent from Neal's more recent work, and it is more than welcome to return.

Overall, this will hopefully signify a creative resurgence in Neal's work as he opens up and continues to collaborate rather than do everything himself. Again, nothing against that, but even someone like him only has so many ideas left in him, and almost all great musicians work better together. The Great Adventure is an equal album to this in almost all respects, and I look forward to seeing what they do next together.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.77 | 97 ratings

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Jesus Christ The Exorcist
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by AlanB

5 stars Back in the 1970s there was Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, but as far as I'm aware no one has written a rock opera based on the life of Jesus since then. Until now, when along comes Neal Morse with Jesus Christ The Exorcist, and in my opinion it stands up well beside its famous predecessors. Unfortunately it's unlikely to become as well-known, which is sadly the nature of things with modern prog. Still, for those of us who love Neal's music this is a must-have album.

Jesus Christ The Exorcist is unusual for a Neal Morse prog release for two reasons. First, Mike Portnoy isn't involved (due to other commitments) but Neal's regular guitarist Eric Gillette steps in to demonstrate that he is also a more than competent drummer. Secondly, Neal doesn't feature much vocally, instead he casts guest singers in the major roles. Notable amongst these are his two successors in Spock's Beard, Nick D'Virgilio and Ted Leonard as Judas Iscariot and Jesus respectively. However the award for best newcomer must go to a young girl from Nashville named Talon David, who excels as Mary Magdalene. Listen especially for her belting out the blues on "The Woman of Seven Devils", then following on by showing that she is equally at home performing a ballad like "Free At Last".

Musically the album is a mixture of prog, pop, metal and musical theatre. The second CD (Act 2) has considerably more of the latter than the first, which is more song-based. The story kicks off with Jesus' words on the cross before flashing back (via the obligatory overture) to John The Baptist preparing the way. The 10 minute "Jesus' Temptation" is a highlight, with Rick Florian making a convincing Devil. Following this we have the first of several "earworm" type songs, "There's A Highway", where Jesus invites all the rank outsiders and lonely losers to follow him. Two of the next three songs feature the casting out of demons which the album title refers to. I have already mentioned Talon David's performance as Mary Magdalene, but the second incident concerns the madman of the Gadarenes, who famously was possessed by a legion of devils. To illustrate this Morse uses one of his favourite techniques of multiple voices singing acapello against each other (think "Thoughts" or "Author of Confusion"). Then we have Neal and Nick singing a duet "Love Has Called My Name" which is another catchy pop type song. The CD ends with Peter's confession of Christ and then Jesus' determination to go to Jerusalem, leading to the Black Sabbath influenced "Get Behind Me Satan."

Act 2 begins with a Queen - like heavy song "He Must Go To The Cross" which leads into some more musical theatre type singing. A highlight for me here is Gethsemene, which features some great Hammond organ playing in the middle section. There is also "A Heart Full Of Holes" sung by Nick D'Virglio which is worth mentioning. After the crucifixion (a reprise of the first song on CD1) Talon David returns to sing the emotional "Mary At The Tomb" followed by "The Greatest Love Of All", a duet between Mary and Jesus. Finally the album ends with a reprise of "Love Has Called My Name."

This is another great album by Neal (how does he manage to be so prolific without losing quality?) and I would love to see it performed as a stage musical. Eat your heart out, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.96 | 270 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by thesimilitudeofprog

4 stars This couldn't have been easy. The Great Adventure'is a sequel to the band's last project,The Similitude of a Dream was to me, a flawless masterpiece. A hard act to follow by'any'measure ' and yet, here we are with'The Great Adventure, an unplanned- for'part'two'of what many have called the band's finest hour. The Great Adventure is really very good, but it doesn't surpass in any way Similitude of a dream. Over all The music is sweeping, powerful, very dynamic, full of promise, and is more hard-edged and heavy than what might be expected.'To go into detail about each track would not only take way too many pages but would result in the needless frustration of knowing that the written word will not translate the power, emotion, and technical artistry of the album. The album begins where the previous left off, with the throbbing opening and closing sounds that closed the first disk (The Breath of Angels) along with the final lines sung concluding with 'let the great adventure now begin' from Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise). This leads into 'The Dream Isn't Over' which properly introduces the main character of the story and his situation before leading directly into the first single released 'Welcome to the World.' The song is comparable to the track 'City of Destruction' from the first album, and the melody and variations of the lyrics are repeated a few times through out the album. 'A Momentary Change' features wonderful shared vocals. This is one of several stunning ballads and features beautiful, emotional guitar lines and some great, measured vocal moments from Bill Hubauer. This is followed by the intense 'Dark Melody,' a song with a very dramatic structure. Eric Gillette's guitar soars and plunges the depths of a stunning solo during the powerful organ-drenched build-up that leads to the song's climax. We are soon met with another song and piece that makes several appearances throughout, the heavier and considerably darker 'Dark Melody,' which references the lost and dark nature of the son's soul and life in general. Lyrical references to the dark melody appear several times afterwards on the first disk and also at crucial moments in the second, so the listener will do well to pay attention to its use and meanings in this first encounter.' Disc two starts with a grand, symphonic mini-overture that transitions into pure instrumental prog with some in- your-face-bass, fiery drumming and guitar-hero riffing. 'Long Ago' follows, setting us up for the resolution both musically and lyrically.The song features some very interesting rhythms from Mike Portnoy. The ominous 'Fighting With Destiny opens with some nasty, heavy bass lines and a barrage of drums ' a tour de force of prog soloing ensues'..and the battle of the soul rages through the rest of the disk. Such things are at times a bit more lighthearted as is evident in 'Vanity Fair' and its images of cardboard people and a fashion show. Things get dark in a hurry again with 'Welcome To The World 2' as Mike takes over the lead vocals for the first verse before the slightly modified chorus is brought it. This dark and heavy character continues and grows through the next few songs and highlighted especially in 'The Element of Fear' and 'The Great Despair.''The Great Despair' is also noteworthy for the vocal performance of Eric Gillette. I would say it is hands down his best on any NMB album. The album concludes with 'Freedom Calling' and 'A Love That Never Dies' and as they go together and form the final 'chapter' of the album they must be talked about together. 'Freedom Calling' is very much a transitional piece, bridging the darkness and pain of the world with the freedom and peace of embracing 'the love that never dies' and the hope and salvation that it entails. This album is destined to be on many people's best of lists at the end of next year and is setting 2019 up to be an exciting year in progressive music. Highly recommended.
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream - Live in Tilburg 2017 by MORSE, NEAL album cover DVD/Video, 2018
3.77 | 15 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream - Live in Tilburg 2017
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by MrMan2000

5 stars If you're a fan of The Similitude of a Dream - as I am - to me this is a must-have.

As expected from a Neal Morse DVD, you a LENGTHY show, with high quality musicianship throughout. TSOAD in it's entirety, which is my favorite Neal Morse album. Another 30+ minutes of encores from Neal's past. All played by five guys clearly having fun and enjoying themselves, the music they're playing and the audience.

Morse has become a dynamic, energetic front-man and it's terrific seeing he, Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer trading vocals.

From my perspective, there's nothing not to like here, if you're a NM fan.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.96 | 270 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kayd_mon

3 stars Morse's solo output has been marked by a tendency to sound samey. The records often have highlights, and more than a few moments that make them worth a listen, but they often kind of blend together in your memory. Testimony, Sola Scriptura, and Similitude were all solid efforts.

Enter the Great Adventure. More than any if his other releases, this one sounds like nothing new, even in itself. The themes repeat a lot, which I understand is an aesthetic of concept records like this, but they seem to be more repetitive than normal. The worst part of thr record, however, is the repeated bits about the river and the "love that never dies." These slower parts sound exactly like the bland, singalong, slower tempo songs you hear in church. If you were unfortunate enough to grow up around the church, you'll know what I mean. Some fans might feel comfort in this, but for me, it's not only bland but brings me back to times better forgotten. I'm sorry to say that The Great Adventure lwt mw down, and I'd rank it among Morse's worst work to date.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.96 | 270 ratings

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The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by AlanB

4 stars What other people have said really. This is an excellent album which Neal Morse fans will love, but there's nothing really new here - except perhaps a bigger emphasis on a more heavy metal sound than previous albums. Morse has a good ear for melody though, so we're not talking thrash metal or anything like that.

As with Similitude, there are repeating musical motifs throughout, including some from the previous album. The first track starts with the motif from the beginning of Slave To Your Mind, then follows on with the final lyrics from the previous album. Then we get the "Love That Never Dies" theme which has the same role as the "Broken Sky" theme in Similitude. The rest of track 1 is an overture and is the only track that breaks the 10 minute mark.

The musicianship throughout is superb, but a special mention must be given to Eric Gillette who can go from shredding to melodic guitar lines in an instant (and he also has a great voice).

My favourite tracks: Welcome To The World, The Great Adventure, Vanity Fair and The Great Despair.

After listening to the album I've stopped being a Taciturn Iconoclast and I now have some pizaaz in my pantacle pantry

(If you've not heard the album you may think that last statement sounds a bit weird) :-)

Where does this fit in the ranking of Neal Morse albums? It's probably as good as Similitude, or at least nearly as good, but I would recommend a new listener to start with the previous album as TGA is very much a companion piece.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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