THE GREAT ADVENTURE
THE NEAL MORSE BAND PRESENTS THEIR LATEST DOUBLE CONCEPT ALBUM DUE OUT JANUARY 25, 2019 ON RADIANT RECORDS VIA METAL BLADE WORLDWIDE
NEAL MORSE: Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars
MIKE PORTNOY: Drums, Vocals
RANDY GEORGE: Bass
ERIC GILLETTE: Guitar, Vocals
BILL HUBAUER: Keyboards, Vocals
The Great Adventure Continues…
“Let the great adventure now begin…”; the closing lines of The Neal Morse Band’s last and widely acclaimed 2016 album The Similitude of a Dream (TSOAD), have proved to be strangely prophetic.
The band faced the enviable problem (like Pink Floyd, The Eagles and many other great bands before them) of having to follow up a hugely successful album, as drummer Mike Portnoy explains, “How do you follow an epic double concept album??? Well, create another epic double album!! I always knew topping The Similitude of a Dream was going to be difficult, if not impossible, as I held it in such high regard… but I am absolutely blown away with what we have achieved here! We’ve created the ultimate companion to TSOAD.”
The new album – appropriately entitled The Great Adventure – is exactly that: a perfect companion piece to TSOAD’s partial retelling of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Morse admits that the band’s original intentions on re-entering the studio were largely to produce something very different from what has resulted. However, as the writing and recording process unfolded, it gradually became clear to the band that the unerring direction in which the music was heading was to build upon the work already completed in TSOAD, again using the space that the broader canvas of the double album format provides. Bassist Randy George explains, “I was sure that the follow up to TSOAD should be something quite different, but you have to follow your heart and go where the music wants to go.”
True to the album’s title, the creative process was indeed a ‘great adventure.’ Unlike many previous Morse albums, which have often been recorded in around a week, as many as 21 days of initial recording were laid down by these prolific and world-class musicians, producing an abundance of top quality material – enough for an album lasting well over two hours. This meant some ruthless decision-making: some already completed songs and characters had to go, and with studio time running out, new links and ideas were being composed and recorded up to the eleventh hour. “A lot of work and re-work has gone into this,” says Morse, “but I know that some of the most successful and far-reaching albums I’ve been involved with have been just like that – Sola Scriptura and Spock’s Beard’s Snow album come to mind.”
Another key question that had to be addressed was how to pull all the ideas together into a coherent whole. In the end, what unlocked this ‘adventure’ for Morse was the realisation that The Great Adventure needed a new voice and perspective. This time, it is that of the Pilgrim’s abandoned son, a younger, perhaps angrier, voice than was heard on TSOAD, as George explains, “The Great Adventure is nothing short of a miracle: it’s similar to TSOAD in concept and form, but it’s tougher and deeper in tone! It’s a very powerful work and I look forward to playing it live!”
The Great Adventure has everything that fans would expect from a Neal Morse Band album, and more: rock, metal, classical and jazz elements appear throughout, as well as some killer melodies, all played faultlessly by some of the greatest rock musicians on the planet. Says Morse, “This band continues to amaze me! I have to say it was a little daunting to follow up The Similitude of a Dream, as it was such a special album and it delivered every night at our concerts. But The Great Adventure is everything that I hoped it would be! I listened through it yesterday and I was in tears at the end!”
Chapter 1 (12:50)
2. The Dream Isn’t Over
Chapter 2 (23:48)
3. Welcome To The World
4. A Momentary Change
5. Dark Melody
6. I Got To Run
7. To The River
Chapter 3 (17:59)
8. The Great Adventure
9. Venture In Black
10. Hey Ho Let’s Go
11. Beyond The Borders
Chapter 4 (18:13)
1. Overture 2
2. Long Ago
3. The Dream Continues
4. Fighting With Destiny
5. Vanity Fair
Chapter 5 (30:57)
6. Welcome To The World 2
7. The Element Of Fear
8. Child Of Wonder
9. The Great Despair
10. Freedom Calling
11. A Love That Never Dies
Watch “Welcome To The World” lyric video
The Neal Morse Band will take the new album on tour worldwide in early 2019: it promises to be a great adventure indeed.
The Neal Morse Band will take the new album on tour worldwide in early 2019: it promises to be a great adventure indeed.
The Great Adventure will be available in three formats: – 2CD package – 2CD/DVD Special Edition featuring behind-the-scenes video clips of the making of the album. – 3 Vinyl LPs: RADIANT EXCLUSIVE – WHITE VINYL! (Purchase includes audio CDs.)
PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW!
SPECIAL PRE-ORDER OFFERS: – Free audio download of the first single “Welcome to the World” with ALL pre-orders. – We will randomly pick 50 people who order in the first 24 hours (9:00 AM CST on 12/4 – 9:00 AM CST on 12/5) to receive this free exclusive framable graphic autographed by all of The Neal Morse Band! – Enter a drawing to win the Mike Portnoy master notes from the recording sessions – autographed by Mike! Drawing to take place on December 11th.
PLUS: Three more songs from the album will be released shortly as videos (release date TBA). As they are released, those three songs will be made available as free audio downloads to all who have pre-ordered the album in any format! (You will later receive an email with a download link.)
Is it really five years since Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish, Valdez) presented us with the debut Shineback album? Unlike the debut this isn’t a concept, but is very much a progression in terms of ideas and approach. “We humans do a marvellous job of failing to communicate with one another, often when it matters most”, says Simon. “All the songs on ‘Dial’ carry that as an underlying theme. Musically, very much like the debut album and last year’s ‘Minotaur’ EP, the new record seeks to hop the fences between genres, just to enjoy the process of getting dirty while in the hunt for buried sonic treasures”. Alongside Simon’s regular writing partner (and label mate) Robert Ramsay, guests returning from ‘Rise Up Forgotten…’ include Matt Stevens (The Fierce & The Dead), Dec Burke (Frost*, AudioPlastik, Darwin’s Radio), Hywel Bennett (Dec Burke Band) and Henry Rogers (Touchstone, Mostly Autumn). New collaborators Tom Slatter, Daniel Zambas (We Are Kin), Karl Eisenhart (Pinnacle) and Simon’s bandmates in Valdez Joe Cardillo and Tom Hyatt are also involved. There are quite a few people taking part, but normally this is just for one song (not all on the same one), so while there are five guest guitarists adding to proceedings, Matt and Karl combine on “Kill Devil Hills”, while Tom Slatter is just on “Here I Am” and Hywel is on the title track, while Dec allows himself some real attack on “Consider Her Ways” so it isn’t really a guitar fest.
What really makes this work is the deftness and lightness of approach, with Simon using plenty of keyboards to create an environment for his vocals and ideas to really shine. There are times when the music is very much in a light, high register with virtually no bottom end, but this contrasts against a rocky approach, with the feeling that we are back in the early Eighties and synth-based power pop is the order of the day. Just listen to “Consider Her Ways” and I can guarantee that you will soon be singing along with the chorus and petitioning Chief Elephant to get this released as a single. This is an album which is just plain fun to listen to, and Simon firmly nails his prog credentials to the wall by closing the album with one song that is more than twenty-six minutes long, and one that goes past thirteen. In many ways it is a very modern album, also looking back into the Eighties and Nineties, bringing together multiple commercial styles with pop and prog to create something that is a load of fun, and never takes itself too seriously. The delicate emotional piano of the title song counterpoints what has gone before, and if ever an album deserves multiple plays it is this one as every time I have listened to it I have gained something else. When the debut album was released, BEM was very much in its infancy, but now is easily one of the most important prog labels around, so let’s hope that this release gains the kudos and publicity it deserves, as this is a delight.
Formed in 1991, many progheads became fully aware of Ten Jinn with their second album, 1999’s ‘On A Darkling Plain’. Lead singer/keyboard player John Strauss moved to Sweden in 2001, and although Ten Jinn released their third album ‘Alone’, in 2003, that was also the year of their final live show at Draken Theater in Stockholm. John returned to the States in 2004, but then undertook a Master’s degree program for music theory/composition, and it took a long time for Ten Jinn to become operational again. But, in 2017, a mere 14 years on from their last album, Ten Jinn were back. Joining Strauss was drummer/bassist Mark Wickliffe, and guitarists Ken Skoglund and Mike Matier, so three of the quartet have been there since the debut while Skoglund was in the band for the previous album so this is very much a continuation as opposed to a brand new band trading under an old name.
‘Sisyphus’ is an eight-part programmatic work that tells the story of the founder and King of Corinth after whom it is named. Because of affronts to the gods, while alive, Sisyphus was condemned in death to spend eternity in Hades rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down each time he completed the task. It was originally conceived as a classical work (for string orchestra and piano), and was then reworked to include rock instrumentation and vocals so that it tied in with earlier albums. The band then started working on shorter songs to get it all up to album length, when the idea was mooted to undertake an instrumental mix which would be more indicative of the original concept. So the album contains just two songs, 26 minutes long each, with one being the instrumental version of the other.
Many bands have attempted, with lesser or greater success, to combine orchestra with rock music, but generally, these are approached from the rock side first, with orchestra then added to it. Here the reverse is true, as it was originally a classical piece with rock added. There is no doubt that of all rock bands, the one they have most in common with is The Enid, but there is less pomp, more piano. Also, the vocals are very strong indeed, and the result is something that is modern classical, progressive rock, singer-songwriter, symphonic metal, all these things and so much more. For all its complexity, it is also an incredibly accessible album, one that feels wonderfully light even when though there is a great deal happening within it. Strange to think that there were 14 years between this album and the previous one as the band are tight, focussed, moving through multiple styles and facets with ease.
Since this release, the band has produced the wonderful ‘Ziggy Blackstar’ album, which is a tribute to Bowie, and John tells me that he has almost completed writing “Worlds: the Four Worlds of the Hopi Cosmology” which is in four movements (worlds) total running time about 60 minutes. Whether they soon get back into the studio or hit the festival circuit, is a matter of current debate. Whatever happens, Ten Jinn is back and very much making up for lost time.
I only recently discovered Fruits de Mer Records, but they are rapidly becoming one of my very favorite records labels as they seem incapable of putting out a bad release. This triple vinyl album came out in October, but the pressing has already sold out, and having been playing this it is not difficult to see why. What we have here are 27 songs that were originally recorded between 1966 and 1968, which have now been given a new lease of life, providing more than two hours of incredible music. One thing to note is that two of the songs are new live versions by the original bands, namely The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things, while The Electric Prunes also make an appearance with their take on “7 And 7 Is”.
But, for me the highlight is The Luck Of Eden Hall and their crazed version of Alice Cooper’s “Reflected” which appeared on their debut album ‘Pretties For You’. Alice themselves revisited the song and turned it into “Elected”, but the guitar on this version as it goes through distortion and a wah-wah pedal, along with Keith Moon-style drumming is just wonderful. Kris Gietkowski’s keyboards sound as he is in Procol Harum, and no-one could ever imagine that this is a new recording, so vintage does it seem. I also had to smile when I heard a great version of “Beck’s Bolero”. I undertook my degree in Wolverhampton a million years ago, and the Wolverhampton song at the time was Jeff Beck’s “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, so needless to say we all had copies of the single, and this was the B-side so is a song I know really well, although I hadn’t played it for years, and Icarus Peel do it proudly.
This really is a wonderful album, so get onto eBay and see if you can track down a copy, and get on the FdM mailing list so you don’t miss out next time! 10/10
1. The Past Tense – Magic In The Air (originally by The Attack : recorded in 1967)
2. LoveyDove – Bedazzled (originally by Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations : 1967)
3. Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder – Amelia Jane (originally by Made In Sheffield : 1967)
4. Jack Ellister – Aquarius (originally by The Zodiac:Cosmic Sounds : 1967)
5. Rob Gould – Granny Takes A Trip (originally by The Purple Gang : 1967)
1. Mark McDowell and Friends – Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire (originally by The Small Faces : 1966)
2. Anton Barbeau – Sunshine Superman (originally by Donovan : 1965)
3. The Electric Prunes – 7 and 7 is (originally by Love : 1966)
4. Moonweevil – Child Of The Sky (originally by The Deviants : 1967)
5. Kris Gietkowski – A-Minor Explosion (originally by Don Shinn : 1966)
6. The Yardbirds – Think About It (live in 2016) (originally by The Yardbirds : 1968)
1. The Locker Room Cowboys – We Love You (originally by The Rolling Stones : 1967)
2. King Penguin – White Bird (written : 1967, released by It’s A Beautiful Day : 1969)
3. Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin – Solitary Man (originally by Neil Diamond : 1966)
4. The Luck Of Eden Hall – Reflected (originally by Alice Cooper : 1968)
1. The Honey Pot – Kites (written by Hackaday/Pockriss; recorded by The Rooftop Singers / Simon Dupree and the Big Sound : 1967)
2. Cary Grace – 1983 (A Merman I Should Be…) (originally by the Jimi Hendrix Experience : 1968)
1. Sidewalk Society – A Saying For Today (originally by The Action : 1968)
2. Jay Tausig – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (trad. recorded by Anne Briggs : 1963 / Pentangle : 1968)
3. Magic Bus – Tribal Gathering (originally by The Byrds : 1967)
4. Proud Peasant – Down At Circe’s Place (originally by Touch : 1968)
5. Icarus Peel – Beck’s Bolero (originally by Jeff Beck Group : 1966)
1. The Green Ray – Dusty (originally by John Martyn : 1968)
2. Ex-Norwegian – Winter (originally by Family : 1968)
3. Consterdine – Fly (originally by J.K. & Co : 1968)
4. The Gold Needles – The Smell of Incense (originally by West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band : 1967)
5. The Pretty Things – Loneliest Person (live at the Half Moon, 2010) (originally by The Pretty Things : 1968)
Pre-orders for the next four FRUITS DE MER singles take place as of 19th November, and lovers of late-Sixties style music need to get in there asap so as not to miss out! The Chemistry Set are celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, and have provided two brand new songs which are incredibly diverse in their approach. While “Firefly” is over the top with driven guitars, “Sail Away” is acoustic with wonderful tablas, and neither sounds as if it was recorded in this century. They are delicate, swathed in emotion and purity, creating something very special indeed.
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