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NEAL MORSE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Neal Morse biography
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 continuous piece of music. It ranges in style from a full gospel choir to hard rock; from a symphony orchestra to contemporary pop. A deftly woven musical tapestry, the album takes th...
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The Grand Experiment - Super Deluxe EditionThe Grand Experiment - Super Deluxe Edition
Metal Blade 2015
Audio CD$22.10
$22.11 (used)
MomentumMomentum
Metal Blade 2012
Audio CD$12.60
$8.90 (used)
Sola ScripturaSola Scriptura
Import
Imports 2010
Audio CD$5.59
$24.99 (used)
Alive Again [Blu-ray]Alive Again [Blu-ray]
Metal Blade 2016
Blu-ray$12.80
$12.84 (used)
TESTIMONYTESTIMONY
Metal Blade 2003
Audio CD$35.95
$17.09 (used)
Alive AgainAlive Again
Metal Blade 2016
Audio CD$12.90
$14.09 (used)
OneOne
Metal Blade 2004
Audio CD$7.99
$7.13 (used)
??
Metal Blade 2005
Audio CD$11.68
$6.64 (used)
Question Mark LiveQuestion Mark Live
Import
Mascot Uk/Zoom 2007
Audio CD$17.80
$23.98 (used)
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NEAL MORSE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.23 | 106 ratings
Neal Morse
1999
2.77 | 81 ratings
It's Not Too Late
2001
4.05 | 406 ratings
Testimony
2003
4.11 | 434 ratings
One
2004
4.19 | 568 ratings
? [Aka: Question Mark]
2005
3.00 | 48 ratings
God Won't Give Up
2005
2.26 | 39 ratings
Lead Me Lord - Worship Sessions Volume 1
2005
2.90 | 42 ratings
Send The Fire - Worship Sessions Volume 2
2006
2.92 | 71 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover To Cover
2006
2.56 | 41 ratings
Songs From The Highway
2007
4.18 | 569 ratings
Sola Scriptura
2007
2.69 | 32 ratings
Secret Place - Worship Sessions Volume 3
2008
3.10 | 258 ratings
Lifeline
2008
2.67 | 33 ratings
The River - Worship Sessions Volume 4
2009
2.59 | 29 ratings
Mighty To Save - Worship Sessions Volume 5
2010
4.02 | 534 ratings
Testimony 2
2011
4.00 | 395 ratings
Momentum
2012
2.98 | 44 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover 2 Cover
2012
2.99 | 57 ratings
Songs From November
2014
3.77 | 251 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Grand Experiment
2015
4.22 | 226 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream
2016
2.64 | 14 ratings
To God Be The Glory
2016

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

3.18 | 11 ratings
Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe - The From The Vaults Series Volume 2
2000
3.79 | 55 ratings
? Live
2007
4.43 | 79 ratings
So many Roads
2009
4.44 | 70 ratings
Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles
2011

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

4.47 | 81 ratings
Testimony Live
2004
4.34 | 84 ratings
Sola Scriptura and Beyond
2008
4.48 | 48 ratings
Live Momentum
2013
3.59 | 25 ratings
Morsefest! 2014: Testimony & One Live
2015
3.98 | 23 ratings
Alive Again (as The Neal Morse Band)
2016

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

2.77 | 28 ratings
The Transatlantic Demos
2003
2.00 | 6 ratings
Sing It High
2007
3.71 | 10 ratings
One Demos
2007
3.30 | 21 ratings
A Proggy Christmas - The Prog World Orchestra
2012

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

2.05 | 20 ratings
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
2000
2.76 | 17 ratings
A Proggy Christmas
2011

NEAL MORSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by The Jester

4 stars Starting this piece, I should first of all mention that I'm not a fan of Neil Morse. I surely respect him as a composer and musician, I have many of his solo albums, and of his projects as well, but still? The Similitude of a Dream is the new work of The Neal Morse band, in which many very good musicians are participating, and Mike Portnoy is one of them. The album is available as a double CD, with a total length of almost 105 minutes. It includes 23 tracks, and none of them is more than 10 minutes in length; so no epic this time. The longest song here is the album's closing piece, the very beautiful Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise), which is almost 10 minutes long, and one of my most beloved songs. I am not going to write about each song separately, first of all because the songs are many, but further than that because I usually put the CD to play and I listen to it as a whole work, not song by song. But despite that, there are some songs I like very much, like the song I mentioned above, (Broken sky/Long Day), City of Destruction, Back to the City and The Ways of a Fool, to name a few. The album is filled with very beautiful melodies (which is my soft spot), many interesting turns, and of course excellent musicianship, not to mention Neil Morse's singing abilities that are adding a lot to the album. The Similitude of a Dream is not an easy album, it needs some time in order to appreciate it. But once you do, it will satisfy you without any doubt. Recommended! I will give 4 stars, but I'm not sure if it is enough to be honest.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by chiang

5 stars Neil Morse knows how to make music. This is IMO the best album he has made (and the best made on 2016). He writes strong melodies. He knows how to create a "conceptual album", by using intelligent transitions, combining themes and returning repeatedly to many of them. He choose great musicians to play with too. Each musician on this album is a great one and masters his own instrument. In a very "Pink Floyd's style, he chooses the right sonority for each album's moment. Four of the musicians take leather voice in different moments of this album. Like Ian Anderson on his current albums , he knows when he needs another voice to reach some high notes. Mike Portnoy doesn't need a justification to be here. Randy George is a fantastic bass player. Bill Hubauer sounds great on keyboards and on voice. And Eric Gillette combines a great voice (singing with great skill most of high voice parts) and guitar skills that reminds Petrucci a great choice to play with. Saxes, trumpets, violin and a trio of female singers complete this wonderful team. Singing and instrumental parts combination is well done. There are not long instrumental solos, neither are there hard to listen and overloaded lyric pieces. Some tunes ("So far gone", "Broken sky", "Slave to your mind"), are great. "Overture" and "Confrontation" are great "revisions" of some great tunes of the album. Summarizing: An album to buy right now.
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Hallelujah! And praise the Lord! As brother NEAL MORSE races into the new phase of his career as THE NEAL MORSE BAND like a renegade choir boy eschewing all the gospel and Christian rock norms, he once again joins his brother in salvation Mike Portnoy (master of percussive fecundity from Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, OSI and much more) along with regular band members Randy George (bassist from Ajalon), Bill Haubauer (organs, pianos, synth) and Eric Gillette (lead and rhythm guitars). This is the second album released by the band and they all contribute vocals to some degree with Brother MORSE picking up the lead spotlight. If that's not enough there are also a whopping ten extra helping hands offering a cornucopia of sounds including violin, viola, cello, saxes, marimba, trumpets, pedal steel guitar and various other forms of percussion. The result of this smorgasbord of musical maestrohood is THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM. A walloping double album that takes the worship of all things retro, cleverly crafts them with Brother MORSE's signature sound and unleashes one of his most ambitious musical experiences to date.

Lyrically speaking THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM is a concept album that is loosely based on the 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. The full title of the original book was "The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come; Delivered Under THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM." The actual 17th century publication contained an astounding 108,260 words and written in narrative form in two major parts. And like the basic plot, this massive double album focuses on MORSE's spiritual practices that recounts a story in a dream sequence that is presented by a narrator that tells the story of a man named Christian who after a life of spiritually unfulfilling anguish is told he must leave the evils of the City Of Destruction and make a pilgrimage to the Celestial City to find peace and ultimate salvation. The album much like the book contains two parts with each part creating a separate mood and culmination of the adventures that unfold. Granted, a loose concept based on a massive double volume tome proves to be a nebulous and grainy representation of the greater writings from the past, but manages to create a coherent albeit simplified account based on brother MORSE's personal interpretations.

Beginning with a melancholic violin and viola intro it first appears that this is a symphonic chamber rock album with Brother MORSE singing in his usual mode making the listener think they're in store for a long, mellow drawn out and boring album. But all of a sudden, Brother MORSE, as if summoning up a miracle transmogrifies the super sappy sonicity into an Area inspired jazz-fusion riff that gives way to an energetic symphonic Yes infused guitar solo sequence that then jumps into a never ending changing-it-up of Keith Emerson keyboard gymnastics, bombastic heavy rock riffing and melodic meanderings punctuated by quick slaps of proggy time sig surprises. Whew! And that's just the first short intro "Long Day" and the longer "Overature!" When we finally get to "The Dream" it begins as a Pink Floyd acoustic guitar ballad that brings another double album "The Wall" to mind in musical structure along with those familiar echoes heard in "Comfortably Numb" which pops in from time to time throughout the album. Luckily none of these influences overshadow the overall musical mission but still screams retro-prog in every fashion. "City Of Destruction" takes the harder edged road that brings the whacky 70s world of Joe Walsh to mind slightly as the guitar riff stomps along like an angry child having a tantrum after not getting its way. The chorus for this track finds a reprise at the end of the second disc.

The retro-rock and prog celebration continues with more Pink Floyd (all throughout), The Beatles ("The Ways Of A Fool"), Peter Gabriel ("Slave To Your Mind"), Led Zeppelin ("The Man In The Iron Cage") and The Who ("I'm Running") finding their way into that familiar MORSE packaging that is ubiquitous on his myriad band projects. Also interspersed throughout the 100 minute plus listening experience are ample jazz-fusion segments, American country ("Freedom Song"), Chopin-esque classical piano ("The Mask") as well as heavy doses of prog metal ("Confrontation.") As far as going crazy and really delivering the prog goods, greatness is displayed on tracks like "City Of Destruction" but it really doesn't get any better than the workouts on the closing instrumental "The Battle" which effectively takes on the most challenging aspects of the progressive rock universe and unapologetically nails them to the wall. Highly turbulent rhythms that spasmodically intermingle with sagacious melodies, choral climaxing, unrestrained and uncompromising musical ascensions that end and trade off with other similarly structured runs in a complex tug of war between tension building theatrical antics is the stuff prog dreams are made of! The visions of a higher prog heaven in full interplay and by far the most challenging and adrenaline inducing track of the entire album experience.

Brother MORSE has stated that THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM is the 18th album that he has recorded together with Mike Portney and that this is the one that represents an absolute pinnacle of their musical symbiosis and after just one listen it is hard to deny that the creative juices were flowing on this one with one strong track after another changing things up just enough to keep that old attention span peaked all the while delivering familiar hooks and influences that triumphantly scoured the vast vaults of the hard rock and prog universe. While i would tend to agree with many that this is indeed one of Brother MORSE's strongest offerings to date, i do find the usual flaws that are ubiquitous on the entirety of the NEIL MORSE canon. Firstly is his limited vocal style. Yes, i simply find his range insufficient to fit in with the intensity and dynamics in the sheer scope of styles that the music meander throughout. While i don't find this to be a hindrance in my listening pleasure, i do find it detracts enough from the overall experience and dethrones any possibilities of this ever becoming a true classic in my world.

And then there are those overly sentimental sappy pieces that seem to haunt every MORSE album whether it be Spock's Beard, Transatlantic or the solo releases. In this case it's the last songs on each disc "Breath Of Angels" and "Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)" which find Brother MORSE entering AOR territory strutting around on easy listening autopilot and IMHO completely derailing all the momentum that each side of the album so masterfully accrues although there are segments of these light passages that do effectively mix and meld with the other styles on many tracks dispersed throughout that work quite well. While this album could not rightfully be deemed significantly dissimilar from Brother MORSE's previous strong albums such as "?" or "Sola Scriptura," it does pack a healthy dose of plentiful punches that will guarantee to hook the retro-prog fanatic from the get go. After several spins of this one, i'm still enthralled minus the minor quips that prevent the five star crown. All in all an excellent release and even more so considering it's a double album release.

Lastly, this is an album that is meant to be experienced as a continuous listen. It doesn't seem to be nearly as effective just sampling a track here and there, therefore is very much the sum of the parts that makes this a compelling cognitive workout. While brother MORSE's vocal limitation may dissuade me from becoming the most hardcore of fans, i readily concede that he is the master of delivering some of the most compelling Christian themed prog rock (and rock in general) in the music biz. While certainly on the pop side of the prog universe, great care is laid out in every little aspect of this album with the crystal clear production bringing the musical concept to fully realized vivaciousness. Retro-prog yes ,but an exciting slice of it's immortal calling. Music so compelling and animistic that it just refuses to be put to rest. While this album could not possibly be qualified as the most original of the lot, it nonetheless delivers many aspects of the past in the most equanimous, fastidious and efficacious ways possible along with the sheer stridency of brother MORSE's didactic prose backed up by his most eager and devoted musical followers. Let us give thanks for the music bestowed upon us today. Amen.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by lizzard

3 stars Being fan of Neal Morse i cannot hide my dissapointment, the album is very sophisticated and strong at the first glance, but after i listened to it again and again, only two or three pieces were catchy enough to stay in my memory. It might be a concept album as they called it, but it is too long and pieces are too different in style and mood. As a resume it could probably be better accepted and digested if split in 2 or 3 albums but consisting of compositions which are closer to each other. Now, as it is, the album is very hard to compreghend and rate as a whole. My opinion - 3.5.
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by mekaton

5 stars A lot of well known bands have in their composition a well known artist that overshadows the rest in the group. However, here is not the case. This is an example of good teamwork, putting each of these artists under the spotlight. The music: a wide collection of loved styles (from Beatles, Led Zeppelin, to Yes and E.L.P, through Dream Theater and Flower Kings), but they all come together under an excellent mix. The peak of this piece comes in the finale when Mr. Morse makes us realize something extraordinary: he brings back the faith for the good & beautiful things amidst the misery of our times! (even if listened through a non-believers ears).
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by Biff Tannen

5 stars I'll admit to being a diehard fan of Neal Morse - love nearly everything he's done from Spock's Beard to Transatlantic to Flying Colors to his solo work - and I can safely say that this is one of the best records he has ever done. The additions of Eric Gillette and Bill Huber to make it a full-fledged band, the Neal Morse Band, have added a major boost to Neal's overall sound. It still sounds very much like a "Neal Morse record" more often than not, but having three lead vocalists (Neal, Eric and Bill), as well as a lead guitarist unlike any Neal has ever had, is like a shot of adrenaline to his sound. And the songwriting is stellar throughout most of the album. Double albums inevitably have that lull at some point, but this record never really does; Disc 2 is arguably as strong as Disc 1. Now, I know that some like using the "Neal Morse formula" as an argument against him, but the way I see it, he has perfected his sound and style, and it's firing on all cylinders on this record, from start to finish. Highly recommended to all prog fans!!
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by poslednijat_colobar
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One of the most prolific artists in the world of prog has release his next album under the name of The Neal Morse Band. Being able to maintain the level of musical productivity with all of his bands - The Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors, Transatlantic as well as his solo albums, without releasing poor work is an achievement itself. With this band he gives an opportunity for another wonderful musicians to reveal their full potential playing with himself and Mike. The album is typical modern intensive symphonic prog one with some Dream Theater hints, some softer elements, containing complex tempo shifts and some wonderful musicianship from the band members. However, no highly profound and exceptional songwriting methods and ideas are implemented in this work. Recommended to all symphonic prog and Dream Theater fans. Almost 3,5 stars.
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by Roane

2 stars I was a big big fan of Neal Morse a few years ago, up to Testimony 2 in fact... and of Transatlantic even much more... But sorry Neal, may be you now should take more time to work for an album instead of releasing a new one every year through your different projects. What's really new indeed? Now it seems to me that I listen things that I have heard before... and much better before, with more inspiration and power in the music. The trend now is to be more and more poppy. Always well made of course, with great musicians but, as far as I'm concerned, not providing new things... So sorry Neal, not more than the average for me, but 2.5 is not possible...
 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by tomprog

5 stars Well, well, well. Once in a while a band makes a statement, a definitive album that people will label ''the one'' you have to own from whatever particular band. For Neal Morse / The Neal Morse Band, this album is that ''one''. I must admit, that I am an obsessive Neal Morse fan, so some may find my judgement towards Neal's work biast, however I must argue that although Neal Morse is my favourite songwriter of all time, I am able to critique his work, finding particular efforts of his (Day for Night by Spock's or his own Lifeline) rather uninspired. It's a rare thing when one makes their definitive masterwork so late into their careers, with certain sections of the progressive world acussing Neal's work of been 'repetitive' and 'safe'. In argument to that I must say that his formula is a winning one, and I for one find plenty of variation throughout all of his albums.

Largely I pay little attention to lyrics and the concept. Although aware of the narrative, it's not something I find myself judging an albums success on. The Similitude of a Dream has a solid concept, and solid lyrics to accompany. Some criticism is levelled at Neal's born again Christian beliefs and how he spells it out in his music. He does not do that in this album for those worried (as he hasn't done since Testimony 2!). The lyrics are spiritual but not preachy (personally I'd much rather listen to something positive and uplifting and find my own happiness in Neal's faith and his proclamation of that faith). Now to the music.

The album begins with a small, beautiful string section, playing the opening theme leading into a soft Neal led piece, 'Long Day'. Although short, the addition of the acoustic guitar midway through this song moves the song forward. 'Overture' follows in all it's progressive instrumental glory. In this instrumental, everything you'd expect from a fantastic overture is there. The main themes / melody ideas are introduced and moves at a swift pace. It is truly epic in every sense of the world. This is mainly thanks to Eric Gillette's singing lead towards the end, gliding effortlessly over the accompaniment to end the overture. 'The Dream' follows, a dreamy (as the name would suggest) acoustic guitar interlude with a beautiful melody in the chorus. Neal's voice is full of passion as his warm tone resonates through the mix. Lyrically, the scene is set.

Without warning, 'City of Destruction', the first single of the album, demands attention. Although this is not my ''favourite'' song, I find the middle 8 / bridge section after the final chorus to be sublime, complete with the 'ahhh' backing vocals. Goosebumps. 'We Have Got To Go', an early highlight, follows. A short acoustic melody is followed by a Neal Morse synth instrumental. It really does just put a smile across my face. In 'Makes No Sense', the catchy hook of ''makes no sense to me'' proves to be a recurring theme. In the final chorus where the chorus modulates as each vocalist takes over the phrase is splendid. Abruptly, the rockin' riff from 'Draw The Line' comes from nowhere. With Portnoy handling lot's of the vocals (sounding better than he has previously I must add) the song switches from heavy to jazzy and laid back, with a great guitar solo which Neal handles with great tone. 'The Slough', a instrumental follows on, with some Bill Hubauer keys before Eric goes all John Scofield in his guitar tone.

An absolute highlight follows in 'The Ways of a Fool'. In this piece written and sung (for the most part) by Bill, the band channel their musical idols, The Beatles and ELO stand out the most in the layering of the vocal harmonies and backing vocals. A great Gentle Giant instrumental break follows before leading to a Neal sung outro. Another favourite 'So Far Gone' comes charging in with a heavy riff. Sung by Eric, the verse and chorus are especially catchy with great performances all around (with added Portnoy cowbell!). The real treat comes however in the second part of the long, where the 'Broken Sky' theme enters sung by Bill before and 'Makes No Sense' reprise soars and takes the music to another level. 'Breath of Angels' closes disc one, a Neal ballad that builds to a climax, with a fantastic solo by Eric.

'Slave to your Mind' begins disc 2, a truly progressive song, although possibly my least favourite on the album. The melodic 'Shortcut To Salvation' is followed by 'The Man In The Iron Cage' where the band channel Led Zep, that reprises 'So Far Gone' in the middle. 'Road Called Home' which ends with a reprise of 'The Dream' in 6/8, similar to 'Reflection' from Spock's Beards Snow. Next comes 'Sloth', a captivating song where Neal's vocals resemble the movement of a sloth; a moving piece which reprises 'Long Day'. The country 'Freedom Song' is followed by 'I'm Running', where Randy George gets the spotlight with a groovy bass solo.

From this point, the experience begins drawing to a close. 'The Mask' begins with a Neal piano piece, comparable to the beginning of 'Seeds of Gold' from his own Testimony 2. The song itself expands beyond Neal's usual vocabulary, using industrial sounds to move the music forward, 'Confrontation' demands attention, re visiting themes from 'City of Destruction' and 'So Far Gone'. 'The Battle', a frantic instrumental set's up the finale...

I could write forever on this finale, so I'll try to keep it brief. My favourite thing about Neal Morse album's is his endings. The ending of his albums / epics are without exception tear jerkers. The 'Question Mark' album has long had my favourite ending ever, but with 'Broken Sky / Long Day (reprise)' that spot may be up for contention. It begins with a beautiful, soft piano melody before going into the first verse of 'Broken Sky'. Neal's vocals shimmer with raw emotion, beauty that only his voice can portray. After a standard verse /chorus x2, the middle 8 is stunning. The middle 8 revisits the ending theme from 'City of Destruction' and it's brilliant, a Goosebumps moment. This is quickly topped by Gilette's solo, that majestically soars, before going into a familiar theme. Eric then handles vocals for the final chorus of Broken Sky, as it builds and builds and builds. Themes are reprised instrumentally before the moment arrives when 'Long day' returns, with Eric on vocals. A tear jerking moment. The final theme tops it all off with Eric shredding over it, delivering the knockout blow, leaving the listener floored. It all ends with Neal signing a few lines from 'makes no sense', but now he proclaims ''it now makes sense to me'', a perfect ending to a near perfect album.

Overall, this album is a thing of beauty, an album that the Progressive world, particularly symphonic prog, has been crying out for. With the rise in modern prog, fantastic artists like Steven Wilson spear head the new progressive rock movement, leaving older bands behind. The Neal Morse Band have delivered a masterpiece: 'The Similitude of a Dream'.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.22 | 226 ratings

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

Review by AlanB

5 stars The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, an allegorical tale of a man who flees a doomed city to journey towards a better place, meeting various characters and situations along the way. Surely an obvious choice for a prog rock concept album. The British band After The Fire, before they changed into a New Wave band, recorded a song called Pilgrim in which they covered the whole book in less than eleven minutes. That effort was reasonable for its time, but if you need the proper prog treatment then who better than Neal Morse? Morse's album in fact takes 106 minutes to cover just the first part of Bunyan's story, so he 's certainly expanded on After The Fire's effort.

Musically The Similitude Of A Dream is closer to the sound of Spock's Beard than anything Neal Morse has put out as a solo artist. So if you like Morse-era Beard (and in particular Snow) then you should love this. There are also similarities in style to Sola Scriptura and Question Mark, which happen to be my two favourite Morse albums. I would go so far as to say this is the first time Neal has matched the quality of those two albums since then. Some parts of Similitude verge on heavy metal, which isn't really my cup of tea, but because of the quality and the mixture of other styles, I really like even the heavier parts. In fact, The Man In The Iron Cage, which pays an obvious homage to Led Zeppelin, is one of my favourite tracks. The only song I really can't stand is Slave To Your Mind, which opens the second CD. It's what my parents (bless them) would have described as "a racket." I wish it had been left off the album, or written as a more melodic piece.

As mentioned before, there is a lot of variety of styles here, from acoustic pieces right through to heavy metal, and the whole album flows nicely. It really should be listened to as a whole rather than individual songs, but having said that I have to pick out a few favourites - The Ways Of A Fool, Freedom Song, Shortcut To Salvation (nice sax solo here), The Man In The Iron Cage, and also the closing tracks on each CD which have the typical Morse emotional feel and grandiose endings. Neal Morse has put together an excellent band of musicians and produced one of his best albums. I will have to give it 5 stars as fractions of stars aren't allowed. In reality I would knock it down to 4.75 for Slave To Your Mind, but that's just me being picky.

As a final comment, only part of the book is covered on this album. I would love them to go on and do Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, the Celestial City etc. But if not, Broken Sky does give the story a satisfactory ending.

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

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