NMB – release video for “Do It All Again” the first single from the upcoming album ‘Innocence & Danger’

Pre-order starts today / Tour Dates revealed for US and Europe

NMB recently announced their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’, to be released on August 27th, 2021. Today, the band are sharing the first single and video from the album for the opening track “Do It All Again.”  

Watch the video for “Do It All Again,” created by Christian Rios:

Mike Portnoy says this about the track, “This was the first song we wrote when we reconvened for the sessions for this album. It rooted from an idea Bill Hubauer brought in and we built off it from there. Like most NMB songs, I love the sharing of lead vocals…Neal Morse on the verses, Bill on the B section and an amazingly catchy 3-part harmony chorus with Eric Gillette taking the lead.”

‘Innocence & Danger’, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic), will be available as:

• Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary)

• Standard 2CD Jewelcase

• Digital Album

• 3LP+ 2CD Boxset

And is available for pre-order now here:

https://thenealmorseband.lnk.to/InnocenceAndDanger

NMB are also happy to announce tour dates for ‘An Evening of Innocence & Danger’ across US and Europe. 

USA 2021 

Oct 8th & 9th – Cross Plains, TN – Morsefest 2021 – www.radiantrecords.com  

Oct 12th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door – https://tickets.thetripledoor.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=1830

Oct 14th – St Charles, IL – The Arcada – https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/12589

Oct 15th – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/the-neal-morse-band-the-crofoot-ballroom-tickets/11136425?pl=crofoot

Oct 16th – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres – https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/18520/pieres-entertainment-center

Oct 17th – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/the-neal-morse-band-an-beachland-ballroom-tickets/11128265?pl=beachland

Oct 19th – Glenside, PA – The Keswick Theater – https://www.axs.com/events/405348/the-neal-morse-band-tickets

Oct 20th – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage – https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/15005ACE0DA1334C 

Oct 21st – Boston, MA – The Sinclair – https://www.axs.com/events/405764/the-neal-morse-band-tickets?skin=sinclair

Oct 22nd – New York City, NY – The Sony Theater – https://www.ticketmaster.com/sony-hall-tickets-new-york/venue/1475

Europe 2022

May 28th – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Kapital

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/726-neal-morse-band-featuring-mike-portnoy-madrid.html

May 29th – Barcelona, Spain – Apolo

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/727-neal-morse-band-featuring-mike-portnoy-barcelona.html

May 30th – Milan, Italy – Live Club

http://www.vertigo.co.it/it/neal-morse-band

May 31st – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7

http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1908

June 2nd – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013

https://shop.eventix.io/1d82d0a4-563c-44ca-96c9-302a843e7abc/tickets

June 3rd – London, England – Shepherds Bush Empire

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/1F005AD083C7358E

June 4th – Paris, France – Trianon

https://www.letrianon.fr/fr/programme/the-neal-morse-band

June 5th – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg – Rockhal – https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/6465213/neal-morse-band-eschalzette-rockhal-luxembourg

June 7th – Cologne, Germany – Live Music Hall

https://www.myticket.de/de/hank-von-hell-live-2022-tickets/

June 9th – Brno, Czech Republic – Sono

https://goout.net/cs/an-evening-of-innocence-and-danger-2022-the-neal-morse-band/szrjjlr/

June 10th – Krakow, Poland – Studio Club

https://rockserwis.pl/products/215847

June 11th – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja

https://sklep.knockoutprod.net/pl/eventinfo/399/neal-morse-band

June 13th – Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle

https://www.myticket.de/de/hank-von-hell-live-2022-tickets/

June 15th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio

https://www.ticketmaster.dk/event/AMA1506A?language=da-dk

June 16th – Gothenburg, Sweden – Pustervik

https://www.tickster.com/sv/events/wyvkch5k9kl4hcb

June 17th – Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite

https://hurumrock.no/konserter.html

June 18th – Stockholm, Sweden – Lilla Cirkus

https://www.ticketmaster.se/event/595757?

*** 

With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”

Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”

In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”

There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realize that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realize that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.” 

NMB (Neal Morse Band) is 

Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars) 

Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)

Randy George (bass)

Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals)

Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals)

Neal Morse Band – announce fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’ for release this August

Neal Morse Band are pleased to announce the release of their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’ on the 27th August 2021. 

With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”

Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”

In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”

There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realise that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realise that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”

The album will be released as a Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase & Digital Album, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic). Pre-orders start on the 18th June, and the full track-listing is below:

CD 1 (Innocence):

1.    Do It All Again 08:55

2.    Bird On A Wire 07:22

3.    Your Place In The Sun 04:12

4.    Another Story To Tell 04:50

5.    The Way It Had To Be 07:14

6.    Emergence 03:12

7.    Not Afraid Pt. 1 04:53

8.    Bridge Over Troubled Water 08:08 

CD 2 (Danger):

1.    Not Afraid Pt. 2 19:32

2.    Beyond The Years 31:22

The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) was formed in 2012, featuring long-time collaborators Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) and Randy George (bass), as well as Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals) and Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals). The band’s first album, The Grand Experiment, showed both a freshness and maturity that was further developed in 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure and 2021’s Innocence & Danger.

Look for NMB on tour in North America in October 2021 and in Europe throughout May/June 2022. Tour dates coming soon!

Review – The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream – By Gary Morley

Everyone has an opinion. Either carefully constructed after reading up, researching and questioning all and sundry, or shot from the hip in nanoseconds without further thought of the ramifications of the snowball as it grows.

Neal Morse. Opinions on him are as many and verbose as is his output. Unlike his output, they are binary : either the “God” thing does it for you or it doesn’t..

Well I’m not going anywhere with that construct. I’m going to review the music. And there’s a lot of it on this album. ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ is 2 CDs worth.

I was lucky enough to get a pre release mp3 file and listened with a view to scribbling a couple of pithy one liners about style over substance, myth or mistake etc, but then the hooks in the piece caught me.

Dragged me back into the musical world of Morse and his musical fellow travellers – Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette ( fab guitar work here) the bass of Randy George, a fine partner in crime for the much maligned Portnoy and Bill Hubauer provides  keyboards to a fine standard.

A world class band of brothers who ooze musical chops at every point, but in an understated manner.

I described the album to a friend as “A Musical symphony without the W****y ELP bits.

It has a theme that runs through and it matters not that this theme is based on a 17th Century fable. It’s as relevant as dragons, small furry creatures or starships when it comes to telling a tale.

If you loved ‘Snow’, a high-water mark in Spock’s Beard back catalogue as far as I was concerned, are familiar with Transatlantic’s epic widescreen albums and like a good melody , then this album will float your boat and tick all the boxes.

It’s epic in sound as well, great instrumentation link the themes as they get expanded and revisited across the 2 discs.

The similarity to ‘Snow’ is that once again, we have a protagonist who feels separated from all around, and sets out on a voyage of exploration.. I think? Or it’s a bad trip brought on by the dodgy narcotics offered to him in” Draw the Line”

Oops, got distracted listening again….

Where was I? Oh yes. In a (wisely) unpublished review of Dream Theater’s ‘The Astonishing’, I made reference to ALW doing prog or DT doing musical theatre, with the results as horrible as expected.

This is the opposite, an album that is a musical   in a direct, song based way, no dodgy narrative clunkers or strange interludes here, just a collection of songs that fit thematically and musically. Oh – apparently it’s referred to as a Concept album.

People like musical hooks to hang things on, for this, dust off the Genesis “Trick of the Tail” hook for the vibe in “The Ways of a Fool”. Add in Queen too for these are the first vocal harmonies to elicit them since Jellyfish popped up in the 90’s.

Then there are some very Beatles approved strings , a flash of Banksian keyboard prowess and some very Queen guitar before those harmonies kick in again. This track is rapidly becoming a firm favourite here.

The first CD builds to the climax of “Breath Of Angels”, which is the most overtly religious track , hardly surprising when you listen to the lyric, but the angel voices in harmony layered behind Neal as he exhorts us to the City Of Light… A New Jerusalem anyone?

CD 2 doesn’t let go either. Unlike my CD player which refused to give up CD 2 3 times… is this a sign?

Anyway, we rock off at full speed with a keyboard flurry that Jon Lord would be proud of in “Slave to Your Mind”, then we have an appearance of a saxophone in “Shortcut To Salvation”, a west coast vibe to this one, a vocal tour de force from Mr M.

Nice piano too.

This album is shaping up to be a contender for best of the year lists…

Then the crash out with their inner Zeppelin with the monster riff of “The Man In The Iron Cage”, it might be a Zeppelin riff ,but the vocals are pure Morse – no pastiche of Percy Plant here, Neal has a very individual voice and it makes him stand out in an army of clone vocalists raised to believe that karaoke is the way to sing.

Big keyboards again: Purple Zeppelin .This is  joy to my old ears. The guitar solo slides in, all flash and stylish restraint, linking to a gentle vocal and acoustic piece about God and faith and breaking out of self inflicted limitations – all very new age, but remember this is based on a 17th century tome, so new age is as fresh today as it ever was… Before the band crash back in with the hook laden choruses. If I was a singer, I’d be singing along… and rocking out with my air guitar, Gibson Les Paul of course.

The Neal Morse Band have a way with a tune, they sprinkle their own stardust on the tunes here. Thematically linked to the story, the songs follow the narration or rather are the narration as there’s no cod theatrical voice over needed. Listening again, it’s the natural flow of the words and harmonies that impress.

Not only have they got me contemplating life’s metaphysical journey and the pitfalls therein, they’ve also got me wanting to read the words to better follow the twists and turns they guide us through.

CD2 builds from the charging stomp of ‘Iron Mask’ to a contemplative piece with fretless bass and strings, a mellow little piece called “Sloth” which leads into one of  those “Oh So Neal” songs – all campfire acoustic guitars and sing along tune a pleasant reminder of “Wind At My Back” from ‘Snow’, here titled “Freedom Song”.

The clever use of the upbeat music to convey the joy of the protagonist unburdening himself of the burdens stopping him is simple and effective.

You get the old time gospel hoe down distilled into a song full of hope and optimism.

Appalachian mountain Prog anyone?

We then get the big finale. The crowd are warmed up by “The Freedom Song” / “I’m Running”, featuring some fabulous bass dexterity and a nod to Phil Collins big band tub thumping full spectrum production with the kitchen sink relegated to 3rd sax…

Another gentle nod to Genesis and Bank’s contribution in the piano intro to “The Mask” which veneers on the pastiche such that I was expecting Romeo to lock up his basement flat and join the journeyman…

This nasty little voice in my head is playing spot the Genesis reference now. “Confrontation” intro had me thinking ‘Eleventh Earl of Mar’, don’t know why as couldn’t hum it to win a pint, so where that popped up is anyone’s guess.

Most Un- Abacabish is the instrumental breakdown which sounds like the you tube cat got not only the Theremin but the rest of the instruments too.

‘Back to the City of Destruction’ qualifies as the most depressing hook line to any song ever, but the Deep Purple Hammond flurry after it erases such piffling triviality to a foot note.

We are into big bold grand piano chords and time changes now, classic “American” Prog where technical flash breaks free from pious restraint and madness ensues as they fight over the direction of the piece, aptly called “The Battle”, the piano and keyboard here are fantastic, a bit ELP in bombast in places, a bit Benny Hill in others (listen – you’ll know what I mean).

Sadly it means rather than the cataclysmic battle of Armageddon, it comes over more Ernie the fastest milkman for me, but it’s a small price to pay for the joy of the piece.

The climax, “Broken Sky / Long day“, delivers everything you want for the finale.

Heartfelt vocals over subdued instruments that builds , you can tell that the end (of the song) is coming, and your heart lifts as the song unfolds  it’s wings, shakes them free and prepares to soar.

And soar it does with a lovely keyboard flurry and full Morse the Evangelist vocals, with a guitar part that didn’t trigger Genesis associations …

No it’s doesn’t sound like comfortably numb….

Sorry, that little cynical voice appeared again. Ignore itt. The most iconic of guitar solos will obviously echo through space and time…

Better that than the Jonas Brother‘s attempt…

The sums of the parts with this piece greatly outweigh a few “borrows” here and there.

I loved it and I’m neither A born again American or An American Born Again.

The production, songs, package and playing on this are all woven together to create a modern classic, for once the praise surrounding this project undersells it, it is that good.

All band pictures courtesy of Robert Smith

Released 11th November 2016

Buy ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ from Radiant Records

 

 

 

Progradar Best Of 2016 – Gary Morley’s Top 10 With Statistics

I was supposed to have compiled a list of my top 10 ( I Think it was) albums of the year to be added to the sum worth of Progradar’s scribbling…

But I got sidetracked, applied work head and started an analysis what I’d bought and the statistics it presented me with. I blame being off sick with ‘flu or a cold as my wife insisted! J

So, an introduction is the formal way of working.

Set out the aims and objectives of this presentation.

Provide the data capture information etc.

Well ,all the CD’s were released in 2016 and purchased by my good self using either a credit card, PayPal or cash in a variety of transactions, involving human interaction, human to machine and machine to machine interfaces.

For statistical purposes, all are treated as “sales”.

Total number of “sales” of 2016 releases to the subject (me) was recorded at 159 units.[1]

These 159 units form the basis of our data extrapolation

Analysis and a breakdown into the main music food groups took place and we cross checked our data with the standard sources (A mate on Facebook, Wikipedia, a man at a bus stop and the local feline)

We then carried out advance statistical sampling and came to the following conclusions:

1 I spent far too much money on CD’s …again! Good job Wifey doesn’t read this J

2 I keep finding new bands and artists to listen to. This is a self defeating sub routine, s the more I listen too, the more get added to the library, so the more follow up CD’s and back catalogue CDs come under scrutiny, so the limited finances are spread across an increasing collecting field. Rationalisation will have to be implemented and decisions, tough decisions will have to be made in regards to future funding shortfalls.

3 I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. There are a number of “wild card” CDs here that have no discernible links to the others, they were chosen purely on a whim as I liked the look of the cover. To avoid embarrassment to both creator and listener, these will not be separated from the data and will be treated as equal contributors to the sum of all musical knowledge.

[1]  Unit – a physical Compact disc, either as an individual or as a multi unit (known as a “box set”)

Breaking down into the 9 detailed groups, we see that Prog is the most voracious in terms of numbers, accounting for 30% of my “spend”

Generic “Rock came a close second, at 28% , with Blues taking the final podium position with a sterling take of 20%. Specialist genres spilt the remaining funds between them with Soul and Ambient / Dance taking 14% each – a merger there could reap dividends next year.

That was the gross figures; there was no taste bias or cultural drift applied.

No additional “worth” was assigned to individual persons or products.[1]

The second part of our research was to “rank” the releases in order of “enjoyment” and “appreciation.

We pored over the raw data and assigned arbitrary plusses and minuses to each, factoring in musical dexterity, lyrical relevance, aura of cool, instrumental prowess, humalongabilty, ability to raise goose bumps, and “star Quality”

[2] For our research purposes, all “units” are assigned an equal cost, regardless of actual cost. This is to remove smugness bias and inferred value capping

The top 50 were assembled and separated from the 2016 subject group and were reassessed using the “Wallet emptier matrix”

Results were then sense checked and subjected to a “blind “listen to confirm that there were no tactical substitutions or last minute reappraisals.

And the top ten were dusted off , polished and are here for your pleasure.

In reverse order:-

10 – iamthemorning – Lighthouse

Glacial Russian Prog duo take everyone by surprise , this is a thing of beauty , genre defying and a Prog album that you can play to your non prog friends ( you do have them , don’t you? )

Beauty in both voice and spirit with a beast of a piano player, play it loud and get lost in their world.

9 – Joe Bonamassa – Live At The Greek

Yes, I know, Progradar writes about Prog. My ears listen to all sorts, this is my top ten of the year, and a lot of great music passed through my ears to get here.

Joe pays tribute to the 3 Kings of the Blues as only he can. By assembling a crackingly good live band, rehearsing them and then letting them loose in a concert environment. Where the joy and blues magic is captured by Kevin Shirley for us to enjoy, and I for one did. Highlight – the good vibes shining through the whole project and a full horn section powered blues band.

8 – Hawkwind – The Machine Stops

The first one in my list that I reviewed, so I can happily put this here. Hawkwind sound reenergised here, no more rehashing their own past, instead a thought provoking and relevant concept album about modern life, based on a story written 75 years ago. Fired up, rocking away, an album that thoroughly deserves the accolades it has received this last year.

7 – William White – Open Country

Switzerland, land of many things, but Rastafarian hotbed home of politically charged soulful reggae in the personable Mr W is not top of most people’s lists. In fact, after chocolate, mountain views and tax evasion, most people couldn’t provide much more of a picture of Southern European Alpine lining until Toblerone changed the shape of a chocolate bar- then every pub “expert” trotted out a variety of half facts, none of which prepare you for the sheer charm of this album. A double, one side is a fine collection of politically charged songs that anyone familiar with Ben Harper or Michael Franti would approve of .CD 2 is where the top 10 votes pile in. Live, William and his band are downright funky! Superb playing in front of a lucky crowd elevates this album into the top 10. Just listen to “Soul Rider” and defy your legs not to get all funky on yo’ Ass!

6 – The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream

I’ve reviewed this, but you won’t know that yet, as review is still being written. This is a Prog fan’s dream Prog album. Concept album – tick, double album in fantastic artwork – tick. Musicianship bordering on the fretwankery – tick.

Songs – oh yes , it has more tunes that an entire karaoke bar in Kyoto on a wet Wednesday ( traditionally the optimum time and place for karaoke )

Deep Purple collide with Genesis , listen to Queen and Led Zeppelin , all get kidnapped by God fearing Christian fundamentalists with an overzealous approach to redemption . All that and more wrapped up in the Prog Concept album of the year. It’s another exciting chapter in Morse’s book of tunes, not a radical departure from Spock’s Beard / Transatlantic output but still head and shoulders above many of the releases from the “big boys” this year.

5 – Big Big Train – A Stone’s Throw From The Line

To capture that rarest of events, a Big Big Train live concert required an engineer of skill and dexterity: Rob Aubrey proves that he is both with this album. Recorded last August in front of a, shall we put it politely, “devoted” “slightly biased” crowd ( I plead guilty to attending the first night) you can relive the experience in glorious Technicolor on the blu- ray  released earlier this year. But the release of the entire set as a 2CD set is the icing on the cake. Stripped of the need to spot faces in the audience, here you focus on the sound made on that stage. A glorious, very “English” sound too, but in an inclusive melting pot of traditional folklore , contemporary urban life and a celebration of the common man.

Listening now, with 2016 fading into the night, it heralds a better place than the one we are in now. Our heroes were still with us, we were united as a people, hoping for better times and reflecting on the past, not with rose tinted glasses, but the lenses of modern technology and science.
One modern “myth” is that the death of David Bowie in January started the slow unravelling of the space time continuum that played out in 2016, ?I think that without the white heat of beauty this event generated, things would have been worse. Not quite sure how, but we are still here, I’m writing this, and if my theory is correct, the chance of someone reading this far is greater because of the subject within.

Just listen to the glory that is / was “East Coast Racer”.

4 – Colin James – Blue Highways

Colin James made this album for me… Or so it felt when I saw that he’d done an album of his favourite blues tracks, a sort of musicians mix tape. On here are 13 reasons why he is the greatest Canadian guitar player / singer out there. Greater than the God, Neil Young by virtue of the fact Colin plays the blues and is therefore probably human whereas Young is almost certainly not  .

Over the years I’ve followed James from a hot shot hyped up “future of the blues” gunslinger period through his “Big Band” period where he made Jools Holland sound like a school music project, to his dabbling with funk and soul up to his 25th anniversary celebration live album, always a bit of a secret pleasure for me, until this album cracked it for him. From full blown funky band to solo acoustic, all facets of his talent are here , impeccably produced ,an album that just oozes class.

3 – Skye & Ross – Skye/Ross

Morcheeba were the band that turned my head onto contemporary UK music , post rave. I’ve always loved soul and funk, but the rave scene and the endless splintering of genres across the spectrum meant that a lot of good stuff passed me by at the time. However. Watching “the White Room” TV show back in the day , 2 bands caught my ears . One was Kula Shaker with their retake of psychaedelia , the other wasn’t so much of a band , I heard this stunning slide blues guitar over a wash of samples and rhythm duelling with an angel. Looked up and there were 2 geezers and an angel! My first experience of the genius of Morcheeba. I tracked down their debut album and started a musical journey that continues to this day. Through line up fluctuations, fame and fortune, downsizing and fallow years, I persevered, collecting their albums, solo material and those of other bands they turned me onto. The whole “trip hop” fashion scene produced some great musicians, all of which now form part of my musical DNA – Banco De Gaia , Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Desert Dwellers, Shpongle, Ott, Dreadzone  , The Orb and Leftfield, all these unfolded from that first Morcheeba experience) .

So my excitement was piqued when I saw that 2/3 of the original line-up were promising a return to their roots. Not a rehash of old material nor old demos but new material! I paid my money ( a pledge music adventure) and waited.

That wait was worth it, 10 tracks of class and beauty, a “proper “ album of 2 sides , all killer , no filler as the clichés states. These are perfect “pop” songs with sparse instrumentation that allows Skye’s voice to pour like honey from the speakers. No showboating guitar fretwankery drowning everything, just well crafted songs played and sang to the benefit of the listener.

2 – Banco De Gaia – The Ninth of Nine Hearts

Coming from a very Rock centered youth, my musical tastes expanded rapidly as I was exposed to new sounds. My youth was spent emulating Friends elder siblings, declaring allegiance to the Gods of Rock – Free, Deep Purple and  Led Zeppelin were our local pantheon, I added Pink Floyd, Santana, Queen , Bad Company and more by the time punk exploded in our area.

XTC were our hometown band , we al rushed out and bought the 3D Ep, placed it on the communal stereo… and half got up and left after 2 chords!

Through the punk years and the new romantic desert afterwards, we were student, learning about life , love and David Bowie.

Employment beckoned it’s fickle finger and I followed my ears. Discovering Reggae, Soul, Funk, Jazz, African , “Electro”( hip hop ) , Acid House, and so on.

Throughout ll of these expansions, the one thing that linked the music that became part of me was melody. I love a good tune, no matter what label is put on it. Through the new romantics I discovered early electronic pioneers, the post punk movement produced This Mortal Coil for me to love , We Banco De Gaia latest album sits firmly in that melodic bag. It’s not “dance “music, it’s not “Electronica” , neither is it folk or classical. IT sits at the centre of a web with strands linking all of these . Pat Metheny group influences the vibe, as does Psych dub via hallucinogen style rhythms and synth use. It’s very trippy, but not in a 4 to the floor house / euro beat manner.

The only album that springs to mind as I listen is Jakata Visions with it’s up beat up-tempo tracks. Much of 9/hearts is a slow unfolding of layers of beautiful sound, sculpted to lose yourself in. Time is outside this album. Listen on headphones and the world around you fades and you are on a trip Toby Marks has constructed for you to enjoy. A rollercoaster between your ears, one I loved riding time and time again.

Listen to “Burn the Witch” and tell me that’s not “Progressive”!Isten to the Sax and synth on “the Princess and The Skygoat” – Pink Floyd meet Sly n Robbie . Bliss, sheer aural bliss.

1 – Prince – 4Ever

It took me months to accept that he had died. The cornerstones of my musical DNA took a battering in 2016. Losing Lemmy in December last year was a shock, he was an old festival warrior that wifey was friends with. David Bowie went out inder his own terms, leaving behind a final “great” album , Blackstar that I cannot listen to without getting the feeling that it’s an elaborate joke on his part. He knew that he next journey for him was imminent so left us with an enigmatic, dense jazz puzzle , guaranteed to sort  the men from the boys as it were.

Come April,  I get home from work, sit with a green tea and turn on my PC. Before it’s even on, my phone explodes with friends asking how I feel, that it’s a joke. Not a joke. Not true . can’t be… Life sucks., Raging friends “FUCK FUCK FUCK NO NO.

The greatest musician It was my pleasure to see, hear or be aware of had died.

The world has not been the same since. Prince was my world in many ways for the last 30 years, my family and friends were aware that I devoted hours listening to, talking about and sharing music produced, composed, arranged and played by this man.

IT took his death for them to see the genius.

His notoriously robust removal of unapproved live footage from the internet meant that most people saw the skills I (and my virtual family) had been banging on about.

Guitar players- this guy could eat them all for lunch (except, as a strict vegan, no animals were harmed in the playing of his guitars)

He was a master musician, able to play any instrument, ant style, at any time.

Not in a look at me techno-wank speed guitar ego boost, but in a very understated but forceful way. Live, when he let rip, you stood there, jaw dropped, staring. And he knew it. Impish smile as he solo’d furiously during the secret 3rd Eye Girl gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire – 3 hours of high octane funk n roll guitar melting fun that I’ll always remember.

He controlled that stage, the others following his lead as he took the band (and us) with him on his trip.

Then there are the songs. Throw away ditties, ballads, songs he gave away, songs people didn’t realise he’d been involved with, let alone written…

Kiss, Sign O The Times, Purple Rain, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, Raspberry Beret, Nothing Compares 2 U. I could carry on listing them, but I think you get the picture painted here.

So 4ever is the first posthumous Prince album, and a corker it is too. Planned by him as a career overview, it contains all the hits, a smattering of rare edits and, for the hard core faithful, an official release of “Moonbeam Levels” at long last.

His vault contains much material unreleased, unheard and unreleased, how much of it gets released depends on the lawyers, but I’ll be there, in line saying take my money, I want that live album, and that one, that box set too.

Live the man was untouchable. In 40 years of gig attendance, he was the apex performer. Better than Led Zeppelin at Knebworth, better than Stevie Ray Vaughan at Reading, better even than Marillion in the Brunel rooms Amphitheatre in Swindon, where I watched them stun a crowd from the relative safety of my DJ booth.

No, there could only be one album of the year, one artist of the year and this is that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NEAL MORSE BAND ‘THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM’ THE NEW ALBUM & TOUR DETAILS

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RELEASED NOVEMBER 11 ON RADIANT RECORDS
VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS/SONY

2CD, TRIPLE VINYL AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

WORLDWIDE TOUR STARTS

JANUARY 15, 2017 IN NASHVILLE, TN

 NEAL MORSE: LEAD VOCALS, KEYBOARDS, GUITARS

MIKE PORTNOY: DRUMS, VOCALS

RANDY GEORGE: BASS

ERIC GILLETTE: GUITAR, VOCALS

BILL HUBAUER: KEYBOARDS, VOCALS

The journey of Neal Morse has seen three decades of musical accomplishments, the latest being the inception of The Neal Morse Band. Morse has forged many relationships over the years with his other bands, Spock’s Beard, Flying Colors, and Transatlantic. However, the most compelling and fruitful efforts have been those with drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, ex-Dream Theater).

Now the current line-up of “The Neal Morse Band”Morse, Portnoy, bassist Randy George, keyboardist Bill Hubauer and guitarist Eric Gillette—brings forth “The Similitude of a Dream”, a concept album to be released November 11 on Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/SONY. This will be the eighth studio album with Morse, Portnoy and George, and the second as a true collaboration with this current lineup. A lyric video for the song, “Overture,” premiered on PROG Magazine’s website earlier today and will be available on the band’s official YouTube page tomorrow. Watch the lyric video for the songs “Long Day” and “Overture”

Clocking in at over 100 minutes, this amazing piece of prog storytelling will leave you breathless, exhilarated, amused and fulfilled in a way that only inspired music can. It will be available in various formats: a two CD package, a Special Edition with the two CDs and “The Making of a Dream” DVD, or as three vinyl records along with two CDs.

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The Neal Morse Band (L-R): Eric Gillette, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Neal Morse, Bill Hubauer. Photo: John Zocco

Track Listing:

 Disc 1:

  1. Long Day
  2. Overture
  3. The Dream
  4. City Of Destruction
  5. We Have Got To Go
  6. Makes No Sense
  7. Draw The Line
  8. The Slough
  9. Back To The City
  10. The Ways Of A Fool
  11. So Far Gone
  12. Breath Of Angels

 Disc 2:

  1. Slave To Your Mind
  2. Shortcut to Salvation
  3. The Man in The Iron Cage
  4. The Road Called Home
  5. Sloth
  6. Freedom Song
  7. I’m Running
  8. The Mask
  9. Confrontation
  10. The Battle
  11. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)

Together, Morse and Portnoy have launched four bands, but the one that has endured the longest and thus with the most musical output has been The Neal Morse Band. Over the years, Morse, along with Portnoy and George, always assembled musicians as needed to support Neal’s solo music. In 2012, they held auditions to find the musicians needed to fill out the band as a permanent lineup that would write music collectively. Hubauer and Gillette joined the band after three days of auditions. The fivesome went on to release The Grand Experiment in 2014 followed by the Alive Again live DVD/2 CD package in 2015.

The Similitude of a Dream is loosely and sometimes directly based on the book, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan,” explains Neal Morse. “The book’s original title was The Pilgrim’s Progress from this world to that which is to come, delivered under the similitude of a dream, and was originally published in 1678. The book chronicles the spiritual journey of a man from the City of Destruction to a place of Deliverance. Someone had suggested to me that I do a concept album based on this book, but I kind of forgot about it. Then when I began writing new songs last December, the suggestion came to my mind. I had never read the book, so I Googled the SparkNotes story outline and began to write some little song bits and instrumentals based on what I had read. Those bits combined with the ideas that the other guys brought to the table then miraculously exploded into this double concept album. Funny thing is, this album only really covers about the first 75 or 80 pages. Maybe we should’ve made a five disc collection! Well, we’ll save that for later. Ha.”

Continues Neal, “At the conclusion of the grueling recording sessions, I remember Mike saying rather prophetically, ‘Boys, I think we just made the album of our careers.’”

“I honestly think this is THE album of my career,” declares Portnoy. “Neal and I have now made 18 studio albums together, and I consider The Similitude of a Dream the absolute creative pinnacle of our collaborations together. I’ve always had a soft spot for double concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy, and I can bravely say that I think we’ve created an album here that can sit side by side with those masterpieces. Bold words, I know, but after a career of almost 50 albums, I honestly consider this to be one of the defining works of my career.”

“We weren’t sure we had enough music to make a double CD, and yet it seemed as though the concept and the music wanted to go there,” bassist Randy George continues. “Ultimately, we created so much great music in the sessions that it just had to be a double album! To cap that off, we worked with a pre-imminent classic album cover artist to create painted illustrations of our concept which will grace the booklet!”

The Neal Morse Band tours worldwide almost yearly and continues to grow in popularity, attracting new listeners everywhere they go. The band has toured in North America, Central America, Europe, Israel, Mexico and India. The shows are filled with excited and extremely loyal fans, some which have regularly traveled very long distances to see the band. The band has an extensive catalog of live shows on Blu-Ray and DVD as well.

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Their latest round of worldwide tour dates start January 15, 2017 in Morse’s current hometown of Nashville, TN. More dates will be announced in the coming weeks on the band’s official website.

North American Dates

 Jan 15 Nashville, TN – Venue TBA

Jan 17 Seattle, WA – Triple Door

Jan 18 San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom

Jan 21 Whittier, CA – Center Theater

Jan 22 Phoenix, AZ – Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse Theater

Jan 24 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater

Jan 25 Dallas, TX – Curtain Club

Jan 27 St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater

Jan 28 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom

Jan 29 Toronto, ONT – Mod Room

Jan 31 Montreal, QUE – Club Soda

Feb 01 Quebec City, QUE – Salle Jean Paul Tardif

Feb 02 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom

Feb 03 Washington DC – State Theater

Feb 07 – 11 Cruise To the Edge

European Dates

March 22 Barcelona, Spain – Apolo

March 23 Milan, Italy – Venue TBA

March 24 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7

March 25 Aschaffenburg, Germany – Colo-Saal

March 26 Berlin, Germany – Lido

March 28 Warsaw, Poland – Progresja Music Zone

March 29 Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle

March 30 Verviers, Belgium – Spirit of 66

March 31 Cologne, Germany – Stollwerck

April 01 Malmo, Sweden – KB

April 02 Tilburg, Holland – O13

April 04 Luxembourg – Rockhal

April 05 Paris, France – Divan Du Monde

April 06 Birmingham, England – O2 Academy 2

April 07 Glasgow, Scotland – O2 ABC

April 08 Manchester, England – O2 Ritz

April 09 London, England – O2 Islington Academy

 Additional

April 12 Tel Aviv, Israel – Havana Club

May 6th Gettysburg PA – RosFest

And more to be added…

 

 Internet and Social Media

www.nealmorseband.com/

www.facebook.com/nealmorse

www.twitter.com/nealmorse

www.instagram.com/NealMorse

www.youtube.com/NealMorseMusic