Morse, Neal - One

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Radiant Records
Catalog Number: 3984-14519-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 79:55:00

It becomes more and more clear that from a musical point of view Neal Morse remains closest to the original Spock's Beard sound than the SB guys themselves. Throughout this entire album you can easily pick up Neal's influences, which are strongly rooted in the seventies, the heydays of prog, elements of which he also heavily used during the early days of Spock's Beard. Backed by the outstanding rhythm tandem consisting of Randy George on bass and buddy Mike Portnoy on drums, the production once again is outstanding. One sounds as if Neal waited for people's reaction after Testimony and then went full steam ahead, following the same direction. It's as if Testimony was Neal asking his audience whether at all he could pass the gate, leaving behind his bad life and stepping into his second chance. With rave reactions all over the world, Neal Morse is reborn and One is his first real product being his new self. And it does sound ever so fresh, with Morse adding lovely keyboard passages to his original compositions. Adding sublime orchestral textures to the arrangements, Neal's music becomes captivating, enthraling, soulful, honest, heavenly!

"Where Are You" incorporates Beach Boys harmonies blending ever so well with the piano and the strings, one would think Neal Morse is the revamped version of Brian Wilson. Backed with superb Moog, Portnoy is having a field day, adding an enormous portion of zest to the whole. The acoustic guitar in "The Man's Gone" brings rest contrasting heavily with the fierceful attack of "Author Of Confusion," which is a percussive tour de force, adding a nice slice of Hammond organ to the whole. By adding the canon, the atmosphere of the song changes, giving room for the Fender Rhodes to add even more seventies flashbacks. During the lengthy "The Separated Man," folky themes pop up regularly, sometimes even reminding me of Bert Jansch and Gordon Giltrap. Then when the violin is added, hazes of early Kansas set in as well.

For "Cradle To The Grave" Neal asked Phil Keaggy to sing 2nd lead vocal. Although I saw Keaggy doing a much better vocal job live in Tilburg whilst on tour with Neal, the fact that two different singers are present here adds something extra to the whole. During "Help Me" Neal demonstrates his South-American feel on acoustic guitar, adding extra energy to the song. The orchestral arrangements for "The Spirit And The Flesh" gives you goosebumps all over, as it blends ever so well with the construction and the melody of the song. "Father Of Forgiveness" almost comes across as a solemn rock 'n' roll prayer which fuses Beatles antics with a gospel-like choir next to yet another collection of great guitar solos. Talking of the Beatles, just listen to the intro to "Reunion" and then listen to "Magical Mystery Tour" by the Fab Four. Enough said! The horns on "Reunion" lead the song to even higher grounds, so powerful in combination with Portnoy's drumming it's as if your entire music system will explode. This is XTC without any of the negative aspects and plenty of it!

No less than nine (shorter) tracks adorn the accompanying bonus disc which offers even more brand new Morse compositions as well as some surprising covers. "Back To The Garden" illustrates once again Neal's fantastic songwriting skills, because this one for sure is a killer. If only this song would exist in a shorter edited version then daytime radio could have a decent song for once! "Cradle To The Grave" is featured twice on this package: once as sung by Phil Keaggy and once sung by Neal, added as a bonus. So make your pick as to which version you prefer. Its acoustic simplicity mixed with the powerful melody is again proof of Neal's incredible talent. In "King Jesus," Morse sounds like an energetic Billy Joel whilst Portnoy is finally having a field day again. Being a Beatles fan at heart, Neal tackles the George Harrison classic "What Is Life?," being extra spiced up due to the added horns. A great rendition and tribute. I'm not so keen on Neal's version of the U2 classic "Where The Streets Have No Name," but I'm a big fan of his treatment of the Badfinger track "Day After Day," both where melody and slide guitar are concerned. We leave Chris Carmichael's little joke for what it is and turn towards the ending of this bonus record. Morse and Portnoy turn mod by paying tribute to The Who. In "I'm Free," Neal almost sounds like Alice Cooper whilst his wild guitar playing rivals that of Pete Townshend (without smashing it in the end!). Neal couldn't have found a better lyric to sing: "I'm free" as he feels free from all restrictions and rules doing just the kind of thing HE wants! Most certainly an energetic ending to yet another masterpiece of an album.

Neal Morse is John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Pete Townshend all rolled into ? "One"!

Also released by InsideOut (IOMCD 192/SPV 085-40602 CD); timing on bonus disc: 39:14

The Creation: I) One Mind - II) In A Perfect Light - III) Where Are You? - IV) Reaching From The Heart (18:22) / The Man's Gone (2:50) / Author Of Confusion (9:30) / The Separated Man: I) I'm In A Cage - II) I Am The Man - III) The Man's Gone Reprise - IV) Something Within Me Remembers (17:58) / Cradle To The Grave (4:55) / Help Me/The Spirit And The Flesh (11:13) / Father Of Forgiveness (5:46) / Reunion: I) No Separation - II) Grand Finale - III) Make Us One (9:11)

Bonus Disc (Special Edition only): Back To The Garden (4:26) / Nothing to Believe (3:29) / Cradle To The Grave (Neal's Voc) (4:55) / King Jesus (4:48) / What Is Life? (4:28) / Where the Streets Have No Name (5:46) / Day After Day (3:25) / Chris Carmichael's Aria (1:07) / I'm Free / Sparks (6:36)

Neal Morse - vocals, keyboards, various other instruments
Mike Portnoy - drums
Randy George - bass

Guest Artists:

Phil Keaggy - guitars
Chris Carmichael - violin, vocals
Gene Miller - vocals
Rick Altizer - vocals
Michael Thurman - French horn
Rachel Righton - violin
Hannah Vanderpool - cello
Dave Jacques - string bass
Jim Hoke - sax
Neil Rosengarden - trumpet
Bill Huber - trombone
Glenn Caruba - percussion
Aaron Marshall - vocals
Missy Halle ? vocals

Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995) (cd/vid)
Spock's Beard - Official Live Bootleg (1996)
Spock's Beard - The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
Spock's Beard - From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Spock's Beard - Day For Night (1999)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Neal Morse (1999)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family (2000)
Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe (2000)
Spock's Beard - V (2000)
Transatlantic - SMPTe (2000)
It's Not Too Late (2001)
Transatlantic - Live In America (2001)
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever (2001)
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever - Special Edition (2001)
Spock's Beard - Snow (2002)
Testimony (2003)
One (2004)
Lead Me Lord (Worship Sessions Volume One) (2005)
? (2005)
Morse Portnoy George - Cover To Cover (2006)
Sola Scriptura (2007)
?: Live (2007)
Lifeline (2008)
Testimony Two (2011)
Testimony 2: Live In Los Angeles (CD/DVD) (2011)
Cover 2 Cover (2012)
Momentum (2012)
Neal Morse Band - The Grand Experiment (2015)
Neal Morse Band - Alive Again Tour 2015 (2016)
Neal Morse Band - The Similitude Of A Dream (2016)
Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 (CD/DVD) (2017)
Life & Times (2018)

Transatlantic - Live In America (VID) (2001)
Testimony Live (DVD) (2004)
Sola Scriptura And Beyond (DVD) (2008)
Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 (BR) (2017)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 902
Language: english


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