Morse, Neal - Testimony

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 14451cd
Format: CD
Total Time: 132:34:00

Most of the prog world was taken by surprise when Neal Morse announced that he had a new prog album close to release. Still more surprising was that the album was a 2-CD set with over two hours of music. Even more surprising was that Transatlantic pal and Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy manned the skins on this lengthy piece of work. The album is now out, and, religious messages notwithstanding, this is one magnificent release. It turns out that, when Morse left Spock?s Beard, we didn?t lose a great prog act, we gained two new ones (both the new Spock's Beard and the solo Neal Morse, dummy). In fact, Testimony sounds so much like Spock?s Beard that many people won?t even notice the difference.

If you liked the previous Spock?s Beard opus Snow, you?ll go bonkers over Morse's Testimony -- assuming, of course, that you can deal with the religious content. Luckily, as Morse has promised, the lyrics avoid preachiness, being instead more biographical. However, words like ?God? and ?Jesus? pop up everywhere, and more than one hymn ? albeit in rock form -- makes its appearance in these tracks. In short, unlike Snow, Testimony makes no attempt at subtlety. Still, I?ve always figured people should sing about what they want, as long as the music is great. (Gee, how big of me.)

From the first notes of ?The Land Of The Beginning Again,? Morse?s incredible sense of melody jumps from the CD. (If there?s a better songwriter in modern prog, I don?t know who it is.) Moreover, we get treated to an authentic orchestra, which never gets overdone, always adding the perfect touch of depth and classiness to the proceedings. The songs themselves range from pop to pop-prog to raging prog, with plenty of reoccurring themes and intense musical ideas. Calling these tracks ?songs,? however, risks understatement. Although the album boasts 29 tracks, Morse?s journey actually comprises five lengthy suites, running 41, 32, 12, 28, and 11 minutes in length. Within each part, the songs segue smoothly one into the other, giving the impression of much longer compositions.

Testimony is already on my list for one of the best prog albums of the year. Neal, you?re still my hero. Welcome back.

This is part of Clayton's October 5, 2003 ProgLife column

Disc One: Part One (41:08): The Land Of Beginning Again / Overture No 1 / California Nights / Colder In The Sun / Sleeping Jesus / Interlude / The Prince Of The Power Of The Air / The Promise / Wasted Life / Part Two (31:38): Overture No 2 / Break Of Day / Power In The Air / Somber Days / Long Story / It's All I Can Do

Disc Two: Part Three (12:06): Transformation / Ready To Try / Sing It High / Part Four (28:19): Moving In My Heart / I Am Willing / In The Middle / The Storm Before The Calm / Oh To Feel Him / God's Theme / Part Five (10:33): Overture No 3 / Rejoice / Oh Lord My God / God's Theme 2 / The Land Of Beginning Again

Eric Brenton - violin, viola, electric violin solo at the end of (11)
Chris Carmichael - violin, viola, cello, string arrangements
David Henry - cello
Mike Portnoy - drums, vocals
Pamela Ward and Erin - all female background vocals and soulful wailing
Rick Altizer - vocals on high parts in the choruses
Terry White and Gene Miller - vocals
Jim Hoke - sax
Neil Rosengarden - trumpet
Katie Hagen - French Horn
Mark Leniger - sax solo
Byron House - string bass
Glenn Caruba - percussion
Johnny Cox - pedal steel guitar
Jerry Guidroz - handclaps, sampling
Kerry Livgren - guitar solo (15)
Neal Morse - everything else

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: October 5th 2003
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Artist website:
Hits: 861
Language: english


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