Morse Portnoy George - Cover To Cover

Year of Release: 2006
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD256
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:15:00

It happens more than once these days. First the record company urges the fans to buy several limited editions as they contain material which otherwise will never be available again. Once all these costly limited editions are sold out they plan a compilation album which contains all of these rarities in one go. That's what recently happened with the Prime Cuts series of the Magna Carta label. So when Cover To Cover arrived in my letterbox that's exactly what I thought! However, by inspecting the album a little closer I noticed that only half of the material had already been released with the other fifty percent being so far unreleased. Spanning a here year period and an equal amount of albums, Cover To Cover delivers no fewer than seven songs from the ? sessions. As there was no limited edition for this release, these covers did remain unreleased until now. To make the collection complete four songs from the One sessions and a further two from the Testimony sessions are included. As mentioned earlier though these tracks already saw the light of day on the respective limited editions.

So needless to say the brand new seven tracks is what it's all about for the Morse diehards. With all songs recorded together with buddies Mike Portnoy and Randy George, the album sounds homogeneous even though the selection of songs is very varied. In the liner notes Mike Portnoy explains that the other members of Dream Theater do not share Mike's interest in classic rock, hence DT's choice for pure prog or metal oriented material. However both Neal Morse and Randy George do have a similar background, like Mike, which made the choice for songs rather easy. With songs by Monkees, Cream, Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson, Cat Stevens, Chicago, David Bowie, U2, Badfinger, George Harrison, The Who, Moody Blues and Blind Faith, the guys prove how diverse and wide their musical spectrum really is. The brief explanation next to each song comes in handy and enables the listener to place the song in the right context. These guys all love good music regardless of genre or period. Not only do they pick some of the world's absolute best, but they also try to give it an extra twist instead of delivering a plain cover version.

The opening song of this fine selection immediately illustrates the strong points of this unique collaboration : the musicianship and fine harmonies. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" does indeed contain three different rhythms all combined into one. That's the result if you can't choose turning Portnoy into the role of Stewart Copeland, John Bonham and Travis Barker all in one song. It is no secret that both Portnoy and Morse are great lovers of everything Beatles. Whilst they tackled the fab four's material under the moniker of Yellow Matter Custard, they include several Beatles linked songs on this album. First of all, although made famous by Cream, "Badge," was written by George Harrison together with Eric Clapton. Then there's George's very own hit "What Is Life." Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" is one of my all-time favourite compositions and is delivered in exactly the same way Macca would do it himself! Finally Apple signing Badfinger steps in with "Day After Day," which is a song crafted following the Beatles as prime example.

Every single track on this album gets very close to the original although you can clearly hear Neal's voice rule. Sporting some authentic brass, Chicago's "Feeling Stronger Everyday" has always been one of my favourites, too. I especially like the bit were the rhythm speeds up, turning the song into a party favourite full of energy and power. It sounds as if Neal can change his voice to suit certain songs better. When you listen closely to "Rock And Roll Suicide" it's as if you're listening to the real David Bowie at times. For those who missed out on the limited editions of both One and Testimony the search is over to find original sets of these albums as all of the material included as bonus tracks is now available here. As an incentive for fans who already have those limited sets, no fewer than seven so far unreleased tracks have been included, turning Cover To Cover into a nice addition to anyone's collection. The diversity of the music makes it a pleasant album to play at your next party instead of those mellow compilation albums.

Pleasant Valley Sunday / Badge / Maybe I'm Amazed / Where Do The Children Play / I'm The Man / Feeling Stronger Everyday / Rock And Roll Suicide / Where The Streets Have No Name / Day After Day / What Is Life / I'm Free ? Sparks / Tuesday Afternoon / Find My Way Back Home

Neal Morse - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Mike Portnoy - drums
Randy George - bass

Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Spock's Beard - Beware Of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
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)
Morse, Portnoy, George - Cover To Cover (2006)

Sola Scriptura (2007)

Transatlantic - Live In America (VID)

Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
Morse Portnoy George - Cover To Cover (2006)

Testimony Live (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 18th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 11038
Language: english


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