Morse, Neal - It's Not Too Late

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Ear Candy
Catalog Number: ECRCD
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:58:00

If Karma is Nick d'Virgilio's very own Ramshackled then It's Not Too Late has to be Neal Morse's very own Song Of Seven. The over productive Spock's Beard leader has indeed canned his second solo album in between hectic touring and recording with the likes of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. The result is a true must-have for everyone into Spock's Beard and simply good honest songwriting because no matter what you wanna say, Neal Morse is one hell of a songwriter. Call him the John Hiatt of progressive rock, his love for Beatles can be heard from miles around and the vocal harmonies which adorn his compositions are simply divine!

Setting up the piano in the same room with the drums not only made the engineer go completely nuts, but it also enabled buddies Neal Morse and Nick d'Virgilio to get even closer than how they were before, two separate gorillas in one swinging cage! Whilst the music of Spock's Beard remains too commercial for the avid prog experts, one has to admit Neal Morse is one of the few musicians in the current world of prog who has an ear for strong melodies, a thing which was more apparent during the seventies. As with any other kind of music it is too easy nowadays to start with a drum loop and then try to come up with something interesting. The best tunes start from a melody and then add a lavish arrangement. It's exactly that talent for melody that is even more apparent on this solo album. Add to this the distinctive voice of Neal and you know you're on to yet another winner, although looking at the massive output, one would hope that the Spock's family retires to Hawaii for a year so that fans can start saving some money again!

Solo material from Neal Morse mainly starts from an acoustic setting with as little trimmings as possible. Title track "It's Not Too Late," which opens this album, focuses around the piano, almost embracing a gospel feel (also noticeable in "So Long Goodbye Blues") what with the inclusion of organ as well. Towards the end it sounds like the main idea of the perfect three-minute pop song has been left aside as Morse and friends improvise endlessly, taking the piano into a jazzy direction. As already mentioned, Morse is one of the few who actually has ear for "catchy" tunes, sometimes resulting in pure FM material as "All The Young Girls Cry" (as well as a trillion others) proves. Simply majestic is the ballad "Leah," which sees the great melodic vocals backed by glorious strings whilst French horn creeps in to make it even more interesting. Funny but I would have loved to hear Trent Gardner's trombone here! Neal jokingly says "welcome to groove 2000" as an introduction to "The Change," which no doubt is the strongest thing he has written. That same "poppy" awareness creeps in from under the floorboards during "Oh Angie" where Nick can really go full steam ahead.

When Spock's Beard played the Bospop Festival in Holland last year it was not Alan Morse joining them on stage but a great friend of Neal's, George Pappanostas. In the meantime from then to now, George died not so very long ago which, needless to say, has meant a great loss to all of his relatives and friends ever since. The musical "tap on the shoulder" comes by means of "The Eyes Of The World (George's Song)," which is kind of the statement that no one really can explain why George had to go so soon. Having witnessed Spock's Beard many a time live over the years I do know what a great musician Morse really is, unleashing the devil out of his acoustic guitar at all times. Here it's during "Ain't Seen Nothin' Like Me" where the simplicity, soul and devotion all roll into one. "I Am Your Father" holds a lot of Beatles references with dramatic piano as main soulmate. The album closes with "The Wind The Rain," bearing once again that unique powerful trademark of leading the song towards a grand finale, with mellotron steering the Morse ship safe to its harbour. The song kind of ends with an improvisational battle between piano and drums before you arrive at the very end and go for the repeat button once again.

Based around loss, renewal and change, and musically to be found in between Don Henley and Ben Folds Five (so the flyer says), It's Not Too Late is like those Phil Collins solo albums -- if you put Flaming Youth in your car stereo, your wife would chuck it out, yet once you chose anything from Face Value onwards you'll be her "angel of the highway." Ear Candy indeed!

Also released by SPV/InsideOut (08541692/41692) and by Radiant Records

It's Not Too Late (6:26) / All The Young Girls Cry (4:59) / Leah (4:02) / The Angels Will Remember (4:33) / So Long Goodbye Blues (4:39) / The Change (4:40) / Broken Homes (3:58) / Oh Angie (3:19) / The Eyes Of The World (George's Song) (4:09) / Ain't Seen Nothin' Like Me (5:10) / I Am Your Father (4:19) / Something Blue (4:23) / The Wind + The Rain (6:09)

Neal Morse - vocals, guitars, piano
Nick d'Virgilio - drums
Jordan Zimmerman - drums
Brad Wetmore - bass
Greg Westall - guitar
Chris Carmichael - strings
Letty Jones - french horn
Jim Hoke & Neil Rosengarden - horns
Susanne Christian & Debbie Bresee - backing 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: August 31st 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 777
Language: english


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