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Neal Morse - Testimony
Metal Blade/Radiant Records
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2003-10-31
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Artist: Neal Morse (www.nealmorse.com)
Title: Testimony
Label: Metal Blade/Radiant Records (www.radiantrecords.com / www.metalblade.com)
Genre: Rock/Progressive, Pop
Format: (2 CDs)

Neal Morse has put together his Testimony for the world to hear. You will know Mr. Morse by the time you are through listening to this new two CD set. This is a very ambitious project and in more ways than I could possibly count. First and foremost is Neal's belief of Jesus and his teachings, this subject is the focus of this recording. Most important is how this belief system has affected his life and the current transformation he is going through. There will be music fans that will not appreciate or understand his viewpoint and surely many of the Spock's Beard faithful will shrug their shoulders and not take a serious look at this music for what it is worth. That group will be few in comparison to the people that will enjoy this recording. Quite simply this is some of the best progressive/symphonic rock music that you will hear this year. Look at the credits you will notice some names.

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With two discs packed with music you would think that there would be at least one dinger, a throw away tune, it does not happen. Every track is symbolic of not only a personal belief system of the artist...it is in fact an abundant musical statement that begs for your attention. Not once did I become complacent or bored listening to any of this music. The variety offered is magnificent and it maintains a strong semblance of consistency without ever losing an ounce of positive energy. If Morse's intention was to captivate his audience and offer quality musicianship with a variety of styles, he has hit the mark.

Neal took the time to send this CD set to me personally and I thank him for that. I really appreciated his vision and musical statement. I am glad that the road he took led him to happiness and the truth. The reason that this project is his best work is because it comes straight from the heart without any misgivings or pretentiousness, you know that this is the real deal, all Neal Morse.

The combinations of guitars, keyboards, orchestrations and great vocals makes for a classic prog-rock album that should receive generous and positive reviews worldwide. If you happen to read something to the contrary, I could only attribute it to sour grapes because he suddenly left one of the most successful recording bands, leaving people stunned and disappointed. My advice is...get over it; this man is the epitome of courage and his voice rings true and proud. The icing on the cake is that the music is incredibly good. It does indeed support his newfound direction in life and we all should be glad he wants to share it with us.

Disc One

Part One: (41:08)
1. The Land of Beginning Again
2. Overture No. 1
3. California Nights
4. Colder in the Sun
5. Sleeping Jesus
6. Interlude
7. The Prince of the Power of the Air
8. The Promise
9. Wasted Life

Part 2: (31:38)
10. Overture No. 2
11. Break of Day
12. Power in the Air
13. Somber Days
14. Long Story
15. It's All I Can Do Disc Two

Part 3: (12:06)
1. Transformation
2. Ready to Try
3. Sing it High

Part 4: (28:19)
4. Moving in my Heart
5. I Am Willing
6. In the Middle
7. The Storm Before the Calm
8. Oh, to Feel Him
9. God's Theme

Part 5: (10:33)
10. Overture No. 3
11. Rejoice
12. Oh Lord My God
13. God's Theme 2
14. The Land of Beginning Again

Total Time: 123:34 minutes

Personnel:
Eric Brenton: Violin, Viola, Electric violin solo at the end of 'Break Of Day', and great hair
Chris Carmichael: Violin, Viola, Cello, String arrangements and facial contortions
David Henry: Cello and I don't know him well enough to make a joke about him
Mike Portnoy: Drums, vocals and the fang
Pamela Ward and Erin: All Female Background Vocals and soulful wailing
Rick Altizer: Vocals on high parts in the choruses and Beach Boy Backgrounds Extraordinaire
Terry White and Gene Miller: Vocals on the "Princes, Principalities" sections, "Oh to Feel Him" and "Rejoice", and they wailed a bit as well.
Jim Hoke and Neil Rosengarden: Sax and Trumpet respectively
Katie Hagen: French Horn direct from the Nashville Symphony
Mark Leniger: Sax solo on "The Storm Before the Calm"
Byron House: String Bass and mellowness
Glenn Caruba: Percussion and a bunch of stuff I can't spell
Johnny Cox: Pedal Steel Guitar
Jerry Guidroz: Handclaps, sampling and flying in the tick-tocks in 10 minutes!
Kerry Livgren: Guitar solo in "Long Story"
Anything not mentioned here performed by Neal


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