NEAL MORSE - So Many Roads
Musical restraint is definitely not one of the properties with which I would define Neal Morse’s creative output. Starting in the early Nineties with Spock’s Beard, he helped redefining the modern progressive rock movement. Soon enough, this band was not enough for him, so he started releasing solo albums and founded the supergroup Transatlantic. In 2002 he left Spock’s Beard to concentrate his energies on his solo career that allowed him to add his newly discovered Christianity into his music.
So Many Roads is not his first live album, but doubtlessly the one that gives the vastest impression of his extensive works. Backed by a European band, this triple live CD-set was recorded in Europe. More than three and a half hours long, it demands a lot of time and patience from its listeners, but apparently his live shows are rarely much shorter than this.
The first disc is the most traditional one, containing seven songs. Starting with the seventeen minute long At The End Of The Day, he immediately shows that he still remembers his days from Spock’s Beard. Three tracks are from his latest solo album Lifeline, which may give reason to complaint that he’s focusing too strongly on that CD, but honestly, there’s still plenty of songs from other albums to be discovered. Nostalgic fans will also get one more Spock’s Beard song (I’m The Guy) and the Transatlantic track We All Need Some Light.
The second disc is already much more indulging. Help Me from One is the shortest cut here, with twelve minutes. The two remaining tracks are half hour long medleys from ? and Testimony. The third disc continues in a similar fashion. Starting with the nine minute long Walking On The Wind from the Spock’s Beard album Beware Of Darkness, it’s also the oldest selection featured here… actually the only composition from the Nineties. Two more half hour tracks end the triple album. So Many Roads was the heartpiece of this latest record Lifeline, and the final piece is a medley of two Transatlantic tracks.
I have to admit that after some time, let’s say one hour, things become a little monotonous and even tedious, but you are not forced to listen to this in one sitting. Also his Jesus centred annoucements and the overly religious lyrics give this a somewhat fundamentalist feeling, but in terms of progressive rock, Neal Morse is an undisputed icon. Newcomers might as well start here to discover his different musical creations, and fans will be happy to get this vast live compilation sold for the price of a regular CD album.