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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members.

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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Neal Morse - Merry Christmas from the Morse family - 2000
I know that it is not very cool to admit it, but I really like Christmas. Although it is just for 15 days, we people are less stupid than usual, and we should be grateful for that. In terms of music, Christmas stinks, and it is time for freaks like Michael Bolton, The Three Tenors (world: please forgive Spain for attacking your brains with Placido Domingo and José Carreras), Whitney Houston (with her bottle of champagne next to her), Elton John, etc.... to stop spoiling a wonderful time of peace and love with their mellow songs.

The only progressive precedent in this Christmas affair –or at least the most famous one - is "Three Ships" by Jon Anderson, and I am still recovering from the overdose of sugar in my blood. That is why I was very, very afraid of listening to Neal Morse's Christmas album. All the circumstances were foretelling the worst things: family photo on the cover (by the way, Neal has the loveliest children that I have seen for quite a long time), back cover in a "Christmas photo album" style, etc...

But when I started to listen to the CD, I forgot all that thanks to "Hallelujah, the King is born" (no, it is not the title of a song from Manowar)... it is a FANTASTIC Gospel theme full of energetic Hammond organ parts and choirs that could have probably been included in any Spock’s Beard’s record. And you can immediately notice that Neil and his father are part of a white Gospel choir. Other great tracks with an excellent quality are "Christmas keeps calling" (this one could fit perfectly on any SB’s album, no doubt about it), an impressive "How peaceful was the night", a complete choral section; the touchy blues "Tis the season to be blue"; "Missing you at Christmas time"; or the closing track on the CD "Holy Christmas" (I swear it, I was about to start crying in front of my PC). There are also two beautiful themes, "Love lay in Bethlehem" and "A special kind of Christmas" that produce a more classic and quiet Christmas atmosphere

The funniest moments are those on which Neal Morse puts on the tails and becomes a crooner from Las Vegas in order to sing "Swingin’ Holidays"; "Sinatra Christmas (my 1st Christmas with you)" (notice it, both of them are very good); or when he puts on the spangled suit and performs his "Elvis Christmas (Lovin’ Christmas)".

There are also a couple of song that could be taken as nursery rhymes like a very funny piece called "The laughing Christmas" and "Kids love Santa" (that also includes Will and Jayda Morse, to whom we wish a brilliant future in music).

You might think that I am too nice with the grade I gave to this CD. I don’t care. This CD is a caprice, that of a MUSICIAN does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. He creates progressive rock and he succeeds in doing it fine (almost all the time), he performs Gospel and he does it well, he performs Christmas music and he does it well. Merry Christmas from the Morse family is not just a disc to be listened to in Christmas time. It has such a great quality that you could even listen to it on the beach in summertime. And furthermore: I find it even better than Neal’s solo album.

 

I would also like to take advantage of this critic to congratulate everyone and wish a wonderful year 2001 to my progVisions Team friends (no, they are not partners, they are friends); to my family; to my dog Krusty (I am his family); friends; musicians and artists that trust progVisions; and to all of you that, with your trust and fidelity, encourage me to continue sitting in front of my PC after I finish my working day.

Peace.

Alfonso Algora - December 2000
rating - Radiant Records

 

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