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Music : Neal Morse - Testimony (2003) (Special Edition 3CD Box Set)

Neal Morse - Testimony (2003) (Special Edition 3CD Box Set)

Neal Morse - Testimony (2003) (Special Edition 3CD Box Set)
EAC rip | 3CD | WV-image - Log - Cue | Full Scans | Release: 2003 | ~ 992 MB
Genre: Progressive Rock, Neo Prog | Label: InsideOut Music

3 CD Limited edition of 2003 release from the L.A.-based singer/songwriter/guitarist. Musicians include Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) & Kerry Livgren (Kansas).
This is where it all opens up and changes. Neal Morse is the former frontman of Spock's Beard, the California prog rock monolith. While not his first solo effort, Testimony is easily his most compelling and provocative. Testimony is a concept album based around Morse's personal testimonial of his life before and after encountering his center, Jesus Christ. Before any of you reach for the mouse button to click off, it might be worth reading a little further to find out why this is musically one of the more engaging progressive rock records in particular and rock & roll albums in general this year. Morse's vision is still one that is sophisticated and sprawling. His attention to detail is even greater and he brings so many elements into his mix that it will make the punters' heads spin. Here, folk, prog, classical, and beautiful singing and arrangements entwine with a challenging, moving, and provocative story. Conceptually, Testimony is divided into five parts over two CDs. Disc one features a gorgeous overture and elements of Laurel Canyon rock that are contrasted with gargantuan tracks loaded with keyboards and strings as the story moves from looking over a life spent in innocence and then loneliness and darkness. Disc two concentrates on the time period after conversion, with themes of transformation, surrender, willingness, and beatitude as well as struggling with doubt -- only to persevere in the wealth and mystery that come with discovering meaning in life.
Production-wise, Testimony is seamless, full of fantastic dynamics and dramatic layering of instruments, voices, and "ambiences." Really, if Brian Wilson were into the big rock & roll business, the textured nuances found here would suit him fine, even if the screaming guitars and progressive jazz horn charts wouldn't. There are many guests on Morse's album: Kerry Livgren, Mike Portnoy, Aaron Marshall, Pam Ward, Terry White, and Rich Mouser just to name a few. The bottom line is this: Testimony is, as a modern rock & roll album, a solid and engaging work that wears its heart firmly on its sleeve and dwells not in clever ambiguities, but in passion and pathos. As a "Christian rock" record, it lays the land for the kind of aesthetic excellence that should go into a project that uses the gospel as its inspiration. There are no tired cliches, no dumbed-down messages, and no fake exuberance for the praise crowd. The CCM industry will have a hard time co-opting this one because it not only doesn't suck, it reveals just how artistically bankrupt some of their productions really are. This deserves to be heard by fans of Marillion, Yes, ELP, early Genesis, and yes, fans of Spock's Beard. Actually, it deserves to be heard by anyone interested in the power of great music. Sadly, our current critical and cultural climate -- in the media especially -- is too far gone in creating personality cults and endless narcissistic self-referencing to take a record like this very seriously as art. That's too bad; it's our loss. [European editions of the album appeared through Inside Out and featured an extra disc with bonus material.]

Track List:

Disc One:
01. The land of beginning again 03:10
02. Overture no. 1 05:58
03. California nights 05:46
04. Colder in the sun 06:20
05. Sleeping Jesus 05:32
06. Interlude 01:56
07. The prince of the power of the air 02:43
08. The promise 2:52
09. Wasted life 06:50
10. Overture no. 2 02:31
11. Break of day 06:55
12. Power in the air 05:03
13. Somber days 05:06
14. long story 05:35
15. It`s all I can do 06:25
Disc Two:
01. Transformation 03:00
02. Ready to cry 04:17
03. Sing it high 4:48
04. Moving in my heart 03:06
05. I am willing 06:28
06. In the middle 02:27
07. The storm before the calm 07:31
08. Oh, to feel him 06:17
09. God`s theme 02:31
10. Overture no. 3 01:05
11. Rejoice 02:28
12. Oh lord my god 03:54
13. God`s theme 2 02:10
14. The land of beginning again 00:54
Bonus Disc:
01. The fang... sings! 00:18
02. Tuesday Afternoon/Find My Way Back Home 13:21

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