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The Neal Morse Band: The Grand Experiment

Progs on the wing.

The experiment in question was for Morse to make this album “on the hoof” in the studio, without having prepared any material. Given that his band was the same as for his Momentum project in 2012, and that drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy George have been his rhythm section for the past decade, the risks were limited.

The results are certainly grand; a homage to the halcyon days of 70s prog. So far, so predictable. What gives this album its edge is its collective feel, with the rest of the band taking a more dynamic role.

It certainly freshens up the two epic tracks that bookend the album, as well as the more pop-oriented Agenda. A welcome diversion from the familiar fare./o:p

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.