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Flying Colors [Limited Edition]

Flying Colors Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 41.41
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not what you might expect May 17 2012
Format:Audio CD
Flying Colors is a "supergroup" featuring Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue, Mike Portnoy and singer-songwriter Casey McPherson (the only member of the band I wasn't previously familiar with). Given the musicians involved, you might expect an album full of extended progressive rock tracks with long instrumental sections along the lines of Transatlantic. Instead what we have is an album full of shorter, cohesive songs that still display the ability of the musicians involved without ever losing focus on the actual song. I wouldn't really classify the album as progressive rock; it's more in the pop-rock/AOR territory for the most part, with the possible exception of the final song. In fact, for most of the album I'd never have guessed that Neal Morse was involved if I didn't know better - it's more of a guitar-driven album.

The songs are pretty good for the most part, although there are no real stand-outs and there are a couple of clunkers (Shoulda Coulda Woulda is a bit bland in my opinion). Most of the songs have catchy hooks and choruses while still retaining some originality. Apparently the entire album was written and recorded in 9 days, with an agreement among the band members not to use anything they'd previously written independently; I can't help but think if they'd been able to spend more time they could've come up with a true masterpiece.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  129 reviews
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greater than the sum of its parts March 26 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Frequently, supergroups produce some of the least "super" and most underwhelming music out there. More often than not, we see great players and creative minds collaborating on albums with one another, only to discover, upon hearing these records, that none of the individual member's defining characteristics have been preserved. Instead, these supergroups-- the Chickenfoots of the world-- produce music that's bland and colorless; that is simply "there"; that is, without a doubt, "less than the sum of its parts."

Thankfully, that is NOT the case with this new album. Instead, this record is some of the most inspired playing and most creative music that I've heard from any of the artists involved in quite some time. It is not watered down in the slightest, as supergroups tend to be. Nor can it be caricatured one way or the other; as "prog rock" or anything else. It defies labels. It is, simply put, five guys with unique attitudes toward music coming together to produce something genuinely fresh, new, and exciting. Sometimes it's prog, or metal, or 70's/80's rock, but listening to it you always get the sense that these five guys are playing this music and making it their own-- rather than coming down to from their expertise to play as studio-guys. Everyone shines here, and everyone's going all out. That maybe is why it's called "Flying Colors".

Though I initially had my reservations that this album would simply become another Neal Morse solo project, that has not been the case. Neal's contributions are apparent, but the primary singer/songwriter here seems to be Casey McPhereson, who I sincerely hope will make this project the main outlet for his creativity henceforth. Although, at this point, I'm not sure who is responsible for which songs, the songwriting here is top-notch. Though many songs deal with the same religious themes fans of Neal Morse will be familiar with, at no place is this album as overtly "biblical" as Neal's solo-work. The thematic range is much broader- there are love-songs, songs about hardship, songs about faith, and so on, and while I sense that these topics are dealt with in sort of a "christian" way, they are still portrayed universally enough for non-Christians to appreciate them. Casey's voice, heard most often on the album, is a nice parallel to the other voices in the group and compliments the music nicely.

Mike Portnoy and Steve Morse are at the top of their game here-- though the latter can do no wrong, the former displays once again why progressive music is his home. Over the years, Mike Portnoy's best drumming has not been in Adrenaline Mob, A7X, or the heavier, post-Six Degrees DT albums he has played on. Rather, it has been in Transatlantic and Neal Morse. This album is no exception. Mike is at the top of this game here, and locks in with bassists David LaRue's grooving style perfectly. I think this is his best drumming in a long, long time. It is further proof that, where Portnoy is a just a minor-player in the metal world, he is a prophet in the dominion of prog rock. As for Steve Morse? His playing is astounding. Every note on the album sounds so "right", like he could not have played a better note, or done with more or less. He truly is a master of the craft.

What makes Flying Colors so special is that it is not just Transatlantic + Dixie Dregs + Alpha Rev. It's something much different, and something new. "Kayla" makes us tear up, while "The Storm" liberates us, and the chorus to "Infinite Fire" will call to us when for weeks, even when we're not listening to it. It's an emotional and exciting album, and I sincerely hope that this project will be more than a one-off thing.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prog metal titans create restrained work of art March 30 2012
By antiman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
i've been anxious to hear this for months since hearing about it, and what a mindblowing album! i believe this to be the best thing to happen to mike portnoy since leaving dt... ( i thought dt was getting 'tired' and apparently he thought the same thing, so wanted to take a hiatus, but the band severed ties and went ahead with new drummer. i think that album is the best they've sounded in a long time) however, here isn't a showy album of prog metal histrionics... HERE is art.

'supergroups' often leave me cold, as is the case with 'adrenaline mob'... it just sounds like more of the same, good, not great. definitely not inspired... it sounded like some killer players having fun and goofing off for a few weeks... but this surprising group of folks have created a real winner...

all the players obviously have the chops to shred for days, but they don't. the songs are wonderful, and the players show off occasionally in very tasteful ways. i love mike's drumming, i am impressed with steve morse and dave larue, (though i've never been a fan of their bands' music, i appreciate their ability) and neal morse is one of my faves, especially for his vocal arrangements.

but the addition of a radio-friendly 'pop' singer-songwriter is the masterstroke of genius here... casey is wonderful and SUCH a surprising addition here. he makes me think at times of john legend, bruce springsteen and daniel johns without sounding like a copy of anyone. i have never previously heard of him, but i'm a fan.

if this album doesn't explode onto the charts it'll be a crime.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars haven't heard anything like this in years... March 28 2012
By Neil R. Andrews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It's a temptation to review this project from a musical perspective, analyzing and comparing each of these outstanding musicians to their previous successes and to other musicians efforts. However, since many other reviewers have already done that and I'd to keep this on the brief side, I will contribute this:from a purely emotional response perspective, listening through the first time, I was reminded of how I felt when I first heard Toy Matinee Toy Matinee Special Edition, Yes: Fragile Fragile, Jellyfish: Bellybutton Bellybutton, Ambrosia Ambrosia & occasionally Muse. Not saying it sounds 'like' any of those, but (as with each of those), it's definitely one of the most fresh, unique, truly musical and melodic sounding projects I've heard in many years. The musicianship is extraordinarily tasteful on each players part and production is exceptional. As much as I really enjoy Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa, the solo guitar work on this recording consistently brings the word 'soaring' to my mind...not showing off chops, but real musical note selection and passion in the playing that actually "moves" me. The engineering and production of the drums is amazingly real and present (minimal use of effects/eq on what already sounds like a great sounding kit), not to mention the playing, of course. Vocals are above and beyond, bass and keys are very tasty and the lyrics are wonderfully meaningful, as well. Every part played is essential to the sound, no filler and no unnecessary flailing. Indeed, there are brief moments one could label as derivative of these musicians individual influences however, the sum of the individual contributions makes this a unique, non-derivative work. This is one of those recordings that I'd be excited to use to to show off a great pair of speakers.
I am reminded of the video of Leonard Bernstein conducting "hands off" toward the end of this wonderful talk by Itay Talgam (absolutely worth the 15 minute investment in your time [...]), Bernstein is so confident in his individual players that his implicit direction is no longer necessary and he leaves them to soar on their own. Because of the mastery of each individual, and their choices to be tasteful rather than flailing, Flying Colors very much soars
Thank you to everyone involved for sharing your passion with us.
BTW, I purchased both the CD and the vinyl here at amazon and have ALWAYS been pleased with their service.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much a masterpiece June 1 2012
By J. Tinker - Published on Amazon.com
If pop radio ever sounded like this, it would gain its listening audience back from jazz and country. This is an example of how melody and musicianship produce something worth listening to that is memorable. Each member contributes a near equal part to each song, with variety, all the while maintaining a cohesive musicality. Simply put, Flying Colors restored my faith in pop, but don't let that word scare off you serious musicians. There's a plenty for you, too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morse Vs. Morse July 20 2012
By Gil Wygas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
How come no one ever thought of pairing Morse x 2 before??? Defintely one of my favourite albums in the past few years. Just remember it's NOT an instrumental album, so don't expect one.
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