Alan Morse: Four O'Clock & Hysteria // review
This is a new solo effort from Alan Morse (of Spock's Beard - Neal's Bro) and from what I gather, his only one. It's actually pretty good, given its an ALL instrumental fusion album. You'd think a first time solo effort from a progger might come across as uber pretentious to over indulgent and include the obligatory epic. Well, this album has its excesses to be sure, but it isn't near as repetitive or self-congratulatory as one might think. Nor is it prog.
Musically speaking, this album picks up right where 'What If' and 'Night Of The Living Dregs' left off...oh wait, that was Steve Morse...actually, this might be the best attempt of this style of music since the Dixie Dregs, and the Dregs ain't made this good an album in a while. But if southern-tinged fusion ain't your bag, then stay away. In fact, if your looking for prog, forget it.
Now cinics are going to say it sounds too much like a Dixie Dregs album; yes, there be a fiddle player (no, it isn't David Ragsdale), and even the keys are faithfully replicated in places. But in a world of tastless speed merchants, I find this album a nice diversion and considering I've never thought of Alan Morse as a great guitarist...well he may or may not be, I'm no guitar expert, I was surprised by its mood and execution. Sure, its a tad unoriginal in places, smacking of guitar solo 101, containing a whiff of shred here and there, some strutting fret work. But there is as much (or more) focus on song craft, melody and mood as there is musicianship.
One might expect that this album would at least hint at Spock's Beard since most all members are present on most tracks. Even brother Neal lends a hand co-writing some of the songs and co-producing the CD. But you'd never know the players involved had anything to do with neo-prog. It rarely even approaches metal. Yes, Alan shows off his chops (it is a guitarist's solo album), but so does everyone involved and its very clear from the get-go that Alan set out to not make a Spock's Beard album. He did not. And if SB ever decides to call it quits and go their seperate ways, Alan needn't retire, not as long as he's got a few more Dixie Dregs albums in him.
File under tasteful fusion/instrumental.
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