Reviewed by Anthony Longville
2005 saw the release of perhaps the greatest work to date from Neal Morse, former frontman of prog rock supergroups, Spock's Beard and Transatlantic - a 10 square CR rating with a short title - '?'. This two CD set is taken from a Berlin show on Morse's 2006 European tour. The studio release of '?' was a continuous 60 minutes of music based on the theme of the Tabernacle, and featured a number of big name guests. The first disc here is a complete performance of that rock symphony, with a little 'preaching' added in. For the tour the guest musicians are replaced by five European-based session musicians who back Morse impressively. It is difficult to comment on the individual contributors here as Morse moves seamlessly from one instrument to another. Be good to watch this on DVD to see who's playing what when and how it all fits together. But the overall sound is impressive, not as polished as the original recording, but full of life and high calibre musicianship. Disc 2 contains large sections of Morse's previous top rated album, 'One'. This includes the excellent "King Jesus" originally only a track on the bonus disc. On "Cradle To The Grave", originally a vocal duet with Phil Keaggy, Morse is joined by his young son, Wil, who has a pleasant melodious voice - will he grow into a musical colossus, I wonder? Offered here as bonus tracks is a medley of songs from Morse's previous bands. "We All Need Some Light" from Transatlantic comes first and is followed by the highlight, three songs from Morse's final album with Spock's Beard, 'Snow'. These tracks, "Open Wide The Floodgates", "Solitary Soul", "Wind At My Back", were some of the first songs which revealed Neal's new found faith and fit in perfectly with the overall set. Jessica Koomen's vocals (on the parts originally sung by current Beard frontman Nick D'Virgilio) enhance the listening experience. All in all a timely reminder of one of the music scene's great talents.
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