Recommended Albums #13

Flying Colors (Limited Edition Digipak)

Flying Colors: Flying Colors (2012)

In 1982, four estimable musicians, each of whom had been a member of a highly regarded progressive rock band, joined forces to release a record that sounded less “progressive” and more like mainstream arena rock than any of their previous work. Though critics were underwhelmed, Asia went quadruple-platinum and was number one for over two months.

Thirty years later, five of the most revered members of progressive rock’s current scene have teamed up in releasing a CD that is similarly more accessible than any of the members’ previous bands’ prog-niche music. And while I wouldn’t predict a number one album–much less multi-platinum sales–this might just be the best new rock album I’ll hear all year.

Drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), keyboardist Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), guitarist (and no relation to Neal) Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Kansas), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) and vocalist Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev) have created what sounds like a classic rock album from days past. If you’re looking for first-rate musicianship, it’s plentiful here–minus a lot of gratuitous showing-off of chops. Nor do proggish tendencies hold sway: only one song clocks in at a prog-like 12 minutes. Most of these songs are concise and radio ready. Solos are about note selection and melody rather than flash and complexity. The ace vocals of pop singer McPherson give the album the final push into mainstream rock territory. Influences are diverse enough with five songwriting contributors that nothing sounds blatantly derivative. And while it’s hardly Christian rock, you may notice some positive messages and family values subtly seeping through too.

Hopefully Flying Colors will be better received by critics than Asia were. Of course, these guys don’t carry the weight of the reputations of legendary bands such as Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. As for fans, their response is already overwhelmingly positive, and with good reason. This is a remarkable collection of pop/rock songs by five guys who sound like they want to come out from the shadow of their legacies and step into the bright lights. Can they find a mainstream audience, chart success, maybe a hit single? As Asia sang 30 years ago, only time will tell.

Listen to: “The Storm”


Listen to: “Everything Changes”


Don’t miss: “Fool in My Heart”


Listen to: “Better Than Walking”

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Songs You May Have Missed #409 | Ed Cyphers

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