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4.4 out of 5 stars
Flying Colors [Limited Edition]
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
There is always a certain scepsis around groups consisting of members from already known/famous bands and sometimes the sum might be a lot less than the individual parts. But not so with this prog supergroup - in fact they have put out a masterpiece. Combining all the best of the individual participants and adding that undefinable factor of magic and good chemistry.

Mike Portnoy is ofc a world class drummer and his interplay with bassist Dave LaRue just downright perfect (they have also played together in the Led Zep tribute Hammer Of The Gods). Neal Morse is a true original - a devoted Christian and a magnificent progrocker both on keys and guitar. Steve Morse has rarely sounded better, he knows how to shred in an intelligent way. While Casey McPherson handles most of the lead vocals.

Is this a new Transatlantic? Well, not really since the emphasis here is more on the songwriting, less on long suitelike compositions. Recalling 80s groups like Mr.Mister, Toto or Trevor Rabin era Yes. And actually almost every song is a winner with memorable hooklines, clever lyrics and definitely hit potential. But at the same time the album is full of elegant musical details, odd metres, strange breaks, magnificent soloes. Everything to satisfy the musos and the tech freaks also.

Quite a music lovers dream and wonderful an album like this is still being made in 2012!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
Mascot Label Group announces the release of the eponymous debut album from Flying Colors, the spectacular new virtuoso prog/pop/metal rock band formed by drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist Steve Morse.
The band also features Dave LaRue (who worked with Steve in Dixie Dregs) on bass, Neal Morse on keyboards and Casey McPherson on vocals and guitar.

Kicking off with mid tempo `Blue Ocean' it lets you into the Asia-style sound that encompasses most of the sound on the album with a couple of exceptions. Rocking up the noise with the cracking `Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda'and `The Storm'. `Fool In My Heart', `Everything Changes'and Better Than Walking Away' slows the pace down at the right sequence times on the album. `Kayla' features a middle ages style guitar book-ending, great vocal track not sounding too dissimilar to Chris Cornell, with some superb drumming from Mike Portnoy. `All Falls Down' is a fast paced track with some serious Muse-like overtones, featuring some frantic guitar and drumming combinations.
`Infinite In Me' - an Asia/Yes style track of twelve minutes that soaks up and releases all that's great about this musical collaboration. An epic track that provides a vehicle for the solo's to take flight.

This album came as something as a surprise to me, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. There is something for everyone to listen to from commercial radio friendly tracks, to out and out rockers and then some sophistication for the prog rock fans.
All in all a great release from the players on here, I look forward to the live dates that I believe will be happening.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2012
The prospect of a musical project featuring Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy is always intriguing given the quality of their output under the Transatlantic and Yellow Matter Custard brands and Neal's own solo output. Interest piques once Steve Morse and Dave LaRue are added to the mix. Casey MacPherson was the unknown quantity but if he's good enough for Mike P...

If the names in the previous paragraph are familiar with you, you may be concerned whether the band would lean heavily on their prog and jazz-fusion roots. Not so; the eponymous album is marked by song writing in a pop-rock vein evoking Queen, Coldplay and Muse without resorting to slavish emulations of those inspirations. Yes, a few of the songs go beyond the 3 minutes that mark top 40 climbers but the songs never overstay their welcome.

Thanks to the vocal talents of Casey backed up by Neal and Mike the lyrics are delivered with conviction and gusto making it easy to get swept away by the emotions underpinning the tracks themes. Personal favourites are the grin inducing 'Blue Ocean', the hook-laden 'Kayla' and the uplifting 'The Storm'.

A word on the engineering and production of the album: Peter Collins production is exquisite...gelling the tracks together while allowing the instruments to blend and remain distinct. I'd love to see renowned music production magazine Sound on Sound do a behind the scenes analysis of Collins - and the bands'! - work here.

Here's the rub: if you like great songwriting and music that brings genuine joy, what are you waiting for?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2013
I don't care much for the title of "Super-group", but I read the briefest of articles in Classic Rock magazine several months back on a bunch of exceptional musicians (well, as I know them!) and thought I'll keep an eye out for them.

A couple of months passed and then that very same magazine included the opening track "Blue Ocean" from that "Super-groups" eponymous initial album, Flying Colors on their monthly giveaway CD! Wow, I was hooked and bought the CD in its' entirety on the strength of that one track. But how could I go wrong with a lineup of Deep Purple guitarist, Steve Morse and his long time stalwart and bass-playing buddy from the Dixie Dregs, Dave LaRue, along with the percussive enigma that is Mike Portnoy and the musical wizardry of Neal Morse, one of the founding members of Spock's Beard. Amongst them was a relatively young unknown, Casey MacPherson, their front-man and co-lead vocalist. However don't get me wrong, this man comes with his own pedigree and commands respect.

The album is a refreshing view of all that is Prog-rock, & for a bunch of US citizens has a very, dare I say, British feel to it. Great songs that are not over-played and over-produced; a joy to listen to. I love music and this is still my album release of 2012. I would like to add that the real measure came when I played the CD to the fussy cow that is my better half, the one-time Goth and Damned fan, who immediately confiscated it for her own listening pleasure!!

The gig incidentally was absolutely superb and inspiring. Yes, super group is very apt.

Now go and check out the Von Hertzen Brothers!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2012
Yet another successful collaboration between Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy that has blossomed on great works such as Transatlantic's Bridge across forever and Neal's solo stuff including one and ?. Add in the considerable talents of Steve Morse, Dave Larue and Casey McPherson and you have a mega-talented bunch.

The band had warned people that this album wouldn't be an out and out prog album - and it isn't. It certainly has prog elements, particularly in the closing 12-minute epic, Infinite Fire. But the album is more a blend of melodic rock (touches of AOR) and hints of prog. That may not sound appealing, but the album def works - and the songs speed by in a very appealing manner. A thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

My personal favourites include the excellent opener Blue ocean which has a very nice bass line and a good blend of vocals. Kayla touches on the AOR style I previously mentioned, yet is a catchy song with a strong vocal and is an album highlight - as is the next one The storm. There is some nice guitar work on Everything changes - we even get some cries of "yeah" from the band who seem to be enjoying themselves. Better than walking away has some lovely, understated guitar work.

A fine album that I have given plenty of spins so far (currently fighting the latest efforts from Anathema and Storm Corrosion for control of my I-pod.)

2012 has already seen some top notch releases and with new stuff due from Echolyn, Rush, Marillion, Panic Room, The Reasoning and especially Big Big Train, the year looks like going from strength to strength. Flying colors have already played their part with this fine album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2012
Well once again another new band is formed out of some pretty class musician's in the world of Prog music. Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy once again team up together with the likes of some other fine muso's of top class with likes of virtuoso guitarist Steve Morse. Following Steve comes Dave LaRue who has played alongside with Steve and countless other top artists including Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Vinnie Moore to name a few, his virtuoso speaks for itself as a bass player. Topping the line up here last and by far not the least is Casey McPherson. Well to be perfectly honest I for one have never heard of this chap before, and having done some research I can only find out that he had some success with the band Alpha Rev. Never heard of them either, but this chap I must say does a purely class job in this outfit as the front man on Vocals. He is also a pretty cool guitarist and keyboard by all accounts and contributes some of that energy also into the band here.

Well with the line up out of that way, what of the new début album Flying Colors. Well it's not another Transatlantic that's for sure, it's also not a what you really call a prog album, though there is some music around them lines to be found here on this album. A matter of fact I think there is a bit something for everyone here near enough. What you will find here is truly a collection of well written compositions and put over very well by the class that's in this line up. When I say that even includes McPherson who perhaps may have been considered the odd man out here. But I have to say what a purely fantastic job this guys does on the vocals, and it's easy to see why this guy is a front man of a band for real.

What we have here is entirely a new band with a completely different approach to music and styles. Many would often say that Transatlantic sounded more like Neal Morse than an actual new band. I would agree with that myself and am a big fan of Neal Morse and his music, more so than any other artist in this line up, because Neal's writing in the prog world to me is shear class. But the big difference here is that Neal as very much practically relegated his own vocals and stuck to his keyboards in this band, and let McPherson take the front line.

Flying Colors have pretty well got themselves off to a fantastic start with the material found on this album. There are 11 tracks and every one of them is well written and put over superbly and does not disappoint one bit. It's very much a solid album and a mixed bag of goodies from pop, rock to prog music. You will find some wonderful ballads along the lines of this album, some great rock songs and if prog is your cup of tea like mine then the last track Infinite Fire at some 12 minutes will soon get you in the mood.

If you're looking for something different and good in music, then you will not go wrong here with this one. It's very much like I said got something for everyone here, and I highly recommend it. It will be interesting to see if this band will continue in the future, as of most projects Morse and Portnoy have done together. I for one would like to see another Transatlantic album, but I would not mind one bit if they did another album as Flying Colors because it's still pretty much class music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2012
This is a very surprising album. I wouldn't have expected such a pleasing, easylistening sound, because most of the artists in this band have a very different background. Intelligently written as well. The instruments blend wonderfully, the singer...well great voice.
After listening to it the first time, I caught myself humming bits. So it sticks with you, but not in a bad way. I could hear influences of Muse, Coldplay, even Supertramp in one song. A guitarsolo that had hints of Brian May. Very appealing altogether.
I put it on my musicplayer and it will remain there for a long, long time, I'm sure.
I would recommend this album, certainly. Find out for yourself, why don't you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2012
At first, Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse were probably the main reasons for me purchasing this album, Mike Portnoy is one of my main musical influences and I'm also a big Transatlantic fan. With Mike's rather Hasty exit from Dream Theater I was so hoping for a great new album from him after Adrenaline Mob (Which wasn't really to my taste!) and Flying Colors for me certainly delivered, this Album is so laid-back it's unbelievable, just 5 great musicians working well together.

I had no idea who Casey McPherson was at first aswell, but his vocals fit perfectly with every song with Dave LaRue and Steve Morse also gelling really well on guitars. I honestly couldn't choose a favorite track from this Album "The Storm" and "Better than Walking Away" are outstanding however! So, if you are looking for Dream Theater/Transatlantic esque 15 minute epics you won't get that with this album, what you will get with Flying Colors however is consistent quality and great musicianship throughout the whole album and it's so refreshing to know there are still new bands that are capable of producing meaningful music that has alot of replay value, and are not obsessed with how they look or how much money they make.

Take a Gamble, I thoroughly recommend this Album!

9/10
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2012
Should I write a review and would it be worthy? Well - a review is so arbitary.
Here we have Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Dave LaRue and the rather handy Casey McPherson.
So, maybe, part from Casey - you know these guys!!
This is kind of Prog with "variations" and it is good!
Great production, great musicianship and a fine record.
One of the finest guitarists, one the very best drummers, a great bass player and a superb multi-instrumentalist with a 'new guy' - McPherson, who doesn't let the side down.
Strong, confident lead vocals from McPherson backed up by the best.
Great rock music that dips it's toes into a variety of rock styles whilst maintaining a superb balance.
The songs are full of great 'hooks' and are a joy to listen to, with considerable contrasts - "Kayla" is beautiful. whereas "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" is much more of a thrash out by comparison!
It seems to me as though Neal Morse is generally "back seat" here. For a performer who so often takes the lead, his contribution is much less dominant.
Having said that all these guys pull together on an album that pleases and, in places, throws up a few surprises.
A very fine rock album of the highest calibre; what I have come to expect! As for the expectations of others, I do not know?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
To be honest there is not much I can add to previous reviews and fans of any of the individuals in the band will no doubt find their way here in any case, so you will know not to expect heavy, prog style stuff but a lighter, poppier yet still rocking set of tracks. I just thought I'd re-emphasise that the band that gives the best clue as to what is predominant here is Coldplay. Now don't let that put you off - if it might - as this is Coldplay with songs that actually go somewhere and a singer who can actually sing. I can expect negative votes from Coldplay fans now but I like them, I really do, but this album offers avenues that Coldplay either choose not to or cannot travel down. Loads of jazzy noodling and heavy guitar take this album beyond those superstars and display a creative urge that is getting increasingly hard to find these days. I can't see this album finding an audience outside fans of the band members other projects which would be a shame, but if you do happen upon this please give it a play - you'll be happy you did.
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