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[Limited Edition Digipak]
Flying Colors is Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Dave LaRue (bass), Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals), Casey McPherson (lead vocals, guitar), and Steve Morse (guitar).
In 2008, executive producer Bill Evans brought the idea to the world renowned musicians and producer Peter Collins. Intrigued by the idea and the prospect of working together, the four musicians signed on to form a band and record a first album. Flying Colors convened for just nine days in early 2011, and composed and recorded this album during a short and intense session.
'This album has bits and pieces of what you'd expect from each of us,' says Portnoy. 'The sum of all its parts led to brand new, unchartered territory for everyone involved.'
'It was quite an experience,' recalls Dave LaRue. 'The band moved at a fast pace, ideas flying around the room at all times. Sections of tunes were arranged, and then re-arranged. Ideas were tried every which way until we made them work, or, in some cases, discarded them altogether. Just keeping track of everything was a challenge!' The album is filled with trial and triumph. It's been an inspiring challenge melding folk, prog, pop, and metal all into one big recording.'
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First, I was surprised that I didn't notice this band when they first came out as I have been a Steve Morse fan since he broke out with the Dixie Dregs in the 70s. Of course if you know about his career, you know what bands he has played with since and also about his accolades such as his "Best Guitar Player" awards from several industry publications for several years running until he was declared ineligible due to his stranglehold on the award. I also have been a fan of Spock's Beard since hearing them for the first time in the 90s so the fact that this band remained under my radar for so long remains a mystery to me.
However, this brings me to the comparison I noted above. This seems like the "Asia" for this band like it was for Steve Howe in the 80s. Steve, as most fans of Progressive rock know, left Yes to work on the side project that was Asia in the 80s when Yes was in one of their many personel changes periods. To me, the music of Asia was good but more leaning toward the popular music genre than the progressive. And consequently, Steve Howe's guitar, though recognizable, was not nearly as complex as the parts he played in Yes. It was almost like he wanted to continue to play and tour with a band, but he didn't want to be particularly challenged with the guitar playing when he did so. So Asia's music was pleasing and popular but not as complex as your typical progressive fare.
And listening to Flying Colors brought this comparison to mind. The music is great but not quite in the Progressive Genre. Of course, there are no mainstream radio formats that you would here this on other than the specific streaming services that allow you to taylor your music listening to specific genres. I would imagine that since all these guys in this band come from a progressive band background, you would here this on progressive rock stations, but many people listening, would wonder why.
The point that I tried to make earlier is that good music is still good music and this music falls in that category. The writing is good and the music is flawless. Some people would not agree because it does not sound like the typical popular radio fare, but that still does not diminish the music and if there were still AOR radio stations out there that played music other than "classic" rock, this would fit nicely in the rotation. But you can still here Asia on those stations if you tune in.
With a star-studded lineup of progressive rock veterans and a talented young front man, the debut effort from American Flying Colors quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of 2012. The premise behind this project was rather interesting - putting a pop singer alongside virtuoso instrumentalists is bound to produce interesting results, and Flying Colors is certainly a unique album, especially considering what may be expected from the musicians involved.
For those unfamiliar with Flying Colors, this project was conceived by producer Bill Evans in 2008 with the intention to create 'new-fashioned music the old fashioned way'. This idea eventually evolved into Flying Colors - a band consisting of Mike Portnoy on drums, Dave LaRue on bass, Neal Morse on keyboards and vocals, Casey McPherson on lead vocals, and Steve Morse on guitar. Flying Colors is deliberately different from any of its members' main projects - the listener here will be treated to an interesting mix between alternative rock-influenced melodies, heavy riffs, and progressive rock flourishes. Although Flying Colors would not sound out of place in the collection of a fan of classic progressive rock, it's a much more 'modern' sounding effort than anything you may have expected from the musicians involved.
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