Jordan Rudess
The Road Home

Despite most tribute albums being overblown, indulgent, and downright selfish, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess jumps on the crowded bandwagon with his own homage to his primary influences—but the difference is The Road Home doesn’t suck…at all. Rudess chooses a varied set list and hand-picks his musician friends to pull it off correctly. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis (both Gabriel and Collins eras), Yes, King Crimson, and even Gentle Giant are covered with maximum panache, along with a Rudess original.

Kicking off the album is the excellent “Dance on a Volcano” from Genesis’ 1976 composition A Trick of the Tail, the first album to feature Phil Collins as vocalist (after the departure of the far superior Peter Gabriel). Raising the ante even further is the ambitious “Sound Chaser” from Yes’ 1974 opus Relayer, the first without keyboardist extraordinaire Rick Wakeman. Nick D’Virgilio, drummer for Spocks Beard, ably contributes vocals here, though fans may wonder why he didn’t pick a Genesis song, since he recorded with the Collins-less Genesis in the late ’90s. Gentle Giant’s prancing “Just the Same” approaches the mainstream prog threshold that eluded the original band at their peak.

What really sets this apart from other covers albums is Rudess’ tender piano medley of Yes’ “Soon,” Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready,” King Crimson’s “I Talk to the Wind,” and finally Yes’ “And You and I.” Only the Crimson cover features lyrics sung by Rudess himself and engineer Bert Baldwin. “Piece of the π” is the sole original, and what a scorcher it is: a growly voice intro akin to Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days”; lots of electronica applications; whimsical, Old West-styled piano ditties; and spacey synth workouts.

The pièce de résistance, however, is ELP’s “Tarkus” in its entirety. Rudess performs gloriously on Keith Emerson’s parts, never missing a note and taking deserved liberties to expand the overall sound, with thanks to Winger/Dixie Dregs drummer Rod Morgenstein (who plays on all album tracks) and two vocalists: Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson (on “Stones of Years”) and Winger’s Kip Winger (on “Mass” and “Battlefield”). On all the songs, Rudess adds his own interpretations, and this is what makes The Road Home so enjoyable of a listen—and so vital to the modern prog-rock canon.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
March 3rd, 2008

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