Bridge Across Forever

For true proggers, this album is best purchased in its Limited Edition version, which contains a bonus disc of covers, demo snippets, and an interactive CD-ROM section, all housed in a hard cover with a beautiful full-color booklet and copious studio notes. The regular release of Bridge Across Forever is legend enough, as it’s easily the best prog album since Yes’ Close To The Edge.

Of course that’s no surprise, looking at the all-star line-up: keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), drummer Mike Portney (Dream Theater), guitarist Roine Stolt (Flower Kings), and bassist Pete Trewavas (Marillion). These musicians are highly talented in their respective main bands, all of which have added significantly to the progressive-rock genre; put them together, however, and the union becomes utterly phenomenal.

Each of the record’s four, suite-length tracks is multi-layered and simply amazing: the 26-minute “Duel With The Devil” begins with a walking bass line a la Yes’ “Sweet Dreams,” ends with keyboard atmospherics reminiscent of Yes’ “Close To The Edge,” and packs plenty of Steve Howe/Rick Wakeman flourishes in between. After a false start, “Suite Charlotte Pike” soars into Beatles/Yes harmonic heaven and is followed by the title track, a brief piano ballad. Another 26-minute monster, “Stranger In Your Soul” ends disc one and is a heavier combination of Trevor Rabin’s chordage on Yes’ 90125, Jimmy Page’s fretwork on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and Rick Wakeman’s prowess on his solo epic The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur.

The bonus disc kicks off with a note-for-note cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” rendered near perfectly and Transatlantic-ized in spots, with the band putting their signature spin on it. The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” gets Latinized in this first-take recording that began with a mere studio chat; unfortunately, the vocals are unprocessed and therefore muffled because of the song’s spontaneous birth. Sadly, Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” gets the same undersupplied vocal treatment, though their version is fairly brilliant after realizing the group switched instruments: Morse on drums, Portnoy on bass, and Trewavas on keys (the debut of the Transpacific line-up). Then come fly-on-the-wall studio chats; an early demo of “Duel With The Devil” from Morse called “Dance With The Devil”; Stolt’s demo meanderings; and a CD-ROM feature with studio footage, band biography, photos, and web links. Made for fans by fans, Bridge Across Forever will stand the test of time to epitomize progressive rock.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
October 9th, 2001


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