We are happy to premiere the Neal Morse Band’s rendition of Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” from the massive new Morsefest 2015 set, out today via Radiant Records via Metal Blade/Sony. Morse, who helped renew interest in progressive rock as a founding member of Spock’s Beard, has always had wide-ranging tastes, as demonstrated by this rendition of a song that’s been performed by everyone from Richard Harris to Waylon Jennings to Donna Summer.
Ever one to do things in a grand style, Morse decided to make the Morsefest one to remember. He augmented his core band, which features drummer Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater), guitarist Eric Gillette, bassist Randy George and keyboardist Bill Hubauer (who arranged this version of the Webb piece), with live strings, a five-piece horn section, and a 14-piece choir (in addition to background singers, and the vocals of the band). Across the collection, the veteran vocalist draws upon his work with Spock’s Beard (including a guest turn from former Spock’s drummer and vocalist Nick D’Virgilio) as well as performances from guitar legend Phil Keaggy. (The album also contains full performances of the albums ? and Sola Scriptura.)
“MacArthur Park”, featured on the resulting four-CD/two-DVD (or two Blu-ray) (the track originally appeared on the 2015 album The Grand Experiment), is delivered with utmost sincerity, spotlighting the brilliance and pure sentiments of Webb’s original composition. It’s hard to imagine another artist who would have dared to consider performing the track this way and even more difficult to consider who else might have succeeded with such ease.
Morsefest 2015 is out now and may be ordered here.