Merriam Webster defines a workaholic as "a person who chooses to work a lot: a person who is always working, thinking about work, etc". Other sources are a bit more harsh: "a person obsessively addicted to work", and "a person who compulsively works at the expense of other pursuits".
According to the Online Elmology Dictionary (2010 Douglas Harper) the word Workaholic came into play in 1968 and was coined from the noun 'work', with the second element abstracted absurdly from alcoholic, setting up the Rodney Dangerfield joke, "My old man was a workaholic: every time he thought about work, he got drunk".
Now I don't know if it was Rodney Dangerfield himself who came up with the term 'workaholic' specifically as the punchline for his joke - or if the word already existed and he simply put his spin on it for comic effect. The answer to that needs to be clarified by Douglas Harper the creator of the Online Elmology Dictionary. But regardless of who is credited with the actual origin, the word 'workaholic' aptly describes Roine Stolt, Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, and Pete Trewavas the four musicians making up the group Transatlantic.
Roine Stolt has been - or is currently in - the following groups: The Flower Kings, Kaipa, Tangent, Agents Of Mercy, Circus Brimstone, 3rd World Electric, and has appeared on albums from Karmakanic, Steve Hackett, Tim Donahue, Neal Morse, Thomas Bodin, and Hasse Bruniusson.
Mike Portnoy has an equally long string of associations with bands like Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, O.S.I., Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob, Flying Colors, The Winery Dogs, Big Elf, Neal Morse, John Arch, and Andy West.
Pete Trewavas the bassist of Marillion has also lent his talent to Kino, Big Big Train, The Wishing Tree, Edison's Children, and Iris.
And Neal Morse has appeared with Spock's Beard, Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors, and as guest musician on albums from Eric Burdon's Band, Ayreon, Dream Theater, and Salem Hill. He's recorded six solo albums and as many as 35 limited edition fan club albums between 2005 and 2014.
And of course all four are members of the prog/rock supergroup Transatlantic.
The 2014 release "Kaleidoscope" is the band's fourth studio release following "The Whirlwind" (2009), "Bridge Across Forever" (2001) and the debut album "SMTP:e" (2000).
And between that span of time saw the release of "Transatlantic Demos By Neal Morse" (2003) and an alternative version of the debut album "SMPT:e - The Roine Stolt Mixes" (2003). As well as four official live albums "Live In America" (2001), "Live In Europe" (2003), "Whirld Tour 2010: Live In London" (2010), and "More Never Is Enough: Live In Manchester & Tilburg 2010 (2011).
This in itself is a career for most successful musicians, but keep in mind the band Transatlantic is something of a side project for these four musicians - two of which have full time gigs with active bands like Marillion (who have recorded in excess of 17 studio albums and at least 8 official live recordings) and The Flower Kings (12 studio albums, 4 official live albums, 4 official bootlegs, and 4 fan club records).
So it's not a stretch of the imagination to categorize these guys workaholics in the truest sense of the word.
Now with four studio albums under their belt, Transatlantic has established something of a trademark sound which hasn't deviated all that much from their debut. And like the three albums which came before, "Kaleidoscope is ablaze with kinetic bombastic epics as well as emotionally stirring melodic ballads, almost ethereal in nature.
Although the band collectively shares songwriting credit (with the exception of the track "Beyond The Sun" which is credited solely to Neal Morse), lets not kid ourselves, Transatlantic has always been equal parts The Flower Kings and Neal Morse-era Spock’s Beard. The musical signature of Stolt and Morse is indelibly stamped on the music they create.
For example: the five part 25 minute epic "Into The Blue" can be broken down like this: "Part I: Overture" (Flower Kings), "Part II: The Dreamer And The Healer" (Spock's Beard), "Part III "New Beginning" (The Flower Kings), "Part IV: Written In Your Heart" and "Part V: The Dreamer And The Healer" (Spock's Beard).
And so goes the pattern throughout most of the album ... a bit of Spock's Beard here, and a bit of The Flower Kings there.
So if you're like me ... and thoroughly enjoy both bands this formula is a winning combination.
And while Stolt and Morse may be the heart and soul of the this great machine called Transatlantic, it's Trewavas and Portnoy who provide the pumping pistons and precision clockwork gears necessary to power the engine and fuel the beast.
The seven part title track "Kaleidoscope" is a true grandiose 32 minute progressive rock epic with multi-layered textures, thermonuclear dynamics, head-spinning polyrhythmic syncopation from Trewavas and Portnoy, moody Mellotron and energetic keyboard gymnastics from Morse, and some inspired guitar work from Roine Stolt. All and all an awesome display of talent.
The second movement, "Ride The Lightning" brings to mind the closing track "Made Alive Again/Wind At My Back" from the Spock's Beard concept album "Snow". While the sixth movement - the instrumental "Lemon Looking Glass" - was more akin to the blistering performance of Keith Emerson and ELP. Smoking keyboards!
Additional guest musicians include: Chris Carmichael (cello), Rich Mouser (pedal steel guitar on "Beyond The Sun"), and Daniel Gildenlow (vocals on "Into The Blue: IV Written In Your Heart").
There is also a two-disc Special Edition which includes cover tunes from artists like King Crimson, The Moody Blues, Focus, Elton John, Procol Harum, ELO, The Small Faces, and Yes - and for those fortunate enough to be aboard the "Cruise To The Edge" tour and hear the band play some classic YES tracks with Jon Anderson and King Crimson with Adrian Belew, you're well aware that these guys are adept at bringing new life to an old classic.
"Kaleidoscope" is very highly recommended for aficionados of retro 70s' prog and of course - The Flower Kings and their many off-shoots and Morse-era Spock's Beard.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on May 20th, 2014