Transatlantic “The Whirlwind”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#572 in the Series) is Transatlantic, Whirlwind

My kids used to be amazed when I told them about how Yes put out a record with only three songs (Relayer), with each song lasting 10 minutes or more. They were more amazed when I told them about Tales From Topographic Oceans, a double album with only one song per side, they didn’t believe me. Well they are older now and interested in their own music, so they would probably yawn at the idea of a disc containing one 77 plus minute song, as this massive, colossal epic has.

It is the 3rd offering from the supergroup of prog rock music all-stars. (Metal v. prog rock fans does not conjure up images of very different tastes). Mike Portnoy, drummer from Dream Theater and my personal favorite (sorry to Bill Bruford, Simon Phillips, Lenny White, Nick DiVorgilio and Phil Collins, former favorites of mine) does not disappoint here, he never does.

Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard) is arguably the greatest secret of the music business. His singing, playing and writing talent is impossible to talk about without using every superlative your lexicon can conjure up. He wrote a lot of this record, he plays mostly keyboards and sings on over half of it, though often has such range you would guess it was somebody else. (Part IX, “Lay Down Your Life” sounds like a young and anger obsessed Todd Rundgren)

Of course guitarist Roine Stolt of Flower Kings fame and Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas are no slouches. Stolt adds some nice vocals but sometimes talks instead of singing and seems intent of confusing people to make them think Roger Waters is making a guest vocal appearance. (he doesn’t)

The record is broken up into 12 segments and it can be very overwhelming to try and catch what is going on, so where do you find the time to listen to something so full over and over? The obvious influences of all these guys are not just their original bands, but Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Beatles foremost, then turns that to sound like King Crimson, Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa and even Kansas. That is some heady competition to compare to, but these guys are up to the task and if you are able to take the journey, you will find it to be very worthwhile.

While most of it is brilliant, if they hired an outside producer it may have come out as less self-indulgent. The last part, though sweet in its intention to end an epic song in an epic way, is a couple minutes longer than it need be. Still, if you listen to this record twice, you will then go back and listen to your favorite parts, hundreds of time, convinced it contains some of the best music on record.

There is also a bonus disc with plenty of additional tracks and some gorgeous covers, the two best being “Return of the Giant Hogweed” and “Salty Dog,” the latter which contains Portnoy’s lead vocal proving he is more than just a long haired, tattooed, blue beard heavy metal drummer.

I was lucky enough to see them on their US tour, which only covered three cities, at the Park West in Chicago (best sound of any venue in the city). The show took some time to recover from, as they played the whole of Whirlwind and a couple of tracks from their first two. They also played The Beatles“Birthday” for Mike, who quite appropriately is born on 4/20. It is at once puzzling and frustrating that more people don’t know about this phenomenal piece of music, but at the same time, I can take comfort in knowing if I am taking a 78 minute drive, I can have the Whirlwind take me there.

— John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Track Listing

“The Whirlwind”

  1.  “Overture / Whirlwind” (9:54)
  2.  “The Wind Blew Them All Away” (6:10)
  3.  “On The Prowl” (6:03)
  4.  “A Man Can Feel” (6:35)
  5.  “Out Of The Night” (4:22)
  6.  “Rose Colored Glasses” (7:54)
  7.  “Evermore” (4:10)
  8.  “Set Us Free” (5:03)
  9.  “Lay Down Your Life” (5:11)
  10.  “Pieces Of Heaven” (2:17)
  11.  “Is It Really Happening?” (8:11)
  12.  “Dancing With Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise)” (12:04)”

Bonus Disc

  1.   “Spinning” (Stolt – with Portnoy, Trewavas, Morse) 9:58
  2. “Lenny Johnson”  (Stolt) 4:20
  3. “For Such A Time” (Morse – with Trewavas) 5:22
  4. “Lending A Hand” (Trewavas) 8:43
  5. “The Return of the Giant Hogweed” (Genesis) 8:26
  6. “A Salty Dog” (Procol Harum) 4:59
  7. “I Need You” (The Beatles) 4:39
  8. “Soul Sacrifice” (Santana) 10:00



  • Neal Morse — keyboards, acoustic guitars, percussion, and vocals
  • Mike Portnoy — drums and vocals
  • Roine Stolt — electric guitars, vocals, percussion, additional mellotron, minimoog & soundscapes
  • Pete Trewavas — bass guitar, vocals, occasional VST Synth & orchestration

Additional Musicians

  • Chris Carmichael — real strings
  • Marc Papeghin — French horn
  • Fingersnaps — Collin Leijenaar, Jessica Koomen, Henk Doest


Back to the Cool Album Home Page
Listen to the The Whirlwind live and in it’s entirety below

This is great, Return of the Giant Hogweed with special guest, Steve Hackett. 

Here are some additional Prog-Rock albums you may like.

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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Mimi Betinis (08 Dec 2011, 15:21)

    Nice stuff. Great entrance on the video.

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