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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Theater

The Number Of The Beast

Review by Greg Olma

Dream Theater has never been a band that does things without giving 110% effort and value. To beat the bootleggers, Dream Theater has created its own label to release live shows along with studio demos and assorted material otherwise unavailable to the public. Whenever the band has a 2 night stint in a particular city, they cover an album in full on the second night. What makes these shows so special is that Dream Theater covers the album from start to finish in song order. This disk was culled from a show in Paris, France in 2002. The album being covered was Iron Maiden's The Number Of The Beast. Even Maiden did not play all of those songs live. Each member of Dream Theater plays at such a high level of musicianship that the resulting CD could be nothing short of fantastic. Sure, some arrangement had to be made due to Dream Theater having only one guitarist, but none of the power is lost with the addition of keyboards. This disk is a no-brainer for Dream Theater fans but I would also recommend it for any Iron Maiden fan as this is better than most of the tribute CDs out there.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Invaders
The show starts with the spoken word intro from "The Number of the Beast". The vocals are a bit different sounding but James LaBrie is hitting all the right notes. Dream Theater plays this one very close to the original.
Children of the Damned
Jordan Rudess starts off this cut playing the intro on keyboards. This is where the need for a slightly different arrangement is needed. Once the song kicks in, you barely hear any keyboards. James Labrie sounds much closer to Bruce Dickinson on this track.
The Prisoner
There is not that much difference between Iron Maiden's version and this one. It seems that by this point in the show, Dream Theater were really getting in a groove.
22 Acacia Avenue
It comes as no surprise that this is not only my favorite on the original Iron Maiden album but also my favorite on this CD. The vocals are a bit different but the spirit of the song is dead on. The whole band does a fantastic job of recreating this track live.
The Number Of The Beast
Since they used the spoken word intro before "Invaders", they left it off this cut. It is a bit disappointing because the song needs that little bit of build up. Dream Theater do a good version but of the tracks so far, this is the weakest.
Run To the Hills
Along with "The Number of the Beast," this is probably the low point of the show. It is not that they do a poor job of playing the song; it is just that it sounds a bit more like it is on auto-pilot.
Gangland
This is the kind of track that really shows the true talent of the members of the band. Instead of just trying to copy the original, Dream Theater rearrange the song into something completely different. There is almost a jazzy feel to this cut. Jordan Rudess is featured predominately on this version. All of this may sound strange, but this version really works. This is by far the most unique version of any Iron Maiden song I have heard in a long time.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
James LaBrie really shines throughout this disk and the final track is no different. The whole band plays this one very close to the original. They seem to have the same passion for playing it as they do their own material. Since they were performing the album in original song order, they were left with a great track to finish this CD with.
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