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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Theater

Made in Japan

Review by Rick Damigella

There are only a handful of bands with the boldness, chutzpah and talent to record and release a series of official live bootlegs where they cover another well known band’s album. Dream Theater has released several of these albums but Made in Japan might just be the album that took the most daring to record.

During an 05-06 tour, the band began playing a select number of second sets featuring live cover performances of albums from Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and Metallica. The modern-era prog masters performed Deep Purple’s legendary Made in Japan in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, the very same cities where Purple recorded their landmark live album.

The album is played in its entirety with the same running order and some truly inspired performances from the band. There are some clever Dream Theater creative license touches in places, but for the most part this is a loving performance-for-performance tribute, right down to James LaBrie quoting Ian Gillan when he asks, “Can we have everything louder than everything else?” One more element that takes the disc from cool idea to brilliant, something I didn’t realize until I opened it to check out the liner notes, is that it was mixed and mastered by Purple’s Roger Glover. Hard core DT devotees will likely have this already, but fans of Deep Purple who haven’t heard of this singularly fantastic tribute should rush out and order it from Ytsejam Records now.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Highway Star
The cheer of the audience, the warming up of drums, Hammond organ and guitar - oh, the sounds of rock and roll. The album starts off just the way it should. The performance is solid if not a bit heavier than the original on the guitar.
Child in Time

While this song is not as well known outside Deep Purple’s circle of fans as say “Smoke on the Water,” it could be said this is a Holy Grail number, one which a band attempting to cover it better have the ability to pull it off, lest they embarrass themselves in the attempt. Dream Theater proves with this one number that they have that ability. The keyboard swells Jordan Rudess plays to replicate Ian Gillan’s high pitched wails during the chorus are truly inspired.

Smoke on the Water

Dun dun DUN, dun dun DUN DUN… As difficult as the previous number was, this one should have been a cakewalk. Rather than muck with the formula of the song with the most recognizable riff in rock history, Dream Theater rocks through a near note-for-note performance, running a little less than 20 seconds longer than the original.

The Mule/Drum Solo

This is one of the best songs from Deep Purple’s classic live canon. Very few people could sit on the throne behind Purple that only Ian Paice has ever sat upon. Should he ever need a night off, Mike Portnoy proves he is one of them with this performance.

Strange Kind of Woman

There are places throughout the album where James LaBrie comes close to sounding just like Ian Gillan. He nails it during the “oooooh” moment in the pre-solo bridge.

Lazy

One of the few Dream Theater bits of creative license comes in here where Jordan Rudess plays Ian Gillan’s harp solo on his keyboard instead. Frankly, this really should become a regular part of Dream Theater’s live set as it is so well done.

Space Truckin’
The original was a near 20 minute long marathon for Deep Purple and Dream Theater proves they are up to the challenge with this cover. The instrumental battle between guitar, bass, keys and drums plays out perfectly just as it did on the original.

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