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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Theater

Uncovered 2003-2005

Review by Greg Olma

Dream Theater continues to release great CDs through their Ytsejam Records label.  They have released live discs and demos but this one is kind of odd as it is a compilation of songs from different sources.  Some were record live in concert and some were done during soundchecks.  Either way, what you get is a mix of great cover versions of songs that rarely get an airing.  When Dream Theater decides to cover a tune, they pick out the more obscure tracks and give them a little DT twist but still stay close to the original.  They also pick a wide variety of bands that run the gamut of AOR with Journey to real heavy metal like Pantera.  I generally don’t like cover versions because I feel that most bands don’t do justice to the original but in this case, I found this whole CD really enjoyable.  It might be because the guys in Dream Theater are consummate musicians and they can tackle pretty much any band.  The only part that they can not really duplicate are the vocals but James LaBrie is versatile enough to handle the different styles.  This CD in no way should compete with their regular catalogue of original material but for fans that have all the other disks, then this is a worthy purchase to finish off the collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Death On Two Legs

I have to thank the guys in DT for picking an obscure track from Queen to cover.  Let’s face it; it is too easy to go for “We Will Rock You” or “Another One Bites The Dust.”  They do a great version of this A Night At The Opera classic.  No one can do a good Freddie Mercury so LaBrie doesn’t even try and that is what makes it work.  They give it that Dream Theater twist but still manage to keep the feeling of the original version.

Heart Of The Sunrise

This cut was recorded at a soundcheck in Germany and they do a very faithful job on this Yes classic.  Even LaBrie does his best Jon Anderson impersonation.  Musically, this version is spot on.

Heaven And Hell

With the death of Ronnie James Dio this year, it has spurred on many bands and artists to cover this song in particular.  Oddly enough, this rendition was recorded at a soundcheck 6 years ago.  They play the whole tune and again it is covered very faithfully.

Paradox

Dream Theater have covered “Carry On Wayward Son” (or at least part of it) on their A Change Of Seasons CD so I was happily surprised they covered a deeper cut like “Paradox.”  They did a great job in getting the right keyboard sound for this one and that makes the track work.  The guys did such a good job that it made me pull out the original Kansas CD and play it.

Mother Father

Journey is not one of those bands that get the cover treatment often; probably due to the difficult vocals but Dream Theater do a very impressive job on this deep cut off of Escape.  As I mentioned earlier, what makes this package work is the rare song selection and this is a great example of that.

Machine Messiah

I think I was one of the only people in my record buying group that thought Drama was a great record.  Sure, Yes purists would not dream of listening to this version of the band but I thought it was a updated sound that worked for them.  I guess Dream Theater felt the same way because they decided to play this tune back in 2004 in front of a very lucky audience.  My only complaint is that they only play about 3 minutes (basically the beginning) of this 10 minute track.  They do a very faithful rendition but I wish the whole tune was here.  Oh well, I would have been really happy had I been at the show.

Since I’ve Been Loving You

I was at the concert in Chicago where they recorded this Led Zeppelin classic.  Although it has been covered before, this has to be my favorite version of the song (aside from the original).  John Petrucci does a phenomenal job with this cut.  This is by far the best track on this disc.  They were on fire that night and I was glad to catch it live.

Diary Of A Madman

This is one of the most under-played Ozzy tunes.  I have heard “Crazy Train” a million times but this one seems to only get an airing when I throw on the disc.  Going to see a Dream Theater show is always special because you don’t know what you will get.  The guys played this one live in 2003 in Los Angeles.  It is played very close to the original and I can pretty much guarantee that Ozzy and company would have had a tough time pulling this one off better than Dream Theater.

Cemetary Gates

If the DT guys were going to cover any Pantera tune, then it would have to be “Cemetary Gates.”  It’s the only one that I think LaBrie could handle singing.  This is a special version that was recorded on Gigantour with Russell Allen (Symphony X), Burton C Bell (Fear Factory), and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) helping out.  This is a great version and a fitting tribute to Dimebag.

Won’t Get Fooled Again
They recorded this on the final stop of the Dream Theater/Queensryche tour back in 2003.  Queensryche join the DT guys and go for a fairly pedestrian version of this Who classic.  Although it is well played, there seems to be no spark in the performance. 
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