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Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons CD (album) cover

A CHANGE OF SEASONS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.68 | 677 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Preaching to the unconverted

"A change of seasons" is a hybrid album consisting of an epic 23 minute studio recording ( the title track) and a selection of live cover versions. Although deemed to be an "EP" (and something of a stopgap) with a running time of almost an hour this is effectively a full blown album. Before this was recorded, keyboard player Kevin Moore left the band, to be replaced by Derek Shernian. It is fair to say though that this did not have any material impact on the band's direction.

The title track was originally written in 1989, the version which appears here being recorded after some significant changes including the addition of some keyboard parts by Sherinian in 1995. The piece revolves around the seasons of life, with a positive sub-theme led by Mike Portnoy, inspired by the death of his mother. The suite is arguably one of the most genuinely progressive pieces Dream Theater have ever recorded with symphonic sections, emotional vocals, neo-prog guitar breaks, even hints of fusion. As someone who is selective when it comes to prog metal, I would recommend this epic to those who have doubts about Dream Theater's credentials. A remarkable work.

The remainder or the album consists of cover versions taken from a London gig by the band in Ronnie Scott's jazz club (The "Ronnie Scott's uncovered gig"). That gig included a number of special guests performing with the band, such as Steve Howe, Bruce Dickinson, and members of Marillion. The songs will be familiar to those whose tastes in music extend beyond prog, as they reflect some of the cream of the rock world.

The sublime "Funeral for a friend/love lies bleeding" is by far Elton John's most progressive composition. The version here is faithful if unadventurous, that being a description which could be applied to pretty much all of the live numbers on this album. Deep Purple's "Perfect strangers" has always been one of my favourite tracks by that band, with its Zeppelinesque riff and immense power. DT's version certainly captures that power, while simultaneously sending you back to the original for the definitive version. Led Zeppelin themselves are next to be the subject of a tribute, this time in the form of a three part medley. Here, the tracks selected are less obvious, with "Whole lotta love" or "Stairway to heaven" being overlooked in favour of more obscure (in Zep terms) tracks from "Presence" "Physical graffiti" and "Houses of the holy". The closing "Big medley" calls in extracts from songs by various bands including Pink Floyd, Kansas, Queen, Journey, Dixie Dregs(!) and Genesis. Overall, this is the most pop selection, but still bears the Dream Theater trademarks.

A number of other cover versions were performed at the gig which were not included on "A change of seasons". These include a Yes medley with versions of "Starship Trooper" and "Siberian Khatru" among others, "Easter" (Marillion), and "Winter" (Tori Amos). Many of these have subsequently been made available on fan club releases.

Right from its initial release, "A change of seasons" has been afforded EP status, and priced accordingly. It represents excellent value not just in terms of the quantity, but emphatically because of the quality of the music it contains. One for the unconverted (including myself!).

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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