Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever (Special Edition)

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMLTDCD
Format: CD
Total Time: 130:20:00

Having reviewed the main part of Bridge Across Forever earlier this year, I will focus only on the bonus disc that makes up this great package. Rumours had it for a long time that the holy foursome did a rousing version of Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." In order to do Syd Barrett even more proud, there's a lengthy jam at the end of the song that incorporates Enigma-like Gregorian choir and bluesy slide guitar courtesy of Roine, whilst wonderful mellotron sneaks in just in time before the 'regular' rhythm takes over again and everything falls in place towards the "logical" finale. Whilst Stolt as a guitarist has been known to sound almost exactly like Steve Howe, he gets very close to the feel of David Gilmour here, adding exactly the right dose of flanger. After Roine sings "remember when you were young," I thought Portnoy would be the one adding the obvious laughs, however they probably stuck tape to his mouth so he'd shut up!

"Studio Chat" is the kind of "let the tape run as long as we don't say stop" material, which in fact, could be included on any album. It's so silly that even Pete Trewavas asks if the band is going to sing about vegetables now. When the guys start singing about tomatoes, Pete even asks if they'll do one about leeks before pointing out that time costs money, especially in a studio! When the band finally kicks off, I once again have to say that Roine's guitar style leans heavily towards that of Jan Akkerman, something I already mention in my review of The Flower King's The Rainmaker. With a nice black/white photograph of the Beatles in Neal's home studio, of course the big masters shouldn't be omitted from this release. With Neal telling the guys about his encounter with a percussive feast, that being a Caribbean version of the Liverpool four's "And I Love Her," only seconds are needed before Portnoy produces that feel out of his box of tricks. This is four grownups at play! The sheer magic starts when Mike switches towards a reggae groove, and Roine adds some jazzy laidback fills. But then Portnoy loses control steering the song into a speed metal direction with lyrics to match, so instead of "and I love her" it becomes "and I fucked her." Then Morse points out that they're currently recording in the countryside, so how about a country version of the song. When that doesn't really happen, Morse ends up saying "OK you can stop the DAT now, we have our bonus track," which sounds a little cheap that the band should approach the phenomenon "bonus track" in such a way.

To loosen the muscles, the four then glide into a steaming version of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water," which comes here in the embarrassing version of TransPacific which is the four guys changing instruments. Musical swingers? So much for after dinner mints! Portnoy on bass, Trewavas on organ, Morse on drums and the Scandinavian seriousness of Stolt, who remains loyal (and sane) to his guitar. Pity about the dropout though. Way back in 1997, Ryo Okumoto asked Neal to write a tune for a possible solo album. Heavily leaning towards authentic ELP, our Spock's madman probably didn't like it enough, hence the fact that Transatlantic took it one step further. Here you can hear Neal's original demo, which is keys, keys and tons of extra keys. Also note the slightly different lyrics to what can now be found as "Duel With The Devil" (probably because "Dance With The Devil" reminds us of the late Cozy Powell). This demo also illustrates the great bass playing of Neal, something Trewavas told me during the last Marillion tour. He said he once received a demo from Neal where he excused himself for the bad bass playing, whereas the playing was damned good, said Pete. Finally a selection of Roine Stolt demos have been segued together, illustrating that Roine is not keeping the best bits for his Flower Kings after all. Kicking off with "Walk Away" this is pure Flower Kings all the way, based on acoustic guitar with floating mellotron and vintage synths. Symphonic rock at its very best. Again pity about the skip over, but then again, these are recordings made to be used as demos only, so these things happen. Sometimes though, one would hope that more bands would produce this kind of material instead of their finished product! The mellotron towards the end sounds as if it's repeating the main melody out of "Norwegian Wood," blending ever so nicely with the acoustic guitars, adding a folky touch to the song. After a short silence you can hear Neal Morse putting a message on Mike Portnoy's answering machine. Imagine being Mike and checking your incoming messages, only to witness the kind of stuff Morse has just submitted. Heart attacks sometimes occur with fewer inducement!

The interactive part contains a couple of minutes of video footage, part of which was recorded at Neal's house and part when the band arrives at Dark Horse studio, also in Nashville, Tennessee. The eight photos in the interactive section are identical to the ones published in the booklet, the biography has been found elsewhere before, whilst this section concludes with links to the band's official websites. All in all, not such a huge bonus where multimedia is concerned, yet probably due to the length of the bonus audio material, space was rather limited for the video segment, hence these few minutes. Yet what counts on this bonus disc is the royal amount of no fewer than 53 minutes of extra music, half of which is pretty decent and half of which is simply a laugh. However, in prog circles a laugh is something to treasure ? for always!

Disc One: Duel With The Devil (26:43) / Suite Charlotte Pike (14:30) / Bridge Across Forever (5:32) / Stranger In Your Soul (26:06)

Disc Two: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (15:05) / Studio Chat (4:51) / And I Love Her (7:56) / Smoke On The Water (4:24) / Dance With The Devil (9:07) / Roines Demo Bits (9:00) / Interactive Section (3:00)

Roine Stolt - vocals, guitars
Mike Portnoy - drums, vocals
Pete Trewavas - bass, vocals
Neal Morse - vocals, keyboards


Chris Carmichael - violin, viola & cello
Keith Mears - saxophone
The "Elite" Choir - background vocals

SMPTe (2000)
Live In America (2001)
Bridge Across Forever (2001)
Bridge Across Forever - Special Edition (2001)
Live In Europe (2003)
The Whirlwind (2009)
More Is Never Enough (CD/DVD) (2011)
Kaleidoscope (2014)
KaLIVEoscope (CD/DVD) (2014)

Live In America (DVD) (2001)
Live In Europe (DVD) (2003)
Building The Bridge Across Forever/Live In America (DVD) (2006)
Whirld Tour 2010 - Live From Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (DVD) (2010)
More Is Never Enough (DVD/CD) (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: October 26th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 936
Language: english


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