Dream Theater - Cleaning Out The Closet (Christmas CD 1999)

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Dream Theater fanclub
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:01:00

As far as I can remember, only The Beatles treated their fans the way Dream Theater treats some of theirs today. However, during the reign of The Beatles you could only become a member of their fan club if you were a British citizen, thus making it impossible for anyone living outside Britain to become a member. In the end, an exception was made for America, but it became impossible to get ahold of the X-mas flexidiscs that were handed out to their many fans. The flexidiscs of yore have now been changed to CDs, which enables the manufacturer to include much more material than the three to four minutes that would normally be found on a flexi.

Dream Theater is probably one of the few bands in the world that really takes care of its fans. As a member of the band's fan club, you are not only entitled to a wonderful quarterly publication filled with interesting bits and pieces and unpublished photographs, but also around Christmas-time you are also entitled to an exclusive CD. If my memory is correct, this is the fourth exclusive disc, and this time, boy do you get value for money! In order to be ready for the new millennium and to continue the road they haven taken with their latest Metropolis Pt. 2 Scenes From A Memory album, the band has cleaned their attic which was filled with outtakes and rarities. They have crammed no less than nine of these priceless little gems onto one disc, and together with elves all around the world, mailed it to their fans.

Three of the songs had already been released as bonus tracks on a rather limited run of a CD-single. "To Live Forever '94" was already on the "Lie" CD single; the wonderful "Eve" was part of the "The Silent Man" CD-single, whilst "The Way It Used To Be" was available on the "Hollow Years" single. A fourth song, "Speak To Me" was a bonus on the Japanese version of the Falling Into Infinity album. The remaining five tracks are all previously unreleased and see the light of day for the very first time here. As they span a period of no less than nine years, of course we hear a clear evolution of the band, with two different keyboard players at the helm.

With lyrics by Kevin Moore, "Don't Look Past Me" dates from 1990, with vocal overdubs having been added by James LaBrie in October 1999. The song is more AOR related than their later work and contains some nice vocal harmonies. There are two versions of "To Live Forever," and whilst the '94 version was to be found on the "Lie" single as mentioned, the '91 version remained unreleased, until this day. It is one chorus shorter than the '94 equivalent and maybe a bit "muddier" in the mix. "Raise The Knife" boasts the work of Derek Sherinian and sets off like a real stadium rocker, very powerful and with "hidden" Hammond strength from Derek. With its 11:35 running time it's a pretty long track and one really wonders why such a song was never used in the first place. Towards the end things become rather experimental, which in Petrucci's case means a showcase for his technical skills. "Where Are You Now" has a bit of a "lighter" note because all the emphasis is mainly based on James' singing and less on the instrumental side of things. However I should mention the superb guitar playing by Petrucci as the main highlight, as the song itself goes on too long. The uptempo "Cover My Eyes" gets very close to the current wave of guitar based indie bands and if only Dream Theater wouldn't look like a bunch of longhaired bonzos then MTV could be laughing in their direction with this one. My favourite on this disc is "Speak To Me," yet as already mentioned this song could already be found on the rather more expensive Japanese version of Falling Into Infinity. I love the build up of the song and the inclusion of interesting sounds making it almost a U2 like song. Especially, the "sparse" way of drumming is a nice change from the animal-like attacks we have to submit ourselves to time after time.

Most of the material on this disc was either produced by the entire band or by Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci alone. Although most of the sounds are top quality one clearly understands what an important part producer Kevin Shirley has played in the career of the band. Maybe Dream Theater fans will not like what I have to say here but from what I gather, Kevin is the sixth Dream Theater member all along.

I also have to tell you that the CD is actually also a CD-ROM that includes an exclusive look behind the scenes of the making of the new album. Mike Portnoy takes us on a short trip around the studio, which is owned by Jay Beckenstein of Spyro Gyra fame and one of my all-time heroes! Although initially intended for the Italian market only it's nice to have this material on the disc as well!

For those of you who are not yet a member of the Dream Theater Fan Club you can find all the necessary details below. Don't forget to include a self addressed stamped envelope or an international reply coupon.

Don't Look Past Me (6:23) / To Live Forever '91 (4:36) / To Live Forever '94 (4:55) / Eve (5:10) / Raise The Knife (11:35) / Where Are You Now (7:26) / The Way It Used To Be (7:45) / Cover My Eyes (3:21) / Speak To Me (6:10)

James LaBrie - vocals
Kevin Moore - keyboards (tracks 1-4)
Derek Sherinian - keyboards (tracks 5-9)
John Petrucci - guitars, vocals
Mike Portnoy - drums, percussion, vocals
John Myung - bass

When Dreams and Day Unite (1989)
Images and Words (1992)
Live At The Marquee (1993)
Dream Out Loud (1994)
Awake (1994)
A Change in Season (1995)
Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Once In A Livetime (1998)
Scenes From A Memory (1999)
Cleaning Out The Closet (Xmas CD 1999) (1999)
Scenes From A World Tour - Christmas CD 2000 (2001)
Live Scenes From New York (2001)
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Train Of Thought (2003)
Live At Budokan (2004)
Octavarium (2005)
Score (3CD) (2006)
Systematic Chaos (2007)
Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
Dream Theater (2013)
Live At Luna Park (2013)
Breaking The Fourth Wall - Live From The Boston Opera House (2014)
The Astonishing (2016)
Distance Over Time (2019)

Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York (DVD) (2001)
Live At Budokan (DVD) (2004)
Score (DVD) (2006)
Chaos In Motion (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: February 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.dreamtheater.net
Hits: 1502
Language: english


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