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2.0 out of 5 stars WF Decal, June 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Unexpectedly in 2 pieces (the WF letters and Deacon head were separate). Colors were faded. I put this on the back window of my car... and it looks like it's been there for years - faded by the sun. Had I seen this in the store and picked it up and been able to check it out, I would not have bought it.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Khan left Kamelot, I thought the band was done... apparently I was wrong, November 23, 2012
This review is from: Silverthorn (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Casey Grillo (drums & percussion), Oliver Palotai (keyboards), Sean Tibbetts (bass), Tom Karevik (vocals).

THE DISC: (2012) Available in single and double-disc packages. Single disc - 12 tracks clocking in at 56+ minutes, 16-page booklet with song lyrics, band member photos and thank you's. Limited Edition 2 CD set - 26 total tracks (disc 2 is the instrumental version of the album plus 2 bonus tracks), hardcover case with alternate cover artwork, a 44-page booklet and poster. Guest singers include Elize Ryd, Alissa White, and producer Sashca Paeth. Recorded at Gate Studios (Wolfesburg, W. Germany), Morrisound (Tampa), and Palosphere Studios (Stuttgart). This is studio album #10. Label - SPV/Steamhammer.

COMMENTS: I have been a fan of Roy Khan's since his early days in Conception. I've been a fan of Kamelot's since the albums "Eternity" & "Dominion" (without Khan). Khan brought incredible life to Kamelot. I was truly saddened when I heard Khan was leaving the band (personal problems and depression). Khan is so unique, I thought Kamelot was finished. Then, I heard bootlegs of Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire) filling in on tour... and hated what I was hearing. So with Lione, I had written this band off. When "Silverthorn" hit stores in October, I was hesitant to say the least. I decided I had to hear samples before I bought the disc. The samples were good enough that I made the purchase the next day. Much to my surprise (and pleasure), Lione is not at the vocal helm, but former Seventh Wonder singer Tommy Karevik is. Sweden's Karevik can sing, even if he is kind of doing a modest Khan impersonation. As much as I think Khan is/was irreplaceable, Karevik does a respectable job. The melodies are catchy - the familiar master guitar work from Youngblood is present, as is the quick-footed Grillo with his double-bass drumming. Favorite tracks - "Sacrimony", "Veritas", and "Prodigal Son (Parts I & II)". The ballad "Song For Jolee" is good as well, with Karevik showing some sensitive versatility. I wanted to not like this album without Khan. However, change is sometimes unavoidable. "Silverthorn" rocks and I predict most Kamelot fans will not be disappointed (4+ stars).

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13 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars LULU makes ST.ANGER sound pretty good, November 14, 2011
This review is from: Lulu (Audio CD)
Coming from a semi-fan of Lou Reed in the 1970's, and a diehard Metallica fan since the beginning: Woof! This was a bad idea. Uncatchy melodies, irritating vocals (pitch and words), forgettable album cover. I just don't know what Metallica is thinking these days. Not sure if I can even forgive the 69 year old Lou Reed for this mindless perverse banter. I was excited to hear this after Lars Ulrich went on about this album on "That Metal Show". I listened to this once and will never listen to it again. In the song "Little Dog", the lyrics "Our Money Can Do Anything" hits the nail right on the head. Absolute crap... you've been warned.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Synthetic Resurrection or "Paradise Lost 2" ?, July 11, 2011
This review is from: Iconoclast (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Russell Allen (vocals), Michael Romeo (guitars), Michael Lepond (bass), Michael Pinnella (keyboards), Jason Rullo (drums & percussion).

THE DISC: (2011) 9 tracks clocking in at approximately 63 minutes. There is a 2-cd deluxe tri-fold special edition (digipak) version containing 3 bonus tracks (20 extra minutes) and different album artwork. Included with the disc is a 12-page foldout containing song titles/credits, thank you's, one band photo and conceptual album artwork. This is the band's 8th studio album. "Iconoclast" reached #76 on the Billboard 200 album charts upon its release. All music written by Romeo, all lyrics by Romeo and Allen. Recorded at Romeo's home studio, The Dungeon. Label - Nuclear Blast.

COMMENTS: I was not familiar with the term "Iconoclast", so now I know it's definition - `A breaker or destroyer of cherished beliefs and/or images'. Then I read an interview with Allen and he was telling of the "machines taking over, and technology being man's demise" theme. After seeing the album artwork, images of Terminator and Matrix movies come quickly to mind. The music and production are standard fare for Symphony X (excellent). The lyrics though, on some songs, are simply lacking - "Bastards Of The Machine" and "When All Is Lost" come to mind... somewhat cheesy. Russell Allen's gruff and growling vocals are back from "Paradise Lost". Part of me likes this, but part of me knows that Allen is a top notch progressive/metal vocalist who can really sing (see "When All Is Lost"). I find myself missing some of those beautiful chords he can hit. I don't think there is a weak track on the disc(s). With that being said, no one song blew me away either. There's no "Sea Of Lies", "The Edge Of Forever", "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy", "Communion & The Oracle", "The Accolade", "Pharoah" or "Smoke & Mirrors". Absent are the Latin preludes or segues that so famously connect the storied songs. I went so far as to go back and listen to most of the band's discs before writing here... and while I love this "Iconoclast", it probably ranks in the middle of their catalog. "V: The New Mythology Suite" and "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" are classics - and the band may never reach these dizzying heights again. "Twilight In Olympus" and "The Odyssey" are great discs, as is "Paradise Lost". So "Iconoclast" will fit nicely between one of the latter albums mentioned here.

As for the songs - the highlights include the near 11 minute epic opener (the title track); the storied "Prometheus (I Am Alive)", "When All Is Lost" (despite the lyrics) - the music is reminiscent of "V"; the dueling guitars and keyboards in "The End Of Innocence" (the first single to be released), and my early favorite "Dehumanized" with its great chorus, crunchy rhythm guitars and ripping Romeo solo. My least favorite track is probably "Bastards Of The Machine" - with its cheesy lyrics and borrowed melody from Iron Maiden's "Aces High" and "Back In The Village" (not entirely a bad thing). The album as a whole is not as progressive as I hoped, and it lacks the punch that would make it a masterpiece. "Iconoclast" has been classified by many here as "Paradise Lost - Part II" and I kind of agree. The real questions are now - how long will Allen try to sing like he's a bad ass, and will the band's next album be "Part III" or will they take a different direction however slight it might be?

Question - if this is a concept disc... isn't track order and flow of the album important? The single disc has a different song order than the 2-cd package. I don't understand this at all.

Overall, fans of the band and genre need this album. Russell Allen is a great singer and Michael Romeo continues his God-like assault on the guitar. If you're wondering if you should spring for the 2-cd package... no brainer - DO IT. All 3 bonus tracks are very good with my favorite being "The Lords Of Chaos" with its James Hetfield-esque intro. "Iconoclast" is a solid album from an incredible band. (4+ stars).

Anno Domini High Definition
Anno Domini High Definition
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite disc from 2009, November 16, 2010
THE BAND: Mariusz Duda (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar), Piotr Grudzinski (guitars), Michal Lapaj (keyboards), Piotr Kozieradski (drums & percussion). Home: Warsaw, Poland.

THE DISC: (2009) Five songs clocking in at 44:44 minutes. Included with the disc is a 6-page foldout containing song lyrics, a band photo and thank you's. This is the band's 4th studio album. There is a hard case `Special Edition' release - containing a live 7 song DVD recorded from 2008 at the Paradiso Theater in Amsterdam (41 minutes long, all songs are from the previous 3 albums... sadly, no songs on the DVD from Anno Domini). Label - Mystic Productions (Poland) / InsideOut Music.

COMMENTS: I've wanted to write this review for many months, but I felt I just didn't know where to begin. I'd never experienced writer's block with music. This album was such an amazing listen for me, that I had to get my point across succinctly, but... how to portray that feeling into a few short paragraphs? Where to start... I was lost. Being a fan of Porcupine Tree, Amazon suggested I check this band out. Years ago, I started with "Rapid Eye Movement" (2007). I liked the album enough that I went and purchased the two earlier discs - "Out Of Myself" (2003) and "Second Life Syndrome" (2005). All of these were good, with "REM" starting to put the brilliant pieces together with style.

This "Anno Domini" hit me differently. Was it the new studio, a slight break in direction, or a new producer? I say a combination of all three. After a few listens, I thought it was very good. After perhaps a hundred spins at home, in the car and at work, I thought it was brilliant - this is hands down my favorite disc from 2009. Though perhaps short in length (5 tracks clocking in at 44:44), I truly believe the band hits on all 5 cylinders on each and every track.

"Hyperactive" (the opening track) starts off with a beautiful piano intro. The piano fades and the guitars and drums roll slowly inward while the keyboards hold the song together. Enter Mariusz Duda's vocal words and the song truly takes off. I thing Grudzinski's guitar is the star here. Crunchy, flowing and simply absent in all the right places. Track 2 - "Driven To Destruction" starts off with a bass riff with the band following shortly thereafter. The heavy beginning is short lived as a truckload of atmosphere is soon delivered. Like most of the songs here, you're pulled in several different directions within the track. The backbone of the song is Lapaj's keyboards/piano/synth along with Grudzinski's sweeping Gilmouresque guitar solos. Perhaps the most ambitious song is track 3, "Egoist Hedonist". It's divided into 3 parts (Different?/Hedonist Party/Straw Man Dance). The song goes from slow to fast and back again... with brilliant guitar vs keyboard jams in between. If I had to pick a winner, Lapaj's keyboards dominate (reminiscent of Jon Lord in his prime). By now, you're half way through the album and "Left Out" begins. If there ever was a song that sounded like it was penned by Waters & Gilmour, track 4 is it. A slow intro with a haunting guitar, ripping into the rest of the song. You close your eyes as the guitar solo takes hold of you. Lapaj's keyboards and various synth noises are a constant "on" in the background. Duda's vocals range from energized to angry, to uplifting and emotional, to complete despair and sorrow. Up and down, this song takes you on a journey... simply a beautiful track... my favorite of the bunch. The last track is also the longest one ("Hybrid Times" clocks in at just under 12 minutes). Piotr Grudzinski's guitar work simply shines. Might I also note that Kozieradski drumming and Duda's bass guitar are stellar throughout the album

There was a lot of good music in the rock and progressive field released in 2009 (Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Porcupine Tree - The Incident, Muse - The Resistance, Katatonia - Night Is The New Day, Transatlantic - The Whirlwind, Megadeth - Endgame) and I put Riverside at the top of the pile. Grudzinski's guitar is in rare form as is Lapaj's keyboards. The only way "Anno Domini High Definition" could have been better is if it were longer (5+ stars).

The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Bahamas for album #15, November 6, 2010
This review is from: The Final Frontier (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Steve Harris (bass/keyboards), Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Nicko McBrain (drums), Janick Gers (guitar).

THE DISC: (2010) 10 tracks clocking in at approximately 76 minutes. The disc contains a 14-page booklet with alien and space artwork, 1 band photo, lyrics and thank you's. Recorded at Compass Point Studios (Nassau, Bahamas) and The Cave Studios (Malibu, CA). Steve Harris and Adrian Smith share a majority of the song writing credits. There is a double vinyl LP version as well as a "Mission Edition" disc - with bonus video, PC wallpaper/game, photos and tin case. This is the band's 15th studio album. Album artwork by Melvyn Grant (previous album covers include "Fear Of The Dark", "Virtual XI" and the live "Death On The Road").

COMMENTS: I was pleased on first listen to Maiden's "The Final Frontier". It didn't hit me like "Brave New World" (2000), but I liked it better than their last 2 albums. For me, Iron Maiden has 3 distinct eras - the classic 80's, the lost 90's, and the resurgent 2000's. All ready, "Frontier" is my 2nd favorite album of the 2000's behind "Brave New World". The music is complex, multi-layered, and somewhat progressive. I think 10 years from now, this album will be looked on as one of the band's later era quintessential releases.

THE GOOD: Glad to see the band went back to one of their old haunts in the Bahamas to record some of this. Compass Point Studios has produced some masterful material - AC/DC's "Back In Black", Maiden's "Piece Of Mind", "Powerslave", and "Somewhere In Time", and other albums by U2, The Talking Heads, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones. The song writing is consistently strong. In fact, within some of these tracks, I'm thrown back to "Somewhere In Time". "Ed Dorado" is the albums 1st bonified hit - and rightly so... great song and groove. The title track is my early 2nd favorite despite its long and dreary intro. "Frontier" reached #4 on the Billboard Top 200 (August 2010) - the highest charting position for any Maiden album in the US. Rolling Stone Magazine gave it a good review as well. The quick paced "The Alchemist" reminds me of "Aces High", and I dig the complexity of "Starblind" (unlike any other song on the album). The combo of Smith and Murray on guitar is still strong decades later. Gers should have been given the boot years ago... minimal writing credits and is a 3rd axe really necessary (not to mention the band could be splitting their earnings 5 ways instead of 6).

THE NOT SO GOOD: "Frontier" is a solid album. However, it's not without flaws. The song "Coming Home" is my least favorite of the bunch. I labor to get through this ballad of a track every time I spin the disc... the song drags and I find if pure drudgery to get through. The intro to the album opener (the tital track) is 4.5 minutes long... the intro is basically McBrain doing repetitions on the skins and Dickinson wailing. I find this maddening. In fact, I've gone through each song and listened to the often useless intros and outros and find about 18 minutes of wasted space. All I can say is... just get to the song!

OVERALL: Strong song writing. Cool album artwork. "The Final Frontier" is a complete album and worth the purchase. Even in their 50's, Bruce still has the range and the band still sounds fresh.. and most importantly their music still kicks you in the teeth. Fans need this album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 10, 2010 8:41 PM PST

Poetry for the Poisoned
Poetry for the Poisoned
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Left off where "Ghost Opera" ended..., September 18, 2010
This review is from: Poetry for the Poisoned (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Roy Khan (vocals), Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Casey Grillo (drums & percussion), Oliver Palotai (keyboards), Sean Tibbetts (bass) - replacing Glenn Barry - Tibbetts was the original bassist for Kamelot... so he's new, but he's old.

THE DISC(S): (2010) 14 tracks clocking in at approximately 57 minutes. Included with the disc is a 20-page booklet containing song lyrics/credits, band photos, and thank you's. This is the band's 9th studio album. Recorded at Gate Studios (Wolfsburg, Germany). There is a special edition release - containing the music disc and DVD (the DVD contains 5 categories - "The Great Pandemonium" music video (4:20); short interviews from each of the 5 band members; 5-minute black & white highlight footage from Norway's Rockfest from 2010; "Pick & Play" - "The Great Pandemonium" played without certain instruments... so if you're a musician you can play along; PC wallpaper, "House On A Hill" uncut version, and album artwork. Guest artists include Simone Simons (vocals), Jon Olivia (vocals), Gus G (guitar), Bjorn Strid (vocals), Chanty Wunder (vocals), Sascha Paeth (guitar). Label - KMG Recordings (US).

COMMENTS: I think "Poetry For The Poisened" uses the same formula that "Ghost Opera" (2007) did. Sweeping arrangements, fast and slow tracks, and more emphasis on dramatics, texture, sound effects and album experience, rather than in your face metal and blistering Youngblood solos. So I think it kind of depends on what the listener is looking for - those wishing Kamelot would return to their roots of the 1990's will probably be disappointed with this release. And, those who like the later era material from Epica (2003) and on, will probably spin "Poisoned" in their CD player for weeks to come. I believe in part that this new release is less aggressive than their past few albums. My picks for best songs - "The Great Pandemonium" is a solid opener (great melody, crunchy guitars and Grillo's drumming are the highlights; "The Zodiac" is my early favorite here - a heavy slower/darker song featuring a neat story with Khan and a creepy Jon Olivia (Savatage) sharing vocals (does anyone else think Olivia sounds like Alice Cooper here?); the ballad "House On A Hill" - a pretty song rivaling the last 2 Simons (Epica) shared with Khan on previous albums - this is Simons 3rd straight appearance on a Kamelot album and she and Khan have a good chemistry together vocally; and lastly the tital track - broken up into 4 parts... each distinct in its own right, but I think this would have been more powerful all linked together as one. At this point, I can truly say I don't have a least favorite track - I like them all. I wasn't blown away by "Poetry For The Poisoned" on first listen like "The Black Halo", but it's still a solid album from Kamelot... I just wish Khan and Youngblood took a few more chances (4 stars).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2010 7:43 AM PDT

Sonic Boom
Sonic Boom
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The KISS machine rolls on, December 19, 2009
This review is from: Sonic Boom (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Paul Stanley (vocals, guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals, bass), Tommy Thayer (guitar), Eric Singer (drums and percussion).

THE DISCS: (2009) Three discs (2 music, 1 DVD): disc-1 is new material (11 tracks clocking in at approximately 43 minutes), disc-2 is updated newly recorded takes on old material (15 tracks, approximately 54 minutes) and disc-3 is the DVD (6 songs, 34 minutes). Included with the music is a 20-page booklet containing song lyrics/credits, one band photo, credits and thank yous. New material recorded at Conway Studios (Hollywood, CA), and The Nook (Studio City, CA). Cover art by Michael Doret (who also did "Rock And Roll Over" from 1976). This is the band's 19th studio album. Label - Kiss Records... in 2009, new copies sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.

COMMENTS: I got excited when I heard the first hit, "Modern Day Delilah" on the radio... the band's best charting song of the decade. OK, not really a fair statement since it's been 11 years since their last album ("Psycho Circus"). Either way, it sounded good and being a long time Kiss fan I was happily on board again. On first listen, the disc of new tunes sounded good. Not great, but good. Paul has lead vocal duties on 6 songs; Gene on five. Paul Stanley once again shows he's the best writer of the band. And annoyingly, Gene is still singing about scoring with the ladies (the autobiographical "I`m An Animal" seems to fit)... and you shouldn't be surprised after 30+ years of listening to the self professed doctor of love. "Modern Day Delilah" is easily the album's best song. "Never Enough" is a rocking anthem of a tune - even if parts are borrowed from Poison's "Nothing But A Good Time"... seriously. My favorite tracks with Simmons' singing is "Russian Roulette" along with "Stand" which he shares with Stanley. Like albums from the 70's and 80's, Stanley and Simmons throw their lead guitarist and drummer a bone - and they let them sing a song each on the album. "All For The Glory" features Eric Singer on lead vocals - decent job - and there are weird similarities to a throaty Peter Criss here. Tommy Thayer sings on "When Lightning Strikes" - an average track that would make even Christopher Walken smile (more cowbell please).

Overall I think "Sonic Boom" is a decent album... it's not a classic, but it's certainly not a throw away. If you had to compare this to another Kiss album, I'd say it resembles "Psycho Circus" (1998) the most. Several reviews are comparing this release to their 70's material - no chance I'll admit to that. And, this album doesn't have that hard or grungy edge that "Revenge" (1992) or "Carnival Of Souls - The Final Sessions" (1997) had. "Sonic Boom" is easily more pop and bubble gum than hard rock or even metal.

The 2nd disc is a fresh take on Kiss "Klassics" (as it's written on the cd). 11 of the 15 tracks are from the 70's albums, and the balance from the 80's. The highlight here for me is listening to Singer on drums - a much more accomplished drummer than Criss - Singer adds his own flair and it gives the songs a nicely updated touch. Highlights here are "Hotter Than Hell", "Detroit Rock City" and "Black Diamond" (with Singer on vocals). The DVD is short - 6 songs ("Deuce", "Hotter Than Hell", C'Mon & Love Me", "Watchin` You", "100,000 Years" and "Rock & Roll All Nite") taken from a show in Buenos Aires, Argentina... sadly, with no bonus features. Two complaints here - the DVD footage is grainy and the viewer may get the feeling that this is more of a bootleg production; Paul looks different - he must have run out of Aquanet - his hair is freakishly flat. And lastly - Stanley and Simmons bowing down to the almighty Wal-Mart... I didn't see this coming, but I'm certainly not surprised here. Overall "Sonic Boom" has a bonified hit; a handful of other good tunes; a sub par DVD; and an unimaginative album cover. Worth it in the end? For die-hard KISS fans... Absolutely. Anyone else... maybe. (3+ stars)

Black Clouds & Silver Linings (3 CD Special Edition)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (3 CD Special Edition)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album from Dream Theater despite subpar packaging, July 15, 2009
THE BAND: James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), Mike Portnoy (drums & percussion).

THE DISC(S): (2009) This release is available in 4 different versions - the single studio CD (6 tracks clocking in at approximately 75 minutes); the 3-disc set (the studio album, a 2nd disc containing 6 cover tunes totaling 46 minutes, and an instrumental version/mix of the same studio album); the double vinyl LP; and the 3-disc double secret probation edition (containing 3 discs, DVD, mouse pad, a lithograph by album cover artist Hugh Syme, the double vinyl LP, etc). Included with the disc(s) is an 18 page booklet containing song titles/times/credits, song lyrics, one band photo, assorted artwork pertaining to the album, and thank you's. This is the band's 10th studio album. Cover tunes from the 3rd disc include - Stargazer (Rainbow), Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley (Queen), Odyssey (Dixie Dregs), Take Your Fingers From My Hair (Zebra), Larks' Tongues In Aspic - Part II (King Crimson), and To Tame A Land (Iron Maiden). Recorded at Avatar Studios (NYC). Label - Roadrunner Records.

COMMENTS: I feel this is a definite step up from "Systematic Chaos" (2007). "Chaos" gave me the impression that the band was just chugging through the motions... like maybe they had a contractual obligation to put out an album (Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" comes to mind). Ironically, "Chaos" was the band's first album with their new Roadrunner label. Perhaps something was lost in the transition. I liked "Chaos"... I just didn't love it. Compared to some of the other progressive wannabe's, "Chaos" is still a good album with some crafty musicianship, but when compared to the entire DT catalog, it's easily on the downside of my list. With "Black Clouds & Silver Linings", the band is reformed and rejuvenated and in full aural assault. Most importantly, the melodies are engaging, intense, progressive and heavy emphasis is once again placed on Petrucci's guitar. The band members continue to show their brilliance - and don't just take my word... check out magazines like "Modern Drummer", "Keyboard Magazine", and "Guitar World" - they all rave about DT members with the highest of accolades.

THE GOOD: Track one - "A Nightmare To Remember" (the tale of a Petrucci car accident) is a great album opener... upon buying the disc, I slid the CD into my car stereo and listened to this song 3x before moving ahead. From the first clap of thunder, followed by the eerie keyboards and a gothic 'Omen' intro, you know you're in for a ride to the outer limits. Sound effects (car crash, sirens, etc) are scattered through out and fitting lyrics ("Hopelessly drifting, bathing in beautiful agony... lost in wonderful misery"). Halfway through the track, Petrucci and Rudess engage in a wonderfully intense guitar vs keyboard joust. This is easily my favorite track on the disc. The first two singles are "A Rite Of Passage" (a heavy chugging tune with another guitars/keyboard contest) and the metal ballad "Wither" - a safe slow song that borders on sap or the mundane (reminiscent of those 80's hair bands that felt the need to include a power ballad on their album in order to get something played on the radio). "The Best Of Times" is a reflection on Portnoy's father dying from cancer during the making of the album. Bleeding hearts and uplifting spirits - like Kansas' "Magnum Opus" - fading off into the sunset with guitars blazing. "The Shattered Fortress" and "The Count Of Tuscany" - both long tracks that bring the progressive edge back after "Wither". "Tucsany" is the longest song on the disc (19+ minutes) and is perhaps the toughest listen - it's a good song with a great tale. I don't care for the darkly spoken words midway through the song, as well as the 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' turn it takes either. As for the cover tunes - The Dixie Dregs "Odyssey" instrumental cover is a fantastic heavy jam - DT truly makes it respectable (thanks to Jerry Goodman and his electrified violin). The Iron Maiden cover is gracefully done as is the surprising Zebra tune (I didn't see this one coming at all), both from 1983. The album cover artwork by Hugh Syme is cool - and the image fits with the band name and title (except perhaps the elephant standing on a stack of books... okay, it's part of the dream).

THE NOT SO GOOD: Not much to say about such a nicely packaged piece of music, but I did take note on a few minor things here. I bought the 3-disc CD package... and the first thing I found fault with is the packaging itself. The cardboard is wafer thin and slick and the CD's (in their separate cardboard cases) slide out easily... often times when you don't want them to. The cover songs - arguably Rainbow's best song ever "Stargazer"... I have to say DT's version is okay, but messing with such a metal classic is destined to fall short in the end (not to mention Portnoy opting for the high-hat instead of the almighty cowbell in that one familiar spot). The Queen medley is simply average at best (with laughable backing vocals). Disc-3 (instrumentals) - I'm sitting on the fence about this - cool on first listen, but is it really necessary? Also noted on this disc - the words are obviously removed, but so are the guitar solos and keyboard jams (Zzzzz). OVERALL: I dig this larger than life 3-disc set. In the years to come I will wear out disc-1 (the studio album). The instrumental and cover discs I will probably only listen to on occasion (but still nice to have in the library). Classic, crunchy, progressive, melodic, and memorable. Despite a few extremely minor flaws and poor packaging, this is an excellent release from Dream Theater (5 stars).

Working on a Dream
Working on a Dream
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The almighty Boss sounds downright ordinary, February 3, 2009
This review is from: Working on a Dream (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitars, harmonica, keyboards, percussion, glockenspiel), Nils Lofgren (guitars), Steve Van Zandt (guitars), Roy Bittan (piano, organ, accordion), Danny Federici (organ), Garry Tallent (bass), Clarence Clemons (saxophones), Patti Scialfa (vocals), Max Weinberg (drums & percussion), and additional musicians - Soozie Tyrell (violin), Patrick Warren (organ, piano, keyboards), Jason Federici (accordion on "The Last Carnival").

THE DISC: (2009) 13 songs clocking in at approximately 52 minutes. Included with the disc is a 22-page booklet containing song titles/lyrics, band member photos, thank you's, and a personal note regarding Danny Federici (R.I.P. - one of the original E-Street band members). This is Springsteen's 16th studio album. There is a deluxe edition - available with a 38-minute behind the scenes making of the album DVD. The Japanese (only) cd edition contains a bonus track, "A Night With The Jersey Devil". Track 13, "The Wrestler" is considered a bonus track - added to the disc after the success of the movie of the same name. Like the album's predecessor ("Magic"), the disc case is made of slick thin eco-friendly cardboard. Recorded at Southern Tracks, Atlanta, GA. Label - Columbia Records.

COMMENTS: I've been listening to Springsteen since the late 1970's and I'll be the first to admit - I like The Boss when he rocks. For me, the past decade was hit and miss for Bruce - "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" (1995) was downright average; "The Rising" (2002) was upbeat and brought Bruce back into the limelight; "Devils & Dust" (2005) and "We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions" (2006) were folksy misses. I do admire Springsteen for taking chances. That doesn't mean though that I have to love and praise everything he does. In 2007, "Magic" gave me a renewed interest in The Boss. "Magic" was for the most part a bitter album filled with poetic angst revolving around economic hardships and pain... at times, totally disillusioned with the state of America. The lyrics bit hard. The melodies were memorable and catchy. Seems so much of Bruce's affective and poignant music and lyrics often comes from his lowest of low points. Even on the cover of "Magic" - The Boss looks hard-edged, gruff and maybe even slightly pissed off.

With "Working On A Dream" the E-Street Band is back and still fully in tact. While much of the overall feel of the album might be a continuation of "Magic", the words and messages the listener gets are mostly polar opposite - pertaining to that of hope and happiness. The stories just aren't as engrossing as the previous album(s). The melodies just aren't as significant - similar tempos come off recycled and end up running into each other. Notes on songs: "Outlaw Pete" - a strong story with emphasis on string arrangements (my easy favorite here); "My Lucky Day" - an upbeat tune and Clemons' sax shines (too bad his sax is non-existent on the rest of the album); the bluesy throwback "Good Eye"; the title track is good, but the 15 seconds of whistling in the middle almost ruin it for me; "This Life" and "Kingdom Of Days" are modified all-is-right-with-the-world hymns better suited for the church; "Tomorrow Never Knows" is a wonderful Jakob Dylan impersonation; "The Last Carnival" is a wonderfully soft song about life on the road - dedicated to long time bandmate Federici; and the bonus track "The Wrestler" is a solid acoustic slow piece that makes me think about the movie, which in turn makes me think of Mickey Rourke's sad state facially... it's a song penned by Bruce at actor Rourke's request - about a loser (with undying spirit no less). Some tracks are downright flat and repetitious - with "Surprise Surprise" Bruce repeats the title 42 times (one of his worst songs in years); the title track repeats the chorus 22 times; singing about the beauty bagging his groceries in "Queen Of The Supermarket" - just the most woefully silly lyrics of any Bruce song in recent memory. Even the "Working On A Dream" album cover is happy and colorful... a softer, gentler Bruce is surely represented.

Rolling Stone magazine (Feb 2009) praised this album to no end - and again it makes me wonder - am I missing the boat, or is the magazine staff writer a Boss magnet from Freehold, NJ? In the end though, decades have passed, and I still find myself longing for the truly mythical song lyrics that came from his albums in the 70's and 80's. And it makes me wonder if the days of the New Jersey king belting out his amazing working class tales have passed us by. It's likely so - and the safe world of adult contempory music is better off for it. 10 of the 13 songs on "Dream" fit into the corporate cookie-cutter 3 to 4 minute mold. Two songs are in the 2-minute range, while the leadoff track, "Outlaw Pete", hits a staggering 8 minutes (rare in this day and age for Bruce).

Springsteen has always been up on his politics and culture - and was he making a statement (Nov 2008) performing the title track at an Obama rally in Cleveland ? Is a message about working hard to achieve your dreams right around the corner (here it is - buy this album). I thought this kind of stuff was reserved for U2's Bono. "Working On A Dream" is no 5-star Boss outting (like "Born To Run", "Darkness On The Edge Of Town", and "Born In The USA" among others). Long time fans will probably get together like bobbleheads sitting on a car dash riding down a bumpy road agreeing this is one of his best albums... I for one, simply can't do that. The science of government aside, ultimately, I feel this album simply has too much love, merriment and sap. The melodies are average fare by Bruce's standards. The lyrics ultimately disappointing (again, by Bruce's standards). And, like its predecessor "Magic", the guitar solos are for the most part absent, and the sound on a majority of the songs suffer from over-production. Maybe these songs will come to life on stage (and fans know Springsteen sets the standard for a live performance). In Springsteen's catalog of albums, "Working On A Dream" is overall a decent album, but far from classic status (3+ stars).
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