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STEREOPHONICS
OOCHYA! 

Sony Music International Japan

The background to this release is important. Whilst considering another compilation for their 25th anniversary, Kelly Jones went through his archives and found a few unused old songs which to contribute to this new album and it has to be said, as much as they vary due to the decades over which they were recorded, these are far more welcome addition to the Stereophonics catalogue than just another compilation.

 

I’ll pick a few of my favourites for this review starting with the opening track which is a belter! A pulsating riff and driving beat with a guitar sound similar to 1980s ZZ Top, this song is destined for a set. Next, I’ll go for Right Place Right Time, a song and delivery that has the same feel as Rod Stewart’s ‘The Killing of Georgie’. It doesn’t have the same message as Rod’s but the sentiment is echoed. Leave The Light On is my next choice and quite frankly, this is a song that Bon Jovi would be proud to have on their album except this is better produced and executed than the guys from New Jersey could ever have done. Beautifully executed in every way, right up to the ‘on me’ ending.

 

That last song is followed by a steady rocker in the vein of Bad Company. Sheer class to take this style on and execute it with aplomb. All I Have Is You is one of those gorgeous slow building songs that these guys are so good at and for a final choice I’ll go for Made A Mess Of Me which will make a terrific encore.

 

I reiterate, the background to this release is important. This was never meant to be a brand-new album and isn’t but what it is, is a delightful mix of some long-forgotten stuff and some new songs, arranged into an album that neither sounds like a bunch of outtakes nor a thrown-together ‘can’t be arsed’ cash-in compilation. In short, if you don’t add this to your Stereophonics collection, you are missing out on the true picture of the band. It’s an insight, an understanding about who Stereophonics are and actually, when all that is said and done, it’s a really good album as well!

 

Track List

Hanging On Your Hinges

Forever

When You See It

Do Ya Feel My Love?

Right Place Right Time

Close Enough To Drive Home

Leave The Light On

Running Round My Brain

Every Dog Has Its Day

You're My Soul

All I Have Is You

Made A Mess Of Me

Seen That Look Before

Don't Know What Ya Got

Jack In A Box

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DREAM THEATER 
FALLING INTO INFINITY
DEMOS 1996 - 1997

Sony Music International Japan

Dream Theater’s fourth album is considered by many to be their weakest album - many critics said so at the time - which can be, and usually is, put down to the circumstances surrounding it. Band members had changed, the record company didn’t like the new songs, the producer was Kevin Shirley who was given the directive from Elektra to try and make the songs more commercial or ‘radio friendly’; Elektra also ditched the Dream Theater logo in an attempt to commercialize them. The resulting release which had started well over a year earlier, was patchy and inconsistent. This release, the 10th in their series of archive releases is probably the most significant so far in that it shows is what could have (and should have) been. For the Japanese release. the package continues in the same manner of the previous nine in the series with the kaleidoscope artwork cover, silky digipak and Japanese book and the music sounding glorious, remastered in BSCD2 putting it way above the official bootleg that came out in 2007.

 

Onto the music itself. Six of these tracks never made it to the album; several of the others are so different to the finished versions you wonder just how it happened. A case in point being Take Away My Pain which somehow morphed from a perfect 1980s power ballad (which is surely what the record company would have wanted) into a song with a calypso beat which removes all the drama from it. Your mind boggles at what kind of conversations were floating around back then and Mike Portnoy has stated at a later date that relationships were at a critical state and that they even considered given up the band for good. Thankfully they didn’t, the band regained control of their own destiny and the mistakes made on Falling Into Infinity were never to be repeated again.

 

We all know the band were students of Berklee when they got together and latter-day students can take a lot from this release by comparing the differences in the demo and finished versions. As noted above, mistakes were made but there are improvements as well in some of the songs and I envisage students of the future listening and debating over pints in Student Union Bars around the world the pros and cons of it all. We all have 20/20 hindsight (I have debated on radio shows The Beatles’ White Album more times than I can remember) but the facts remain; Falling Into Infinity is the final release, the demos are no more than that – just demos. I have to say though, they are a sublime collection of demos.  and I must admit, if I am going to play 1997 Dream Theater, I’ll probably reach for these discs first.

Track List

Disc 1

Raise the Knife

Where Are You Now?

Take Away My Pain

You or Me

Anna Lee

Burning My Soul

The Way It Used to Be

Lines in the Sand

Disc 2

Just Let Me Breathe

Peruvian Skies

Trial of Tears

Cover My Eyes

Hollow Years

New Millennium

Speak to Me

Metropolis - Pt. 2