||Wither||Dream Theater||5:25||$1.29||View in iTunes|
||Wither (Piano Version)||Dream Theater||5:08||$1.29||View in iTunes|
||Wither (JP Vocal Demo)||Dream Theater||5:26||$1.29||View in iTunes|
||The Best of Times (MP Vocal Demo)||Dream Theater||13:05||Album Only||View in iTunes|
Hearing these alternative takes on "Wither" is great, as it fills in some of the background and ways of thinking about a song a band inevitably goes through. The LaBrie/Rudess piano duo is the most finished product: You could easily imagine it being on the final record and everyone being really pleased. "Best of Times" is a fantastic DT song, and this version is satisfying to listen to because it conveys Portnoy's heartfelt enthusiasm. On the other hand, Portnoy is an absolutely terrible singer (in case you hadn't noticed from DT's last several records). It would be a relief to many fans, I think, if he never ever again put his voice on the official releases, but then made available this kind of demo. Petrucci, though, is really good. We get a sense of this from his background vocals on, say, SFaM, but his vocal demo for his own song shows that he could almost legitimately be a singer in his own band. Not that they should be thinking of firing LaBrie or anything...
Worth the $5
Of course I already had track 1 but the other versions were a plesant bonus. John Petrucci smokes the song he sings on.... I did not expect that.... The piano version is awesome.... and of course Mike Portnoy singing the song he wrote for his father..... Just plain awesome.... So 3 new songs $5 worth it to me....
Great music!... But auto-tune?... Say it ain't so...
I have loved Dream Theater for thirteen years now. They are easily my favorite band. But I am not a fan that is in denial about some of their shortcomings.
James Labrie has had problems with his voice over the years, stemming mainly from a food poisoning-induced vocal rupture that was never able to heal properly. Despite that, and actually all the more due to that, I think he is an incredible singer, not to mention brave for not throwing in the towel.
I gave this release three stars because they used auto-tune on his vocal track in the piano version of "Wither" (I'm surprised none of the reviews so far have caught it). At, "leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again", you can hear the sudden "Kanye"-esque crack to the rigidly correct note that I would expect to hear in a Jamie Foxx song (which musically serves its purpose in that context, as it's used intentionally as a musical device to the sound of the song). In this case, it just seemed like they were trying to get away with a few pitchy notes that either weren't that bad, or could have been worked out in a few more takes. To the powers that be, I realize Labrie's voice has had its problems, but I will take the organic sound of his flaws over the artificially polished sound of pitch correction. I hope the buck didn't stop with Portnoy on that call, as many things in that band do (P.S. Portnoy is still my idol, but nonetheless human).
Also, on that same note, Petrucci's vocals on the song are absolutely meaningless, because the auto-tuning on his track is blaringly obvious, and all over the track. He's an incredible guitar player and a really nice guy (from what I know of him, that is), but he can't really carry a tune. On background vocals, he's always a little flat or sharp, especially live, but on background vocals that doesn't really matter. To those that say Petrucci should sing a track on the next album, I strongly disagree, unless he gets the tune right on his own merit after countless takes.
And Portnoy? Wonderful drummer and musician, one of the best there ever was. Not a singer. I did not even purchase that song, as I have heard enough of him on their official releases to get an idea of what it would sound like. Again, as a background vocalist, you don't need to be that great a singer, especially when you're playing another instrument (incredibly, I might add).
The piano track is nonetheless incredible. I really enjoyed hearing a more pulled back and subtle Rudess. I like when he's soft, but musically complex in ways that are more sublime and not so flashy.
I guess my overall feeling is that Dream Theater has one voice, and please don't tamper with that voice.
This concludes my really thick compliment sandwich.
Formed: 1986 in New York, NY
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
Top Albums and Songs by Dream Theater
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