You see, large legacy artists today are releasing these kind of albums as part of their anniversary editions. Whitesnake comes to mind with their excellent box sets. But Dream Theater, well, they were doing it as part of their Official Bootleg series.
Released in 2003 on Ytse Jam Records, what you hear on this double CD “Making Of Scenes From A Memory” are alternate takes, partial jam sections that are a bit different, random noises and improvisations, plus alternate mixes.
Some of the stuff on CD1 is not that interesting. For die-hard fans like me, it’s okay to listen once and then it goes to the collection.
But there is also some great stuff here.
“Regression” is an alternate vocal take. The guitar progression that JP wrote became the central theme tying the album together. It appears in “Through My Words”, “Finally Free” and is the foundation for the excellent, “The Spirit Carries On”.
“Through Her Eyes” has James LaBrie trying a few different vocal melodies but the piece d’resistance is the sax solo on the outro which was left off the final mix.
The booklet notes from Portnoy mentions the following for “Through Her Eyes”;
“Originally we wrote 2 different versions of this song.
The working title was “Titanic” so there was the “Short Titanic” (this arrangement that ended up making the final CD) and the “Long Titanic” (which was more of a traditional rock arrangement, with drums and some additional chord progressions).
Because of time restraints, the “Long Titanic” is not included on this CD, but it can be found on the closing credits of “Metropolis 2000 – Scenes From New York” DVD.
John Petrucci’s vocal demo guide for ‘The Spirit Carries On’, is warts and all auto-tune free and pretty funny to listen to.
And then we come to CD2, which are the original mixes for the album.
This was the first album that had John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy producing. David Bottrill was hired to mix the album because of his work with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and Tool. It was a weird mix, because Dream Theater in sound is more heavy metal and hard rock with progressive elements. The bands that Bottrill worked with are not hard rock and heavy metal. They have unique soundscapes special to them.
Bottrill mixed the album in 10 days with the band members giving him “expert advice” to make the drums louder, more guitars, more keys, higher vocals and higher bass.
While the mixing process was happening, the band members were giving it their tick of approval, however after the mixes were complete and sitting with the mixes for a few days, the band expressed concerns at the sonic intensity of the mixed songs. It was a bitter pill to swallow as they all had large inputs into how it should be mixed.
Petrucci reached out to Kevin Shirley. Shirley had some time to do a few mixes, so they gave him three tracks to start off with in “Home”, “The Spirit Carries On” and “Through Her Eyes”. Shirley did the mixes (on his own, without any band input) and sent them back. The band compared the mixes to the three songs mixed by Bottrill and they were happy with the sonics this time around.
All was not lost as some of Dave Bottrill mixes survived to the final cut in “Regression”, “The Dance Of Eternity”, “One Last Time” and “Finally Free”.
The weird part is you have this low profile official bootleg release, where the fans get the original mix for the album, when nowadays these kind of tracks are the “in thing” for anniversary editions or special remixed editions.
And so far, this release has not been re-released as part of the “Lost Not Forgotten” series via Inside Out Music.
4 thoughts on “The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Official Bootleg: STUDIO Series: The Making Of Scenes From A Memory”
That’s one I’d like to check out. I’m not always into outtakes and stuff beyond a curiosity listen but that is my favorite DT album so it’d be something I’d enjoy hearing. I also like exploring Kevin Shirley’s production, some of the Maiden reunion albums have some curious production choices but he’s probably not the main reason for that.
The full set of Bottrill mixes was a good enough reason for me. A lot of little nuances and different gtr effects got lost in the more polished Shirley mixes.
Yeah the Maiden mixes on the recent albums are a bit what the. I would like to see some making of footage to sus out the dynamics.
I’m of the belief that Steve Harris is mostly responsible for the odd stuff they do. He has some control freak vibes and has been the one to make some questionable calls before.
Nothing like mixing an album with some expert advice. Gees, let the man so his job.