12-28 was an average-good kind of night. but 12-29 and 12-30 were unbelievably great. The new songs they introduced on Halloween have immediately found themselves being played with. Some crazy bustouts and rarities, some of their best jamming all year (which is saying something), spectacular segues and creative transitions. 12-31 was no slouch either though the main attraction there was the great new years gag, with acrobats and the band members playing a song while suspended in the air. I remarked on twitter how it's funny to think how Phish puts on such an epic new years spectacle just down the road from thousands of people in Times Square shitting themselves in the rain watching Ryan Seacrest fill time until the ball drops.
Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Unite
This album is weird as hell. On one hand they sound straight out of the late 80s in a way that they never would again, on the other this album also sounds totally anachronistic with some aspects sounding like total rip-offs of 70s bands and some aspects sounding weirdly ahead of their time. The singer is obviously wrong for the band and sounds like he's about to break into "Run To The Hills" at any given moment.
Dream Theater - Images and Words demos
This is a fascinating release mainly because you get to hear their singer auditions. I know people (including me) like to make fun of James LaBrie, but hearing the other singers they had to work with it's easy to see why they chose him. he blows the other guys completely out of the water. If you watch this on youtube it's got all the liner notes in the video where Portnoy talks about what he thought about the different singers and other things about making the album, it's actually a really interesting series of events. It's fascinating how the band clicks into place as soon as LaBrie appears.
Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity (& Demos)
This is the most significant DT album I skipped over when I was into them as a teenager. And I kind of can't believe I skipped it cus it's actually good. Derek Sherinian was actually a pretty good keyboardist for them, he's not as showy and mainly just fills in the keyboard parts tastefully. Tasteful keyboard parts in Dream Theater songs, they exist! The demos have drastically different arrangements than the album versions which makes them hold up as a worthwhile alternate version of the album, even better than the album with some songs. Also the liner notes on youtube (which are again, very interesting and worth reading if you've heard the album) mention that Portnoy wanted Kevin Gilbert to produce the album originally, but he died before he could do it. Goddamnit! Kevin Gilbert's untimely death strikes again, he would have been the best producer they'd ever worked with.
The Monkees - Christmas Party
This is good! One of the better old guys make Christmas music albums I've heard. Andy Partrige and Rivers Cuomo both make great songwriting contributions (also Peter Buck shows up for some reason). They cover an Alex Chilton song I'd never heard before which is neat. Peter Tork sounds like he's on the verge of death in his only contribution to the album, Nesmith barely appears either. But dang it Micky Dolenz still has a super likeable voice, and this is a good Christmas album.
Grateful Dead - Reckoning
Pixies - Come on Pilgrim
Pixies - Surfer Rosa
The Beach Boys - 1968 - Wake The World: The Friends Sessions
The Beach Boys - 1968 - I Can Hear Music: The 20/20 Sessions
Brian Eno & Kevin Shields - The Weight of History / Only Once Away My Son