Wrapping up the "D's" and moving on to the "E's!"
Soundgarden - Down On the Upside
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events
Dream Theater - Dream Theater
Paul McCartney - Driving Rain
XTC - Drums and Wires
Gorillaz - D-Sides
Led Zeppelin - Earl's Court Arena, London 5/17/75
Soundgarden's final album from 1998 (until their reunion album in 2012) is first up. It's an album of theirs I've always enjoyed, with some great cuts (Pretty Noose, Rhinosaur, Blow Up the Outside World, Burden in My Hand) and quite a bit of experimentation. It's followed by the two most recent Dream Theater albums, both with new drummer Mike Mangini (who replaced founding drummer Mike Portnoy, who left the band in 2010). Both albums are excellent and show the band still firing on all cylinders, although if I'm honest there aren't as many memorable songs as on their previous albums. What I mean is that even though all of the songs are excellent, they all sound a bit "samey." Paul's first studio album after the passing of his beloved Linda is a solid collection of songs with a few standout tunes (Lonely Road, Rinse the Raindrops, the title track) and a lot of solid songs. It's not his best album but it's still enjoyable and part of his incredible late-career run of albums that started with 1997's Flaming Pie and continues through last year's NEW. XTC's third album, and their first with legendary guitarist Dave Gregory, shows them abandoning the weird keyboard-driven new wave punk of their first two records for more 60s-sounding guitar based power pop and is all the better for it, especially on classics like Life Begins at the Hop, Making Plans for Nigel, and Scissor Man. The collection of B-sides, er, I mean D-sides, from Gorillaz, is okay...the first disc has some truly beautiful and excellent songs that should've made it onto albums while the second disc is mainly remixes, which I don't care for. Finally, breaking into the "E" albums, the first night of Led Zeppelin's legendary five night run at London's Earl's Court in 1975 is next. The sound quality isn't great but it's listenable and the show, while merely a warm-up for the next four nights, is really good and saw the return of the mid-show acoustic mini-set after a three year absence. The remaining four shows from this run of shows will kick off the next entry in this Magical Mystery Listening Tour...