Dream Theater – A change of Seasons
This EP was released in 1995, for the purposes of giving fans of the band an opportunity to hear the studio version of the 20-minute epic “A Change of Seasons”, which had been in existence as early as 1992. Unfortunately the EP stands as possibly Dream Theater’s least interesting release.
While the original live versions of this epic featured an almost fusion-level energy that mitigated its flaws, the studio version sounds somewhat lifeless and sterile. The Metallica-like intro and outtro on acoustic guitar, which did not exist prior to this version, can’t have helped. In addition the song is somewhat slowed down; in concert this was a 16-17 minute number, which was expanded to 22 minutes with very little in the way of additional sections. The most egregious change from the live version to the studio version, however, is lyrical. While the original wasn’t exactly Chaucer, the middle section was reasonably inoffensive if uneventful. In the new, wholly-Portnoy-penned version, it is replaced with some embarrassing, almost adolescent verse (“Part V: Another World”).
I have little comment on the covers that make up the rest of this EP. I liked the Elton John one enough to eventually pick up some of his material, but the rest was fairly forgettable.
This EP epitomizes my feelings about Dream Theater. They’re a band of some of the most talented musicians you’ll see, but they seem to have a way of shooting themselves in the foot without fail. The version of the epic that appears here should have been great to excellent. Instead it barely passed muster. I would highly recommend that fans find a live version of the original version of this song, particularly the 3-4-93 show from New York City. As for this EP, I would say pass unless you’re a Dream Theater completist.