From the Red
My journey with you has been curious. I am after all, the Red.
My friend hippie stumbled upon "Overture 1928" one winter day in late 2003, and after having me listen to it, i of course went digging for more. Although he did not ultimately find the music to his tastes, i did. Being that 'Train of thought' was the newest album at the time, i started with this, and it does to this day remain one of my favorites.
As a singer, i began to practice on your songs every day, at one point singing your entire discography in one single 7 hour marathon.
It was not until around 2006 that i happened upon your extensive archive of bootlegs, and it was then that i really began to dig into your history of sound. To me, every show is a new album, and the most definitive truth of ones history.
It was during this time that i first met Edward Polzin.
Through him i was able to dig ever deeper into your recorded archives, hearing hundreds of shows, and appreciating the energies of your music not just from tour to tour, but from month to month.
Despite this indirect connection, i am of course one who was never truly inside the room, and upon the distinct shifts in your sound i can only guess at the story of your lives.
While i do enjoy your 1992-1994 shows, i will always feel that the raw energy and emotion of the years 1995-1997 are far superior. I remember when first reading about the vocal injury, i had assumed this period to be something less, buried in history. Hearing these shows for the first time was an awakening of sorts. I even came to believe that the injury itself was a lie.
For all my love of Train of Thought, i place Six Degrees (my favorite) and Falling into Infinity at the top. Sure, the album cut of Falling was so badly mangled, but the songs themselves, and so many of the buried tracks shine with brilliance in show. It is the shows from 1996 and 1997 that i find myself most often returning to. I've never heard a better Ytse Jam than 1996. I've never heard James more powerful than 1997.
It goes then without saying that this is due in part to that i have always adored what Derek brought to the band. He is truly a brilliant mind for melodies and themes. But let it stand that Jordan's melodies gave us Six Degrees.
Often i do lament that your tours do not cover more ground from your work, like is the case with Pearl Jam. It is tough to think of all the songs that have not been played for so many years.
Here are a smattering of my favorites, bolded ones being the total favorites:
Another Won, Afterlife, Ones who help to set the sun, Under a Glass Moon, Innocence Faded, Lifting shadows off a dream, Scarred, A change of seasons, Take away my pain, Anna Lee, Hell's Kitchen (full), Raise the Knife, Where are you now?, Burning my soul, Overture 1928, Through her eyes, Misunderstood, About to Crash, Solitary Shell, This dying soul, Honor thy father, The answer lies within, These walls, Forsaken, The dark eternal night, Repentance, Stargazer, Breaking all Illusions
There is a certain pattern to what parts of your sound i enjoy the most. I will say that for all the fan pressure to hear more Myung penned lyrics, i have always felt most connected to those penned by James. My favorite guitar work by John on this list would have to be Ones who help to set the sun (also favorite lyrics), Take away my pain, Misunderstood, Repentance, and Breaking all Illusions.
Although your self titled album never really stuck with me as much as past works, i have found that the quality of your show sound is lately as high as it has been since 1997/2003/2004. I feel that Mangini has a very slightly different fall to his beat, maybe best put as a little more Tool like in its ability to give breathing space to the sound.
I am very looking forward to hearing your next album.
Edit: Just listened to About to Crash, As i Am, and The spirit carries on from Metalhammer 2015. Among the best versions (virgins) of the songs i have ever heard. Power of Mangini on display.