Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Is Where You Should Be

Shortly after Savatage released "Dead Winter Dead" the band put out a collection of hits ranging from "Sirens" through "Dead Winter Dead". Fortunately the band conveniently forgot to include something from "Fight For The Rock". And we are all better off for that.

"From The Gutter To The Stage" is a delightful sampling of Savatage's catalogue, displaying their song-writing prowess and their growth over their decade plus career. I'm not going to spend a lot of time commenting on most of the tracks here as they have been covered in my previous posts.

The album kicks off with a killer live version of "Sirens" taken (I think) from "Ghost In The Ruins/Final Bell" which shows the guitar genius of Chriss Oliva with a charismatic Jon Oliva on vocals. This is the first time I heard "Sirens" and I must say it's better then the original.

We get "Power Of The Night" their 2nd albums title track and "Prelude To Madness", "Hall Of The Mountain King" and "24 Hours" off of their 4th outing "Hall Of The Mountain King". These are not my favourite tracks from their respective albums, but are solid songs representing Savatage's straight up heavy metal roots.

As Savatage moved into a more progressive side, we are given a sampling with "Gutter Ballet" and "When The Crowds Are Gone". Top notch songs from "Gutter Ballet". We are treated to Chriss Oliva's "Silk and Steel" acoustic instrumental. Not ones first choice for a compilation, but a fitting memory of Chriss' talents.

"Streets" is represented with the most variety with songs "New York City Don't Mean Nothing", the blistering "Agony & Ecstasy" and my all time favourite song "Believe". We get the title track from "Edge Of Thorns" and the epicly diverse and dark "Chance" from "Handful Of Rain".

Rounding the compilation out are a couple of tracks from "Dead Winter Dead". The "Prelude To Madness" inspired "Mozart & Madness" doing duel duty of hinting at what was going on with their Trans-Siberian Orchestra side project. Thankfully they did not use "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24". I love the song, but it gets enough exposure. The final song "One Child" brings the album to a grand close with its theatrical epicness and counterpoint vocals.

The treat with this album is the bonus disc on the special edition with 4 previously unreleased songs. The first couple are the "Edge Of Thorns" era "Shotgun Innocence" which is a mid to fast paced rocker with cool riffs and great vocals from Zak Stevens. We also get the hauntingly heavy "Forever After". A mid-paced cruncher with some flashy solos. Both songs would have fit fine on "Edge Of Thorns".

The other 2 are from the "Gutter Ballet" and "Streets" era with the melodic power piece "This Is Where You Should Be" whose melancholic undertones and passionate vocals makes me wonder why this song was left off either of these albums. The other is "D.T. Jesus" which is a bluesy gospel version of "Jesus Saves" from "Streets". A remarkable version of the song creating a whole new interpretation. Very moving and powerful. Though I'm not sure if it would have flowed well with the rest of the album. I'll have to do a test with my ipod and slip this version into a play list with the rest of the album and see if it works.

Overall "From The Gutter To The Stage" is more of a singles collection as opposed to a greatest hits, but a fine sampling of Savatage's career. I don't buy a lot of compilations, but with Sava' I made an exception.

Up next, I'll be finishing up with Savatage with a tribute album to them "Return Of The Mountain King".


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