Back-up Vocal~ Beloveds, it pays to pledge loyalty to one’s creative resources. Because, I was Blessed with yet another fantastic “right place, right time” moment, which gave rise to this Comic exactly when it was needed. The spark was ignited by the September 2019 issue of Prog Magazine. It offered an extensive article on the history and making of the Dream Theater “Metropolis 2: Scenes From A Memory…” album. The journey toward realizing this particular recording was fraught with tensions and strife from a variety of directions. For example, it marked a notable change in keyboard players. Plus, an already complex and deeply strained relationship with their record label was ultimately forced to a flashpoint, resulting in the band finally achieving their freedom to pursue their creative goals without interference from “the suits”. Crucial components, to be sure, because “Metropolis 2” was the first-ever concept album from the Dream Theater crew. Even after reading about the project and all of the pieces that formed it, I must admit that I’m still not entirely sure I completely understand the bigger picture of the finished product. That said, I give every possible drop of respect to these incredibly talented gents, for sticking to their guns and breaking new ground. On a much more personal level, the article discussed one particular ingredient in their process that jumped out at me and demanded to be adapted into my little world. Dream Theater traditionally writes in the studio, with “Metropolis 2” following this tried and true approach. In this case, they set aside one space in the room and filled it with their favorite concept albums, dubbing it “Inspiration Corner”. Their notion was brilliant: should they get stuck on an idea and find trouble proceeding, they could refer to a highly specialized stack of hand-picked CDs, listen to how their heroes addressed the challenge and let that serve as the guide out of any rut they may face. The article proved even more enlightening, by offering a list of the works the band chose.

I recognized that Manny would do exactly the same, but with his favorite albums and a sense of flair no other could match. Thus was born “The Gadzooks Caboodle Box”. It warmed my heart to see that the Dream Theater boys picked BOTH concept albums from Marillion (that’s one from each singer for those not in the know)”Misplaced Childhood” AND “Brave”. These 2 masterpieces helped to redefine Progressive Rock and move it forward to the future the genre now enjoys. So Manny picked them, too. Because that’s Steve Rothery guitar work, children! All the reason you need. Let me get an “AMEN”! Just to flesh out the collection, I included a few of my own favorites, some of which have gone decades too long unsung in the broader world. The ELO “Time” album is an old friend from my bygone High School days. Blue Oyster Cult “Imaginos” was a fascinating notion, armed with some captivating moments. The band begged for the three albums needed to tell the story, but vacuous philistine label executives would only give them one. The final release was the shorthand version of the tale. Still, a true gem. I have extolled the virtues of the IRIS “Crossing The Desert” album from the soils of the earth to Saturn and back in these pages. I will continue to praise it for miles and eons beyond my own grave. To me, it was, is and always will be the most important Instrument Rock album EVER made. Sylvain Gouvernaire, Pete Trewavas and Ian Mosley were given a sign from God. They wrote it, performed it, taped it, and delivered it to all those ready to listen…and, Lord Above…for the last 25 years, I have listened every week! 

If I had the room in the Manny-Cave, I would follow in the footsteps of my floppy-eared leader. Establish a Deep Freeze Museum for these works of art, providing perfect protection from the world outside. Alas…for now, I must suffice with jump drives, external drives, and MP3 players to store the digital versions. The CDs themselves are tucked away in the same closet where I keep my Mannyacs merchandise, cartoon character neckties and genuine imitation kimono made in Moldova. Some day, Beloveds. Some day.