Digital Playlist: James LaBrie

Who: James LaBrie, frontman for Dream Theater.
What: The top five albums rocking his iPod.
Where: Toronto, Canada.
Latest Project: Dream Theater A Dramatic Turn Of Events.

James LaBrie:
From prog to pop.

1. LED ZEPPELIN Led Zeppelin II — “I just found that these guys were completely original and timeless with their music, and I always thought Robert Plant had a phenomenal voice. That’s generally why I gravitate toward anything musically — it just gives me something that sounds very original and is very unique. Zeppelin as a whole, even on their other albums like Zeppelin III… we covered ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ in Dream Theater, and I always loved ‘Tangerine’ and ‘That’s The Way’.”

2. RUSH Hemispheres — “I remember listening to that album many mornings before I went to high school. I was really blown away by it. Rush just had that identity and that sound to them that made them stand beyond anyone else. Hemispheres was a very experimental album with ‘Cygnus,’ ‘Circumstances’ and ‘La Villa Strangiato’. Those were amazing songs, and even for them to throw in a song like ‘The Trees,’ it was the first time that I heard Geddy [Lee] singing something that was sensual and beautiful and really heart-driven. That was the last thing I expected to hear from Rush to begin with, but to hear Geddy’s voice in that vein was very, very cool.”

3. QUEEN A Day At The Races — “Freddie Mercury is probably my all-time favorite singer, as well as Steve Perry from Journey. The music in general moved me — Freddie’s whole approach including his full-on voice, his subtlety and use of falsetto. Brian May was a genius just like Freddie Mercury when it came to composing music.”

4. JOURNEY Departure — “That hit me very hard. On ‘Walks Like A Lady,’ I liked the way that Perry had that swoon but at the same time it was great vocalizing. ‘Any Way You Want It’ is just a great song, and ‘I’m Cryin” is another great vocal performance of his.”

5. THE SCRIPT Science & Faith — “I like Danny O’Donoghue’s writing, his approach and his beautiful voice. I know they’re really pop, but there is some identity there. I think he has an amazing voice. They’re just really well-written songs with great arrangements and beautiful, extremely strong, memorable melodies, and I think that’s key. I think that’s what made U2 such an amazing band. The songs are simple, but go ahead and try to write something that simple but that powerful and that memorable. It has an indelible effect on you. Bono was and still is classic with his melodic arrangements and structure. That’s what I look for, and it’s the same with Freddie Mercury. His melodies were extremely intelligent, very well thought out, perfectly placed and had the right texture and right inflections in his voice. That’s what separates the men from the boys as far as I’m concerned, knowing how it is to achieve and to bring it to a different level. There’s another level that many people try to imitate, but they can’t do it any justice, genuinely or sincerely.”

2 Responses

  1. Stephen V.

    Probably the best digital playlist ever. Mostly because of the first 3 picks.


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