This cover was released in March, 2000 by a 'prog supergroup' called Transatlantic, composed of members of Dream Theater (drummer Mike Portnoy), Spock's Beard (keyboardist and lead vocalist Neal Morse), Flower Kings (guitarist Roine Stolt) and Marillion (bassist Pete Trewavas) and I highly recommend it. The vocals, guitar and drums especially are beautiful, as is the hot creative arrangement.
I read that this piece was brought to the project by Portnoy, and he certainly did it justice. He's a disciple of one of my other favorite drummers, Neil Peart of Rush. Listening to the great drums on this version serves to illustrate loud and clear how poorly BJ was recorded on all the Procol albums. If only his drums had been as prominent in the mix as Portnoy's, I think BJ would be revered and emulated throughout the drum world today, instead of being virtually unknown.
The reason the "('Twas)" is in parentheses in the title is that Transatlantic chose to omit "'Twas Teatime at the Circus" and you know what? The piece sounds just fine to me without it. Actually it made me realize that Teatime was kind of a bringdown – interrupting the sublime mood with all the yelling and clapping, and that silly circus theme music. They also chose to replace the vocal chorus in Grand Finale with a chorus of heavy guitars (by Roine Stolt) – and I LOVE IT! I'd never liked that wimpy vocal chorus anyway and wished that melody line had instead been played by Maf's Hammond loud in the forefront, but this guitar alternative works beautifully too. I'm definitely going to check out Stolt's other guitar work to see if he's this good all the time or was just inspired to greatness by Gary/Matthew/Keith's music. I do miss Matthew's Grand Finale piano solo in this version but it probably wouldn't have fit with the heavy guitars anyway.
The liner notes include the words that the band sang – they omitted the last two lines of Keith's spoken bit (which they put to music!) and the Teatime words of course. Even if you don't like this version as much as I do, I think you'll find it interesting, and remember that the 3 composers earn royalties for each CD sold.
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