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For some odd reason I can only fathom to be the 'A Past and Future Secret' single not having been released in Japan, the East is granted a variation of what would later be released elsewhere as 'Mr. Sandman,' with the mere substitution of the last demo track for a different one and the exact same cover art more relevant to its successor. I've made it sound far more complicated than it really is; basically, this is just 'Mr. Sandman' with the first two songs swapped in order, and a different track five. But oddly, it was released a year earlier. That's better.
The 'Imaginations from the Other Side' album was a real triumph for Blind Guardian, a vast improvement over their previous albums and what would have been their definitive album if they hadn't gone and upstaged it with the incredible 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth.' All of its songs are undisputed Blind Guardian classics and still form the bulk of their live shows, so it's great for fans of their particularly geeky and powerful brand of metal to have the opportunity to hear demo recordings and alternate versions on these rare singles.
The edit of 'Bright Eyes' however is an abomination, I think that would be fair to say, shaving over a minute from the five-minute studio version by making a couple of minor clips and one major removal in the form of André Olbrich's fantastic guitar solo, which was one of his best performances on the original album. It's still a great song though, and perfectly captures the spirit and sound of the band as they experimented with increasingly epic directions.
The only track exclusive to this single is the demo of the ever-popular 'A Past and Future Secret,' which sounds decidedly different without all the advanced studio trickery and polishing. The orchestration and flutes are still there, albeit more subtly, and the drums are much more prominent as a result. It's great to hear a more raw and live performance, complete with aspects dropped from the original such as the unison vocals in parts, and it's refreshing to hear it without the overly bombastic finale, fitting better into the chronology established by 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Bard's Song,' the latter of which would see its own polishing-up a number of years later.
On the other hand, the demo version of 'Imaginations' isn't much different from the original, and only really ends up sounding inferior due to the weaker production sound that fails to bring out the guitars and especially the drums in the same way. 'Mr. Sandman' is more or less a novelty cover of the fifties original by the Chordettes that starts out as a loyal tribute before turning all fast and metal and stuff in the second half, and 'Hallelujah' is merely a sub-standard Blind Guardian song destined to be a B-side.
1. Bright Eyes (edit)
2. Mr. Sandman (The Chordettes cover)
4. Imaginations from the Other Side (demo)
5. A Past and Future Secret (demo)