As those who have sweated it out over Dream Theater tab books know, there’s much to be learned from John Petrucci and co that you can apply to your own music. Phrasing techniques, interesting chords, odd time signatures, intricate multi-octave riffs – there’s plenty in there to help you find your way.

LickLibrary takes this approach and presents in an easy-to-digest way that puts the focus on playing rather than reading.In Jam With Dream Theater, Andy James takes us through many classic Dream Theater songs – “Pull Me Under,” “Under A Glass Moon,” “Fatal Tragedy,” “Erotomania,” “As I Am,” “Constant Motion” and “Wither” – in a way that’s very much reminiscent of sitting across from a guitar teacher. James breaks each riff and lick down into snack-size pieces and repeats them several times in several tempos, which really lets you get into John Petrucci’s head. Stripped of the do-it-yourself nature of tab books, this method gets you playing sooner, and allows you to instantly see finger patterns and fretboard positions.

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James is an extremely capable player who doesn’t seem to break a sweat when hitting those tricky riffs and solos. His phrasing and tone are great and he really seems to understand pacing: if you lead the student too quickly, they’ll feel overwhelmed. If you go too slowly, they’ll become restless. As a teacher this is tricky stuff to master one-on-one, and James really gets it, and puts it across in a video format.

Of course, any set called Jam With Dream Theater had better offer more than just instruction: you need those tracks to riff out with. So this 2 DVD + 1 CD set gives you those backing tracks, and it’s a blast to play along and pretend for a moment that you’re in Dream Theater. That first distorted rhythm riff in “Pull Me Under,” the fast solo at the end of “Erotomania,” the odd-time riff of “Constant Motion,” the stop-start riffage of “Fatal Tragedy” – there are so many cool DT moments covered here.

I recommend this DVD not only as an essential purchase for Dream Theater fans but also as a great reference for rock and metal guitarists in general, regardless of their affinity for Dream Theater. There’s so much to learn within these discs, and James does a killer job of putting it across.