Original When Dream And Day Unite Reviews
When Dream And Day Unite – Reviews
This article is about the reception from the music press surrounding When Dream And Day Unite. I’ve featured here some of the reviews that came out at the time, with the most notable one being the one from Kerrang! which was written by Derek Oliver, the guy that later would be instrumental into bringing Dream Theater to ATCO.
Enjoy this blast from the past.
Where Seventeen Universes Intersect
Kerrang ! magazine No.229 March 11, 1989
‘When Dream And Day Unite’
(MCA MCF 3445)
THIS MORNING I place a tape in my hi-fi system. It is by a new American rock group called Dream Theater. We press the play button and I am immediately impressed. There sounds coming out of my speakers that I have not experienced for 16 years or more.
I hope you are beginning to cotton on to what is going on here. This is a new record by a new band who appear to be anxious to re-experience the years 1972 to 1978, the golden age of progressive rock music.
Surprisingly they do it very well and for that we shall deliver them more than positive appraisal of their work – that’s 8 tracks, or if you like, all 51 minutes 17 seconds’ worth.
‘When Dream And Day Unite’ is a preposterous title. It suggests that the contents are in some way selective, a poignant cut above the rest and in that respect our assumption is absolutely correct. Here is musical dexterity I have not heard since the glory jazz rock days or Dixie Dreggs or, as a more accurate description early Kansas.
Keyboards run wild in al directions conjuring up sounds from the common Hammond organ to the more select poly-Moog. Meanwhile the guitar playing is of such an awesome technical standard I was immediately reminded of a sensational hybrid of Jeff Beck (‘Blow By Blow’ vintage) and Phil Manzanera (Brand X).
Then there is the drumming to concider. We must all sit down now and breathe deeply because in Mike Portnoy I see someone who is clearly better than Neil Peart or Billy Cobham. Yes, this record is a wonderful bundle of fun and even the longest track – that’s the madcap opus ‘The Killing Hand’, which weighs in at a cozy nine minutes – is so captivating that it appears to be over before it’s even begun.
Dream Theater stick out of the current scene like a sore thumb. Every track tells a story, whether it be about lost love or castles in the sky, and there for us all to mock is a real life all instrumental track ‘The One’s Who Help To Set The Sun’ (what a marvelous title) which twists, weaves and hops on the spot like a Mexican jumping bean.
I return to the tape deck and select the continuous play mode, Dream Theater and myself are now the best of buddies and we will continue to enjoy each other’s company for many moons. Tonight as they say, will last forever.
Metal Hammer No. 5 / 1989
Dream Theater – ‘When Dream And Day unite’
Dream Theater is certainly a new one on me, but it seems they are from Long Island (America again!) and they were once known as Majesty. That’s the brief history I know so let’s get into ‘WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE’ (the album). To say the least this is a bit different from the norm and and it certainly explores the musical spectrum. Whether it’s juts one off or it’s the direction in which the band inted to go remains to be seen.
I hate comparing one band to another, and anyway this is a difficult task because the influences these guys have drawn on must be large. With four tracks on this album over six minutes in length (two are actually over eight minutes) it’s difficult to know where to start. Personally I like bands that put long tracks out and I tend to go them first as they nearly always show ability of the band. So let’s begin with the lest track on side 1 – ‘The Killing Hand’ which clocks in at nearly nine minutes. This sweeps you up and down like a roller coaster, taking you through quiet thoughtful passages and then up again as the rhytm section drives you along the fast lane of the motorway (not the overtaking lane – no manic speed merchants here).
Then we come to ‘Light Fuse And Get Away’ (first track on side 2) at nearly 7½ minutes long. I have to say that this really does remind me of ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) but it certainly takes nothing away from the track. There’s also the intriguingly titled ‘The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun’, which has enough elements of old Yes in to kep me happy (I said their influences wee big; spot the Rush as well). Another track definetley worth mentioning is the instrumental on the first side called ‘Ytse Jam’
So now we must come to some conclusions methinks. Years ago this would have been labelled progressive, but it’s a bit more than that so I am going to hang that albatross around their neck. However at the end of the day three things will govern the success (or failure) of this (1) Airplay (and that depends on who has enough hours to listen) (2) what band is like live (interesting) and how soon they play some dates (3) The record buying public.
The only thing that I can say is that the more you listen the more it grows on you (and better than poison ivy) and there is no doubting the bands musical ability. So maybe we should cut out any existing prejudices and look out for the surprised faces.
BRIAN PITHERS (RADIO 210)
Metal Hammer No. 5 / 1989
‘When Dream And Day Unite’
(MCA Advance Tape)
I’ve been reading with a jaundiced eye ever more enthusiastic press releases from New York’s Mechanic Records concerning their signing Majesty, later renamed Dream Theater, for some months now. Imagine my surprise then, on receiving the advance cassette of band’s first album and finding out that it is not merely very good indeed, but possibly the most original and inventive record I’ve heard in many a long and weary month.
These ex-music college students have ghatered together a rich Time Bandit’s hoard of musical booty ploundered from the last twenty years of rock music, mixed it with their own inventive ideasand moulded the whole into a veritable tresure trove of an album. The band have blended the choppy rhytms of trash with the melodies of Marillion, hard edged guitars with the atmospherics of ’70’s progressive bands – I could go on, but you’d be well advised to buy this diamond of a record and figure it out for yourself!
The band members are excellent musicians, as you might imagine, and producer Terry Datehas done the decent thing and kept the gimmicks down to a minimum, letting the songs speak for themselves. Another nice feature is that it is the tracks that dictate the form of the album, rather than the other way round; of the eight songs, only one is less than five minutes in length. An astonishingly ingenious opus from a new band – music for the ’90’s indeed!
Guitar Player Magazine, January 1990
Dream Theater: New Definition For Progressive Rock
by Tom Mulhern
The term “progressive rock” can bring many conversations to a screeching halt, polarizing even the most mild-mannered music aficionados. For some, it conjures complex, compelling, sometimes classically derived rock, while others view it as bombastic musical excess. Both sides generally concede that, for the most part, it died with the ’70s. However, Dream Theater is cutting a path into a new territory that’s heavy on the metal, light on the classicism, and thick with excitement. Their debut album, When Dream And Day Unite [MCA/Mechanic] shows the quintet taking chances in odd meters, scaling complex harmonies, and burning on their instruments. At times they travel the road paved by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Kansas, and Rush, while laying down a thick coating of grit thatonly comes from the type of metal forged by Iron Maiden, Metallica, et al.
The quintet has its roots on Long Island, where guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and keyboardist Kevin Moore played in bands together during their teens. The guitarist and bassist attended Berklee in 1985, primarily to enhance their musical abilities, but also to meet new players. Petrucci recalls their brief tenure in Boston: “We wrote heavy progressive tunes as trios – guitar, bass, and drums – while all around us were people doing standard jazz. We did our stuff for about six hours a night, the whole time disturbing the acoustic players in the practice rooms next door.” After two semesters, they returned to Long Island with new drummer Mike Portnoy in tow.
As Majesty, they worked day and night creating and refining their tunes, and soon added vocalist Chris Collins (who was replaced in late ’86 by Charlie Dominici). The band gigged in New York and recorded a four-tune demo that quickly sold 1,000 copies. When the demo came to Mechanic Records’ attention in early 1988, the band was immediately signed for it’s debut album. While recording, the band abruptly changed its name when they found that there was already another band calling itself Majesty. The other band had a trademark and wouldn’t relinquish it; thus, Dream Theater was born.
When Dream And Day Unite features speedy licks and complex interplay by the guitarist and bassist (both 22 years old) as keyboards swirl and the drums tear through the songs like a Ferrari down a narrow alley. The high-speed, always-in-control picking styles of Al DiMeola, Steve Morse, Steve Howe and Yngwie Malmsteen are all reflected in Petrucci’s lead work, but more important, he fuses his influences in a well-balanced blend that quivers with whammyfied electricity from his leopard skin-patterned custom Ibanez. The guitar is outfitted with a DiMarzio P.A.F. Pro at the bridge and a Double Whammy at the neck, as well as a coil-tap in the tone control. His other equipment consists of a Samson Stage 22 wireless, a T.C.Electronic 2290 for chorusing and flanging, a T.C. Electronic parametric EQ, a Korg DRV-2000 digital reverb, a Hush IICX noise-reduction unit – all controlled via MIDI using a MESA/Boogie MIDI Matrix with an Abacus foot controller, and shaped by a MESA/Boogie Quad Preamp driving a MESA 295SimulClass power amp and two Randall 4 x 12s with Celestion speakers.
Despite the heap of equipment, Petrucci insists that his primary weapon is his technique: “I still work on picking every day. The day I discovered a metronome was the best day of my life. But it’s a double-edged sword. I worked so hard on picking everything that I never really got into flashier left-hand stuff. I have tried to develop both, though, because no matter what, you can use another approach to round things out in your ownstyle. You always open up new doors. By trying to learn some of Frank Gambale’s stuff, I found that I came up with all sorts of new ideas. Hisway of phrasing is totally different because of his approach. It was thesame thing with using a tremolo. I listened to Steve Vai’s Flexable[Urantia], and then Brad Gillis when he played with Ozzy Osbourne. Another guy who has an interesting approach to the bar is Alex Lifeson. He doesn’t use it in a really radical way, but he uses it to put vibrato on chords and to slur into notes – like Allan Holdsworth. I want to learn a lot more.”
Holding down the bottom while adding precise, complex licks is John Myung’s bread and butter. He flavors Dream Theater’s songs with daring Jaco-style harmonics that punctuate his pulsating lines and leave room for tasty fills by his rhythm-section counterpart, Portnoy. Only a five-year veteran on the bass, he got into the instrument at age 17 after playing violin for 12 years. “I played in competitions and orchestras, where your performance was graded and criticized,” he explains. “When I was 16 or 17, I felt much closer to progressive music tha
n to classical, and I made the decision to play bass. I took it very seriously, trying to outdo the local players. Healthy competition. I transferred the challenge of playing violin to the bass, as far as having to play fast and accurate go. I was always trying to shoot beyond my capability. My main influences came from Iron Maiden, Rush, Yes, and Jaco Pastorius. Then, when I heard Billy Sheehan, I didn’t know where he came from. He really showed me the way to a sound.”
John Myung’s Music Man StingRay bass has a replacement Gibson EB-O pickup added near the neck for grunge and bottom, but for clean playing and harmonics, the stock pickup is the ticket. The bass is strung with Rotosound Swing Bass strings, and amplified via two Pearce BC-1 preamps (one has the Billy Sheehan Modification – heavy on the overdrive), plus a QSCMX1500 1,500-watt power amp that drives two Ampeg SVT 8 x 10 cabinets. “It’s definitely overkill, more than I need,” he admits. “But I have power to spare, so I don’t have to push the amp very hard. That way, it’s always clean power.”
Although Myung is a fiery soloist whose workmanship is reminiscent of Billy Sheehan’s, he insists, “I’m not a solo maniac. I’m a team player. The way I get the most out of myself is working with a very good combination of people. And those are the ingredients of Dream Theater.”
Despite the band’s progressive-rock leanings, Myung emphasizes, “We’re not trying to bring back anything. We’re trying to have a certain standard of musicianship, as far as composition, arrangement, depth of complexity, and subtlety go. We set a goal, and we’ve been following it.There’s too much in-your-face playing without great musicianship. We love being heavy, but if you’re heavy all the time, it locks you in. And if you’re too wimpy, you get known only for that.”
To date, the band’s strongest response has been from Europe and Japan. American tours have fallen through, but as of this writing, a tour of Europe was scheduled for late November ’89. Dream Theater isn’t waiting for success to come easily, nor are they waiting for their debut to play itself out before knuckling down for their second album. “We’re constantly writing new songs,” says Petrucci. “As far as writing for the new album is concerned, we’re at work on the material now. Success is just a matter of time.”
RIP! June 1989
DREAM THEATER: When Dream and Day Unite (Mechanic)
I don’t know about you, but for me, “when dream and day unite,” it usually means I’m being jolted by the unwelcome clang of an alarm clock; so right away this LP conjures up ugly sounds to me. But let’s give it a chance and see what we find.
Seems that Dream Theater are a late-‘80s progressive-rock band. What does that mean? Well, in general, when the term “progressive” is applied to music, it means that the artist is pushing the boundaries of his/her chosen style. Looking forward into the future, as it were. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, this meant combining eclecticism (i.e., adding elements from non-rock sources, primarily classical, jazz and ethnic musics) with advanced chops. Essentially the same is true today, except that since rock’s heyday a variety of rock sub-genres have come into being, and these are usually incorporated into any self-respecting progresso/avant-garde rock group’s game plan. I’m referring to more-current trends such as post punk, hardcore, dub, minimalism—you get the idea. PIL, VoiVod, Sonic Youth and Celtic Frost would be examples of bands that could be labeled progressive. Not that any of them would want the label, but it fits in theory nonetheless.
Onto Dream Theater. DT isn’t a true progressive band. Rather they just replicate the progressive bands of 17 years ago, mainly Kansas, ELP, a little Yes and a whole buncha Rush. Vocalist Charlie Dominici may be spending the next several years trying to shed the inevitable Geddy Lee comparisons, and it’s going to be a full-time job. Of course Marillion’s pillage of early Genesis led to an ongoing career for them, so maybe this is the best band since Kingdom Come.
The band makes a few nods to music written in the past decade by way of some Metallica speed romps (played ever so carefully) and a couple of instrumental sections that sound like they were lifted from the middle of some Rising Force songs, which in turn takes us back to the Kansas/ELP connection.
As with the music of their forefathers, DT provide hooks only as an afterthought, and, frankly, I don’t think they got that far, ‘cause I don’t hear any. Basically, the multitude of constantly changing riffs and time changes speeds past without a connecting theme or motif to hang onto. This is the equivalent of “in one ear and out the other.”
I can’t fault these guys on chops—they are topflight musicans. ‘Tis a shame they’ve put their abilities to use on such backwardlooking music. I’m sure they won’t see it that way, and that everyone at Mechanic will think I’m a dick (it’s okay, I’m used to it), but I still know that I’ll never, ever listen to this record for my own enjoyment. “21st Century Schizoid Man,” anyone?
S. L. DUFF
All Copyright to the respective magazines and writers – reviews provided here as facsimiles is fair use.