Images And Words
was the sophomore album by Dream Theater, released in 1992. This was the breakout album for the band. It had the bands thus far only hit single – “Pull Me Under”, and was certified Gold by the RIAA. It was the first album with their current vocalist – James LaBrie. It was the first album released on the ATCO Records label (which later were bought by EastWest, which then was bought by Elektra, which was merged with Atlantic, both Warner Bros subsidiaries. Roadrunner – the record company that Dream Theater now belongs to, was bought by Warner Music in 2006.
- Mike Portnoy – Drums
- John Petrucci – Guitar
- John Myung – Bass
- Kevin Moore – Keyboards
- James LaBrie – Vocals
- Jay Beckenstein – Soprano Saxophone on “Another Day”
- David Prater – Mixing, production
- Doug Oberkircher – Engineering, mixing
- Steve Regina – Engineering assistance
- Ted Jensen – Mastering
- Pull Me Under (Moore) 8:14
- Another Day (Petrucci) 4:23
- Take the Time (Dream Theater) 8:21
- Surrounded (Moore) 5:30
- Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper (Petrucci) 9:32
- Under a Glass Moon (Petrucci) 7:03
- Wait For Sleep (Moore) 2:31
- Learning To Live (Myung) 11:30
Total length: 57:07
About the Album
After parting ways with Charlie Dominici in early 1990, Dream Theater started looking for a new vocalist. A long and tedious audition process started, listening to hundreds of tapes and with several vocalists trying out (some even getting as far as performing live on stage with Dream Theater). During this time, the band recorded demos for all the songs that would end up on Images and Words. Although Metropolis had been written and performed with Charlie Dominici still in the band.
Ending up hiring Kevin James LaBrie (who had to go by the stage name of James LaBrie due to there already being a Kevin in the band and there already being two John’s was confusing enough), and finding a new record deal with Atco Records, signing for Derek Oliver and Derek Shulman (of Gentle Giant fame), the band was ready to record a double album in late 1991. The record company rejected the idea of a double album, causing “A Change of Seasons”, “Don’t Look Past Me” and “To Live Forever” to be left on the cutting room floor.
The album was met with surprisingly good reviews, and is viewed as a landmark release in the progressive metal sub-genre. The single “Pull Me Under” had significant airplay on radio and MTV, and reached the top 10 list on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The album sold to Gold in the USA, the only album to date to do so. The reception led to Dream Theater embarking on their first world tour, reaching Europe and Asia in addition to North America.
With alternating ‘epics’ (“Take The Time”, “Metropolis part 1” and “Learning to Live”) and lighter ballads (“Another Day”, “Surrounded” and “Wait for Sleep”) the album features many of the groups most well-known songs. The title “Part 1” which was added to the song “Metropolis” as a joke as it was never intended to have a follow up. Learning to Live was the first song longer than 10 minutes. Wait for Sleep the first song to be fully composed and written by one singular member (Kevin Moore).
The legacy of “Images And Words” is strong. Many fans still count this as their absolute masterpiece. It can be regularly found in “favorite” or “top” lists in publication. This was, in most cases, the first exposure for Dream Theater for most people as the first album had a very low circulation and was hard to get a hold of. Some fans fault the album for not having a production suitable for the heaviness of the music – and the triggered snare drum is something often brought up as a negative thing.
Several videos were shot for this album – “Pull Me Under”, “Another Day” and “Take The Time”.
Lyrically, this album is a mix between abstract and literal themes. “Pull Me Under” is famously written as being inspired by Hamlet, and Metropolis is inspired by the ancient fable of Romus and Remulus and the founding of the city of Rome. Another Day was written about John Petrucci’s struggle with cancer. Take the Time is about the bands own struggles. The cover art of the album tries to capture several aspects of the lyrical content of the album. The cover art was created by Larry Freemantle. The “Majesty Logo” icon appears engraved on the bed’s canopy.
The phrase Images And Words can be found in the song “Wait For Sleep”
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this album, a fan club cd was released in 2002 called Taste The Memories. It contained select live recordings from the 1993 world tour. Dream Theater then celebrated the 15th anniversary of the album on the 2007 “Chaos In Motion” tour with several full performances of the entire album, and a fan club CD was released with a complete live recording of one of these performances.
“Take the Time” includes samples from Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin'” (“Hold it now”), Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool” (“Wait a minute”), and Public Enemy’s “Power to the People”, (“Come on”).
Pull Me Under was originally titled Oliver’s Twist, Take The Time was Grab That Feel, Metropolis part 1 was Crumbling Metropolis, Under A Glass Moon was The Battle of Jimmy Cocoa and Fishface and Learning To Live was Creep With Tonality.
Despite the success of the album, the making of was an arduous process. The band constantly clashed with David Prater. He triggered Mike Portnoy’s snare drum despite Mike’s insistance of not doing that. He kept only the clean vocal takes of James LaBrie, discarding the more aggressive takes. He clashed with Kevin Moore and claimed he intentionally sabotaged his studio time by playing the wrong chord inversions.