A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Official Bootleg: DEMO Series: The Majesty Demos 1985-86

The above is the cover from the 2003 release. The only place to buy these official bootleg albums was via the Ytse Jam website or at Dream Theater live shows.

While Official Bootlegs are all the rage these last few years with acts like Kiss, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick jumping on, Dream Theater were one of the first few to do an Official Bootleg series. Mike Portnoy was the brains behind this and was inspired by the work his favourite band Marillion did for the fans via the fan club (which Portnoy was also a member of).

But Portnoy had to get John Petrucci’s approval to proceed and once he got it, Ytse Jam Records was formed.

In 2003, three Bootlegs dropped and they kept on dropping while Portnoy was in the band.

But.

Once Portnoy was out, Ytse Jam records ceased to exist.

However the Petrucci led version of the band signed an agreement a few years ago with current record label InsideOut Music.

The purpose of the “Lost Not Forgotten Archives” is to re-release and reissue the entire Ytsejam Records catalogue and the fan club CDs, alongside some new unreleased material. All of the new re-releases will be sold on CD and vinyl, as well as being made available for digital streaming with all new artwork.

Like the terrible one below they did for “The Majesty Demos” re-release”.

“The Majesty Demos 1985-86” covers the initial formation period of Dream Theater, with the songs recorded on a 4 track tape recorder. It was released in 2003 by Ytse Jam records and re-released in 2022 via the Lost Not Forgotten Archives.

In September of 1985, John Petrucci and John Myung met up with Mike Portnoy at the Berklee College Of Music in Boston.

Within the first month of school, the two John’s saw Mike jamming in the practice room and introduced themselves. Besides having a common home base, they had similar tastes in music. They liked progressive, complex music like Rush, Yes, The Dixie Dregs, Frank Zappa and also loved heavy music like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Queensryche.

It was just three college kids jamming and having fun. And it is captured on these recordings.

As Portnoy wrote in the CD booklet;

“the music on this very 1st Edition is the very first music we ever created together.

It is very raw (and sometimes even very embarrassing). The audio quality is usually fair at best. We had very limited recording resources available to us at the time.

In fact, we had only one resource at all; my trusty old Tascam 244 analog 4 track recorder that I received as a high school graduation present from my grandmother”.

None of these songs have even appeared on a proper studio album.

The CD booklet explains the tracks a little bit more. 

Particle E. Motion

At 1.38, a small instrumental that shows Petrucci playing arpeggios over a Myung bass groove.

The title alludes to the key of the song. The CD booklet mentions how it is the first thing they ever recorded on Portnoy’s 4 track, to break it in and figure out how to use the damn thing.

Another Won

This is the instrumental version of the song, with Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung, as Kevin Moore was not in the band at this point in time.

“This is where it all began” states the CD booklet. The first song the power trio wrote together.

Musically, it you like the first Queensryche album, early Maiden and Fates Warning, then you will like this song. The bass of Myung is boss here, with a dominant Steve Harris like sound.

Press play at 3.29 to hear the riff and how Petrucci builds it into a solo.

At 5 minutes in length, it’s a standard heavy metal cut, heavily influenced by Queensryche.

The Saurus

An 80 second instrumental which has Petrucci playing this jazz like chords. It’s almost lounge rock when the lead kicks in. It’s very Al DiMeola like.

Cry for Freedom

This song has not had an official release on any studio album. Musically this is Petrucci, Myung and Portnoy (let’s call em “PMP”) living in their Queensryche meets Rush world. And I like it. It’s very accessible.

It’s also the second song the Berklee boys wrote. The CD booklet mentions how much of a lead instrument the bass was when it was just the three of them.

The School Song

Song number three for the Berklee boys. A song that got left behind, and it has never been played live.

A major key riff kicks off the song, something which Petrucci likes to do a lot and its similar to some of the riffs he has written on studio songs like “Our New World” from “The Astonishing” album and “The Bigger Picture” from their self-titled album.

At 2.31, it has this minor key section which screams Iron Maiden. The CD booklet states the same.

The last few chords to end the song is how “Ytse Jam” starts.

YYZ

A Rush cover. It’s how all acts start out. Playing the songs from our heroes.

Portnoy even plays the keys on this.

It’s perfect and it shows how precise they are.

The CD booklet does state how they would jam, “La Villa Strangiatio”, “The Spirit Of Radio” and this one.

The Farandole

A Talas cover which is classical in nature. Who would have thought that almost 30 years later, Portnoy would be in a power trio combo with Billy Sheehan.

The CD booklet mentions that Talas was Portnoy’s and Myung’s favourite band during this period especially their “Live Speed On Ice” album.

I love reading stuff like this.

Two Far

Original song number 4. 

This is the instrumental version.

Musically its Dream Theater’s version of RushMaidenRyche.

Anti-Procrastination Song

A S.O.D. cover at 13 seconds long. Pointless, but hey, what else can you are young and have a 4 track recorder.

Your Majesty

They are still living in their Queensryche meets Rush world with a bit of Malmsteen chucked in. This is the instrumental version of the song.

It’s more of a straight forward type of song, maybe even commercial sounding.

This track was resurrected and played live in Paris in 2002 as a tribute to all of the French Fan Club members which goes by the Majesty name. A perfect way to honour their dedication to the band.

Tracks 11 to 17 are all little snippets no longer than 20 seconds as they play around with multi-tracking on the 4 track recorder.

The tracks in question are “Solar System Race Song”, “I’m About to Faint Song”, “Mosquitos in Harmony Song”, “John Thinks He’s Randy Song”, “Mike Thinks He’s Dee Dee Ramone Introducing a Song Song”, “John Thinks He’s Yngwie Song” and “Gnos Sdrawkcab”.

Each song starts off with Portnoy yelling the title and then you hear 4 tracks of Petrucci harmonizing. Portnoy makes mention in the CD booklet, “it’s amazing how incredibly tight John can double track his guitar leads and still is a master of that today”.

Now we get to the good bit. 

The rare “Majesty” demo with Chris Collins on vocals. He might have yelled, “Scream For Me Long Beach” while they played live and his stage presence and delivery might have been strained, but he does a pretty good job here to give the songs a unique Tate/Midnight vocal vibe.

The CD booklet mentions how the DT guys had a tape of Chris singing “Queen Of The Ryche” and they were in AWE of how perfectly he could hit those Tate notes (which Portnoy further elaborated, “unfortunately, it turned out that was about all he could do”.)

A friend from Berklee called James Hull also had a Tascam 246 and when they put the two four tracks together, they had a whopping 8 tracks to do a real demo.

They also wrote 3 new songs, the heavy and progressive “March of The Tyrant” and 2 more ballade-esque songs in Vital Star and the 11 minute epic power ballad “A Vision” which Portnoy mentions, has some really beautiful moments, not to mention an AMAZING guitar solo.

Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung recorded their tracks at Berklee. When school finished in May, they joined up with Kevin Moore and Chris Collins back on Long Island and added them to the tracks. Portnoy’s grandmother again came to the rescue and funded the band money to press 1000 cassettes.

And Portnoy mailed em and gave em to people who mattered.

Another Won

The delivery and recording of this is way superior to the instrumental version. The addition of the keys makes each section different.

But my favourite section (like the instrumental) starts around 3.37, when Petrucci starts the riff and then leads into the solo. The solo is even better than what he put down on the instrumental. His fast alternate picked lines are perfect this time around. 

Your Majesty

Myung’s bass sets the groove for everyone to follow. The addition of vocals is welcomed and Collins does a fantastic job.

The Chorus is very arena rock like and some of the vocal highs are ball squeezing.

The outro solo is perfect from Petrucci. Simple, melodic and a perfect way to end the song.

A Vision

My favourite track. A 11 minute metal tour de force. I would have loved to hear this with a proper studio release.

An Em(add9) arpeggio chord starts it all off. It builds until the whole band crashes in and Collins is doing all ohhs and woohs. Collins moves between a Dickinson meets Tate vibe here vocally. He sounds fresh.

The Petrucci solo which starts around the 6.30 mark is essential listening. The way he builds it with all the different techniques he employs is a wow moment. At the 8 minute mark it gets a bit more frantic and Petrucci is wailing, while the band is building with him.

The solo finally ends at 8.49 and I wasn’t bored not a second while it played.

But he wasn’t done. He produces another guitar hero solo to end the song. The chops at the age of 19/20 goes to show how competitive the 80’s era was for guitarists.

Two Far

A Neal Peart inspired drum groove starts off the song, and then it goes into a Malmsteen like riff.

The verses are very busy musically so it is difficult to put a vocal melody over it and while the guys tried, they didn’t really pull it off.

However the Chorus is catchy.

The solo section and the unison lines between the guitars and keys is a sign of things to come.

Vital Star

My next favourite. 

Collins does a good job in bringing this song to life vocally with his Tate like influences.

Musically, it is living in that Queensryche debut album sound except for the solo section which shows some of the progressiveness to come. And the outro solo from Petrucci is another great listen.

March of the Tyrant

The song is a mix of so many styles from the early 80’s. It has that exotic sounding Middle Eastern riff.

It definitely has that Rush element and how Alex Lifeson plays a power chord with the ringing E and B strings (DT does it more aggressively and distorted here), plus a lot more. There are musical elements of early Fates Warning, Megadeth, Metallica, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marillion, Yes and Iron Maiden. 

The solo section is very Holdsworth/Morse like over an Iron Maiden like rhythm section. And I like it.

I’ll end the post with how Portnoy ended his opening in the CD booklet; “I hope you can look past the occasional audio distraction and enjoy a glimpse of where we were at, what we were doing and where we were going.”

Back in 2003, this snapshot back in time was perfect. And I wanted more. Which I got. But that is for another post.

Standard

7 thoughts on “Official Bootleg: DEMO Series: The Majesty Demos 1985-86

  1. I was never a big enough fan to get (or even know about) the Ytse Jam releases but I’ve picked up a couple of the recent reissues. I just got the Number Of The Beast and Master Of Puppets ones so far but I’ll probably add in some more.

  2. It’s cool when bands go deep into their archives and offer up stuff like this. There’s probably more in total than I would be interested in from them, but the early demos would be something I’d give a spin to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s