It was 1992 and the music scene was changing. The record labels started to abandon the music I grew up with and the writing was on the wall for a lot of the hard rock bands, especially the ones that got marginalised as “hair metal” or “glam metal”.
I saw a Geffen ad that promoted White Zombie, Nirvana, Roxy Blue and Guns N Roses. It was a smart marketing move from Geffen. Promote different acts on the same page and see what sticks. I think Galactic Cowboys also appeared on it.
While I was angry that it was getting hard to find releases of bands I liked, I was also a bit lost as to what new music I should spend my money on. At this point in time the CD had overtaken the vinyl LP as the favourable format, so the second hand record shops had a lot of vinyl stock which I was purchasing at insane cheap prices. At first I was buying all the 80’s records I didn’t have money to buy when I first saw em or decided to buy something else instead of that. Like I purchased WASP instead of Britny Fox. Once that 80’s fix was satiated, I went back even further and got my 70’s fix from acts like “Free”, “Bad Company”, “Styx”, “Kansas” and many more.
Then Dream Theater came into my life in 1992.
It all started with the “Images and Words” album and the song “Pull Me Under”. Most of the music I got into was because of friends and family. My cousin Mega (his nickname because he loved Megadeth) was 4 years older than me and he spent every cent he earned on getting new music. He wanted to be known as the guy who had it first and shared it with others. My fandom of Dream Theater is because of him. And Megadeth. And Metallica. And Twisted Sister. And Fates Warning.
The whole intro from “Pull Me Under” is worth the price of the album. And I thought it was the debut album from Dream Theater, until my cousin Mega told me differently. A week later I was back in the record shop to buy the debut. But it wasn’t there nor was it available to buy locally. The only way to get it was via an expensive US Import.
It wasn’t until “Awake” came out in 1994, that I got “When Dream And Day Unite”. At a $27.99 price.
“When Dream and Day Unite” was released on March 6, 1989, through Mechanic/MCA Records. There is a story about how this album came to be and why Dream Theater couldn’t use the Majesty name, but that is for another post, when I get to the release of “The Majesty Demos” release as my Dream Theater record vault is based on release date instead of where the releases fit in.
The production from Terry Date is thin compared to “Images And Words” which Portnoy actually hated because producer David Prater used triggers on his drums, which Portnoy saw as a relic of the 80’s hard rock and glam rock movement. And Date at the time was also making a name for himself as a groove metal pioneer with the “Cowboys From Hell” from Pantera.
The band for the debut is Charlie Dominici on vocals, John Petrucci on guitar, Kevin Moore on keyboard, Mike Portnoy on drums/percussion and John Myung on bass.
The cover art from Amy Guip looks bizarre with “The Majesty” logo being branded into the male model and from what I have read, there are versions of this album out there with “The Majesty” band name. They got a cease and desist from another act called “Majesty” just as the record was getting ready to ship.
All music is by the band members.
A Fortune in Lies
Lyrics are written by John Petrucci.
When I first heard it, I thought it was about writers block, and not being able to write the song to get them a record deal which is basically a contract promising a fortune but with a lot of lies in between.
Then I read the book, “Lifting Shadows” from Rich Wilson and he described it as an “acquaintance of John Petrucci’s who was arrested for theft and Petrucci’s subsequent experiences after that”.
Check out the middle section homage to “Forgotten Sons” from Marillion.
It was the last track written for the album with lyrics by Charlie Dominici and John Petrucci.
The Rush influences are strong on this. Think of “New World Man”.
I would have liked them to flesh out those kind of pop elements on this however the song is loaded with extra riffs and fills just to make it sound progressive.
The Ytse Jam
Its Majesty (the former name of Dream Theater) spelled backwards.
An instrumental, written by John Petrucci, John Myung, Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy.
If you like “YYZ” from Rush then you would like this. The intro is excellent and make sure you check out the section in the middle which has the keyboards playing the intro guitar riff, while the guitar plays arpeggios.
The Killing Hand
There are five parts, to this 9 minute song with lyrics written by John Petrucci.
“I The Observance”, “II Ancient Renewal”, “III The Stray Seed”, “IV Thorns” and “V Exodus”.
The acoustic intro in “I – The Observance” is excellent. The middle parts are cool and the keyboard solo from Moore in “IV – Thorns” is worthy, but the last two minutes and thirty seconds of the song which is “V – Exodus” is the best part. The movement between sections is very similar to what they would do on “A Change Of Seasons”.
Light Fuse and Get Away
Lyrics are written by Kevin Moore. The intro is progressive and at the 38 second mark it moves into a Rush like groove, something which they would do similar on “Learning To Live” on the follow up album.
But press play for the riff between from 1.37 and 2.12. It then moves into the verse riff and in between you hear you hear a little bit of a progression that would be used on “Take The Time” and “Home”.
The best song on the album for me as it reminds me of the first two Queensryche albums.
Lyrics are written by Charlie Dominici and maybe the band should have gotten Dominici to write more of the lyrics as they make sense compared to the stuff that Petrucci and Moore were dishing out.
Make sure you check out the guitar lead from Petrucci on this as it’s another Guitar Hero moment which then morphs into a harmony lead with the keyboards.
The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun
The surprise track on the album with lyrics written by John Petrucci.
Press play to hear the intro on this, with the keyboard riff and the natural harmonic bass riff.
Then Portnoy comes in with a drum groove, while Petrucci plays a “Mirror” like riff and Moore plays an exotic keyboard lick over it.
Only a Matter of Time
Lyrics are written by Kevin Moore and I like the intro on this.
Musically, the song has a lot.
I remember reading an interview with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, when they were writing the earlier songs for Metallica, and how they would just chuck in riffs to make the song longer.
Well there are plenty of riffs here, but so many different ones and sometimes for a short amount of time so it’s hard to have any familiarity with any of em. Hence the song gets lost.
There is this section between the 4 minute and 6 minute mark which reminds me of Marillion.
The best way to describe this album is as a mix of progressive rock and 80’s arena hard rock and early US metal is the best way to describe this debut. Rush and Marillion are here.
Queensryche and Iron Maiden are here. Metallica is here as well. And very different to acts like Ratt, Bon Jovi, White Lion and Motley Crue, who did great business on the charts.
Derek Oliver from Kerrang gave the band a glowing review and it wasn’t forgotten either, when a few years later, Oliver was the A&R Rep who signed them to their ATCO deal (which then became Elektra).
Charlie Dominici copped some flak for his vocals. Portnoy wanted a hybrid Tate and Dickinson, and got more a Graham Bonnet. The songs that Dominici wrote lyrics to like “Afterlife” and “Status Seeker” also have the best vocal melodies, which makes me wonder how the other songs would have sounded vocally if Dominici was allowed to write the lyrics and melodies instead.
The national and European tour promised by their label Mechanic Records didn’t eventuate, as Mechanic lied about providing funding. The band was left to do a 5 date regional tour in their own state and a small support slot for Marillion when they toured their hometown.