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Dream Theater - Images And Words CD (album) cover

IMAGES AND WORDS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2067 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars While I think this album was very promising for DREAM THEATER, I have to admit I can't understand why people would give it the full five stars. This isn't Awake. Still, it makes a nice predecessor to it. First, the production isn't really up to later standards. Musically, the sound is something between prog and metal and pop (well...pop in the vein of PINK FLOYD's A Momentary Lapse of Reason...that is, GOOD pop)--those criticisms are accurate, so if you're a strict proghead or strict metalhead you might not enjoy Images and Words. However, if you're interested in a rather less pretentious version of DREAM THEATER that is less focused on being prog giants, and more interested in creating good music (regardless of what genre it happens to fall in), this is a good one to check out. If you didn't like Scenes from a Memory, don't fear...you might have a chance with this one (and you should get Awake, too). Don't worry about the fact that "Metropolis, Pt. 1" is on here. But I'll get to that later.

This album will show you two musicians who, unfortunately, you don't get to hear very much of on later albums...and whom I think are sorely missed in later works: keyboardist KEVIN MOORE (who left the band after Awake) and bassist JOHN MYUNG (who was downplayed after this album). MYUNG gets far, far more solo time here than usual, and he really is quite good. His best moments are in the background of "Take the Time", and in prominent solos in "Metropolis, Pt. 1", and "Learning to Live", and it's a shame that he doesn't seem to do these kinds of things more often. He reminds me most of former SYMPHONY X bassist THOMAS MILLER.

In my opinion, KEVIN MOORE really contributed something wonderful to the band--and completely irreplaceable. MOORE isn't the kind of keyboardist who feels the need to show off every five seconds (like a certain current DT keyboardist). Rather, his technique is actually more reminiscent of PINK FLOYD's keyboardist RICHARD WRIGHT...not the work of a "virtuoso", but still the work of someone who knows when it is appropriate to play, what to play, and when it is appropriate not to play. Fine examples of MOORE's "just enough" playing are "Take the Time", the painfully short "Wait for Sleep", and "Surrounded"--especially in the beginning and end. He knows how to make good use of simple riffs...and also of hesitations and silence: little places where he waits a few seconds before changing to a different note, or places where he simply stops playing. These pauses are where your heart stops and the tears start to well up. Other times, he works subtly in the background; you don't even know why you were suddenly moved, but the odds are that MOORE had somethng to do with it. It was a terrible shame when he left the band and I'm not sure they've ever truly recovered from it.

The best points of the album are "Pull Me Under" (poppish but enjoyable to me), "Under a Glass Moon", "Wait for Sleep", and most of all "Learning to Live". "Under a Glass Moon" really seems to have inspired the base technique of SYMPHONY X, who would begin writing music two years later...the resemblance is really quite shocking. "Wait for Sleep" is a beautiful slow KEVIN MOORE piece...one only wishes it were longer. "Learning to Live" is something I think every DREAM THEATER-basher ought to hear: with this piece, DT manage an 11-minute piece (almost) that never, ever bores, and flows all the way throughout. This is one of those songs you don't want to be interrupted in the middle of. The other epic, "Metropolis, Pt. 1" wanders around a bit in a few parts (foreshadowing Pt. 2?), but is still likeable enough that I find myself wishing that DREAM THEATER + RUDESS had not disgraced its name with the album Scenes from a Memory. The only song that I think might be a turnoff to some is "Another Day"...I think that on this one, DT was gunning for radio play and that sax can be a bit Kenny G'ish at times. It's not horrible, but not quite up to the standard of the rest of the album. Also, on occasion JAMES LaBRIE shows that he hasn't quite found his voice yet...he seems to be trying to sound like GEDDY LEE and occasionally it backfires on him. (I say this as someone who likes his singing, not as a LaBRIE-basher!)

Overall, though, I think Images and Words is one of those DREAM THEATER albums that non-hardcore fans should consider getting. Start with Awake--but then make sure to make this your next purchase.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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