Dream Theater "Images and Words"

Merry Christmas to all! PW has gone to ground these past ten months or so, bravely (or foolishly) preparing for the recording of PW #2. In and amongst the writing, arranging, transcribing, booking of studio of time, obtaining of musicians, etc., etc., we have been neglectful in certain other matters, such as this blog. So we return with little fanfare to Defining Possibility, and specifically to praise Dream Theater’s mighty Images and Words.

It will be hard to believe for those who came of age in the last twenty years, but there was once a time when a young aspiring musician could come home from school, flip on the TV, and see a music video of a rock band playing actual instruments at a high level of excellence. Yea verily, in the middle of the day we did not only see videos from Rush (“Stick It Out” off Counterparts) but also the edited version of Dream Theater’s classic “Pull Me Under”!

And oh, how we hated it! How we mocked them, these poor lads who didn’t get the memo that the ‘80s were over! How we laughed at their cheesy wankery and unnecessary complexity! How we smirked at lesser mortals who wouldn’t stop talking about them, like they were the second coming of Emerson Lake & Palmer or something.

Fast forward to many years later, and a cautious hand- prepared by our newfound love and affection for Opeth, Pain of Salvation, late period Fates Warning, and the like- was outstretched to Dream Theater. And we- not for the first or the last time- were forced to admit that we had been seriously wrong. So very, very wrong. With the experience of a few more years than we would like to admit behind us, and with the soul-crushing pro-grunge propaganda of virtually all music media receding daily in the rear view mirror, PW was gleefully able to see that Images and Words is an absolutely brilliant album. Forget the crazy chops and complex arrangements. The cores of the songs are ace, and the passion of the young band making this deeply unfashionable music just drips off the record.

PW would become a huge fan of Dream Theater, with that interest only waning (and waning significantly) with the departure of Mike Portnoy. These days, DT’s music seems a bit…by the numbers, as if they were selling a product. But in those halcyon early days, the music was melodic, surprising, and defiant. They were- and to some extent still are- an important road sign on the way to Defining Possibility.

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