Metal Mondays: Remembering Where it all Started with Dream Theater

It has been a while since we have done a “Metal Mondays” here at Progarchy, and it has been even longer since I can remember reading anything online about Dream Theater’s first album, “When Dream and Day Unite.” Due to the absence of singer James LaBrie, this album is usually overlooked and forgotten by all but the most diehard fans of the band. Charlie Dominici, the band’s second vocalist (Majesty’s original vocalist was a guy named Chris Collins), was no slouch as a singer. He had the range and power necessary for someone in an 80s metal band, although he was 15 years older than the other members of the group. Dominici had a history singing music akin to pop rather than metal, and it quickly became clear that he wasn’t the best fit for a group intent on making music in the vein of Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden [1].

Despite its flaws, “When Dream and Day Unite” remains a listenable album almost 30 years after its release. The band even occasionally plays a few songs from it at live shows. The musicality is what we would expect from the musicians who would come to be known as some of the best in the world at their respective instruments. Mike Portnoy’s blistering kick drum on “Afterlife” and “Only a Matter of Time” was ahead of its time, yet it clearly bears the influence of Phil Ehart.

The journalistic laziness of the time claimed the band was merely a copy of Kansas and Rush, yet listening to the album now makes those comparisons sound cheap. Obviously Dream Theater has showed influences from both of those bands, going so far as to cover both groups (and many others) in special editions of their albums over the years. To dismiss “When Dream and Day Unite” as mere copying is far from the truth, in my opinion. There is too much originality in the musicianship to call it a copy of those groups. The influences are there, but Kansas and Rush never sounded quite like this.

I find “Ytse Jam” to be the most compelling song here. Perhaps that is because it is instrumental, and it is easiest to make the connection to James LaBrie era Dream Theater. John Myung’s bass is particularly exceptional here, but then again, when is it not exceptional? “Afterlife” is probably the best song with singing on the album. From the lyrics to the guitars, this song delivers on all fronts.

Is “When Dream and Day Unite” Dream Theater’s best album? Of course not. Does it deserve to be forgotten and ignored like it has been? No. It is a solid album given its time, and it serves as an interesting reminder of where the greatest band in progressive metal came from. Every group has their beginnings, and it is great to return to Dream Theater’s roots. This album is particularly hard to get here in America, so if you don’t already have it, you may have trouble finding it. Discogs appears to have plenty of used copies, and you may be able to find a copy via your local library or Inter-Library loan (where I got mine). For those who prefer to stream, it also appears to be available on Spotify, despite it not being for sale on iTunes. It may require a hunt, but sometimes the search is half of the fun.

[1] Rich Wilson, Lifting Shadows The Authorized Biography of Dream Theater (UK: Rocket 88, 2013), 63-64.

Death of the album? Sales drop 41.5% in 2018

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Rolling Stone reports:

After a comfortable 6.5 percent drop in sales in 2017, in the first half of 2018, revenues generated by the CD album in the USA were slashed nearly in half – down 41.5 percent, to $246 million.

As we all know, the music business held hands with [Spotify’s Daniel] Ek and dived profit-first into a streaming-led industry.

Now, however, a murmur is quietly breaking out: In the rush to follow the money, did the music business sacrifice something more valuable than it could have realized?

Sure, hits on streaming services make a lot of people a lot of money. But as the death knell rings for the album — and the music industry returns to the pre-Beatles era of track-led consumption — are fans being encouraged to develop a less-committed relationship with new artists?

Lightning Round Reviews: November 1-9, 2018

In case you hadn’t noticed, the last quarter of 2018 has put paid to any perceived drought of new releases & reissues.  Capsule reviews of what I’ve been listening to since the first of this month follow the jump; albums are reviewed in descending order on my Personal Proggyness Perception (PPP) scale, scored from 0 to 10.

Continue reading “Lightning Round Reviews: November 1-9, 2018”

Dream Theater Announce “Distance Over Time” Album, 2019 North American Tour

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I’m interrupting a summer (now gone) of digging deep into the recently-released Dave Matthews Band album, the two excellent Southern Empire albums (do pick them up), and my autumnal tradition of listening to all that is Big Big Train to report what’s been making the rounds on this midterm Election Day in America: Prog metal kings Dream Theater have announced a new album, “Distance Over Time,” which will be released 22 February, 2019.

The band will then hit the road for a North American tour starting in March, and while concertgoers will no doubt be treated to newly-released material from “DoT” (or, as a nod to Rush, should it be “d/t?”), the highlight of the tour will no doubt be the news of the band celebrating 20 years of their landmark album, “Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory.”

A short teaser from the forthcoming album, which was produced by guitarist John Petrucci and with sweet artwork by Hugh Syme, can be heard here:

Here are the “Distance Over Time” tour dates for America and Canada. The band also plans to follow the U.S. dates with a show in Mexico City in early May.

March 2019
20 – San Diego, CA
21 – Los Angeles, CA
22 – Los Angeles, CA
24 – San Francisco, CA
26 – Denver, CO
28 – St. Paul, MN
29 – Chicago, IL
31 – Milwaukee, WI

April 2019
2 – Detroit, MI
4 – Toronto, Ont.
5 – Montreal, Que.
6 – Quebec City, Que.
8 – Boston, MA
9 – Oakdale, CT
10 – Red Bank, NJ
12 – New York, NY
13 – Upper Darby, PA
15 – Washington, D.C.
17 – Nashville, TN
22 – Charlotte, NC
23 – Atlanta, GA
24 – Orlando, FL
26 – St. Petersburg, FL
27 – Jacksonville, FL
29 – Dallas, TX
30 – Houston, TX

May 2019
1 – Austin, TX

While I initially gave a solid review of their previous release, “The Astonishing,” I’ve since given it few listens when compared to the albums that came before it, especially the song-oriented releases (rather than concept albums). I don’t know that any information about the tracks on “Distance Over Time” has been made public, but I’m fairly certain that given the scope of “The Astonishing,” DT would likely return to a song-oriented effort on the next one, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing what’s next from the gang.

On Tour in 2019: Nick Mason Plays Early Pink Floyd!

As announced on — appropriately enough — October 31, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason will bring his new band Saucerful of Secrets (or, in an example of Mason’s typically dry wit, “Not The Australian Roger Waters”)  to North America in the spring of 2019.  The tour will mark Mason’s first live shows in the Western Hemisphere since Floyd’s Division Bell extravanganza prowled the continent’s football stadiums back in 1994.

With the blessing of both Roger Waters and David Gilmour in his back pocket, Mason is focusing on pre-Dark Side of the Moon Floyd; setlists for SoS’ shows have included tracks from Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, Atom Heart Mother, More, Meddle and Obscured by Clouds,  along with early Floyd singles and B-sides.  In Mason’s words, “With the help of some like-minded friends, I have embarked on a voyage of discovery of the music that was the launchpad of Pink Floyd and my working life.  It seems too early to retire, and I missed the interaction with other musicians.”

Debuting with four small London gigs this past May, Saucerful of Secrets completed a European theater tour in September.  The North American tour will be similar in scope, with Mason and his cohorts (Blockheads guitarist Lee Harris, Spandau Ballet guitarist/vocalist Gary Kemp, post-Roger Waters Floyd bassist Guy Pratt and Transit Kings keyboardist Dom Beken) bringing their show to 2500-3500 seat venues.

Presales for the first block of shows have already begun, with public sales starting on Monday, November 5.  Tour dates are listed below; more info is available at Ticketmaster.

March 12, 2019 – Vancouver, BC @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
March 13 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount
March 15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic
March 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
March 19 – Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
March 21 – Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre
March 24 – Dallas, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
March 25 – Houston, TX @ Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
March 27 – Miami Beach, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater
March 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
March 31 – St. Louis, MO @ Stifel Theatre
April 1 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Riverside Theater
April 3 – Minneapolis, MN @ Orpheum Theatre
April 4 – Chicago, IL @ The Chicago Theatre
April 5 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Old National Centre
April 7 – Columbus, OH @ Palace Theatre
April 8 – Akron, OH @ Akron Civic Theatre
April 9 -Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
April 11 – Buffalo, NY @ Shea’s Performing Arts Center
April 12 – Wallingford, CT @ Oakdale Theatre
April 13 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
April 15 – Montreal, QC @ Place des Arts
April 16 – Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
April 18 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
April 22 – Washington, DC @ DAR Constitution Hall

(And yes, having experienced The Division Bell-era Floyd in concert at the late unlamented Pontiac Silverdome — the only rock show I’ve ever attended where, even at full volume, I was able to go without earplugs for the entire night — I grabbed a ticket for the Chicago stop today.)

If you want a generous sample of what Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets has to offer, check out their recent Copenhagen show:

— Rick Krueger

Live music prog extravaganza tonight at Vancouver’s Space Centre!

44305581_301424893783976_1512316207498264576_oDaniel James’ Brass Camel honours progressive rock legends tonight, underneath the unreal visuals of the HR MacMillan Space Centre’s 360 degree Star Theatre: Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Rush, and more!

Video from the rehearsals is viewable here and here.

Buy tickets here.

Get the DJBC band’s new album here and also on iTunes.