First off, I would like to say that Dream Theater is one of the greatest bands of all time! If it weren’t for them, I’d still be stuck listening to the mainstream crap that’s being played today. On to the review….
I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about this compilation and trying to decide whether to purchase this album or not. I already have all of their studio albums (minus “When Dream and Day Unite”) so purchasing this album wasn’t really necessary. But there are remixes of songs as well as edited versions…and also an unreleased song. Well, after hearing a short clip from the “Pull Me Under” remix, I decided to buy the album.
A couple of issues to address…what many, many people fail to realize is that this is NOT supposed to be a “Best of…” album…obviously because they left out their more epic songs there are best known for. As stated by Mike Portnoy himself, the point of this album is to lure new fans in as well as give a little something to existing fans. Personally, I’m thankful that this band takes extreme consideration to their fans by adding additional content like the remixes and edits…otherwise this WOULD be pointless to buy for the existing fan. But the main goal is to give a little taste of what Dream Theater is about and (here’s what most people fail to realize) give the new curious listener the opportunity to dig deeper to buy their other albums. Think about it…this is basically a musical appetizer and the existing catalog is the main course. You don’t to fully indulge yourself before hitting up the main dish! So putting all the more epic songs in this compilation album will ruin the listener’s appetite to learn more about the band’s songs. For example, if Dream Theater decided to put, say, “Dance of Eternity”, “A Change of Seasons”, “Octavarium”, and the like into the compilation album, what’s left for the new listener to look forward to when buying their other albums? I think this album is used most effectively when being introduced by an already existing fan. If a newbie were to pick up this album, none of the aforementioned information might be apparent. So if you’re trying to get your friends into this amazing band (and you should!) get this album and give them a little taste…
From what I’ve heard so far (I’ve only listened to most of “The Dark Side” and haven’t gotten to the other disc yet) I am very pleased at what I am hearing. First of all, the remixes? Completely blown away!!! Just from hearing the short clip of “Pull Me Under” in the trailer I could already tell a world of a difference! I did a brief comparison between the original and remixed versions of the song and was just amazed at the improvement of the sound quality. Even though it was a classic (still is, of course!) a facelift was definitely refreshing. I personally fail to see how an avid listener of Dream Theater can’t hear the difference; it’s so obvious (my personal opinion)! To start, the drums don’t sound so “80’s” anymore, the new sound of snare drum was what first amazed me…so tight and crisp! The guitars sounded heavier and the vocals were clearer! This was just from listening in my car so I’m sure if I listened through headphones I can find other aural nuances I didn’t notice in the original.
The Edits….I’ll be honest, I was a little shocked about hearing shortened versions of “Home” and “Misunderstood” I was completely thrown off! A lot of the repeated riffs and been shortened…”Home” especially was weird to listen to, I felt like I was listening in fast-forward. But keeping in mind the goal of this album, I thought it was clever to remove some elements from the edited songs (for instance, “Home” starts right away at the heavy part completely skipping the acoustic guitar parts in the beginning and REALLY shortening the music before the vocals come in…from what I remember, they also removed the spoken part ["I remember the first time she came to me..."] and the slow part in the middle with the sitar/keyboard solo as well as the casino/orgasm solo, lol!)
Ok, I REALLY think I went overboard on the review…just felt like I had to address the issue of the misconception of the album…Hope this helps anyone and go help find more fans!