“Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)” by Dream Theater

Artist: Dream Theater
Title: “Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 4/1/2008
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 4/5

It’s an amazing title and very tongue in cheek but indeed it is quite correct in the fact that Dream Theater, despite all of their incredible albums, have only enjoyed conventional radio “popularity” with a solitary song – and that tune is “Pull Me Under”. This little piece of historical fact brings us to the bands first ever compilation release “Greatest Hit (and 21 Other Really Good Songs)”, an album that painstakingly digs around for that long revered track and puts it together with a solid batch of other songs that any Dream Theater fan would proudly stand behind. “Pull Me Under” hit the charts in 1992 from the album “Images And Words” and is the opening track on the release. Often referred to as the bands most well-known song, it went as high as a number 10 position on the Billboard Magazine Mainstream Rock charts. It’s not a bad achievement for a band like this who for the most part delivers epic and astounding displays of technical proficiency with each and every release, but then again it is a bit of a surprise that this is the only song that enjoyed such a level of success. The compilation presents the listener with two sides, and while one is Dark, the other comes presented as Light. The explanation of this is that the Dark Side is more of the bands Metal aspect (not a “Luke I am your Father” kind of thing), while the Light side is the more conventional, and softer melodic numbers that they have done over the years. As a collection this double CD release covers quite a bit of ground and gives you songs from the bands sophomore release “Images And Words” all the way up until “Octavarium”. I’m not certain why their debut “When Dream and Day Unite” is left omitted as I still enjoy quite a few songs from that one today but perhaps it had to do with licensing. It’s a really great collection but if you are looking for the bands most epic numbers then you should be aware that none are to be found here. Let’s face it, the collection would span about six individual CD’s if they were to deliver some of these extended pieces in one place. Of course that could very well be the next collection we find released and just imagine how cool a “Dream Theater: The Epics Grandiose” would be. While most of the tracks are the original presentations from the albums, we find remixed versions of three of the songs by Kevin Shirley. These tracks are “Pull Me Under”, “Take The Time” and “Another Day”.

Splitting the compilation into two distinct portions was a great idea as this allows those who prefer things a little heavier to not have to skip around for the more intense tracks and for those who are more in tune with their melodic side, they need only to put on CD2. It’s also the perfect introductory release to the listener who might only be making their first attempt at the band this far into their career. With new music buyers coming of age as each year passes by this is entirely possible. I rather enjoyed the selections on each of the CD’s and while I am a long time fan I don’t consider myself one of those hard core fans who would argue about which track was best until the light faded from the day. To me they are not only a musicians band but they are also a band that offers a wide demographic of listeners something promising, you just sometimes need to be pointed in the proper direction if you are one of those new listeners. Based on this I am not going to examine the tracks I preferred because this is the other aspect of Dream Theater that their fans will attest to and it is that each song means something special to someone. I will say that it surprised me even more when I listened to the second CD about this lack of hit achieving promise because there are no less than five tunes on that disk that could have been radio staples for the band. The liner notes cover this in great detail and it’s an interesting read for any fan about the groups stand on this aspect of the music business. The larger commentary is compiled by Roger Wilton but we also get some decent copy from drummer Mike Portnoy. Once you have absorbed all of this I would not advise you shedding any tears for the band because of this cruel oversight for while they only had one hit in the conventional markets they have what so many other bands could only hope to have and that is a legion of followers who purchase every single album and single release, tour book and t-shirt and attend concerts that they hold by the thousands. With so much of the “Rock” music of today that we find on radio being so forgettable I think Dream Theater has done themselves a service by not catering to those confines. If anyone disagrees I ask them to make note of any particular new artist they like on the radio today and lets set an appointment up to debate it further when their career hits the twenty three year mark that Dream Theater just achieved. Congratulations to you Mr. Portnoy, Mr. Myung, Mr. Petrucci, Mr. LaBrie, and Mr. Rudess for being a one hit wonder that broke the mold and continually shapes the way that the future of Progressive Metal and Hard Rock will go for a long time.

Track Listing:
1. Pull Me Under
2. Take The Time
3. Lie
4. Peruvian Skies
5. Home
6. Misunderstood
7. The Test That Stumped Them All
8. As I Am
9. Endless Sacrifice
10. The Root Of All Evil
11. Sacrificed Sons
12. Another Day
13. To Live Forever
14. Lifting Shadows Off A Dream
15. The Silent Man
16. Hollow Years
17. Through Her Eyes
18. The Spirit Carries On
19. Solitary Shell
20. I Walk Beside You
21. The Answer Lies Within
22. Disappear

Official Website:
www.dreamtheater.net

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