Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Unite

Dream Theater – When Dream And Day Unite


Despite its place in history, and the fallout which occurred with Mechanic Records, ‘When Dream And Day Unite’ remains my favourite Dream Theater record.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTIST: Dream Theater
ALBUM: When Dream And Day Unite
LABEL: Mechanic
SERIAL: 42259
YEAR: 1989
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Charlie Dominici – vocals * John Petrucci – guitars * John Myung – bass * Kevin Moore – keyboards * Mike Portnoy – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Fortune In Lies * 02 Status Seeker * 03 The Ytse Jam * 04 The Killing Hand * 05 Light Fuse And Get Away * 06 Afterlife * 07 The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun * 08 Only A Matter Of Time



In retrospect, 1989 was a fantastic year for melodic rock. We saw a merger of styles all come together, and a host of quite truly excellent albums. But before we knew it and had a chance to appreciate it, 1989 was gone and grunge was about to deliver a killing blow for all genres of music.

Looking back, the 1989 year was a catalyst for change, and a doorway opening to greatness for some. New York based Dream Theater being one such example, though at the time, they would be the first ones to disagree.

Originating out of Boston were the trio Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and John Myung, who first came together under the monicker Majesty. Recruiting vocalist Chris Collins and keyboardist Kevin Moore, the band released a demo casette featuring their ideas at the time.

In 1986, Collins left the band and was replaced a year later by the much older but talented Charlie Dominici, who had in early work, appeared with New Jersey AORsters Franke And The Knockouts circa their 1981 debut album.

It was the above named lineup that would go on to record ‘When Dream And Day Unite’ with Mechanic Records, a division of MCA Records. Prior to their signing, Dream Theater were doing much work in the New York area, and became a highly sought after live act, even though (at the time) they were astoundingly unsigned!

The Songs

Even though we get eight tracks on this debut, they are all exceptional. From the outset, the band demonstrate complex and intricate understanding of their compositions. Perhaps in this regard they are unrivalled anywhere else on the planet. Tempo and structural changes abound on the opener ‘A Fortune In Lies’, and is a perfect scene-setter for what is to come.

‘Status Seeker’ highlights deeply melodic elements but it is on ‘The Ytse Jam’ where each of the band members (excluding the singer obviously) get to demonstrate their considerable musical chops. After a slow deliberate build-up, ‘The Killing Hand’ works its way into a magnificent crescendo, the drums and keyboards work together with wonderful understanding.

Love the song-title ‘Light Fuse And Get Away’. You see this on fireworks packets made in China all the time. I wonder if John Myung had anything to do with this? lol! The music is a bit of a firecracker too, the mid-section/solo spots are rather awesome on this one, but the man in the spotlight is drummer Mike Portnoy. Man this guy can play!

‘Afterlife’ is a straight ahead uptempo rock song where John Petrucci drives the arrangement with his determined riffing. ‘The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun’ has a bit of everything in it. Early on you hear Rush parts, even Diamond Head too, but as it progresses these are soon replaced by DT’s own imitable style.

‘Only A Matter Of Time’ like ‘The Killing Hand’ before it, works itself into a climax by the mid-section, and finishes with a flurry of ivory tinkering from Kevin Moore.

In Summary

I do like the way that Terry Date has presented the band production wise, though admittedly, they would never sound like this again.

Despite its place in history, and the fallout which occurred with Mechanic Records and the subsequent amicable departure of Charlie Dominici (where Portnoy described the situation as ‘..it was like Billy Joel singing for Queensryche.. good singer, wrong band’, ‘When Dream And Day Unite’ remains one of my favourite Dream Theater records.

Though their discography is wide and varied, the way the band dabbles in all sorts of musical styles (including of late, moving into alternative metal territory a la Tool) that changeable aspect removes some of the gloss off them for me. Just my opinion.

With this album, you can hear the band still relatively pure in their ideas and musical structure, not as complex as they would become. And despite what many people say, James LaBrie is not my favourite singer in the world.. sorry to say.

‘When Dream And Day Unite’ received a 2002 CD re-release courtesy of One Way Records. For a slice of history, this album is another that should sit proudly in your CD collection.


A Fortune In Lies

A Fortune In Lies

Only A Matter of Time
Only A Matter Of Time

Entire Album (Select Tracks)
A Fortune In Lies

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