Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Apr 1, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (67 votes)
Dream Theater: Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
7

Sound — 8
What immediately is obvious on Dream Theater's Greatest Hit (And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) is the rightful use of humor. That's right -- there's only one technical hit in the bunch. The progressive band has not attained fame by creating radio hits or following traditional methods, with the exception of the late hair metal track Pull Me Under. While most of tracks on Greatest Hit don't really sound like Pull Me Under, they still have a much more radio-friendly feel, making it a perfect Dream Theater 101 class for newbies. Drummer Mike Portnoy has divided the album into 2 main categories: the harder-edged tracks inspired by the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and the gentler side reminiscent of U2 or Peter Gabriel. What is missing is the category that most likely comes to mind when you think of Dream Theater, namely the 10-minute long, epic songs that dabble in complex time signatures.

Disk 1 is titled The Dark Side and revolves around 11 tracks that have more of a rock-influenced sound. While the songs were selected for their accessible sound, they're still not completely lacking in the progressive element. The band wastes no time by putting it's one mainstream hit Pull Me Under as the first track on the CD, and it does show just how far the band has progressed as musicians. When you compare that track with Home or Root Of All Evil, the change is just amazing. Tracks like Home still have that creative, progressive touch, with amazing solos and time changes throughout. Then you have the introduction of The Test That Stumped Them All, which delivers plenty of high-speed solo insanity from guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. Other highlights include the moody, restrained Endless Sacrifice and the epic ballad Sacrificed Sons (which about halfway through definitely loses the ballad part of the equation).

Portnoy describes much of the material on disk 2, aka The Light Side, as having the more melodic aspect of the band and dynamic songwriting. It starts out with Another Day, a new remix of a track originally from 1992's Images And Words album. The opener is a pretty solid example of how the rest of disk 2 plays out -- yes, there is a mellower feel to it all, but that doesn't mean that the material is completely devoid of some really nice intricate guitar elements. The songs do tend to fit more in a mold of what you might hear on the radio than disk 1 does, and at times you long for one of those epic tracks to break it all up. The Silent Man is on the extreme side of that, with very little going in terms of the instrumentation, but it's still a beautiful song. In the end, disk 2 should likely appeal to an entirely different audience than traditional rock fans.

Lyrics — 9
You're getting a good scope of Dream Theater's songwriting on Greatest Hit, with the album spanning almost 15 years of material. There's always plenty said about the amazing musical abilities of Portnoy and the rest of the band, and the lyrics always do tend to get tossed into the background. The words are competently written, although they may not be quite as unique as the music itself. There's still an interesting range of topics, whether it's exploring human sin (The Root Of All Evil) or lending a friend emotional support (I Walk Beside You).

Overall Impression — 8
Dream Theater's Greatest Hit won't necessarily be the must-have album for the band's most dedicated fans, but it does show the diversity that we often forget. Melody is the main focus on Greatest Hit, but there are more than a few moments where we do get a taste of those brilliant technical solos. If this isn't your first Dream Theater experience, then it will be impossible not to want a little more out of the album. But you can't blame a band that has stayed under the radar (at least in terms of radio airplay) for wanting it's fan base to grow just a little more. And considering the amount of talent in this one band, I'd say they deserve it.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Themaddoctor
    Well they won't put there awesome long songs on due to the general short attention spam of the average idiot.
    GoToSleep
    Thing is I don't want them to have hits or have lot's of mainstream publicity. Even "Pull Me Under" I wouldn't call a "hit." Just their most popular song. But seriously if you want to get into Dream Theater, do it the right way with starting at "Images and words."
    ironwolg
    Dream Theater deserved more hits, their songs could be huge hits but they're not advertised enough
    Guitar_Poet
    Names_mud wrote: Meh, I really do not like the idea of cutting parts of Home out. The song has been out for years, why alter it now, its still not going to get played on the radio.Listened to it and it feels so rushed with out the beginning and the middle.
    seriously. home is butchered... its pretty obvious that the song was cut up. such a great song in its natural state. not sure why its cut, since they have endless sacrifice, which almost 11:30!
    Names_mud
    Meh, I really do not like the idea of cutting parts of Home out. The song has been out for years, why alter it now, its still not going to get played on the radio.Listened to it and it feels so rushed with out the beginning and the middle. I do like the new mix of Pull Me Under.
    Reviewer Pete
    KyuNaynne yeah but if you don't like 20 min complex songs, then you're not gonna like DT..
    Songs over 20 minutes and beyond make up, what, 7-8% of their discography? And that's counting SDIOIT and ITPOE as singular pieces. Good compilation over all - nigh impossible to get it right. The remasters were somewhat...meh, considering the only bad thing about the originals can't be fixed by remastering. The bad thing would be the snare, by the way.
    Guitar_Poet
    KyuNaynne wrote: yeah but if you don't like 20 min complex songs, then you're not gonna like DT..
    hence the cleverness of including many shorter and less complex songs on the compilation, with some longer, more complex ones thrown in (pull me under is over 8 minutes itself, and sacrificed songs is over 10... while songs like silent man are under 4 minutes). i think itll help ease people into the longer, more complex songs--first of all, if they buy the album theyre probably somewhat interested in that stuff anyway.
    sgreenhalgh
    I don't mind this album, I was disappointed that metropolis and octavarium did not appear on the album, but I can see from mike portnoy's view as to why they released the album with the chosen song list.
    KyuNaynne
    Guitar_Poet wrote: great review! this compilation is clever. it will definitely appeal to different audiences... which i guess is really the whole point. its a great sampling of DT's music, for those who are not used to longer or more complex songs... hopefully itll help ease people into that sort of thing. they dont really need it (their fan base is ridiculously huge for not being on the radio), but like someone else said, its always great for new people to discover this stuff. if you played, for instance, a 20 minute DT song for someone who is not used to long songs, theyd be completely turned off by it, and probably wouldnt give them a second chance. this is a great idea, in that respect. before i repeat myself more, ill stop. good job on DT though. on a final note, while i cant get over their music, the lyrics are not my favorite... but like it says in the review, lyrics are really put into the background.
    yeah but if you don't like 20 min complex songs, then you're not gonna like DT..
    xberserkx
    i'm interested to hear some of the new mixes but I think if I was introducing someone to DT I'd rather make them listen to Scenes from a Memory instead of this compilation, because to me that album really defines who they are
    Trynstopme
    Lol - who is the moron thats talking about hardcore DT fans being put off? we already know each and every one of these songs. Lol.
    benrochlin
    afratmdk wrote: dream theater has hits?
    Thats the whole point in the title... theyve only had the one on radio
    Felony
    I bought this album and its ok, not great but not bad. There are some good songs on there but i think real hardcore DT fans will be put off.
    [x]Huffy[x]
    Also, more use of humour..look closely at the album cover. You'll see that in "Greatest Hit", S, H, I and T are the only letters in red.
    Anarchy_Ant
    Brilliant review, if i didn't have every album already, i'd buy this. Still, a really great review.
    heavyprog
    I found that the remixes didn't improve the songs. If anyone was turned off by the snare on images and words, you might like them better because that was changed, but I personally felt that it sounded off. Pull Me Under didn't feel like the epic beginning to the best album ever. I don't know. Might just be me, but I doubt it.
    Goblumich07
    jonnyharris1 wrote: does any one know if the remixed versions from images and words are much different sounding? because i already have all there albums and that would be the only real reason for me to buy iy
    they are, and it's kinda cool. It's not a full blown remix, but some of the tones are different.
    grunger
    Themaddoctor wrote: Well they won't put there awesome long songs on due to the general short attention spam of the average idiot.
    +1
    jonnyharris1
    does any one know if the remixed versions from images and words are much different sounding? because i already have all there albums and that would be the only real reason for me to buy iy
    Guitar_Poet
    great review! this compilation is clever. it will definitely appeal to different audiences... which i guess is really the whole point. its a great sampling of DT's music, for those who are not used to longer or more complex songs... hopefully itll help ease people into that sort of thing. they dont really need it (their fan base is ridiculously huge for not being on the radio), but like someone else said, its always great for new people to discover this stuff. if you played, for instance, a 20 minute DT song for someone who is not used to long songs, theyd be completely turned off by it, and probably wouldnt give them a second chance. this is a great idea, in that respect. before i repeat myself more, ill stop. good job on DT though. on a final note, while i cant get over their music, the lyrics are not my favorite... but like it says in the review, lyrics are really put into the background.
    sambargun
    Like you mentioned a hard-core DT fan will definitely give this one a miss(like yours truly). It would have been different if they had put live versions of the same tracks plus some of their legendary jams of covers.....
    petrucci_owns86
    Good in-depth review. It sucks they didn't include a section for the really long, uber-progressive songs. I guess I don't really need this album since I already own all of their albums. But good job on the review though.
    kai2demax
    First Cool. I might just buy this for a friend who reckons DT are crap... what a tool... Wish they had theyre proggy stuff on this one
    ingames
    Ok my thoughts are that THIS CD IS SHIT AND A WASTE OF MONEY!!!! THERE, I said it and I'm proud. I've heard so many good things about Dream Theater, and I was really forward to listen to their ballads and melodic songs since Hollow Years grew more beautiful with each listen. The other songs sound like emo, introverted crap, and they sound the same. I can't find anything else to say about the generic "heavy songs" they composed. Also, the singer sounds like a girl. And Petrucci... well he's a waste of talent in this band. And "they don't have mainstream publicity" and shit. Well that's weird, cuz this is pop metal stuff. I'm talking about THIS RECORD, not their other ones. So go on. Tell me how wrong I am while I burn this shitty, "cleverly humored" album.