Images and Words is the second studio album by American progressive metal band Dream Theater, released on July 7, 1992 through ATCO Records. It is the first Dream Theater release to feature James LaBrie on vocals. Since its release, the album has maintained its position as the band’s most commercially successful studio album, and the song “Pull Me Under” has the distinction of being the only Top 10 hit (radio or otherwise) the band has had to date. This particular song has also had more recent success as it has appeared in the 2008 video game Guitar Hero World Tour.
After Charlie Dominici’s departure from Dream Theater, the band auditioned nearly 200 individuals across the nation, until James LaBrie, who at that point was part of Canadian glam metal band Winter Rose, sent the band an audition tape. After a short jam session, he was named Dream Theater’s new lead singer, and has remained with them ever since.
With LaBrie as the new vocalist, the band was signed to a seven-album contract by ATCO Records, and shortly thereafter, they began recording their new album in late 1991. The album’s production was marred with tensions, as the band clashed with producer David Prater, including incidents where Prater would lock the band out of the studio, and infamously forcing drummer Mike Portnoy to use triggered snare and bass drum samples, with the snare sample being the exact one used on FireHouse’s 1992 album Hold Your Fire, another album Prater produced around the same time.
The lead single, “Pull Me Under”, gained the band considerable commercial success with its airplay on MTV and radio, garnering them a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. When the album was released, it sold at a steady pace, helped by an extensive world tour.
Dream Theater originally intended to release a double album, but was rejected by ATCO, causing several songs to be omitted from the album. One of these songs, “A Change of Seasons”, would later be re-recorded by the band and released on an EP of the same name in 1995.
The song “Take the Time” includes samples from Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin'” (“Hold it now”), Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool” (“Wait a minute”), and Public Enemy’s “Power to the People”, (“Come on”). LaBrie had appeared as a guest vocalist on Fates Warning’s 1991 album Parallels, for which the band was credited as “Dream Theatre” in the “special thanks” of the album’s credits. Dream Theater responded by thanking “Fatez Warning” in the credits of Images and Words.
Images and Words was played in its entirety on several occasions during the European leg of the 2007 “Chaos in Motion” tour, in celebration of its 15th anniversary. On July 7, 2012, at a concert in Austin, Texas, the songs “Pull Me Under”, “Another Day”, and “Metropolis” were performed as an encore to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary. Additionally, “Surrounded” was performed during the main set.
In 2013, the album was reissued on vinyl as a limited edition 180 gr. double LP.
In 2017, Dream Theater celebrated the 25th anniversary of Images And Words on the “Images, Words & Beyond” tour in Europe, which started on January 30 at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, Italy.
While speaking to Songfacts’ Greg Prato in 2019, LaBrie listed Images and Words as the Dream Theater album he is most proud of, because “That established what Dream Theater really is. I think it’s a phenomenal album from beginning to end. (wikipedia)
Dream Theater’s first album with new vocalist James LaBrie is an excellent mix of progressive metal stylings with heartfelt vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. Guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy, all of whom trained at Berklee, show impressive ability on their respective instruments. Kevin Moore’s keyboards weave strongly through the intricately constructed songs, while operatically trained LaBrie shows an impressive range with his tenor. Standout tracks include the complex “Metropolis, Pt. 1,” the Shakespeare-influenced “Pull Me Under” (also released as a single and video), the dramatic “Take the Time,” and the 11-minute, thoughtful “Learning to Live.” Dream Theater’s musicianship and songwriting are a cut above the norm; this is a very good disc. (by Phil Carter)
This album is one of the best thing’s ever done on Prog Metal. On year ’92 Metal was at his lowest point and this complex, high-talented but melodic and intelligent band brought to the table this masterpiece. 25 years later this album is still one of the most awesome creations of Dream Theater and the whole Prog scene since then. A great balance between melody, complex tracks, weird rhytms, thinky lyrics and catchy chourses. And the sensation that you can listen it a hundred times and you always will find something new it’s unvaluable. (Benjamín Amorín García)
James LaBrie (vocals)
Kevin Moore (keyboards)
John Myung (bass)
John Petrucci (guitar, background vocals)
Mike Portnoy (drums, percussion, background vocals on 01.)
Jay Beckenstein (saxophone on 02.)
01. Pull Me Under 8.15
02. Another Day 4.24
03. Take The Time 8.21
04. Surrounded 5.30
05. Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper’ 9.32
06. Under A Glass Moon 7.04
07. Wait For Sleep 2.32
08. Learning To Live 11.31
Music is composed by James LaBrie – John Petrucci – Kevin Moore – John Myung – Mike Portnoy
except 07. by Kevin Moore