65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2006
This was first released back in 1999, and at the time I considered Porcupine Tree to be a pretty good progressive-rock band. Not necessarily great, but pretty good. I had even skipped over getting their "Coma Divine: Live in Rome" album (thinking that I didn't really need a live album from them), and "Metanoia" (which was described as some extra music they had left over from previous recording sessions, and that didn't sound too interesting...). But after listening to "Stupid Dream", I went back and bought "Coma Divine". And with those two albums, I considered them the best new band of the 1990's.
"Stupid Dream" is a little slower-paced than previous albums, with more intricate, varied and interesting instrumental work on it. Not that their previous music had been bad, but the music here is even better. The music has more of an edge to it, and distances the band a bit more from the "Pink Floyd Sound" that they had on "The Sky Moves Sideways". But the more notable improvement is in the lyrics. Steve Wilson managed to come up with songs that were more about people and personal emotions, instead of "spacy vague trippy topics". Lyrically, the songs here are more of a rock album, instead of the psychedelic lyrics from earlier albums. Mind you, I also liked those psychedelic lyrics, but I can only take so many of those before they seem trite. The songs on "Stupid Dream" are certainly not trite.
You can check out all the lyrics at PTree's web site, so I won't bother typing in all the ones I like. But I personally like "Piano Lessons". It could be a theme song for anyone who is young, talented, and eager to come up with "something new", even though the people around them are very cynical. ``She said there's too much out there. Too much already said. You'd better give up hoping, you're better off in bed. -- You don't need much to speak out. No class, no wit, no soul. Forget you own agenda, get ready to be sold''.
The lyrics are still sparse, so different listeners can fill in the details of the song from their own experiences. "Even Less" is a song about a friend dying, and the feeling that maybe you could have helped him out in some way. "Pure Narcotic" is a song were one person is hopelessly infatuated with someone, but the other person doesn't seem to care all that much. "This Is No Rehearsal" is a parent who has their only child abducted. Note that it isn't a long song about the details of the *abduction*, but just a few sentences which express the feeling of loss. The album ends with "Stop Swimming", about someone who is just too tired of struggling and wants to stop, even if that means they will die. Obviously a number of sad themes there.
"A Smart Kid" is a bit of a throwback to earlier PTree songs like "Radioactive Toy", in that it's more like an excerpt from some science-fiction story. ``Winter lasted five long years. No sun will come again I fear. Chemical harvest was sown. -- And I will wait for you, until the sky is blue. And I will wait for you, what else can I do? -- A spaceship from another star. They ask me where all the people are. What can I tell them? -- I tell them I'm the only one. There was a war but I must have won.''
Okay, so that's the album. If you don't have it, then this is a great album to pick up and listen to. For those who already have the original album, the question is whether this remastered version is worth buying. I think it is. It's obviously worth it if you have a good 5.1-capable DVD-audio system (I don't, but this album might get me to buy one!), due to the second disk with the new 5.1 audio mix. But even the regular stereo CD is a little clearer-sounding in spots. The music isn't much different, in that there's no new solos or anything, and all the songs have basically the same playing time as the original. But some of the details seem a little sharper (IMO), and there were a few spots in the original version where I couldn't quite make out the lyrics, and those spots seem more understandable in this version.
I really think this is one of the best albums of the past ten years, especially for anyone who likes a variety of solid substantial music surrounding short, memorable lyrics. After this album, I switched to pre-ordering any new release from the group. I was confident that these guys really knew what they were doing, and their "Lightbulb Sun", "In Absentia" and "Deadwing" albums released after this one have certainly continued to prove that.
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2000
It seems in this day of age we are bombarded with music from bands that simply have no talent. Groups like Limp Biskit or Godsmack are on the top of the charts. Why is this when there is quality rock and roll being made?
You can hear this quality from Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson gives you more than most bands--he takes you places with his songs and lyrics. While other bands are pumping out standard rock--PT utilizes elements of folk, classical, and the progressive sounds of the 70's. Using guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass, banjo, dulcimer and whatever else they can find, PT produces an album that is pure narcotic genius.
It's not often I find an album where I can listen to every track. With "Stupid Dream," each song is a stand-out cut. From the melow hard rocker "Even Less," to the spacey and brilliant "Baby Dream in Cellophane," PT simply delivers real music and real rock to the masses. With lyrics dealing with alien contact, the end of the world, and the acceptance of oneself, it's hard to believe this band is not on a major label.
Buy this record--you must. It's one you must have in your collection.
Why is a band like PT being overlooked by mainstream music? Maybe it's too much to handle for those people who want the same pre-fabricated garbage that is out there. If you want sophisticated music with an edge--this is the band for you!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2000
As you can tell by all the other reviews, England's Porcupine Tree are a bit difficult to describe. Are they psychedelia? Progressive rock? Pop? A little of all of those, actually. Up until now they've been content to seamlessly mix elements of every era of Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, post-Waters) with electronic touches, but this is the first album where extended instrumental passages and trippy ambience take a backseat to actual songs. And what songs they are: "This is No Rehearsal," "Even Less" and "Piano Lessons" are right up there with the best rock songs of '99, or even the '90s in general. Hardcore prog fans seem to be crying "sellout" due to leader Steven Wilson's increased interest in song structure, but don't let them put you off - Stupid Dream is a gem.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2006
THE BAND: Steven Wilson (vocals, guitar, piano, bass, samples), Richard Barbieri (keyboards, mellotron, Hammond organ), Colin Edwards (bass), Chris Maitland (drums & percussion).
THE DISCS: (1999) 12 tracks clocking in at just over 60 minutes. This is a 2-disc package: Disc-1 is the original 12 track album (remastered). Disc-2 is a DVD-Audio disc containing the same 12 tracks - to be played on your DVD player at home through your 5.1 surround sound system or on your home PC (must have a DVD player installed). Disc-2 has bonus material including a video ("Piano Lessons"), photo gallery, bonus track "Ambulance Chasing" (previously only available on "Recordings"), and the full length 14+ minute version of "Even Less". Included with the discs is a 14-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics, odd pictures relating to the album cover, and one band photo. Recorded at Foel Studios(Wales) and No Man's Land (England). The album cover artwork has changed... the original guy standing in the white suit in the wafer lab is gone. Initially on Madfish Records (UK) label, this digitally remastered version released in 2006 is on Transmission Recordings' label.
COMMENTS: In my opinion, Porcupine Tree is quite simply the best band working in the progressive rock field these days. "Stupid Dream" is a masterwork and I put it right up there with "Lightbulb Sun" (2000), "In Absentia" (2002) and "Deadwing" (2005) as being my favorite studio recordings from PT. A great album, song for song, with no filler to be found. If I had to list my 2 or 3 all-time favorite songs from PT, the opening track here "Even Less" is absolutely one of them. The song itself is one of their concert staples. Hard to say if the story (about childhood dreams and a friend who commits suicide) or the fantastic guitar that begins the song is the best part (the intro reminds me of something Jimmy Page or David Gilmore might have done decades ago). The original pressing of "Stupid Dream" is now out of print and expensive if you can find it. This new packaging is equally brilliant. The songs are wonderful... "Even Less" a favorite; "Piano Lessons" a happy upbeat song about "tiny hands destroying timeless tunes" as a youngster; some great space jams with "Slave Called Shiver", "This Is No Rehearsal" and "Tinto Brass"; as well as some beautiful acoustic drumless ballads in "Pure Narcotic" and "Baby Dream In Cellophane". Another favorite on "Stupid Dream" is the song "Smart Kid"... starting off as a acoustic guitar and piano ballad with the rest of the band joining in to jam half way through the tune. This is a great album and if you enjoy rock-and-roll music as well as progressive rock - you must have "Stupid Dream". *Note - if you find the song "Even Less" being one of your favorites from PT, look for the full length 14-minute version of the same song on the "Recordings" (2001) release. The digitally remastered sound is brilliantly crisp to a fault. Also look for The Tree's wonderful DVD "Arriving Somewhere" (2006) featuring 2 songs from this album ("Even Less" and "Don't Hate Me"). "Stupid Dream" is a classic disc from The Tree (5 stars).
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2005
Having listened to Porcupine Tree since just after the release of Signify (the album preceeding this one), I was very comfortable with the sound they had perfected on albums Up the Downstair, The Sky Moves Sideways and Signify. As I remember being very excited for the release of Stupid Dream, I also remember being VERY disappointed upon first listening to this album.
I think the main reason for this was it seemed so simple and most of the songs were short! Especially compared to such masterpiece songs like The Sky Moves Sideways Phase One and Darkmatter. However, this album has since become my favourite PT album, and yes, I own and love all the albums (Lightbulb Sun, In Absentia and Deadwing) since the release of this album.
PT's has recieved a ton of praise for In Absentia and Deadwing, and while I agree that those albums are fantastic, I think Stupid Dream is Steven Wilson at his absolute best.
This album holds its own throughout, there isn't a throwaway track on it. This album demonstrates how straightfoward songs should be written, Steven Wilson is an absolute genius. In his career through Porcupine Tree and his many side projects he has released over twenty full length albums, not to mention his skills as a producer, which you will notice as you listen to any PT album. Album highlights include Even Less, Piano Lessons Slave Called Shiver and Stop Swimming.
If you own In Absentia and Deadwing, you should be very excited for the re releases of this album and Lightbulb Sun, due in early '06. As for the four albums preceeding Stupid Dream, you should definately get Stars Die, one of the best Greatest Hits collections ever created, masterfully documenting PT's first 4 albums. PT is an amazingly talented and unique band in a world of amazingly untalented and commonplace bands. Check them out!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
First of all, the #1 rule of PT collecting is that if something's available, buy it, because it may not be around forever...so this applies in general to all things Porcupine Tree/Steve Wilson. However, this album isn't just a great PT album, or a great PT album, but a desert-island-top-ten album.
I first saw Porcupine Tree on the first leg of the Deadwing Tour, in June '05. I had heard In Absentia and the excellent Stars Die compilation of their early work and had extremely high expectations. But nothing prepared me for my reaction to the show. By the end of it I was ripping my PT t-shirt off to check and see if I could catch another date...alas, it was not to be. I remember asking the lovely blonde lady next to me what was that AMAZING song that they did right before they broke for their encore and she said "Even Less. Wow, you were so into the show and you've never heard anything off of Stupid Dream?"
I called a friend the next day that had been a longtime "Tree Hugger," and the first thing he asked me was "How did you like that song right before the encore? That's from Stupid Dream, the album that blew my doors off a few years back." The song was, of course, Even Less.
In the month or so thereafter, I went from owning 3 Porcupine Tree albums to nearly 50 Porcupine Tree and Steve Wilson-related discs (and seeing 4 shows on the second Deadwing leg), and while it's all a pretty amazing body of work, Stupid Dream is at the apex. It's that good. It shares the "poppy, song oriented era" of Porcupine Tree with Lightbulb Sun, but is far more consistent, and perfectly bridges the psychedelic earlier PT music with the heavier, metal-tinged era of In Absentia, Deadwing, and from the sound of the new material at their LA and San Francisco shows last week, continuing through the next effort. It's more structured than the early material, yet still mostly melodic rather than metallic, with powerful, spare lyrics coupled with complex, yet catchy arrangements and song structure. It gives up more and more with each listen, and while it holds together as a body of work, it also contains a huge variety of sounds and approaches.
The 5.1 mixes are fantastic, and the bonus material is great, but any Tree Hugger should buy this disk solely because it contains the 14 minute "full length" version of Even Less, which appeared on Recordings, a limited edition (read...$300+ on E-bay) of singles, outtakes and b-sides from Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun. Whereas the original version has two verses about a suicide, a murder, and horrible childhood memories, and ends with an eerie countown of radio numbers, the "full length" version continues through a long, percussive instrumental build leading to a screaming guitar solo and a DEVASTATING third verse that is a scream of anger at the hopelessness of faith in the face of loss and alienation, a searing indictment of Christianity in particular, and a final coda of giving in and submission to forces beyond our control. It's by far the best "progressive epic" song in years, and will indeed blow your doors off.
If you like any sort of "progressive" music, get this disc immediately, as it's one of the best in the past ten years.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2002
The change in identity between Porcupine Tree's previous studio album, Signify, to Stupid Dream may have thrown PT listeners for a loop (good or bad). The seeds for Stupid Dream were in Signify's tighter sound, shorter songs and more direct lyrics.
All this said Stupid Dream is a major change. It is more glossy, more "major label" sounding and more accessable to a larger audience.
Starting with the huge sounding Even Less going from epic rock with a slight progressive feel to an electronica style end this song encapsulates PT's approach on Stupid Dream.
Songs like Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic and Slave Called Shiver are some of the most commercial sounds produced by Porcupine Tree. There are still moments of great ambience similar to the more expansive style songs PT were known for on previous albums. Tinto Brass is a great example of this side of PT.
Each song carries itself well, Don't Hate Me starts as a sad lament and branches off into yet another smart instrumental segment. In the past it was sometimes hard to call Porcupine Tree tracks songs. They were expanded and expansive but on Stupid Dream everything is compressed and refined. 4 of the 12 songs are over five minutes in length so we aren't talking traditional/current pop songs.
Stupid Dream is really a brilliant album. It's song programming is excellent, taking one on a voyage. Whereas PT used to do the same thing with their longer songs here it is the album that takes that approach making for one hour of ear candy that has real substance.
If you are already a fan and haven't gotten Stupid Dream because of the cries of "sell out" take the leap. Like any good work of art repeated attention brings rewards. To the unintiated this is somewhat like the kind of bands that try to be hip by embracing electronic sounds. Porcupine Tree however has always had great chops in both the electronic and rock arena so this is a pretty safe bet. If you are looking for long jams to space out over it's here but you'd have to work harder to get that vibe, try The Sky Moves Sideways or Signify.
Buy this CD if you can find it, availability is spotty.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2000
Porcupine Tree is a band I only discovered within the past six months, through audio samples here on Amazon, and some "customers also bought this" links. I liked enough of what little I heard of Stupid Dream that I thought I would give it a try. I found myself pleasantly surprised after hearing this record in its entirety. It has become one of my favorite recent albums, and has a regular spot in either my home or car CD player. Some people have classified Porcupine Tree as "neo-progressive", "space-rock", or "art-rock". Those labels may be a bit smug. I really cannot put a label on Porcupine Tree, except maybe classifying them as a "hybrid" group, combining elements of ambient, rock, Britpop, and classic 70's symphonic progressive into a sound of their own, not too much unlike Radiohead, but not quite as quirky and a bit more contemplative lyrically. Given Radiohead's commercial success and high accolades from the music press, it is a wonder why Porcupine Tree has yet to transcend its modest cult status.PT, group leader/singer/songwriter/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Steven Wilson, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, bassist Colin Edwin, and percussonist Chris Maitland, crafts atmospheric, dreamlike compositions that seem to take you back in time to the 70's, when music really mattered. There is a wealth of great songs on this disc. "Pure Narcotic", "Don't Hate Me", "Baby Dream In Cellophane", "A Smart Kid", and "Stop Swimming" are slow, echo-drenched, atmospheric pieces. "Even Less" is the heaviest song on the record, bordering on hard rock in spots, but with graceful soundscapes during the verses. "Piano Lessons" is a witty pop song indicative of its title, and "This Is No Rehearsal" is a track with changing dynamics that features the best of the few, but effective, guitar solos Wilson plays on the album. I would highly recommend this for those who prefer progressive music that is not flashy and indulgent, but instead is sparse and textural, producing a sum that is greater than the individual parts. The result of Wilson's lush, eloquent production is a smart album that demands continued listening for the appreciation of its beauty and depth.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 1999
I have to disagree with the official reviews given above, because this sounds very little like the overblown '70s prog that they compare it to. I hear much more modern rock like Radiohead and the Verve here than I hear anything resembling Yes, Genesis, ELP, etc. It seems that nowadays a lot of prog is saddled with the absurdity of its past, but the fact is that this is complex, engrossing, very modern rock. I love it, this is my first PT album, and I was afraid that it might be a Yes-clone or something, but it's about as close to Jon Anderson as Beethoven is to Yanni. If you like a mix of Radiohead, the Verve, and Spiritualized with a smidgen of Pink Floyd, Marillion, and the Beatles, this is definitely for you.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2004
I started with In Absentia (took a chance from just reading the reviews) and I was hooked. I have bought all I could find and today I received Stupid Dream. If you like In Absentia you without a doubt love this CD. It is the most cohesive of their recordings. The songs are geared to a more "commercial" sound (in their Porcupine Tree kind of way) and the entire recording flows incredibly well. They are due to re-release Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun in remastered mix in 2005 with "at least" one receiving a DVD-Audio 5.1 Surround format mix. I can't wait. The In Absentia DVD-A Surround is just fantastic. AND....their new CD is due out in September (2004)!!!