Monday, December 22, 2008

Essential Albums: Queensryche "Operation: Mindcrime"

Artist: Queensryche
Album: Operation: Mindcrime
Year: 1988
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Eyes of a Stranger
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Suite Sister Mary

Wow. Operation: Mindcrime. If they ever put a heavy metal album in the Louvre, this will be it without question.

There's a lot of superlatives that apply to Operation: Mindcrime, and it might take a while to get around to them all, but here's a few:
  • Best Concept Album Ever
  • Best Rock Opera Ever
  • Most Artistic Heavy Metal Album Ever
  • Most Artistic Mainstream Album of the past 30 years
Of course, that's just my opinion, but my opinion is the only one that really matters here.

I'm not going to go into the back story of Operation: Mindcrime as it is amply documented in many places all over the Internet. Suffice it to say, the story is incredibly dramatic, insightful and even introspective. Without intending to leave out the other incredible Rychers, Geoff Tate is absolutely stunning in his heartfelt vocals, and the indispensable Chris DeGarmo sets the mood of every song with his incredible guitar work. Sometime when you have an hour alone at home or on a roadtrip, just crank Operation: Mindcrime and listen to it good and loud, uninterrupted, all the way through from start to finish. Listen to the story and put yourself in the place of Nikki. Then see if you can keep tears from your eyes as Nikki laments what has become of his life in "Eyes of a Stranger." Good luck with that.

By the way I forgot at least one superlative:
  • Best Rock Concert Ever
And on that note, I'm going to cheat a bit here and include Operation: LIVEcrime, the live recording of Operation: Mindcrime in concert, in its entirety, during the "Empire" tour. Queensryche in concert is simply amazing - one of the best live acts I've ever seen, and that's some pretty lofty company.

This album was originally released in 1991 and was incredibly exclusive and hard to find just a few years later. Fortunately Queensryche re-released it in about 2001. The live album is incredible, possibly better than the studio version. Just thinking of the incredible ovation at the end of "Eyes of a Stranger" gives me chills.

With the inclusion of this album, I have to add another best song, "Roads to Madness." The live version of this song is just raw power, and it is almost as though that song was meant to be on Mindcrime anyway - it fits right in to the story.

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