Known Johnson

April 3, 2006

Operation: sequel

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 9:43 am

If you’d fallen into a coma in 1988, you might have done so thinking “Damn, I didn’t get to hear that Queensryche concept album, Operation: Mindcrime,” missing out on one of The Best Albums Of All Time (it’s official, I have declared it so.) Let’s just say that coma lasted 18 years and you woke up today and grabbed the nearest new-release list. You might be mistaken thinking that you had merely passed out because on the release schedule for tomorrow you find Operation: Mindcrime. Oh, wait – except it’s II. A sequel.

I’m really torn about how I feel about this. On the one hand, the original album is a classic and I don’t think you will find many discerning music fiends who disagree. It had one of the strongest storylines that any concept album has ever had – and it’s far too complicated for me to detail here. Look it up and see for yourself. What really sets it apart from so many other concept albums is that it stands up to scrutiny and repeated listening. It doesn’t answer all the questions for you. In fact, it leaves the biggest question, “who killed Mary?,” completely unanswered. But most of all, it’s a nearly flawless album – from start to finish, there’s nary an unnecessary moment in the entire thing. Every note, lyric, and sound works toward an intense conclusion that leaves the listener as exhausted as he is excited. And it begs to be listened to over and over again – which I did back in 1988 when I was introduced to it. This and Def Leppard’s Hysteria spent an incredible amount of time blaring through my stereos. Guess which one I still listen to today.

So tomorrow comes the sequel to Mindcrime. While I’m intrigued to see how the band pulls off continuing the story (which I swear that, back when the first album came out, they denied ever having any intention of resurrecting with a follow-up,) the biggest question is how necessary this really is. Did we need to know whether it was Nicky or the evil Dr. X that killed Mary? Regardless, if you buy it, you’re going to find out. My guess? (Highlight with your mouse to see.) (She killed herself.)

Is it going to be a classic? Highly improbable. I do have hope, however, that it will at least be good. I may be one of the few to do so, but I picked up their previous album, Tribe when it came out and still find it to be a good listen. The band is still capable of putting out good music. They may have spiralled into commercial irrelevancy as the 90s wore on, but that shouldn’t prevent the band from continuing to create good music for their core fans. What worries me is that taking on a Mindcrime sequel screams of a desperate bid for attention from more than those core fans. It’s unfortunate that the only step forward that they can see at this point is really only a glance backwards. If they can put together something that is even half as musically intriguing as the original Mindcrime, it’ll be satisfying. Luckily, you can answer that question right now, if you so wish, by clicking over to Rhino’s page for the album where you can hear the entire thing if you want to.

I listened to 30 minutes of it last week and decided, momentarily, that I didn’t need to hear any more, that I didn’t need to own it at all, that I didn’t want answered the questions left hanging from the first album. Now, a week later, with Mindcrime (I) on heavy rotation once again, I have decided that Mindcrime II will be in my hands tomorrow (along with the new Flaming Lips freak-out, At War With The Mystics). I’m a sucker, but I’m a hopeful sucker. Maybe, with lyrics and artwork in hand, music pumping into my ears, Queensryche can convince me that Mindcrime II is actually relevent. Failing that, let it just be good.

Update: AllMusicGuide has their review up! Four stars! Wow.

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2 Comments »

  1. My copy shipped this morning (along with the new one from Sean Watkins). I haven’t listened to any of it online yet, didn’t want to spoil the surprise. As to your guess, didn’t they reveal exactly that in the Mindcrime VHS release?

    Comment by Tom Conley — April 3, 2006 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  2. Wow, Tom, you might be right. I honestly can’t remember anymore – I haven’t seen the video in way over a decade. Do I even have it anymore? I don’t remember! I think it’s out on DVD now, but I guess as of tomorrow it won’t matter anyway!

    Comment by Tom — April 3, 2006 @ 12:37 pm | Reply


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