Take Cover

Queensryche

Rhino, 2007

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/29/2008

I call myself a Queensryche fan, but I’m not a diehard devotee. I do not listen to their albums repeatedly, day after day. I don’t consider any of their releases flawless (though 1988’s Operation Mindcrime is as close to perfect as possible), and I don’t consider them above their humanity. They are humans, making music that they need to make. With that in mind, we arrive at their latest offering, an album of cover songs that Queensryche felt obligated to record and release. I consider collections of cover songs to be filler between releases and a way to generate radio airplay. I think that when a band’s creativity is starting to dry up, they start bashing out cover tunes in a rehearsal until they can write their own material. If that is the case, Take Cover is the perfect preamble to the band’s next release. Queensryche needed to select songs that are interesting to a wide range of fans as they have been around since the mid ‘80s At the same time, they needed to be true to their vision of what songs they wanted to record. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Kicking off with “Welcome To The Machine,” it’s immediately evident that drummer Scott Rockenfield can still nail a groove with his hi-hats and that vocalist Geoff Tate still has an amazing vocal range, as this track requires him to hit both highs and lows. It is an odd choice for an opener – it’s not a particularly great song – but Queensryche pull it off well. They follow up with the equally uncharacteristic non-metal choices “Heaven On Their Minds” (from Jesus Christ Superstar) and “Almost Cut My Hair.”

You actually have to get to their interpretation of Black Sabbath’s “Neon Knights” (track seven) before you get to hear Queensryche play heavy metal. This track begins the quintet of perfect songs that complete this release. After their take on Black Sabbath, the Police’s “Synchronicity II” follows (naturally?) and then Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain,” then the Italian song “Odissea” and finally, the ultimate live recording of U2’s “Bullet The Blue Sky” which features vocalist Tate ranting a bit.

And what’s really refreshing about these final five songs is that they encapsulate what is right with releases like this. Sometimes cover albums are done correctly (Everclear’s Songs From Las Vegas comes to mind) and sometimes they are done incorrectly (Avril Lavigne’s release called Influences, an atrocity of favorite songs she picked but didn’t even attempt to put her own mark on).

Queensryche steps up to the plate and nails a long ball to deep center that goes out of the park. After all, why would you want to pay a cent to hear a band play songs that sound like their original material? Wouldn’t the point of a cover disc be to hear a band play material you, as a listener, are unfamiliar with?

Queensryche do sound like Queensryche on this release. The material allows the musicians to locate the groove of the song, to nail down the tempo, and to sound like they were having fun playing these songs. I hope it energizes the band. They are scheduled to play the entire Operation: Mindcrime release at this year’s Rocklahoma in July, 2008 to celebrate its 20-year anniversary. Then maybe they can get back to writing new material that captures the groove and musical dexterity that is explored on this release.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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