Queensryche - Operation:livecrime

Crime of the Century

1 I remember now
2 Anarchy-X
3 Revolution calling
4 Operation:Mindcrime
5 Speak
6 Spreading the disease
7 The mission
8 Suite Sister Mary
9 The needle lies
10 Electric requiem
11 Breaking the silence
12 I don't believe in love
13 Waiting for 22
14 My empty room
15 Eyes of a stranger
16 The lady wore black (live 5/10/91)
17 Roads to madness (live 5/10/91)

Although Queensryche had made something of a name for themselves thanks to their original three releases, 1983's 'Queensryche' EP, their full-length 1984 debut 'The Warning' and 1986's 'Rage for order', nothing really prepared the metal-loving world for 1988's 'Operation:Mindcrime'. A ground-breaking release, not least for being a successful concept albums when concept albums were hardly de rigeur, this tale of disillusionment in late 80's America stayed on the US chart for a whole year. It saw the band precede Metallica by working with Michael Kamen (who handled the orchestration - it's no coincidence that both bands were managed by Q-Prime), and established them as one of the genre's class acts.

Indeed, such was the impact of 'Operation:Mindcrime', when it was performed in its entirety at London's then Hammersmith Odeon in the middle of the bands 1991 UK 'Empire' tour (something they hadn't actually done on the actual '…Mindcrime' tour) it almost took the venue's roof off.

The chances are that anyone who missed this delicious spectacle of hard rock nirvana would have taken solace in 1991's 'OPERATION:LIVEcrime' box set, which carried a video of the live spectacular as well as an additional CD. Deleted in 1998, the CD itself has long had Queensryche fans clamouring over internet auctions to land this elusive prize, and now EMI have made that single CD available to sate their appetites (two extra pre-'…Mindcrime' tracks seem totally unnecessary). Of course, in this DVD age this gives rise to the question: why not reissue the whole thing as a double-sided DVD with movie on one side and soundtrack on the other. But, hey, who's complaining?

It's a testament to the quality of the songs on 'Operation:Mindcrime' that, some 14 years after the album's release, they not only stand up, but can be so startlingly effective on a live album such as this.

As the whole theme builds up through the opening atmospheric setting of 'I remember now' and 'Anarchy-X', it elicits ripples of excitement in the listener. 'Revolution calling', the title track, 'Speak' and 'Spreading the disease' all offer the kind of knock-out combination Lennox Lewis could only dream of as the entire piece builds to it's lengthy 'Suite Sister Mary' mid-section, with Pamela Moore handling the part of the violated nun.

Here, many bands would have begun to lose the plot, but not Queensryche. Handling the longest piece of their career at that point with what sounds like complete ease, they then manoeuvre themselves through a 'back set' of equally compelling, progressively tinged metal - the pounding 'The needle lies', 'Breaking the silence' and the supremely catchy 'I don't believe in love' - before bringing proceedings to an almost breathless climax with the emphatic 'Eyes of a stranger'.

That the entire album works so well without the visuals that accompanied the live show (some of which were included on 'Video:Mindcrime') speaks volumes for the bands worth - a fact they compounded with the release of the excellent 'Empire'. They were, at least back then, one of the best rock bands in the world.

Jerry Ewing
Classic Rock October 2001