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Take Cover

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You ve Never Heard Anything Like It.Queensrÿche Pays Tribute To A Diverse Collection Of Favorite Songs With An 11-Song Covers Compilation Ranging From Pink Floyd To Black Sabbath and Buffalo Springfield To Broadway And Much More.

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  • The first thing you notice when you see the list of songs is the wide variety of sources from which the songs were culled. This could put off some fans, possibly thinking the album will not be a “Queensryche album.” However, the most noticeable trait about this album is that if you didn’t know any of the songs they’ve covered at all, but were familiar with the work of Queensryche, you wouldn’t think twice about it being Queensryche. They’ve definitely delivered the songs in their own way. With some songs, that meant a bit of a makeover, some change. With others, it meant staying quite faithful to the original. And this, perhaps, is the best approach to a set of covers. The album as a whole maintains the identity of the band.

    To elaborate by song:
    1. Welcome to the Machine – the influence Pink Floyd has had on Queensryche is obvious. “Silent Lucidity” certainly proved that. So, as expected, this song does not diverge drastically from the original. It has a more “metal” feel to it. Notably, I particularly liked how accurately the lead guitar parts emulated the melodicism and beauty of David Gilmour’s lead work.

    2. Heaven on their Minds – I’m not familiar with the original at all. I like the riff on this song, and overall I enjoyed the song very much. If I didn’t know in advance, I would not have realized it was a cover tune.

    3. Almost Cut My Hair – Again, not familiar with this particular track – see comments on previous track.

    4. For What It s Worth – This Buffalo Springfield track got a bit more of a makeover. The familiar feel, and signature guitar harmonics are not there, and the Chorus of the song has been altered fairly substantially. The original is a great track, but the changes fit the style of Queensryche, and ultimately, after you’ve listened a couple times, their version of the Chorus is equally hummable as the original, in it’s own way.

    5. For The Love Of Money – I’m familiar with this only as a song on the radio or as a soundbite. The signature bass lick that I recall is not used, and once again the song has been altered fairly significantly. This is not a bad thing, another song they’ve changed and made very much their own.

    6. Innuendo – This is the title track from Freddie Mercury/Queen’s last release while he was still alive. This track is not as rough as other reviewers have noted. It is not dramatically different than the original, however, there is a section where Tate sings in a different manner than the original and this may be what’s throwing people off. I see this as a deliberate change, not being “ill-at-ease.” In fact, it’s noticeable that this particular track evokes a similar feel to some of their own work on “Promised Land,” and I believe this is the muse from which Tate is drawing. It should also be noted that nobody else has mention how nicely executed the mid-section is – guitarists Wilton and Stone took on the (originally a Steve Howe guest spot on classical and) thick Brian May harmonies very comfortably – and this is a highlight of the album.

    7. Neon Knights – I love the original Sabbath track. This is a “very close to the original” take on this track. Hearing Geoff Tate tackle this, with his remarkable (but slightly aging) voice, reminds one of what a true freak of nature Ronnie James Dio really is, now in his mid-sixties (he was almost 40 when he joined Sabbath – then think how long it’s taken for him to even show any signs of aging in his singing…) Anyway, great take on a great track.

    8. Synchronicity II – Another take very similar to the original, but it has it’s own character that gives it just a slight more Queensrychian feel and sound. Another great close to home take.

    9. Red Rain – Pulling a little further away from the original but not a dramatic re-working. Again highlighting the strengths of Geoff Tate, who is singing another track originally by another amazing singer.

    10. Odissea – Never heard the original, but I will say this Opera piece is an excellent opportunity for Geoff Tate to really explore a lot of area’s of his voice. And EVEN here, the take on this comes across like a Queensryche song.

    11. Bullet The Blue Sky (Live) – A song from the period which I like by U2. One of my favorite U2 tracks. This take is very similar musically to U2’s. Geoff Tate gets into a fairly lengthy diatribe, and stretches this one out to over 10 minutes, which is a bit long. It’s a great take on the track, but the monologue could’ve been limited more and kept the track down to about 5 minutes. That would’ve been better.

    Overall, a great job. 4 1/2 stars.

    Posted on December 18, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Well, since Styx, Rush, and Def Leppard released their tribute album of covers, I guess it was about time Queensryche did the same. I always find it interesting when bands do the cover thing. You never know what to expect and you always compare it to the original. If the original is outstanding and has been a radio staple it’s going to be pretty difficult to out do it. And this is probably the case here. While Queensryche might have wanted to give their fans something to listen to before their next new release of studio material in 2008, I wonder if it’s really worth it. Is this going to be on everyone’s playlist all the time? This suffers, as has their recordings since the departure of DeGarmo. DeGarmo just added something to the band and without him it is an uphill climb, to be sure. While there really aren’t any stand-out tracks on this, it’s just another collection of covers that you could probably do without unless you’re the die-hard Queensryche fan. Geoff Tate singing Freddie Mercury or Sting. Some songs just shouldn’t be touched, no matter how much they influenced you. I think Tribe was their best in the post DeGarmo era, but sometimes you have to wonder if the band actually even listens to what they’ve recorded before releasing it. Wait until this cd comes up used and, maybe, purchase it then, but in the meantime, hopefully the 2008 release will be better than Mindcrime II (a disastrous album).

    Posted on December 18, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Okay, I will admit, the first time I heard this the phrase, WTF?, went through my head. The first track, a cover of Pink Floyd’s Welcome to the Machine, was brilliant. There is a lot of similarity between Queensryche’s sound and Pink Floyd’s sound, so this transition was pretty smooth. Then came Jesus Christ Superstar!?!? Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Peter Gabriel, Sting????

    This was daring, to say the least. However, the band did make the songs their own. It still sounds like Queensryche. So what happened was I kept going back to hear a particular song over again, and then let the CD play as I got involved in other things. After hearing the tracks a few times, they started to grow on me, to the point that this was the only CD I listened to for the next few days. Moral: don’t be to quick to push this disc aside. Give it time.

    I debated between giving this three stars and four stars, but given the general lackluster reviews, I thought I would give them the fourth star for daring to step outside their musical comfort zone. If you are a Queensryche fan, this is a must have.

    Posted on December 17, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I have to admit to being a pretty big fan of cover albums. It’s always interesting to me to hear a band pay tribute to their influences, and to just cut loose and have a little fun. Sometimes they turn out great, sometimes not so much. I would say that this particular one falls somewhere in between.

    The one thing you can say about this album is that it incorporates a pretty diverse array of artists. However, this is both good and bad. There are places where the band excels, especially on the Dio Sabbath tune “Neon Knights” (which is simply tailor made for Tate’s vocals), and on Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine”, which retains all of the creepy grandiosity of the original.

    However, there are also songs like the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” and Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Almost Cut My Hair” that just really didn’t fit with the band’s style or Geoff Tate’s vocals. Also, I nearly groaned in protest when I saw Buffalo Sprigfield’s “For What It’s Worth” was included on here, not that I have anything against the song, but it’s already been done to death. Ozzy and Rush both already did this song on their own cover albums, and neither really brought anything new to the original. However, this particular version is done a bit different from the original. It’s not amazing or anything, but at least they sort of made it their own.

    In between, the rest is pretty decent. The Police’s “Synchronicity II” and Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” are both done well, and the band takes some interesting ventures outside of the norm with “Odissea” and “Heaven On Their Minds”, which are reverent and well-accomplished nods to Tate’s background in opera and broadway, respectively. If I had to pick a favorite here, I’d say that Queen’s “Innuendo” is arguably the standout. This is an insanely difficult song to recreate, but the band never misses a step, and Tate does the late great Freddie Mercury justice like few people could.

    The album ends with a live cover of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky”, which is pretty cool, but kind of goes on for too long. This is one of my favorite U2 songs, and the band rocks it for sure, but I don’t know, I would have preferred a studio recording to this long rambling version.

    Overall, not a bad album. Not a must-have by any means, but it’s a fun buy if you like covers.

    Posted on December 17, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • In the now decade since guitarist Chris DeGarmo departed Queensryche, the band seems to have been severely lacking in direction and execution. 1999’s Q2K suffered from limp songwriting and 2003’s Tribe was, while significantly more satisfying than it’s predecessor, inconsistent (likely because of the presence of the departed DeGarmo on a handful of its tracks). But after Tribe, the band took a turn that made me nervous– touring as part of packages, playing nostalgia-oriented shows, and finally releasing a disasterous sequel to their ’80s metal masterpiece Operation: Mindcrime (the cleverly titled Operation: Mindcrime II), in what seemed a desperate effort to regain their past success. You can probably guess that I didn’t have good feelings about “Take Cover”, an album of cover songs. But having had a long love affair with Queensryche, I was willing to give it a spin. I loved Rush’s cover album from a few years back (Feedback), maybe this one would surprise me too.

    Overall, I can safely say, it’s not bad. But take that comment for what it is– faint praise at best. By and large, the band avoids the trap of sounding like a cover band by actually making the songs their own– this gives the record a real sense of consistency. And the arrangements are actually by and large quite clever (Jesus Christ Superstar track “Heaven on their Minds” gets a great, fairly straight metal reading, Stephen Stills’ classic “For What It’s Worth” gets its chorus butchered, but in a good way). Further, vocalist Geoff Tate is in fine voice throughout– he sounds as if he’s finally becoming comfortable with the (natural) aging of his voice (Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain”) whereas previously it sounded like he was struggling between trying to sing like he did in his 20s and finding something new.

    Still, as much as there is to like, at times the band approaches the material with reverence bordering on plasticity (the admittely incredibly well arranged Pink Floyd classic, “Welcome to the Machine”, The Police’s “Synchronicity II”) or seems just a bit off on tackling the material (Tate’s incredibly uncomfortable vocal on the bridge of Queen’s “Innuendo” is the best example).

    I suspect some people out there will really love this, and admittedly I was perhaps hostile to it from the start, but “Take Cover”, while quite listenable, is distinctly lacking. Its strengths come forth when the band is clearly having a good time (like on “For What It’s Worth”) as opposed to the material that was clearly a stronger influence on them. Fans will want to pick this up, everyone else can probably live without it.

    Posted on December 17, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now