Queensryche – Sign of the Times (1997)

The first single from Queensryche’s Here in the Now Frontier album was the first song on the album, “Sign of the Times”, the somewhat political/societal rocker written by Chris DeGarmo. (This is not to be confused with the 2007 greatest hits compilation of the same name.) It’s not a bad song, and an okay choice for a single, so it appears in original studio album format on this four-song CD.

There’s also a new song as a b-side, somewhat rare for the band, who have only let a handful of cuts drop from their studio albums. This one’s called “Chasing Blue Sky”, and it’s a very moody and laid-back number, written by Geoff Tate and drummer Scott Rockenfield. It actually sounds much more like something Tate would later do on his self-titled solo album a few years later. I’m not a big fan of this track myself, partially because it’s so wallowy and uninteresting, and because it’s the first Queensryche song to have a harmonica solo in it, which is just plain stupid. But prior to all of the albums being re-released with bonus tracks (and, I guess, before Napster, Kazaa, and the like made it easy to just steal these kind of tracks without much effort), this was a somewhat elusive track to find, which means people were willing to pay twenty bucks for four songs.

The album’s also rounded out by two cuts from that 1992 MTV Unplugged show that was broadcast exactly once and then milked by record labels but never released in a proper fashion. Here you get “Silent Lucidity” (probably the big money shot for most part-time fans of the band) and “The Killing Words”. (I think you can now get all of the tracks for the unplugged show if you buy a certain number of the re-released albums, but I haven’t done the math to figure it out; there might be one or two tracks missing. The whole show, including false starts and second takes, is widely bootlegged.)

Trivia: the liner notes say “Queensryche is still:”, and then Chris Degarmo left about ten seconds later.

The whole idea of buying this is somewhat moot now. If you buy the new re-release of HitNF you get all three bonus tracks here, plus the unplugged version of “I Will Remember”. But back in my day, when eBay didn’t exist and you couldn’t file-share this stuff or buy the re-release, you had to buy this. It’s an okay grouping of tracks, but only for completists.

Rating: 8

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