Queensryche – Sign of the Times: The Best of Queensryche (2007)

My first thought when I heard Queensryche was releasing another compilation album was “christ, didn’t they just do this fifteen minutes ago?” Okay, it was more like four years earlier, but the Capitol Records 12-track Classic Masters contained no new material, and was essentially useless; the 2000 compilation Greatest Hits was barely passable, with two non-album tracks. So is the 2007 stab at the same thing just another ploy to get the masses to buy another “Silent Lucidity plus other tracks” CD?

Well, no. There is some confusion, however. First, the title of the album is the same as the title of a previously-released CD single. Also, if you get the album from iTunes, it’s titled The Best of Queensryche and two songs are substituted. (Don’t worry, they are from Q2K and Mindcrime 2 – you’re not missing anything.) Also, there is a regular, 17-track, single disc version – that is fairly worthless, with the exception of “Real World”, a decent track that originally appeared on the Last Action Hero soundtrack and involves a heavy amount of Michael Kamen orchestration.

The real “meat” of this collection is a second CD that only appears in a “collector’s edition”, and that is loaded with a whopping 15 tracks of new, non-album goodness. Here’s the rundown:

  • “Take Hold of the Flame”, “Walk In the Shadows”, and “Before the Storm” – These are all demos made by the band when they were still called Myth, and were previously unreleased. The band only sounds vaguely like Queensryche from their first EP, and more resembles early Fates Warning. Other than the titles, the songs bear absolutely no resemblance to their later studio editions. I can’t say I will listen to these over and over, but it is awesome to hear the band lay down some early progress for us to hear. (Note: if you bought from iTunes, these will be labelled as Myth tracks, so don’t fret if they don’t show up in the Q section of your music library.)
  • “Waiting For the Kill”, “No Sanctuary”, and “Prophecy” – These are all demos from The Warning, and they’re different songs, but there are bits and pieces that were clearly reused elsewhere. For example, solos and big chunks of “Waiting” end up becoming “NM156”.
  • The acoustic version of “I Dream In Infrared” from the Rage For Order sessions. Cool, but it’s been released as a b-side at least once or twice before.
  • “Della Brown” from the Unplugged session, and “Silent Lucidity” live, from a B-side for “Bridge”. You probably own ten copies of these also.
  • The I-have-many-times b-sides “Chasing Blue Sky”, “Someone Else?” with full band, “Scarborough Fair”, and the Empire-era “Dirty Li’l Secret”.
  • From the Ford Fairlane soundtrack is “Last Time in Paris”, which was a b-side from one of the Empire singles. I’d totally forgotten about this song! It’s one of those windows straight back to 1992 when I picked up the single, and a very catchy tune.
  • “Justified” – a completely new song, unreleased elsewhere. I’m not sure when this is recorded, but it’s got an excellent sound to it, and it’s almost worth the price of admission.

Overall, this is a decent collection, and the rarities make it a decent value. I don’t think of Queensryche as a band with a lot of odd material in the attic, but if you want to get it all in one swoop without spending tons on rare singles and bootlegs, this is the way to go.

Rating: 8.5

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