Not all covers albums are created alike. When younger bands make them, like Between the Buried and Me, they’re showing off. When older bands make them, like Ministry and Queensrÿche, they’re wistfully looking back. Or, perhaps in the case of the latter, they’ve run out of new ideas.
Queensrÿche peaked artistically with Operation: Mindcrime, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next month. The band has milked Mindcrime for all it’s worth, reissuing it as a box set, releasing two live albums of it (three if you count disc two of the box set) along with DVD’s, and putting out an under-achieving sequel. It’s been sad to see a band so strong in the ’80s fall so hard afterwards.
Thus, Take Cover (Rhino, 2007) is an unintentionally apt title. A flat-footed attempt at The Police’s “Synchronicity II” robs the song of all grace and mystery. A live rendition of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky” is horribly bloated. The O’Jay’s “For the Love of Money” suffers the greatest disgrace, undergoing bar band-esque demolition. Queensrÿche have no business going near black music.
However, two moments shine bright. The first is Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain.” Ill Niño recorded the song on The Under Cover Sessions (why must all covers albums have horrible punny titles?), but the cover was just that. In contrast, Queensrÿche slip into the song; Geoff Tate’s voice resembles Gabriel’s in thickness and drama. After the band’s leadfooted last few records, it’s refreshing to hear Scott Rockenfield reinterpret Stewart Copeland’s agile hi-hats.
Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” is another logical choice, given Queensrÿche’s Floydian tendencies (e.g., “Silent Lucidity”). Shadows Fall gamely took on the song in The Art of Balance, but Queensrÿche make the song theirs. Tate’s voice hasn’t spread its wings like this in years. The paranoia on Mindcrime owes much to Floyd; perhaps this revisiting will help regain that edge.