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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Queensryche - Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition

Queensryche - Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition
2010, Capitol/EMI

Formed in 1981 in Bellevue, Washington, Queensryche has achieved record sales surpassing twenty million while generating numerous chart hits.  Queensryche toiled for most of a decade before the 1990 album Empire catapulted them into the international limelight.  This week Capitol/EMI released an expanded 20th Anniversary Edition of Empire, featuring 3 bonus tracks plus a bonus CD capturing a November 15, 1990 performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon. 

Empire is presented in re-mastered form, the re-mastering having occurred in 2002.  The upgrade is marginally notable and won't make a great deal of difference for those without high end sound-systems (and practically none to those who listen to digital files).  Also includes are "Last Time In Paris", which originally appeared on the Ford Fairlane soundtrack, "Dirty Little Secret" and the band's cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Sound Of Silence".  This last is a real gem, one of the better rock covers of a Simon & Garfunkel tune of the past two decades (second perhaps to Yes' version of "America").  Most of this material is available elsewhere, particularly in a digital age.  The real reason to buy the 20th Anniversary Edition of Empire is the second disc, which captures Queensryche at the height of their creative and performance arc in a ten-song set that includes "Jet City Woman", "Best I Can", "Empire" and "Silent Lucidity".

It's fair to look on "anniversary" editions of classic albums with a certain level of skepticism.  The release is, of course, an effort by the record label to get you to buy something you probably already have.  The question becomes whether the effort includes enough of value to get you to part with your money.  Very often this is not the case, but Capitol/EMI get this one right.  The non-album tracks included on the 20th Anniversary Edition of Empire are worth laying out for (particularly "Sounds Of Silence"), and the live set is worth the price of admission.  Empire: The 20th Anniversary Edition will make Queensryche fans very happy, and perhaps introduce a new generation of fans to a classic album and a live band at their best.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Queensryche at or   Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition is available from as a CD or Download.  Digital copies are also available via iTunes.

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