7. Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime
Seattle prog stars Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime's includes several anthems, a thrash number ("The Needle Lies"), a prog epic ("Suite Sister Mary"), and a B-side stuffed with dinosaur-sized ballads that only the '80s could produce. In lesser hands it would have been a mound of senseless cheese.
But Queensryche delivered something quite accomplished and profound. The band excelled at concept more than anything else. Most rock operas present their stories and characters as sketches serving the music, and rely on artwork to sell the rest. Operation: Mindcrime needs no crutches to tell a story. Its characters are well-defined entities with clear goals and motivations. What Nikki's progression from heroin addict to political assassin to amnesiac invalid lacks in emotional sincerity it makes up for with intrigue. Queensryche blended political thriller with star-crossed romance and social criticism into the most complex story on this list, but not he most convoluted -- Operation: Mindcrime strikes deeper chords now, after 9/11 and Occupy Wall Street, than it did in the '80s.
People have been trying to adapt Operation: Mindcrime for the silver screen since immediately after its release, but to no avail. And now that Geoff Tate has left Queensryche, it's unlikely the band will ever perform the album in its entirety again. The stage would make a better fit -- there's no fat to cut and no room to add, but plenty of space for dance breaks.
The world has come a long way since the Who released Tommy in 1969. Tomorrow night, a stage adaptation of the Flaming Lips’ seminal 2002 rock opera Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots will premiere at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse. It’s not Broadway, but it is an indicator that the era of the rock opera could make a comeback. And this is the perfect time for a revival of the style.
The musical industry is hungry for material, but if Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark was any indication, musicals cannot draw from the same material movies do. Consider, on the other had, how well Rock Of Ages did, even if its filmic adaptation fumbled — there is an appetite for familiar music onstage.
Fortunately for Broadway, the music industry has produced a wealth of legitimately good rock operas (and hip-hoperas), most of which remain unadapted for the stage. And no, most of them are not what you would call “classic rock,” although some are. The relative self-indulgence of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Rush’s 2112 has ebbed, for the most part, in favor of coherent stories, and characters that develop with the plot.
Music and theater at their best stir something in an audience. There’s a swell of feeling produced in a live setting that can’t be replicated anyplace else. Here are the 10 rock operas most urgently in need of a stage adaptation, with some ideas for how such a production might be carried out. Make your case for My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade in the comments.