All hail 1988's Operation: Mindcrime, the last great prog-rock concept album! Sure, Mindcrime bridged the gap between role-playing Rush nerds and Maiden-worshiping cock rockers while eating up the tense Cold War atmosphere of the Reagan years. But this Seattle group also set the trend for any number of futuristic conspiracy flicks to follow. You know the script--false memories, mysterious needle references, traumatic flashbacks, repressed guilt and cryptic, uniformed assailants. This was the harbinger of The Matrix, Total Recall, Dark City, John Carpenter's infamous They Live and just about every Sci-Fi Channel original series. Geoff Tate and company return to Mindcrime in a big way, staging the most elaborate production yet of the album in its entirety, featuring stage actors and a full-blown multimedia production. Following that is a greatest-hits set with a live string section, and then a preview of the long-awaited sequel Operation: Mindcrime II, due next year. This is as full-blown as it gets.
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