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A Kind Of Magic [2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition]
A Kind Of Magic [2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition]
Price: 10.76

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There Can Be Only One, 8 Sep 2011
1986 was a big year for me. Not only was it the year one of my favourite movies, Highlander, was released it was also the year I became a Queen fan - not because of Highlander (I did not see that film until its release on VHS - remember that format?) though. I became a fan after my brother bought a copy of Live Magic in December 1986. After then I made an effort to listen to as much of Queen's music as I could get my hands on and luckily for me one of my best friends who lived two doors down was into the band and started lending me the albums. A Kind of Magic was the first he lent me - on vinyl (remember that?) as it was the band's last studio album at that point and seemed a good starting place.

From the opening moments of One Vision to the closing moments of Princes of the Universe I barely breathed as I discovered the studio versions of songs I had only heard in their live format at that point i.e. One Vision, A Kind of Magic and Friends Will Be Friends. Of the three it is only A Kind of Magic I have had a great deal of affection for in its studio format. This Roger Taylor penned track reportedly ended up in this version due to Freddie locking himself in the studio and saying to Roger he would make into a hit - and he was as good as his word as the song reached number 3 in the UK charts (when it meant something - remember that?) and sounds as current now as it did back then. One Vision is an above average Queen rocker but I absolutely hate Friends Will Be Friends. It was clearly trying to be the next big anthem for fans to sing along to at live shows but lacks the substance of previous stadium anthems written by the band and is among the three worst tracks on the album - the other two being Don't Lose Your Head (about as bland as Queen ever got) and the Deacon/Mercury collaboration Pain Is So Close To Pleasure (no it isn't!).

As I discovered when reading the sleeve notes a lot of the music was to feature on Highlander and three of the songs - aside from A Kind of Magic - that stand out on the album all featured predominantly. One Year of Love and Who Wants To Live Forever are both gentle rock ballads - Forever naturally garnering the most praise though Love is a little gem in its own way and Princes of the Universe opened the film and has some wonderful heavy guitar in it and is one of Queen's best promo videos despite it not being a UK single (a crime given Friends was!). Heavy guitars are also the defining characteristic of the other album track not mentioned so far, Gimme The Prize, which like the 1980 single Flash, makes use of film dialogue heavily in the track - perhaps not surprising given May wrote both tracks.

Overall all then I would sum up A Kind of Magic as three great songs, two very good songs, an average song and three stinkers, which means I can only give it three stars - even though as per usual the re-mastering work gives a fresh listening experience.

The bonus CD on the deluxe version is perhaps one of the better ones on the last set of reissues. It opens with the Highlander version (played on the end credits) of A Kind of Magic and though good in its own right (I prefer it to the album version) Freddie was right to turn it into a hit! The single version of One Vision is included (pointless as it's on Greatest Hits II) and proving you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is a single remix of Pain Is So Close To Pleasure. Rather than One Vision it might have been better to have included the 7" version of Who Wants To Live Forever given that on GHII and Absolute Greatest the version used is the album mix. Forever is an instrumental of Who Wants To Live Forever and is interesting to try and sing along to...whilst the next track A Kind of Vision is the most interesting given that it was a song Taylor wrote in 1985 that then became the basis of both One Vision and A Kind of Magic. One Vision gets another mention, but this time as a live version from the 11 July Wembley show - a nice to hear rather than a must hear and Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends is an extended mix of the album track that like Forever was originally a bonus track on the original 1986 CD release. Indeed, the omission of A Kind of a Kind of Magic on the bonus disc sums up just why the bonus CD's have been somewhat of a mixed bag over the re-issues. It certainly should not have been left off due to lack of space on the disc.

Overall then A Kind of Magic is just that, it is a kind of a magic but nothing too spectacular - more Paul Daniels than Penn & Teller!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2012 12:33 PM BST

Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: 10.99

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was It Made In Heaven?, 8 Sep 2011
The final studio album from Queen where Freddie was involved in some of the work is a curious beast. Loved by critics on its release after they decided the suddenly DID like the band after all and one of the biggest sellers from the band it is hard to find many Queen fans who gush with praise about the album.

It certainly has its plus points - namely the tracks Let Me Live, Mother Love and A Winter's Tale, but it also has its minuses - more on them later. Obviously, we now know just how poorly Freddie was when making this album and we know he was on completely borrowed time as the band reconvened in Montreux to work on the tracks, and we also know it was his wish to see the final tracks he worked on released as he laid down final vocals (something he only did after all the arguments about instrumentation and lyrics had stopped!), but as a Queen fan you cannot help but wonder what the final outcome would have been like had he lived?

Praise has to be given at this stage for the work mssrs May, Taylor and Deacon put into the project in terms of shaping and completing these tracks in what must have been very difficult and emotional circumstances but the question of what if remains. Musically the instrumentation on the album is of a universally high standard and the work done on taking some of Freddie's solo material (Made In Heaven and I Was Born To Love You), Roger's Cross track Heaven for Everyone, an old b-side, My Life Has Been Saved and a Brian song, Too Much Love Will Kill You and making them all into fully fledged Queen album songs is again very commendable. However, the problem is the end result is variable. Whilst Made In Heaven and I Was Born To Love You both gain over their Mr. Bad Guy versions they are still average songs on the whole and the same could also be said for Heaven For Everyone. My Life Has Been Saved sounds a lot worse here than on the 1989 b-side to Scandal and interesting though it is to hear Freddie's take on Too Much Love Will Kill You, it perhaps lacks the emotion that many thought would be there when it was known he had recorded it.

It's a Beautiful Day opens and closes the album (with the exception of Track 12 - Yeah and the hidden, mysterious 'Track 13' (ambient music that meanders along far too long and again is a less than fulfilling track. The club influenced You Don't Fool Me has its merits and is the fourth best track off the album - and it is worth tracking down the re-mix versions as well for those interested in them. So, as back in 1995 the 2011 re-mastered version still only has three tracks of any note - as wonderful as the rest of it sounds now it has been cleaned up.

Of the three outstanding tracks, Let Me Live is the one I enjoy the most. Mercury, Taylor and May all take the lead in signing a verse from the song - due of course to Freddie not being there to sing it all and yet is the one song where you could almost believe he was present from start to finish. The gospel choir sounding chorus and May's good guitar solo all help elevate the song and on its single release in 1996 fully deserved its no.9 UK chart slot. A Winter's Tale has become known as a Christmas song but is a wonderful, optimistic appreciation of the natural world and features a very atmospheric solo from Brian and a simply shiver down the spine vocal from Freddie - especially towards the end when he sings 'It's allllllllllllll so beautiful' - proving that despite his illness he could still deliver a song. Mother Love has another similar moment and is the final song Freddie worked upon before his death. A wonderful backing track allies itself with Freddie's emotional vocal perfectly to create a Queen classic, which features May singing the closing verse after Freddie decided he couldn't do anymore and would return to finish it (something he sadly never did).

The bonus CD allows us to compare the two versions of My Life Has Been Saved and for my money the version on the bonus disc is the best, whilst Heaven For Everyone has its single mix included (nice if you like it, not so good if you don't!) and another two b-sides (they featured on the CD releases) are also included - the joined together version of It's A Beautiful Day (still a filler at best) and the terrible Rock In Rio Blues (originally on A Winter's Tale). The other two tracks are the original piano and vocal mix of I Was Born To Love You that would have been on Freddie's 1985 solo album before it was reworked at the record companies insistence and an even more haunting mix of A Winter's Tale that is worth buying the deluxe version for on its own.

A nice farewell from the band given the difficult circumstances it was recorded in but I still wonder if only...
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2012 4:45 PM GMT

The Works (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
The Works (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: 13.05

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is This The Works We Created?, 6 Sep 2011
I once read a review in a magazine of all Queen's albums shortly after the death of Freddie in which the reviewer said that Queen's output from The Works to The Miracle could be summed up as 'excellent singles but nothing of note left on the albums if they were taken off them' and looking at those albums I thought then, and do now, that the reviewer had a point.

After taking a year off to recharge their batteries Queen burst back onto the music scene in 1984 with their first Roger Taylor penned single, Radio Ga Ga, storming the charts to reach number 2 in the UK and featuring one of the band's most memorable video productions, incorporating clips from cult sci-fi film Metropolis and giving birth to the famous hand clap in the chorus. The single whetted many a fans appetite for the new album but in some ways the single was harking back to Hot Space. More poppy than rocky, it nevertheless brought new fans to the band, as did the following single I Want To Break Free (personally I hate the drag video and I'm not American either!) but what of the album itself?

Aside from the aforementioned singles and the two others taken from the album, It's A Hard Life and Hammer To Fall (the two standout songs on the album for me) the rest was nothing to get too excited about. Tear It Up may have been a pure rock track but lyrically it's quite poor, whilst the best thing that can be said about Man on the Prowl is that it ends suddenly thus providing some relief - that is until the intro to Machines (Or 'Back to Humans') kicks in. I've never been a fan of this track, though I have to concede in its remastered form I do hear instrumentation I had not heard before, which makes it a more interesting listen, it's still not a track that I like. Keep Passing The Open Windows meanders along at about a minute too long and though Is This The World Created...? gains some poignancy 12 months later with its performance at Live Aid, at around two minutes in length it just serves to highlight the short run time of the album. After a year's break we get nine tracks - a pattern that would be repeated on A Kind of Magic - and an average album by Queen's exalted standards.

As alluded to above, the re-mastering does bring the album back to life somewhat, but it's still not an album that I play time and time again. Even the bonus disc for this version is less interesting than others in the last batch of re-issues. For example we get I Want To Break Free and Thank God It's Christmas - both of which feature on the Greatest Hits Collections, meaning there are only four songs of note on the collection. I Go Crazy was the b-side to Radio Ga Ga and should have been on the album - if only to bump it up to a more respectable track count. The obligatory live tracks are on this occasion taken from an unreleased live album and on this occasion it is nice to hear It's A Hard Life live, though I could have done without Is This The World We Created...? For rockers there is the 12" Headbangers Mix of Hammer To Fall, which purchasers of the Queen Box of Trix would already have but the remastering of it means you need to turn your stereos up to eleven!

Overall then - great singles but nothing else of note on the album, but still worth a listen.

The Miracle (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
The Miracle (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: 11.00

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The First Totally New Queen Album I Ever Bought - Was It All Worth It?, 5 Sep 2011
December 1986 - May 1989 was a strange time to be a Queen fan. After being switched onto the band by my brother's purchase of Live Magic I spent the first few months of 1987 collecting the band's back catalogue and then wondering when I would get to experience the joy of buying completely new material for the first time. I knew the band had taken time off before to do other things - 1983 and 1985 were albumless years but the gap between A Kind of Magic and The Miracle was almost interminable to wait through. Eventually May 1989 came and The Miracle made its way onto my stereo for the first time. As wonderful as it was to hear the new album for the first time I also have to admit to feeling a little anti-climactic about the whole thing.

There is a feeling that Queen's 1980's output from The Works onwards featured singles that were the high point of the album and tracks that at best were simply 'fillers'. Hearing The Miracle and looking at it now 22 years later it is a view that holds some truth to it - though The Miracle has a little twist in that it features possibly the best Queen song never to be released as a single - Was It All Worth It - a heavy, semi-autobiographical song asking if all the time and effort put into music and touring was worth it? This and not Breakthru' should have been a single and means that five of the tracks on the album are outstanding whilst the other five are not.

The oustanding are Was It All Worth It, The Miracle (great optimistic lyrics), The Invisible Man (Queen's pop sensibility as its peak), I Want It All (classic, epic rock) and Scandal (my favourite track on the album and it still grates that it did not feature on Greatest Hits III yet crap like Living on my Own did!).

The less good are Party, Khashoggi's Ship, Breakthru' (nice opening a la We Are The Champions giving way to repetitive dirge about making a girl smile), Rain Must Fall (Euro-pop at its worst) and My Baby Does Me (laid back and pedestrian but goes nowhere). Nonetheless the re-mastering of the album is again worth the cost. At times it feels like you are in the studio with the band (if only) and I defend the re-issues on that basis to anyone.

Where this re-issue falls down is the separation of the three original bonus tracks on its 1989 release (Hang On In There, Chinese Torture and The Invisible Man 12" version) from the main CD onto the bonus EP disc. This means we only get four 'new' bonus tracks on this collection and one of them, I Want It All (Single version) features on Greatest Hits II anyway, whilst two of the other three (Stealin' and Hijack My Heart) came out on the single box sets last year. This means the only song worth buying the bonus disc for is the demo version of The Invisible Man, but well worth it in the end it turns out. Taylor sings most of the track with Freddie popping up for an Elvis interlude in the middle. Early versions like this just whet the appetite for a full anthology collection from the band (please QPL and Island pull your finger out on that project!).

Overall then, not a classic Queen album but with enough high points to balance out the low points and if you have never heard the bonus tracks before then it is worth buying on that basis.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2011 11:27 AM BST

Innuendo (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Innuendo (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Price: 10.99

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through The Sorrow, All Through Our Splendour, Don't Take Offence At My Innuendo, 5 Sep 2011
Right upfront I have to say this is not just my favourite Queen album. but my favourite album of all-time. Saying that means you know that this review is going to be (almost) completely favourable and if you do not like reviewers to have that bias then you had better stop reading NOW!

There are many reasons why I love this album. Firstly, its original release date of 4 February 1991 was the best birthday present I could have asked for. Secondly, it was only the second time I had ever bought a Queen album on its release date (as a new fan in 1986 I had to wait three years for The Miracle album to experience the joy of a totally new Queen album for the first time) and thirdly the music on it was so unbelievably good - one notable exception, but more on that later.

On my first listen to the album two things stood out - firstly, Freddie's vocals were so full of power and passion that it is hard to believe in hindsight that he was so ill when making this album and secondly, Brian May's guitar work was featured more prominently and at a higher quality of playing than it had been for many years. The album opens with what was only Queen's third UK number one - Innuendo- a track that Roger Taylor described as 'Oscar Wilde meets Led Zeppelin' and that would be a totally apt description. Reminiscent of Bohemian Rhapsody in that it completely alters pace and tone throughout its duration the track is often overlooked as a Queen classic - indeed the band left it off 2009's Absoluite Greatest collection - but a Queen classic it is - and the promo video is one of the best in music history.

From such an epic start the albums wanders into Queen at their funniest thanks to the lyrics of I'm Going Slightly Mad. Headlong has Queen in their heavy rock guise before I Can't Live With You has you scurrying between speakers are the band make full use of stereo sound! Don't Try So Hard could have been an average rock ballad but is elevated above that somewhat by Freddie's use of falsetto and provides a gentle break in what has been a fairly heavy album until that point. The next three tracks Ride The Wild Wind, All God's People and the poignant (in retrospect) These Are The Days Of Our Lives keep the quality high and then we reach not only the low point of Inneundo but also the lowest point of Queen's career - Delilah.

At the time I had no idea why a song about Freddie's cat peeing all over his Chippendale suite would be considered worthy of being on an album but obviously in hindsight it was the band's concession to his illness. Nothing about the track is redeemable and it should never have been on there. Luckily things pick up again with The Hitman (though it is an average rocker really) before the concluding two songs bring things to a climax. Bijou is an 'inside out' song with the main part of the song featuring Brian May's guitar doodlings with the solo spot taken up by Freddie's vocal. Album closer The Show Must Go On immediately went onto my list of my favourite Queen songs when I first heard it and the past 20 years have done nothing to dull its appeal. The song is quite simply one of Queen's best compositions lyrically and musically and deserved to chart higher than it did on its release as a single.

Overall then a top quality album that I still play more than any other and the 2011 re-master has given me the chance to appreciate it in a new way thanks to the new clarity of the mix. Instrumentation that was orginally buried on the mix is now able to heard meaning in many ways it sounds like a completely new piece of work. On its own the album would be an essential purchase but as this is the delux version mention must be made of the bonus EP disc. The two main highlights of the bonus disc are the early demo/guide versions of Ride The Wild Wind and Headlong featuring Taylor and May on vocals. Wonderful to hear how much changed between these early efforts and the final version with Freddie's vocals. Lost Opportunity also features May on vocals on a track that was a b-side on the 12" version of I'm Going Slightly Mad in 1991 and has a blues feel to it - an area Queen rarely visited. In its re-mastered form it is a little gem. Mad gets it's own Mad Mix on the CD, whilst I Can't Live With You gets a hard rock update for its inclusion on 1997's Queen Rock's album. It may feature guitars more prominently in this mix but it's not as good as the original album version for my money.

Overall all then the re-mastering of Innuendo is a triumph and given it was the last complete album recorded by Freddie with the band has to be given classic status. Majestic and imperious it has no equal in the Queen catalogue.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2012 10:15 PM BST

Deep Cuts 3, 1984-1995
Deep Cuts 3, 1984-1995
Offered by produXa UK
Price: 7.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Third Cut is the Deepest..., 5 Sep 2011
This review is from: Deep Cuts 3, 1984-1995 (Audio CD)
With the Deep Cuts albums it is difficult to know what the band's intentions are with them. Is it to get record buyers to buy the albums these tracks are from? Is it to get the public to buy other collections apart from the Greatest Hits Trilogy? Is it a bit of both? Whatever the answer, the three Deep Cuts albums that have accompanied each batch of album re-issues in the year seem to have been completely under-promoted by both Island and the band, which is a huge shame. In hindsight the Deep Cuts albums should really have come out a few weeks before each batch of re-masters to whet the appetite rather than alongside them.

Of the three Deep Cuts album's this one was perhaps the easiest to pick the tracklisting of. Partly because in the band's later years so many singles would be released off the album that there was not much left over to choose from and partly because from my own viewpoint certain tracks were natural choices for this final Deep Cuts collection.

As with the other two collections the choice of tracks is down to personal preference, though this third cut is probably as close to perfect as can be. I would only change about three tracks on this collection. I would remove A Winter's Tale (great song as it is it was a UK single so should not be included on that basis), The Hitman and It's a Beautiful Day (reprise) and add I Can't Live With You (one of the highlights of the Innuendo album), Princes of the Universe and Gimme The Prize.

Minor quibbles about the track listing aside, the collection sounds wonderful due to the re-mastering work. Khashoggi's Ship in particular sounds great due to the drum introduction being so clear when removed from its direct link to Party on The Miracle album. I have enjoyed playing each of the Deep Cuts albums to date and now playing them all one after another is a great way of hearing some lesser known Queen gems in their best ever sound quality and hearing how the band developed over their career.

Such a shame they have been poorly promoted as they deserve to sell well. An essential purchase - especially with the other two Deep Cut albums. I am sure there will be a box set at some point of the three collections and maybe that will get the promotion it deserves.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2011 8:57 AM BST

News of the World (2011 Remastered Version: 2CD)
News of the World (2011 Remastered Version: 2CD)
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 10.69

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noble's Shocking Confession - Earth Shattering Revelation, 30 Jun 2011
Out of the batch of five albums released this week (Jazz, The Game, Flash Gordon and Hot Space being the others to get the 2011 remaster treatment) News of the World is the strongest with only three songs on it that I dislike. One of them may be understandable, one slightly controversial and the other probably blasphemous leaving seven songs of good quality providing the best overall listening experience. Let's start with the good first, obviously the anthems We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions are the tracks the album is best remembered for, but leaving them aside there are plenty of gems left to savour. Spread Your Wings, a Deacon John, track was the follow up single to We Are The Champions, and never quite made the impact on the charts that it should - and deserved - to. The song became a live favourite and singing along to its chorus is inevitable when you hear its opening piano refrain, such is its catchiness. On side two the album closes with the wonderful Brian May It's Late, possibly one of the best songs he ever wrote and the gentle Mercury penned My Melancholy Blues, showing the wonderful contrast in sound the band was capable of.

Indeed a number of tracks are what could be considered 'gentle' such as All Dead All Dead and Who Needs You?, as well as the wonderful boogie woogie Sleeping On The Sidewalk. This album also featured two Roger Taylor songs for the first time - Fight From The Inside and also the first of my three 'disliked' songs - my 'controversial' pick - Sheer Heart Attack. Obviously influenced by the punk explosion, the track started for the bands third album but not completed until now really is an awful track especially the bleeping noises in the middle that drag on for an eternity. I would not have put it on any album let alone their sixth. The 'understandable' choice is Get Down Make Love, which really is an awful song. Terrible lyrics, dodgy sounding guitars and an instrumental section that goes on and on (and which is even longer when played live regretably), I find it hard to listen to without pressing the skip forward button on my CD player. This then only leaves my last disliked song and is the one which is possibly blasphemous, We Will Rock You.

Correct, the so called classic stomp-stomp-clap track as laid down in its studio form leaves me cold. I find the whole thing monotone in nature and it is only when played as a live track - in both its traditional stomp-stomp-clap and fast versions where I warm to the song. Seeing it live and being part of the crowd (as I was in the 2008 Queen + Paul Rodgers tour) is an experience worth having but is the addition of guitars earlier in its live rendition that makes it a more interesting track live than on the album. Listeners can judge for themselves when listening to the fast version as featured on the bonus disc, but I would take this version over the original anyday.

Which brings me neatly onto disc 2. As laid out above Sheer Heart Attack is not a favourite and hearing it live does not make me alter that view, even if that recording is from somewhere other than Montreal and Milton Keynes (as on other bonus discs). The songs that are of most interest on the bonus disc are the two BBC session performances of Spread Your Wings and My Melancholy Blues, the latter of which features a guitar solo not on the album version and both are worth listening to more than once. As mentioned above there is also the fast version of We Will Rock You from Tokyo and the final song is also a long awaited track, Feelings Feelings. Rumoured to date back to the pre-Queen days, versions of the song have been heard before, but this take ten version shows a glimpse of what might have been had it been completed i.e. made longer than its two minute form.

As always with the re-masters the sound quality is excellent and the bonus disc makes this album of the five reissues this week the most essential purchase.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2011 7:36 PM BST

Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 10.79

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jazz is like Marmite..., 30 Jun 2011
This review is from: Jazz (Audio CD)
...You either love it or you hate it - at least that's what I think about that music genre which shares its name with Queen's last studio album of the 1970's. Can you apply the same sweeping statement about Marmite to this album though?

For me the answer is no. Though it is not up there with the band's best albums it is by no means the worst either - it sits squarely in the middle in that its high points are worth singing from the mountaintops whilst its low points are like the elephant in the room. So where do we start - well with the high points obviously. To my ears the two tracks that stand out are the wonderful Freddie song Jealousy, a gentle ballad with the bands trademark vocal harmonies shining brightly throughout and the Brian May track Leaving Home Ain't Easy - again a gentle song with a bouncealong tempo to it. Neither song was considered strong enough for a single but either one could have been. Just behind them in terms of appeal are Bicycle Race, Fat Bottomed Girls and a Deacon John track about a holiday romance - In Only Seven Days. These tracks feature Queen at their hardest rocking, wittiest and most loving respectively.

Though most think of Don't Stop Me Now as being the standout track on the album due its enduring popularity it's never been a track that I've thought of in such glowing terms - I like it, but if I was compiling my favourite Queen tracks onto one album it wouldn't get a look in but it is not one of the low points of the album either and sits along side Let Me Entertain You and If You Can't Beat Them as the average tracks on the album. The tracks that I really struggle to find anything nice to say about are More of that Jazz, Fun It, Dead On Time and - most horrible of all - Mustapha.

All in all listening to Jazz is a mixed bag, but what about the bonus disc on this release? First up is the single version of Fat Bottomed Girls, which can already be heard on Greatest Hits, so it is not really until track 2, an instrumental version of Bicycle Race, that things get interesting. Listening to well known songs without Freddie's (and the rest of the bands) vocal on top of it is an interesting experience and a song such a Bicycle Race really shows how tight the backing tracks were in terms of constructon and execution and I would have preferred to have seen more instrumentals on the bonus discs on all releases so far rather than the live versions of songs - speaking of which Let Me Entertain You is the live track on this disc but as with the majority is already available on Queen Rock Montreal - one of my pet peeves about the bonus discs. However the other two tracks on the bonus disc are interesting. We have a version of Don't Stop Me Now with an alternative guitar solo, which shows the band made the right decision in going with the version that they did and also an early acoustic take of Brian Mays Dreamer's Ball, which would become a live favourite during the Crazy Tour of '79.

As with all the remasters it is the bonus discs that make them worth buying - not just to collectors - but to people discovering the back catalogue for the first time, though as much as there is to listen to on Jazz that is good, but then there is just as much that is bad. So not quite Marmite, I'd probably say Jazz was a Big Mac - it satisfies you but is not really a Michelin star dish.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2012 10:37 PM GMT

Flash Gordon [2011 Remastered Version: 2CD]
Flash Gordon [2011 Remastered Version: 2CD]
Price: 11.24

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flash...arrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh aka Gordon's alive?, 30 Jun 2011
Listening to many film soundtracks without the accompanying visuals is often disappointing as without each other the impact is lessened and this is certainly true for this CD release. Though the soundtrack is punctuated with dialogue from the film to give the listener some idea of where in the film the music came from it has to be said that listening to this is like watching the 1999 Champions Leaue Final. That was a football match where for most of the 90 minutes the action was sub-standard but it was the last five minutes that make it so well remembered. And much the same is true when listening to this soundtrack. The first two thirds of which only comes to life with the catchy Football Fight (keeping the football analogy going unintentionally there - sorry!) but it is from Vultans Theme onwards, where things really get going and the Germans are beaten! (Have I got things a bit mixed up there? I meant to say Ming the Merciless)

Vultans Theme is where things start to get heavy, frantic and intense - especially on Battle Theme - with only a short pause for May's beautiful arrangement of The Wedding March providing a respite from the heavy guitars. It is clear from listening to this and from the song credits that it was Brian May who really took this project to heart within the band and it is his tracks that stand out. The final track, The Hero, for example is one where his guitar work is turned up to 11 and Freddie delivers a powerful vocal that makes you think had it been extended it would have made a perfect single.

Sadly the rest of the album meanders along aimlessly and it is only the bonus disc that makes this a worthwhile purchase really. Of course there are the obligatory live versions of Flash and The Hero taken from Live At Montreal sitting here, possibly to pad out the running time, due to the shortness of the other tracks and once again I object to these live versions being used when they are already available to buy on Queen Rock Montreal. Then we also have the single version of Flash, nice to have it in full on its original album rather than it only being available on Greatest Hits (volume one), an unused take of The Hero and the two best bonus tracks, Freddie's 'The Kiss' and 'Football Fight' as early piano versions. It is the latter that is really worth a listen.

As per usual with these remasters the sound quality is exceptional across the board and for those collecting the albums to put in the nice Queen 40 box set that came out with the first five remastered albums then won't it look a bit silly if you don't buy this album? So to sum up, interesting bonus disc, good finish to the album otherwise you may as well just buy the film and listen to the music as you watch along!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2012 10:24 PM GMT

Hot Space  (2011 Remastered Version: 2CD)
Hot Space (2011 Remastered Version: 2CD)
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 10.59

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hot Space or Cold as Ice?, 30 Jun 2011
Well, given that I've awarded this deluxe version four stars I guess I've already answered the title posed by my review haven't I? Like the reviewer above me I have always been one of the few Queen fans for whom Hot Space has always been an enjoyable listening experience. Before I first purchased this album when I first became a fan in 1986 all I ever heard was how bad this album was, that the band had betrayed their rock roots and that this album should be listened to once and then disposed of. How wrong those people were I thought after my first ever listen to it. Okay, the band not be rocking in the classic sense of the word but there are certainly more high points on this album than on some of the other albums - the two studio albums that preceded it Flash Gordon and The Game are prime examples of this view.

Now in 2011, some 25 years on from my first listen to Hot Space, I still feel the same way about it. The quality of certain tracks such as Las Palabras de Amor, Staying Power, Dancer, the Bowie collaboration Under Pressure and my own personal favourite from the album Put Out The Fire, more than make up for the two weakest tracks, Cool Cat and Body Language, which are two of the worst Queen songs period. The rest of the album is easy to listen to without anything standing out. As per usual the talent of the four guys as writers and musicians stands out a mile and what I perhaps feel about Hot Space as an album is that it was a couple of years too early in its release - had the same album been put out in 1984 or 1985 it would have been greeted far more warmly.

In terms of this two disc release the bonus disc features the usual mix of live and rare tracks, but what sets this apart from other discs is that two of the live tracks are from a Japanese concert in 1982 and have not been out before. As much of a fan as I am of hearing the band live I hate the use of bonus tracks that are already available on either Queen Rock Montreal or Live At Milton Keynes or Live At Wembley. It is really in the live arena that the Hot Space tracks gain a new life so hearing Action This Day and Calling All Girls live is a joy. The other two bonus tracks a single remix of Back Chat, which just scraped into the top 40 (at no.40) on its release and was perhaps why the band chose to rest for a year and the b-side to Under Pressure, a tongue in cheek namecheck of Queen songs and lyrics called Soul Brother, which is a nice piece to have for the fans who maybe haven't bought it on vinyl or the singles collections on CD.

All in all this two disc release is another worthy remaster and I cannot wait to get my hands on the last five reissues later in the year.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 11:25 PM BST

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