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Another missed opportunity
on 25 March 2010
So here we are again, with volume 3. None of the lessons from volumes 1 and 2 have been learned, and I don't hold out much hope for volume 4 either, as EMI have so far preserved the same format across all 3 collections.
Firstly, this is aimed squarely at hard core collectors. If you are new to Queen, you'll find the majority of tracks on Greatest Hits 2. Fans should already have the albums that this set spans (A Kind Of Magic, The Works and The Miracle), and if not, you should be able to pick up all 3 cheaper than this set.
No, this set is designed to replicate the original 7 inch singles from that era, and partly succeeds.
This was more fun on the earlier boxes where the UK singles didn't always have picture sleeves, so we got replicas of early sleeves from Germany, Portugal, France... these later singles mostly had standard sleeves in all teritories. So most sleeves are based on the UK versions, apart from Hard Life (unusual but dull plain black USA sleeve), Hammer To Fall (the withdrawn 'live' sleeve being a nice touch), A Kind Of Magic (Japanese variant, only marginally different from the UK one anyway, the USA one would have been nicer) and the 2 singles never released in the UK (One Year Of Love, Pain Is So Close).
The disks themselves bear an unimaginitive design, regular CDs with plain blue labels. Compare this to the picture disks in the Marillion singles collections, or glorious vinyl replicas from the Elvis collections (with actual black-coloured CDs with replica RCA/HMV labels to look like tiny vinyl singles!) and this is pretty weak.
All that remains is the B-sides. Most are album tracks anyway. The last 3 singles were released on CD anyway and many true collectors will have these already. There's a remix of Pain Is So Close To Pleasure that is arguably better than the album version, and the intrumental Blurred Vision track which makes its first CD appearance. But where are the 12 inch mixes? A true singles collection from the era would have the 12 extended versions released on the 12-inch formats for these releases, and there's no sign. It is called a singles collection, and is missing a huge amount of material. The Marillion collections included ALL the tracks from the 7 and 12 inch formats, and was cheaper than this to boot.
Finally, if we excuse all that on the grounds that these are supposed to be replicas of the 7 inch singles only, they haven't even got all the B sides right. The B-side of Friends Will Be Friends was Seven Seas Of Rhye, and the B-side of Who Wants To Live Forever was Killer Queen. These were A-sides released in Box 1 so presumably the decision was made to change these here, but the fact remains: you're either going to stick to your convictions and release a true 7 inch colelction, or not. This is, quite frankly, a mess.
If you already got box 1 and 2, you'll get this anyway. But it could have been so much better.