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Remastering, is it worth it?
on 12 January 2011
Such a shame that when you look at the customer reviews of this product they almost all relate to the earlier CD release of Queen's second greatest hits package and not the 2011 remastered versions. After all, how are potential purchasers of this product really meant to know what they are paying for when the reviews do not fit the product?
Hopefully, this review will re-dress the balance slightly. After receiving my copies of Greatest Hits I and II earlier this week I can safely say that whatever you may think of the songs on the CD, and let's be fair there is a bit of mixture ranging from the outstanding (The Show Must Go On, I Want It All, Innuendo and Who Wants To Live Forever) to the somewhat more pedestrian (The Invisible Man, Friends Will Be Friends, The Miracle and Breakthru'), the sound quality of these re-masters more than make the money paid for these CD's worth it.
Never before has the band's music sounded so clear and be of such high quality that you really feel you were there in the studio as the band were recording them (if only!). Of course, these releases mark the first of a whole year of re-releases to mark Queen's 40th anniversary and their move to Island Records and all I can say is that if the rest of the year's releases sound as good as this then the money being spent by Queen fans on re-buying their albums will be more than worth it. Add into the mix many of the albums are likely to feature never before released tracks and rare single b-sides 2011 is going to be a good year for Queen fans to say the least.
However, back to Greatest Hits II...and the music. Whatever anyone thinks of Queen's 80's and 90's albums really depends on when they got into the band. As a relative latecomer to the band's fan ranks (1986 - after the Live Magic album was brought home by my brother) I enjoyed the singles brought out by the band during this period of their career (on the whole). It was Innuendo (album and single) in 1991 that really marked the high point of Queen's studio output for me - Freddie sounded better than he ever had despite his frailty and Brian May excelled on every track of that album and four of the five singles released from that album feature on this collection (Days of Our Lives not making it onto a greatest hits package until volume III!). I found The Works, A Kind of Magic and The Miracle singles hit and miss - with one of my favourites, Scandal, not even making it onto any of the G.Hits packages - slap your hands mssrs Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon John. It was this period where Queen's popularity was really at its highest in the UK, so though the 70's and early 1980's are considered by many older fans to be the best musically I find this second package of singles more varied in style and therefore a more interesting listen.
The re-mastering of each track only adds to this enjoyment and the revised sleeve notes (more on Greatest Hits I than on II I have to say) make them both essential purchases.