For some reason, this is the Queen album that seems to divide opinion the most; I don't know why as it is certainly no worse than any of the other albums released during the band's golden era. But then, its not completely brilliant either. As ever Queen stretch themselves over a variety of styles, which, as usual, makes for an ambitious if inconsistent record.
So what has Mr Fusspot deemed good? Well, for a kick off we have Queen's best ever song, and i do mean best: 'Dead on Time'. Never heard of it? No, it wasn't a hit, and as far as i know, never (or only rarely) played live. Shame, as it rocks like a swear word. Never has Brian May's guitar sounded quite this angry, and even his words are fairly aggressive. Topped off with a thunderclap at the end (courtesy of God, apparently) this really is an undiscovered classic. I know the heavier stuff isn't for everyone, but hey, Queen are usually referred to as a rock band so I am assuming that a potential buyer has some interest in the genre. Anyway, 'Fat Bottomed Girls' is a goodun, a more laid back slab of rock; 'Bicycle Race' is a clever pop type song that gives Freddie Mercury a chance to list all the things he doesn't like; 'Leaving Home aint Easy' is a ballad style song full of May's typically earnest musings. The album closer, 'More of that Jazz' is a reasonable Roger Taylor sung rocker with a catchy stuttering drum motif. The last in the good batch, 'Let Me Entertain You', is a rare Freddie up tempo guitar led song, but it highlights my main gripe with this album; its too quiet. This song in particular has always sounded muffled and the remastering has done little to alter that, but maybe its just my ears that are faulty.
As for the bad...'Jealousy' and 'In only Seven Days' are a couple of sappy ballads; 'If You can't Beat Them' and (dare i say it) 'Don't Stop me Now' are dull/camp pop fare. 'Mustapha' is just plain weird, an eastern flavoured ditty with Freddie chirping away in arabic or something. In 'Dreamers Ball' the group broadcasts blues, but unfortunately it is a little dreary.
Which leaves the funky. Which is only one song actually, 'Fun it'. This is certainly the first song to suggest that certain members of the band had begun to discover the emerging disco scene of the time, a sound that would start to feature more prominently in subsequent albums. Its not for me.
So do you deluxe or do you not deluxe? Even for the committed Queen fan, the bonus disc doesn't offer much. There's the edited single version of 'Fat Bottomed Girls'. Why you would want this when you already have the full version on the album proper is beyond me (plus this version is already available on the Greatest Hits) and if that wasn't pointless enough, you get an instrumental version of 'Bicycle Race'. Again, why? Theres also a version of 'Don't stop me Now' with long lost guitars. It might be my ears playing up again, but I couldn't tell the difference. 'Let Me Entertain You' gets a live run out, and while this actual version may be previously unreleased, I doubt the version on Live Killers is much different. The only song that gets close to being interesting is the accoustic demo version of 'Dreamers Ball', but once you've heard it, you probably won't be rushing back for repeated listens. Had I known this before I bought it, I would have got the single disc version, and would recommend you do the same, just in case Queen really do get around to 'clearing the vaults' any time soon.