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Queen at their Peak
on 3 November 2012
DISC 1 (The Album)
"A Kind of Magic" was probably the peak of Queen's studio-based highly-polished era of the 1980s/90s and blew me away when I picked up a copy upon its release in 1986. 'Classic' may be an over-used word these days, but just listen to the album over and over again and songs such as "A Kind of Magic", "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "Princes of the Universe" will still sound fresh and such is the skill in the production of the album and its multi-layers that I STILL hear something different in each track even today! That is certainly clearer again in this newly remastered re-release. Gone is the diversity, pomp and tempo change of yesteryear, but here is a rock group at the peak of their output again out-classing the music of the moment (having seen out glam, punk, disco, Queen were now taking on the new romantics). A number of the songs featured in the film "Highlander" or are based on themes from the movie, but this is NOT a soundtrack album. There is such amazing energy in songs from "One Vision" to "Princes of the Universe" and warmth and emotion from well-crafted songs such as "Friends Will Be Friends" and "One Year of Love".
DISC 2 (THE 'EP')
The purpose of the 2011 'Deluxe Editions' (putting all cynical marketing, profit-making, blood-from-a-stone comments to one side) is to give a bonus 'EP' of rare or previously unreleased tracks which compliment the original album. In the case of the later albums it was always going to be a difficult choice of what to leave off as there are any number of tracks that could have been included when this was the time when remixes, extended versions and instrumentals were so popular and the marketing machine started to kick in with 12" singles, picture discs and alternate single versions a-plenty.
So we actually get a few rare tracks on here, including some early versions of "One Vision" / "A Kind of Magic", a couple of single versions and a live track. Not bad. But, three 'bonus' tracks were previously included on the original CD album release and only two of them are included this time around, meaning for most people that you have to keep hold of your original CD to hear "A Kind of A Kind of Magic". Also, the EP fails to gather up all of the additional material that exists commercially in other formats, namely:
- One Vision (Extended version)
- Blurred Vision (b-side)
- A Kind of Magic (Extended version)
- A Dozen Red Roses for my Darling (b-side)
- Friends Will Be Friends (Extended version)
- Who Wants to Live Forever (Single version)
- Pain is so Close to Pleasure (Extended remix)
- The Prize (Instrumental)
Given that the rare (and incomplete) 12" Collection album is long deleted then that leaves quite a number of vinyl records to hold on to for completists! In addition, there are the other versions of existing tracks and unreleased tracks produced for the Highlander movie which still lack an official release.