Live Killers

It’s nice to read on t’interweb that the thunder that precedes the exclamation ‘You’re dead!’ on the Jazz track “Dead on Time” was recorded by May on a portable recorder during a big storm rather than just lifted from stock recordings. It’s used again on the opening of the Live Killers concert before a fast, almost punk, version of “We Will Rock You” kicks in.

For me this first track is a prime example of one of things that’s not quite right with this live album. For me many of the songs on this two disc release are rushed to the point that some such as “Mustapha” appear more like cameos – Freddie sings the opening vocals of “Mustapha” in place of the intro to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, going from ‘Allah, we’ll pray for you’ to ‘Mama, just killed a man…’, despite the crowds shouts for the full rendition.

The rendition of “Let Me Entertain You” was probably great when you were there in the crowd but lacks a little when you’re just listening to it on your hi-fi. There’s no doubting that the band are really really very good at performing live – they sound so tight as a unit it’s great, but again it sounds kind of rushed.

Next comes “Death on Two Legs” with it’s beeped out dedication to their old manager which runs pretty much to the same length as the studio version and bleeds nicely into rushed versions of “Killer Queen” and “Bicycle Race”. “I’m in Love With My Car” is next with a great live performance by Roger Taylor drumming and singing and giving Phil Collins ideas.

Then there’s the great “Get Down Make Love”, and here’s the rub; the second thing that’s not quite right. It’s the opposite of the first thing. Some songs seem to go on too long. Some of the tracks such as this one, “Now I’m Here” and “Brighton Rock” seem to be a vehicle for almost prog rock fannying about with guitar, vocals and even a bloomin’ drum solo. Again great when you were there. I wasn’t I want to listen to the tracks that aren’t too short and aren’t too long. Call me Goldilocks if you like!

However, that said, the use of the whistle (and drums) on this live version of “Get Down Make Love” to basically get the song going again after a lot of echoes and pedal effects is genius.

Here’s a beefy bit of the concert to watch:

The ‘little bit of nonsense’ which is “Dreamer’s Ball” ” is a lot more Elvis on this live version. “Love of My Life” showcases Freddie’s excellent vocals and, like “We Will Rock You” and “Now I’m Here” on disc 2, has some great audience participation which actually does come across well on the hi-fi.

“’39” is up-tempo and sounds a lot more upbeat with Freddie doing the vocals instead of May and it’s nice to hear the ancient “Keep Yourself Alive”.

“Don’t Stop Me Now” sounds pretty awful on this live album, in comparison to other songs, if the truth be told. It’s great that you can hear the crowd singing along to “Spread Your Wings” and it’s obvious this was written with live performance in mind along with the likes of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”.

Next is “Brighton Rock” which sees Queen in their most self-indulgent muso personas. It’s a definite ‘you don’t understand, you weren’t there man!’ track. Love the riffs, love the guitar, really get bored after about the 5 minutes or so the studio track lasts. Then we have “Mustapha”, ah no we don’t we have “Bohemian Rhapsody”… shame they never really had a proper bash at the middle bit, but at least playing the recording let them all get a drink and perhaps for Freddie a cheeky costume change?

Side 2 is definitely more rock than side 1 with “Tie Your Mother Down” next and then “Sheer Heart Attack” with Taylor going nuts on the drums. Side 2 seems to be cut up a little with the crowd noise fading in and out which is a fair indication of missing tracks recordings from different performances being used. “God Save the Queen” typically and boringly rounds off the album after the big beats of “We Will Rock You” and the anthemic “We Are the Champions” with a much needed ‘of the world…’ at the end of it from Freddie which I always want to hear on the studio version.

Flash Gordon

This is a poor excuse for a Queen album in my opinion, but there is a reasonably good explanation. It’s billed as ‘original soundtrack music’ and is just that and it’s not particularly long, with only the opening and closing tracks over 3 minutes in length, so if you hum while it’s on it doesn’t last too long and you can get back to do something more useful with your life.

The film was a camp sci-fi film, recently lauded as a classic in the film ‘Ted’, but it really wasn’t. I didn’t even think it was any good when I was a wee impressionable lad and I tried to watch it on telly a few weeks ago and decided I’d rather mow the lawn even though it didn’t particularly need doing.

The music isn’t a whole lot better than the movie to be honest, but I guess it paved the way for them to do the music for Highlander later in their careers so that’s good. “Vultan’s Theme” is kind of catchy and a lot like the stuff the disembodied head of Brian May (and friends) did for Starfleet a few years later.

I’d like to say that at least the cracking single “Flash” is a noteworthy highlight, but oddly it’s not on the album. Bit of a mistake imo. The only good points I can think of is that it’s nice to hear a lot of film dialogue and “The Hero” is a vaguely interesting track which reprises a lot of the sounds and style of the album, has some great vocals from Freddie and a nice bit of May guitar.