It’s a relief to get Queen out of the way if I am blunt. There is too much of a good thing and as someone (probably Oscar Wilde) once said familiarity breeds contempt.
Take Queen Rock Montreal for instance. A double CD of live tracks from a classic concert. What’s not to like right? Well it’s fine but it smacks a bit of cashing in given that there’s already a load of Queen live albums available and this one has a set list very similar to those others. Also there’s something lacking about not being able to see the band perform rather than just hear them.
Queen Live At The Rainbow ’74 on the other hand is a slightly different kettle of fish. Sure you could cry that it’s money for old rope and that the audio quality is a little dog eared, but here we have a fine collection of live versions of the early songs of Queen. It’s those early songs, especially those on Queen II, that are to be cherished in my opinion and only hint at how huge this band would end up being. Also the listening experience is helped immensely by my memories of the performances having seen it on Sky TV and then getting the DVD as a birthday present a while ago.
Queen Greatest Hits I, II & III – what to say? I could draw a graph to show the decline in my interest over the singles versus date of release. QGHI is pretty much my favourite album of all time, QGHII is pale in comparison and QGHIII makes me angry in places. Most of the tracks on III aren’t really Queen tracks at all, at least not a Queen I wish to recognise. It’s the type of Queen that is willing to flog their tunes to advertising companies so the likes of A Kind Of Magic can be used to advertise beds. The type of Queen that get hackneyed rock star Paul Rodgers who has no vocal range and the on-stage presence of an empty coffee cup to tour with them. Way to go devaluing the back catalogue guys! Touring with Adam Lambert actually made more sense but it’s just not the same guys – there’s just no getting around the fact that Freddie Mercury was the distinctive voice of Queen and that he is irreplaceable.
And talking of the back catalogue and money for old rope we come to Queen Forever a double compilation of songs in a seemingly random order put together for who knows what reason. To be honest it’s quite good to hear them out of the usual order they appear in on the original albums and some of the alternate versions of ‘Queen’ songs are interesting. I put the quote marks in there because like QGHIII some of them are Freddie Mercury songs. The main draw for some people may have been the previously unreleased song with Michael Jackson but it’s of only passing interest to me.
Apart from QGHI, Queen Live At The Rainbow ’74 is my favourite album of this bunch of compilations. I have Queen Live Killers on vinyl too, but this is a CD marathon (and what a bloody marathon) remember.