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Archive for the ‘Queen’ Category

No Hate, No Fight, Just Excitation: Classic Queen Concert Coming to Theaters, Home Formats

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Queen are bringing their unique kind of magic to movie theaters everywhere with a recently resurrected European concert, and it’s no surprise that the project is coming to audiovisual formats this November.

Hungarian Rhapsody: Live in Budapest captures Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor on the famed Magic Tour that surged through Europe in the summer of 1986. Having proven their live energy still knew no bounds the summer before, at Wembley Stadium for Live Aid, the tour – designed to promote the A Kind of Magic album (a companion of songs for the film Highlander) – was something of a victory lap for the band. (The Live at Wembley ’86 touchstone is another testament to this era, which was unfortunately the last hurrah for Queen in a live setting; Mercury would be diagnosed with AIDS the year after and would never appear onstage with Queen in his lifetime.)

The band’s July 27, 1986 show at Budapest’s Nepstadion was not only Queen’s first date in that country, but one of the first arena rock shows conducted behind the Iron Curtain. As such, filming was commissioned by the Hungarian government itself; even they couldn’t resist the hard-driving charm of the band, it seemed.

That footage, originally released on VHS and laserdisc in England in 1987, is going to be exhibited (newly remastered in HD and 5.1 surround, at that) in theaters worldwide between tonight and Sunday (check your local listings!), but it’s also going to be made available for fans and collectors on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray later this year. And after the jump, we’re going to tell you all about it!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 20, 2012 at 11:45

Posted in News, Queen, Reissues

They Will Rock You: Queen Musical Cast Recording to Be Expanded for 10th Anniversary

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For all their theatricality, it was only recently that Queen were commemorated with a full-blown musical. Now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of that endeavor, We Will Rock You, a newly-remastered and expanded edition of the original cast recording is due from Island in the United Kingdom.

Conceived by Queen and Ben Elton (a onetime stand-up comedian and television writer in the U.K.), We Will Rock You details the trials of youth in a dystopic future who rebel against rigid societal norms and unleash the power of – you guessed it! – the music of Queen. Sure, it sounds crazy, and critics never had much of a kind word for the production. But it still runs in the West End’s Dominion Theater – the longest-running show at the largest venue in England’s theater district – and has spun off around two dozen performing and touring companies across Europe, with a 10th anniversary arena tour set to begin in May 2013.

It’s in that spirit that the We Will Rock You cast album is expanded, pairing a new remaster of the original London cast album with a bonus disc of recordings by various casts around the world, including exclusive bonus tracks and foreign-language recordings featured on Australian, German and Spanish cast albums and live performances by the British and German casts featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor themselves.

This new reissue is due out October 15 and can be ordered (as an import-only title) after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 13, 2012 at 14:12

Reissue Theory: Queen, “The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. On an iconic rock star’s birthday, we hope for a concert celebrating his life and work to make it onto CD someday.

On this day, 66 years ago, Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar. The world would, of course, know him by another name: Freddie Mercury, the iconoclastic frontman for the British hard rock band Queen. Between 1973 and 1991, the band’s idiosyncratic sense of vocal and guitar harmonies, affinity for baroque pop melodies and penchant for studio trickery had earned them a devoted following worldwide. Even as the band moved into the ’80s and adapted both New Wave stylings and MTV-ready visuals to suit their needs, the crowds still went wild; one needs only to watch Mercury’s command performances with Queen at Live Aid in 1985 and London’s Wembley Stadium the following year to understand why.

Of course, we all know the story of Mercury’s has a tragic ending. In 1991, literally hours after announcing his long-hidden battle with AIDS, Mercury would succumb to complications from the disease. Freddie’s life was one of many at the time rightly memorialized to raise awareness and money for AIDS research. Twenty years ago, Freddie bandmates, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor, united to fight AIDS the best way they could: through rock music. A concert held at Wembley on April 20, 1992 attracted some 72,000 attendees and, thanks to simultaneous live television and radio broadcasts, a worldwide audience of some 1 billion. Mercury’s showman spirit was celebrated by fellow rock gods and contemporaries who guested with Queen during the show, including members of Guns N’ Roses, Extreme, Metallica, Black Sabbath and appearances by David Bowie, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant and George Michael. All profits from the concert founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS charity still active to this day.

Mercury’s life has been well-celebrated in recent years. This year alone – after a 2011 that saw a flurry of catalogue activity – Island reissued a greatly-expanded edition of Mercury and Montserrat Caballe’s Barcelona this week, with a new Mercury documentary, The Great Pretender, due out on DVD this month and a live Queen show from Hungary being screened theatrically as well. (Mercury even made the transformation to Angry Bird as part of this week’s “Freddie for a Day” event.)

But through all the catalogue celebration, it’s surprising that the landmark concert itself has never been released on CD. We explore further after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 5, 2012 at 16:23

One Vision: Queen Repackage Video Compilations for New Release

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If news of the super deluxe edition of Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona album didn’t have enough Queen in it for you, you’re in some luck now: a new compilation of the band’s videos is headed to DVD at the end of the month.

The band’s Greatest Video Hits is a new repackaging of two earlier compilations on disc – Greatest Video Hits 1 (2002) and Greatest Video Hits 2 (2003). Together, they chronicle just about all of the band’s promo videos from the 1970s and 1980s. All clips were remastered and remixed in 5.1 DTS surround sound and feature commentary consisting of archival audio interviews with the late Mercury and retired bassist John Deacon as well as new interviews with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.

Some words of caution to buyers, however: while the sets are of course not complete (omitting promo footage from the band’s final LP, 1991’s Innuendo), fans have previously taken to task the video improvement; specifically, several of the clips have been converted from their original full frame aspect ratio (4:3) to a new widescreen (16:9) image. To achieve this, the original framing was cropped, which to some robs the videos of their original impact. Both original compilations were two-disc sets, as well, and this double-disc package omits those bonus discs and the bonus material they each carried.

If you’re looking for a simple set of Queen videos, though, this could be the one to get when it hits American shores on August 28. Hit the jump for the full program; Amazon links will be provided as they are available. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 19, 2012 at 14:22

Back to “Barcelona”: Queen Frontman’s Final Solo Disc Gets Super Deluxe Treatment

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“I’m moving into opera now. Forget rock and roll.” With those words, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury moved in on what may be the most grandiose phase in a long career full of theatrics. In 1987, with Queen not yet knowing they would have played their final live show one year before, the band’s whimsical frontman ventured into uncharted waters with Barcelona, an operatic rock album featuring a talented soprano whose voice he idolized, and put one of the final great flourishes on a career (and a life) carried out with brilliant extravagance.

Now, 25 years after the release of the “Barcelona” single, 20 years after its charting and for what would have been the singer’s 66th birthday, Barcelona comes back in a big way,  reissued and reimagined with a brand new orchestration and three discs of extra content in September.

“I have now heard the best voice in the world,” Mercury told friends in 1981 after attending a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House in London. But the Queen singer was not speaking of star Luciano Pavarotti, but mezzo-soprano female lead Caballé. After some years, the duo arranged to meet; Mercury bought with him a demo co-written with arranger Mike Moran that the diva fell in love with immediately.

When approached to create a song for the 1992 Olympic Games held in the Spanish city Barcelona – Monsterrat’s birthplace – it was obvious with whom Mercury would collaborate. The pair worked separately on songs for a full album (all of which were primarily written by Mercury and Moran, with some input from Caballé and lyricist Tim Rice), with Freddie laying down falsetto guide vocals for Montserrat to sing.

The album was a respectable success upon release in 1988, with the title track climbing to No. 8. Mercury returned to Queen for The Miracle (1989) and Innuendo (1991), hiding the terrible news of his declining health due to AIDS until the day before his death at the end of 1991. While many remember the reascension of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the U.K. pop charts that holiday, “Barcelona” made a stunning return when reissued to commemorate that stirring Olympic ceremony, in which Montserrat took the stage herself to duet with Freddie’s ethereal voice during the opening exercises.

Now, Barcelona‘s coming back in a big way, and you can find out how after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 18, 2012 at 10:40

Release Round-Up: Week of February 7

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Queen, The Works / A Kind of Magic / The Miracle / Innuendo / Made in Heaven: Deluxe Editions (Hollywood)

The last five deluxe reissues of the Queen catalogue, which began last year for the 40th anniversary, are now available domestically (they came out in the U.K. in November). So if you’ve missed these, now’s the chance to get them without importing ’em.

Big Country, The Crossing: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMC)

From the U.K., one of the most criminally underrated albums of the ’80s, expanded with B-sides and a bonus disc of rare and unreleased demos.

Pet Shop Boys, Format: B-Sides and Bonus Tracks 1996-2009 (Parlophone)

Two discs of PSB B-sides from 1996 to 2009, a sequel to 1995’s Alternative, which served the same purpose for the band’s early flipsides.

Tony Bennett, Isn’t It Romantic? (Concord)

Bennett’s Improv-era material compiled for lovers, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Todd Rundgren, A Cappella + Nearly Human + 2nd Wind (Edsel)

Two ’80s and a ’90s album on two discs from the U.K. label.

Goldfrapp, The Singles (Astralwerks)

The great dance-pop duo closes out their major-label contract with a compilation of singles and the by-now requisite pair of new tracks.

John Williams/The London Symphony Orchestra, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Classical)

A reissue of the original, single-disc soundtrack (with one bonus track from the double-disc Ultimate Edition reissue) to tie in with the 3-D re-release of the film this Friday.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 7, 2012 at 08:03

Queen News Round-Up: Wembley Goes Deluxe, U.S. Date Set for Last Wave of Reissues

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The worldwide celebration of what would have been the 65th birthday of iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has captured the public imagination something fierce – check out Google’s astounding video tribute above – and The Second Disc couldn’t help but add to the celebration with some news and updates on the band’s ongoing catalogue endeavors.

First of all, deep-pocketed fans will want to be on the lookout for a super-deluxe edition of the forthcoming 25th anniversary reissue of the band’s Live at Wembley Stadium CD/DVD set. The massive package, available for pre-order next month with a plotted November release, includes all the content from the standard release (both Wembley performances on DVD and two CDs of the iconic Saturday show) plus a host of extra collectible content, including replica tour passes and programs, a “Friends Will Be Friends” scarf, a button-down tour shirt and, perhaps, funniest of all, a 12″ inflatable Freddie Mercury doll, stylized in a similar fashion to the LP sleeve of A Kind of Magic. All of it comes in a crate-style case.

Those looking for a Queen gift for the holidays with a little more music are in luck, too: Amazon is taking American pre-orders for their exclusive box set edition of the final five expanded studio albums. While those albums came out in the U.K. today, these are slated for release November 1, so it won’t be too much of a wait for them if you don’t wish to import.

Here’s hoping this news has you hangin’ on the edge of your seat!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 6, 2011 at 17:34

Posted in Box Sets, News, Queen, Reissues

Queen Break Free, Go Deep on Third Wave of Reissues (UPDATED)

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UPDATE: One unreleased track has been added to the reissue of The Miracle; in addition, the iTunes video content – much of it previously released – has been added to the post.

Original Post: The U.K. is rushin’ headlong into the last batch of Queen reissues (available September 5 everywhere but the U.S.), and now there are track lists for each bonus EP, included with these reissues of The Works (1984), A Kind of Magic (1986), The Miracle (1989), Innuendo (1991) and the posthumous Made in Heaven (1995), finished after Freddie Mercury’s passing.

Unsurprisingly, as Queen became increasingly focused on pop singles at this time, much of the bonus material derives from various remixes and non-LP B-sides released at the time. However, there are some unreleased tracks in the mix, including a live cut from the band’s stint at Rock in Rio in 1985, a few demos from the A Kind of Magic and Innuendo eras and even a few unreleased remixes. A Kind of Magic has the most bonus cuts, with seven.

However, the bonus material is far from complete; several vinyl remixes abound which would have been nice to include with each album. (Fans have long stated that each reissue could have been expanded by a full disc instead of an EP. This may be no truer than in this final batch.)

A track list for the next Deep Cuts compilation has been released, too, drawing most heavily from the band’s final two albums. Everything can be read after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 2, 2011 at 12:43

Weekend Wround-Up: Queen Sets in September, Trent is Angry and Notable Links

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  • Queen have confirmed their last batch of expanded studio albums – The Works, A Kind of Magic, The MiracleInnuendo and Made in Heaven – to be released in the U.K. on September 5 from Island/UMC. Another Deep Cuts compilation will be released as well, as seen above; neither that set nor the bonus material have gotten confirmed track lists. Note that all 15 remastered studio albums will be out before the second batch of reissues hit American shelves.
  • It usually pains me to agree with Nine Inch Nails honcho Trent Reznor – the musician who rallied so hard against the superficiality of the Grammys had no problem picking up an Oscar for the score to The Social Network last year – but his latest cause is a particularly worthy one. The musician took to Twitter to urge fans not to buy a recent reissue of Pretty Hate Machine that Universal put out. The set was not sourced from the remastered tapes which were released through UMe last year, nor did the bonus track on said remaster appear. Look, maybe I’m just naive, but what does a label stand to gain from reissuing a catalogue album so soon after re-releasing it in the first place?
  • Another one from the “strange tales of the industry” department: the reissue of Megadeth’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? sold 1,800 copies in its first week. Not sure whether that’s worthy of mention, nor if that’s even a good number for a major-label catalogue title. I’ve seen some reports damning that number, but indie reissue labels sometimes limit titles to around that quantity, and you don’t see them struggling publicly. The music business doesn’t always make sense, is what I’m trying to say.
  • Let’s end on a happy note, shall we? A nice article about High Moon Records and their upcoming reissues of Love’s Black Beauty and Gene Clarke’s Two Sides to Every Story. Hooray!

Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2011 at 10:33

Reissue Theory: Live Aid on CD

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Twenty-six years ago today, on two different continents, the music world came together for a worthy cause: to raise awareness of famine in Ethiopia. Live Aid, a pair of concerts organized by Bob Geldof in London and Philadelphia on July 13, 1985 and broadcasted live on the BBC, ABC and MTV, was seen in person by some 172,000 people and on television by nearly 2 billion across the globe.

And, if you can believe it, none of it has ever been released on LP or CD.

Granted, it’s not entirely unsurprising. Geldof promised artists that the performances were very much a one-off, never to be seen past the initial broadcast. (That of course turned out to be untrue, with the release of a four-disc DVD set in 2004.) But you have to wonder, given not only the fiercely charitable nature of the organization as well as the capitalistic nature of the music industry, why a commemorative album was never put out to raise even more money for charities.

But if they did, this is how it might go down.

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