Queen – [DVD]

Friday, 31 August 2012

There are few things which scream “music business” – that is, the business of producing articles centered arounf a band for consumption by a base of established fans – louder than a compilation of music videos by that group. Really, who would such a set attract other than a portion of that group's long-established supporters? There is no possibility of a new potential fan “discovering” a band from a set like this, the only people who are likely to see it are the “gotta get it all!” brand of superfan of which most every group has at least a couple. That assertion holds up as one gazes on the two-DVD set of Queen's Greatest Video Hits and marvels at the fact that, at the dawn of the video age, this band actually managed to shoot thirty-three of them. To this set's credit, it makes those early videos look pretty good too – from a historical standpoint – but one needs to remember that these videos were landmark for their time – even if they're pretty campy and really don't look very good by twenty-first century standards.

How does “state of the art” production begin to look budget over time? One look at the video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which opens this collection) says it all. While the song is still a monument to “rock orchestra” styling and production, the video – which features basic angles and camera effects that have available to everyone since the dawn of handheld camcorders – is really only adorable from a “time capsule” standpoint and continues to hold attention more for the audio than the visuals. The same holds true for the videos shot to support “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Killer Queen,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Are The Champions” and “Under Pressure” – because the format was new at the time, videos tended to look a little awkward because the adrenaline levels of the musical performance simply did not exist on a sound stage; bands didn't know to over-act or mug for the camera in the early days of video, so the videos just didn't look right. Because of that, he videos which have aged the best on Queen's set here are “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – which remains a little bizarre because of the disembodied hands which are stationed around the runway along which Freddy Mercury walks and clap during the song's bridge – “Somebody To Love” (the first video which really shows Queen with a bit of the soul fans expected of them on stage) and “Bicycle Race” (which focuses more on a bunch of naked female cyclists than on the band's performance of the song). Beyond that, the remainder of this DVD's run-time is really just for those fans interested enough to watch the videos instead of simply enjoying the records and how many of those there will be is questionable (and how many there are willing to pay for the pleasure instead of just watching the videos on youtube is likely even more questionable), but it can be said that those willing to lay their money down for Queen's Greatest Video Hits likely won't be disappointed with their purchase; they'll find no better set.



Queen's Greatest Video Hits is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .


Queen – [DVD]

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Right from the very outset of their November 24, 1981 performance in Montreal (later hailed as the last concert, along with the encore performance the next night, to showcase Queen ‘raw’), Queen stepped onstage with something to prove, which shows in their inclusion of the loud-fast version of “We Will Rock You” that opened the set. It’s just that simple; every choreographed mic stand toss, every piano flourish and every molten instrumental break are for the express purpose of giving the biggest, most unforgettable show to the capacity crowd imaginable. Queen’s stage presence and Freddy Mercury’s ability to hold the audience in his hands are still peerless, and those nights in Montreal illustrate that fact pristinely as they play every song that could be expected of them from “Somebody to Love” to “Killer Queen” to “Under Pressure” to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” With the tragedy that was to befall Mercury only a few years later, not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, fans got every drop of raw power at the band’s disposal in Montreal and, with a pro-shot video now available that never misses a second, so now can fans that weren’t there. If you haven’t seen it, pick it up, watch it and take notes—no one has done so mammoth a show without props since..

Included on the second disc of this set is the band’s 1985 performance at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium which, while still very good, is a very, very different beast from the shows in Montreal years earlier. Unable to hide behind the lighting patterns used for a nighttime show and confined to a very rigid set time, Queen had to pull some fancy footwork to attempt even portions of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and subbing a Telecaster for an acoustic guitar on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” seems only utilitarian, but it’s also representative of what echelon of rock stardom Queen had attained by this point. This is a band that always relished in bombast, but Live Aid was where they had to make concessions and cede delicacy and showmanship for the purpose of a quick impact. The band performs at a blink and you’ll miss it rate at Live Aid and the set is largely devoid of any methodical delivery. That said, while it’s a good show, it doesn’t come close to Montreal.

Regardless, none of that matters; on this two-DVD set, fans get both and get to see both sides of the coin. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that at the height of their powers, Queen set the standard by which every other band that wanted to put on a big show would be judged and, watching it now, it’s obvious that few have even come close and none have surpassed Queen from a performance standpoint.

Queen Rock Montreal & Live Aid DVD is out now.

Queen Live in Montreal 1981 – Tie Your Mother Down

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