Queen aim to rock your socks- and wallet- with this pre- Xmas album...
Well what can you say about Queen? Certainly not much that’s already been said and a track-by-track critique would seem wildly unnecessary. For a live album from 1982 the clarity of sound on “Queen On Fire” is remarkably good, with a great deal of time spent removing imperfections and crowd noise strategically placed as an introductory warm up and elsewhere relatively harmless. The temptation is to play the double CDs much like another Queen best of, picking out your favourites like sweets from a Christmas selection box. However, in doing so you’d miss some wonderfully smooth transitions, a lot of wit and audience interaction, and some wonderful spontaneous live moments.
Yes, there are some fabulous tracks, but there are also some weaker tracks that seem somewhat unnecessary and increase the desire to hit the skip button, thus defying the whole concept of a live album. The first two tracks pass relatively unnoticed and serving only as a prelude to the ever-stunning and sought after ‘fast version’ of “We Will Rock You”, surely one of the strongest rock anthems of the last century. Some of the guitar solos are certainly stunning and inventive, but without the live atmosphere they begin to drag on some of the longer tracks such as “Action This Day”. “Somebody To Love” is rousing with crowd and band chanting in perfect unison, before launching into falsetto mode and Brian May beginning yet another finely crafted guitar solo. “Love of My Life”, altruistically dedicated to “people that have given up their lives to what they believe”, a poignant note to start a beautiful song, with the first verse sung entirely by the crowd.
The second CD begins with the very anthemic, rhythmic “Get Down Make Love” a mystical 6 minute guitar solo of epic proportions. “Bohemian Rhapsody” storms in like a well-rehearsed saviour, smooth, slick and moving. It progresses pretty much as a Queen collection should, with “Another One Bites The Dust” bursting in, “We Will Rock You” making an energetic reappearance and culminating in “We Are The Champions”. Freddie Mercury’s witty interjections “it’s not very often we do shows in the daylight..” really remind you the quality of showmanship that made Queen the phenomenon they are today.
However, the release of the same soundtrack on DVD, really does make this CD very superfluous, who wants to hear the seething crowd when they can see them in full multi-colour and watch them during the Queen’s Christmas speech? Am I being a little cynical about the pre-Christmas release? Perhaps the term “cashing-in” crops up, this is a great album by a truly amazing band, but surely everyone has at least one Queen best of or live CD?