"Baker's dozen" posts were inspired by Led Zeppelin collectors who posted their top 13 bootleg releases of the year on the Underground Uprising website.
I haven't done one here in a few years, as not enough Queen tapes came out each year to necessitate such a post. But 2017 was a very fruitful one for the Queen collecting community (including four brand new 70s shows), so let's get everyone up to speed on all the good stuff that came out.
And of course, feel free to do up your own posts as well !
1. BBC session 3 Ogre Battle intro (upgrade)
Queen's third BBC session was recorded on December 3, 1973 (and broadcast by John Peel on Sounds Of The Seventies three days later). The four tracks have been officially released several times (the first time being in 1989), but Brian May's guitar feedback intro to Ogre Battle wasn't included on the earlier versions. Awful sounding copies ended up on bootlegs by the 1990s, which led to rumours that the master tape was destroyed. Such theories were put to rest last year when part of the intro ended up on the On Air box set.
Earlier this year a collector found the complete intro on a cassette in nearly as good quality as the official release, revealing that it is actually two takes of Brian running the feedback bit before the song (a studio engineer can be heard speaking between takes). It is the second take that is heard on the On Air release, but entire thing is heard here in its full glory for the first time ever.
2. Nagoya - April 22, 1975 ("Sheer Heart Attack Tour In Japan" - Wardour)
This is their second show in Japan, and the sound is particularly great for the last 40 minutes of the tape. Only two rough-sounding songs from this show had circulated prior to this, so getting 95% of the show is a welcome addition to the collection.
3. Tokyo - May 1, 1975 ("In The Land Of The Rising Sun" - Tarantura)
This classic show is very well documented, starting with vinyl bootlegs in the mid 70s. Seven sources now exist from this show, and this is the most complete one (although not quite the best sounding).
4. Osaka - March 29, 1976 ("Osaka Rhapsody" - Tarantura)
Tarantura released both Osaka shows, taped by someone who goes by the name of Mr Peach. His tapes are all brilliant quality, but the bootleg label crushes nearly everything in their path with compression. Excellent sounding tapes of both shows already have existed for decades, but these copies still serve as a reasonable companion.
5. Detroit - November 18, 1977
This was a welcome surprise - the earliest known News Of The World tape, and the quality is great (particularly for a 45 minute segment in the middle of the show). Transferred from the master tape, unfortunately it went through a round of hiss reduction and the tape is no longer available. But it is still well worth a listen, as Queen were always solid in this period, with plenty of old songs still in the setlist.
6. Inglewood - December 22, 1977
A legendary show for all the tales told, tapes were rumoured to exist for decades and one finally got out this year. A 90 minute tape, it doesn't have the crazy encores (although it does have the one-off take of White Christmas), but it is still one of the finest performances of the band's career, even if the quality is below average. Recommended listening for sure, to hear the band at the peak of their powers on stage.
7. Providence - November 14, 1978
For years this tape was known of, and it finally leaked onto YouTube. Not only is the sound extraordinarily good for an audience tape of its age, but there is a rarity in the form of Mercury leading the band into the beginning of The March Of The Black Queen before Bohemian Rhapsody. The complete show was captured, and it is essential listening from the Live Killers era.
8. Tokyo - April 14, 1979 ("Budokan 1979 Second Night" - Wardour)
Wardour released a fourth source from this show in 2017. The quality isn't quite as good as the Tarantura source, but it is still a great document of the show.
9. Liverpool - December 6, 1979
Two copies of this previously uncirculated show came out within weeks of each other from different tape transfers. One of them is pretty poor, but was still welcomed by the community. The superior one is great for the first side of the 90 minute tape, but gets progressively more overblown for the rest of the show. But it is an excellent performance from the Crazy Tour well worth hearing, not least for the rare instance of Mercury playing a bit of The Millionaire Waltz after Mustapha.
10. Europe 1982 silent 8mm film (upgrade)
This footage has circulated for years, but most copies were highly generated and even in black and white for parts of it. It remains unknown which dates it is from (it is a compilation of at least two dates), but this copy close to the master is still an excellent document from the period.
11. Leiden - September 20, 1984 (source 3 master)
Two sources had previously circulated from this show, but neither was completely satisfying. This third source is one of the best recordings of the tour, and the audience is a joy to listen to throughout. They even sing every word of the impromptu performance of '39.
12. Stockholm - June 7, 1986 (source 1, first gen)
This is one of the better recordings of the Magic tour, and a cleaner copy than ever. Recommended listening, to hear a high energy Mercury on the first night of their final tour.
13 - 1988 Capitol 'work in progress' (upgrade)
Most of these tracks from The Miracle sessions had circulated since the 1990s on cassette (apparently originally given out to their record company), but this clean transfer of the original tape has these tracks sounding better than ever. All six songs have different lead vocal tracks from the final versions, amongst other differences. All God's People was begun during this period as well, and this is the first time this early version of the song has circulated.
Honourable mention - News Of The World box set
This box set was mostly welcomed by Queen fans (there are always a disgruntled few), as it is the deepest archival dig done by the band yet. One of the discs contains drastically different versions of all 11 songs on the album, and there is a documentary using almost entirely previously unseen footage from the album sessions and ensuing tour. Perhaps the only sour point is the realization that so much more footage exists, and that it was whittled down to only an hour's worth. But what an hour it is. Video of any band in the studio during their classic era is a gem, and the fact that We Are The Champions footage exists (both on the floor and at the mixing board) puts this footage on par with the footage of the Stones writing Sympathy For The Devil.
Thanks especially to the tapers - without you, most of this joy simply wouldn't exist !
Artists must pass on, but sometimes a mix of passion, good fortune, diligence, expertise, and meticulous labor can capture and restore some of the beauty they left behind.http://www.queenlive.ca