What does it sound like?:
It’s hard to think of an album that has two more iconic, anthemic opening tracks. And to think that “We Will Rock You” was just the B side to the “We Are The Champions”. “News Of The World” now reaches it’s 40th anniversary year, and gets the special edition / deluxe treatment.
“NOTW” was Queen’s sixth album, and attempted to rein back a little on the arrangements and complexities that had reached their zenith on “A Day At The Races”. As a consequence they alienated some of their longer standing fans but found themselves a whole new mainstream audience.
As well as a picture disc pure analogue re-cut of the original vinyl LP, direct from the unmastered analogue master mix tapes, (pressed onto vinyl especially mixed from sunchoke resin and unicorn tears) this 3CD and single DVD set offers up alternate takes, raw mixes and some live cuts.
Selling for north of £100 there can’t be many prospective purchasers that don’t have the original album, so it’s likely to be the “Raw Sessions” CD (plus a new hour-long documentary on the DVD) that is of the most interest. Here, alternate versions sequenced according to the original album provide something that is the same, but different. “We Will Rock You” comes with a different May solo, some studio chatter and a slightly different vocal mix, followed by “take 3,700” of “We Are The Champions” sporting different vocals here and there and what sounds like a steel drum at the end before Freddie declares “Lovely feel – exactly how it should be”.
“Sheer Heart Attack” is much more venomous (and much improved in my view), with a thrashing guitar intro absent from the original album version whilst “All Dead, All Dead” has Freddie on vocals rather than May’s. “Spread Your Wings” is more familiar but has a different intro and a bit less of May’s guitar. “Get Down, Make Love” is presented in an earlier, less polished format, whilst “Sleeping On The Sidewalk” pops up as a live US concert cut. “Who Needs You” without the extra percussion and missing some words is still somewhat ordinary, but better than the cheesy original.
The 3rd CD features 19 “Bonus Tracks”, which have been available before but collected together for first time here. There are 5 live tracks from BBC sessions recorded to promote “NOTW” (released on the recent Queen “On Air” set) plus 7 other live “NOTW” cuts from shows recorded between 1978 and 1982.
“Feelings Feelings”, left off the final album kicks the disc off, although I’m much more taken with the Quoesque hard riffing version of “We Will Rock You”, unlike the version with an odd spoken word ending, both of which were recorded for the BBC / John Peel show. For karaoke fans there’s there are versions of “Champions” and “Rock You” sans Freddie’s lead vocal – fun to hear once but somewhat pointless thereafter as are the instrumental tracks that follow. There are two further live versions of “Rock You”, a 1982 Tokyo version in high speed riff mode whilst the closing Milton Keynes Bowl cut gives the full stadium sing along experience.
The set is rounded out by a DVD where Whispering Bob follows the band on a 1977 US tour with concert and backstage footage that never received a formal release until now.
What does it all *mean*?
It’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise
Goes well with…
A harlequin unitard
Might suit people who like…
Stadium or arena based sports