I have not been here on Queenzone for ages. I thought I'd have a look this morning. Nothing much changes. I see that this question has arisen AGAIN, as it tends to do every other year or so.
It's a fair question/point to raise, for sure it is... but it has been rather done to death now. Never mind; that said, there are of course new members to QZ all the time (presumably) who will not be aware that all or most of this has already been debated in detail - soon after the SOLO box emerged the best part of a decade ago now. And several times since.
Here is my response to THIS Ensueno point... not least because the same principal also applies to various other threads I've seen but cannot find enough enthusiasm to reply to.
This is MY point of view.
The Freddie Mercury SOLO box of 2000, was actually a mammoth undertaking. It contains over a hundred items from multiple sources, and required a HUGE amount of work in order to present it logically and in a nice and 'user-friendly' way.
1. Until YOU guys or girls actually work upon a project of this size, believe me you have no idea of the hundreds of potential pitfalls that lay in wait for you. Much like a bunker (or sand trap) in Golf, certain things will lay in wait, hidden, and sometimes you simply fall into the trap, but never get back to that thing again to change it. You get side-tracked by things like Dave Clark on the phone again making further tiny changes to the text you both agreed on a month ago, but which he wants changed slightly. Or sidetracked by the designer wanting the next sleeve note or lyrics, or credit, or publishing details, or photo detail.
You can have your concentration taken away by phone calls, checking credits or dates, or the spelling of someone's name, or by the transcription of lyrics. A million things can trip you up.
2. There were some mixes that were missed on that box. I think the 7" single edit of Made In Heaven and a further 12" mix of Barcelona. Yes, they got missed. That was regrettable. Not the end of the world though, given ALL THE OTHER mixes of those things. It's not like you went without, or like any track was not represented at all. EVERYTHING was represented, much of several times.
BUT.... hundreds of very wonderful, fabulous out-takes did NOT get missed. I ensured that MANY items made it onto the box, and I researched in detail where each thing was recorded, by whom, and when. Here again, there were hundreds of potential mistakes to be made. But Justin and I worked 16 hour days (very often) in order to check and re-check each other's data and thoughts, and words, and observations. Ultimately, I believe we did an exceptional job. I think that box is probably second to none on many levels.
I wish I had Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Beatles, Clapton boxes on a parallel with the FM Solo box... compiled with genuine love and affection and meticulous care, and covering SO much ground never ever covered before.
OK, so two virtually identical mixes of Kate Bush's Bla Bla Bla track, might have been put on the box, instead of Bla and Bla... like our Ensueno oversight - BUT, the vast amount of other stuff offerred to me FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME in 30 years, in this fictitious example, would more than make up for that. PLUS 30,000 words of text detailing each item and its origins - which as far as I know is 100% accurate - though one of you people might spot something in slight error that reduces that 100% to 99.99999998%, in the context of the full 30,000 words.
Justin and I (and others of course) spent endless months on that boxed set, putting in the kind of detail that you guys, seriously, could not even imagine - especially in terms of the mixing and other brilliant touches Justin put in all along the process. I was staggered at what he did. And I bet you are not even aware of even a quarter of those details - so easily taken for granted.
For example... we had two interesting versions of Living On My Own. But the disc was too long. One of them had to go. But they BOTH had very fascinating elements... very different to the familiar mix. So... in order not to lose one, and to get the very best of both, Justin conceived the Hybrid idea, and thus you guys got the best of both worlds, and I got to include my sleeve notes for BOTH.
But... do you guys mention these things? Do you compliment me or JSS or anyone on the multitude of GREAT things on the box? No, as usual you focus in only on the oversights.
3. How much did you guys, dear Queen fans, actually GAIN from that boxed set? How much did you learn about Freddie Mercury in the recording studio? How impressed were you by those beautiful out-takes, studio banter, making music and getting it wrong (sometimes) along the way? How much of a privileged insight into usually SECRET work did you get to hear?
4. What did you lose? The two mixes I mentioned, plus one or two others maybe. And a SLIGHTLY alternative Ensueno/Exercises was missed. How does that compare with the above GAINS, news info, new insights, wonderful never before heard work in progress? Where is the fair balance here?
5. When This Tired Old Body Wants To Sing. Have you heard that? Do things like that - and so many of those Guide Me Home/How Can I go On gems, etc - bring tears to your eyes? Do certain things on that box of 12 discs really MOVE you to the core? Does Freddie make you laugh out loud with his "Oh, I'll never get it!" and "Let's fuck off outta here!" ???
YES. Good. I'm pleased.
See the balance, people. Recognise the endless hours of sheer beauty and unprecedented GENIUS you have in that box, and stop going on and on about the tiny errors we made.
We made a few THOUSAND spot-on, accurate, on the nose, on the money, bloody good and faultless decisions.... while the number of errors we made can be counted on one hand.
NO-ONE else has done THAT kind of detailed job. So please, as I say, have the grace and, as my father would say, "be big enough" to recognise the GREAT and WONDERFUL, instead of the negative.
I love the work of English Victorian novelist H.G Wells. I collect his books. As a matter of fact, The War Of The Worlds, probably his greatest work, is littered with errors. Things that certain scientists (with a greater knowledge of the planets, stars, distances, light years, than Wells had in his time) have since been able to disprove, DO NOT, for me anyway, lessen the impact of a very great book. Yes, he got things a bit wrong. But he got A LOT right.
Yes, there are errors in The War Of The Worlds. A 100 ft high Martian tripod Fighting Machine CANNOT POSSIBLY take the huge stride that Wells described in detail. The physics/maths do not add up. So what!
Indeed, many scientists believe that a three-legged war machine is totally ridiculous and not remotely feasible. So what! The over all story is original and wonderful, and ahead of its time. Many people were influenced by Wells, and copied and mimicked his fresh and innovative ideas - just like they did (and still do) with Queen and Freddie Mercury.
Do I sit and pick holes in Wells' (actually rather charming) oversights? No. The errors and inaccuracies are few and far between, and non-consequential in the entire scheme of things. I see the bigger picture, recognise what the main focus should be. I know a great book when I see it and I don't want to bring it down or destroy it for anyone. Books, boxed sets, it's the same principal.
Mmmmmm! yes we did get it it a bit wrong with Ensueno. And Martain Fighting Machines cannot take 100 yard strides!!! We got a lot RIGHT too. And so did HG!