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Posted: 10 Dec 09, 17:12 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock, by Phil Sutcliffe. (Voyageur Press)

The “ultimate” book on Queen, arguably the most underrated (in the U.S.) rock and roll band ever, had to be as bombastic and colorful as the band itself. Everything Queen is, is here: Rare and not-so-rare black and white and color photos, biographical and chart info, detailed discography and tour info, and album-by-album reviews.

The book has an obvious fan appeal, but is objective enough to deal with the most delicate issues in Queen’s history intelligently: Paul Rodgers (the former Bad Company frontman who “led” the infamous Queen + Paul Rodgers concoction) ain’t no Freddy Mercury, but the music he did with Brian May and Roger Taylor wasn’t as bad as we think; that 1982’s Hot Space, justly vilified when it came out, is now a semi-classic; and how Mercury, unfairly criticized for keeping his illness a secret during his last days, became a champion for AIDS-awareness in death.

Most importantly, the book understands why Queen was a great band: Yes, they may have betrayed their own “no synthesizers” mantra when it was convenient to do so, but any band that can play and sing that well, and that can produce so many hits ranging from hard-rock to metal, to silly but instrumentally intricate music-hall and operatic gems, has the right to kill its own rules. A must for Queen fans and latecomers.