I may be getting a bit ahead of myself here, but as we wait for the 3rd batch to come out it's worthwhile glancing back at the whole set and see what legacy they leave us and the problems with them.
Lets start with Batch 3. Having thought about it now, the reason this 3rd batch is so insulting is that it would have taken NOTHING for them to do this in far tidier way. Was there really a massive boardroom fight about adding, say, 'Scandal' 12" and MLHBS '89 to The Miracle bonus disc? Yes, we have those tracks already, but that would make a far more handsome release. And that feeling of untidiness stretches back through the whole campaign.
I'm really not bothered about the missing demos etc we know exist - indeed I've been really pleased with things like 'Feelings Feelings' coming out (no one expected that) and there is some FANTASTIC stuff on these and the earlier releases but the overall vibe is that it's shoddy and incomplete. Alarm bells started ringing when they left the intro of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' on the fade out of ITLOTG '86. Stuff like that makes me think no care has been taken. Fair enough QP have been in a bit of a bind - for instance the Jealousy 'Bass Drumgate' was probably done with the best intentions but where does it stop? Why are we left guessing at the motives behind inclusion and non-inclusion? With the wealth of previously material that ~hasn't~ been included (incredible when you consider GT saying that Island want to get it all on their catalogue) why waste space with stuff like new instrumentals etc?
I'd have even been happy for the more complete tracks from The Eye to be added to the respective albums (I'm listening to some of that now - how good / interesting do 'Fight From The Inside', 'More Of That Jazz' or 'Was It All Worth It' sound?) I think we're better off compiling our own versions of these bonus discs and then torrenting them for others. Not here, obviously. I'd like to see that go to court and a Queen fan judge totally seeing our point of view. 'We've taken it upon our selves to protect Queen's legacy as they obviously couldn't careless M'lud'.
See, it isn't about what we have or what they deem suitable for release, it's beyond that. It's that the catalogue is now scrappy for future generations. I mean - even things like the track markings on segued tracks is the same as on the old CDs! EVERYONE knows about these errors and after 20 odd years it hasn't been sorted out.
Like I said, I'm not fussed about absense of genuine unreleased stuff - that's not really relevant as we have been given great stuff on these releases and that is a different set of motives that oversees inclusion of them. Although the cynic in me is pleased that a loop of 'PROPERTY OF QUEEN PRODUCTIONS' isn't blarring out over every morsel we're given. In fact, one motive might be that those certain people know that if they give us these demos and rough takes they've ben playing on the circuit for years they won't make a mint playing them at conventions. But i digress.
A much better way to do these would have been a case of simply compiling ALL previously issued existing variations of album session stuff onto the discs - even those Japanese Karaoke instrumentals, non album B sides, 12" mixes, single versions, material from The Eye. Yes we all have it a dozen times but it would MAKE SENSE. Only then should the unreleased and live stuff been considered in addition. Boy oh boy those would've been handsome sets. Other bands do it - and naturally some albums have more material than others but at least the philosophy is constant through the whole set.
That said, I'm in two minds about them releasing the audio for tracks we know there is video for - IE the Montreal & Wembly tracks. While it has been great adding these to the catalogue, why cheapen them by removing the visuals? Surely with the bonus video material these would have been ideal candidates to use in that, freeing up space on the bonus discs for more
'audio' material. A much tidier way to do it. I've come to terms with using chronologially incorrect live tracks on albums - messy as it is - but I think it can be justified by virtue of commercialism and simply that there is not more early live stuff to hand. And that is assuming that they are not trailers for upcoming new live releases. No, that would be silly!
Another issue that worries me - how clumsy is it that they've added BBC material to other releases, but I assume that Queen At The Beeb will not be released. They missed a real good opportunity there putting out an expanded BBC album. It would be the final straw (there has been a lot of those recently) if they DID put out At The Beeb but added the leftover tracks to it leaving these already issued ones orphaned on the bonus EPs. I can imagine the response would be 'we didn't want to rip off the fans' - but you've just left yourself with a messy catalogue that does absolutely nothing for the ages! I'm STUNNED that the BBC WWRY wasn't on NOTW, having been given away with The Sun as it was. So it's out there already!
A complete At The Beeb would be commercial if that's their problem - the TOTP GOFLB would obviously be on there - repetition of tracks is inevitable, but hey, this is CLASSIC material that has formed the blueprint of how bands should be after.
It's quite easy to compile a 'what should've been' list following the rules set out up there. Try it. It's fun. Sadly, you get the feeling if that sense of commitment and joy was shown by who ever was in charge of these 2011 reissues we'd be having a very different discussion piece. Thanks for reading. Let's hit the showers!