It's that time of year again - Baker's Dozen time! Hope everyone's enjoying the holiday season.
Here are what I think are the thirteen best unofficial recordings of Queen to come out in 2011.
1) BBC Session 2 master
It may not be the multi-track master, but it is a stereo mix from it. These tracks have circulated for years, but not quite like this. They are an excellent snapshot of Queen in 1973, and highly recommended listening in this quality.
2) London 9-13-73 - quadrophonic restoration
Fans discovered that some of the Golders Green Hippodrome radio broadcasts were actually done in quadrophonic sound, and thereby concluded that the reason why Freddie's voice was so buried on the circulating recordings of this show is because the stereo mix focused on two channels where Freddie's voice wasn't prominent. A restoration process resulted in a glorious new listen to this show with the vocal much closer to the forefront of the mix.
3) London 3-31-74 - reel-to-reel tape
Four of the seven tracks from the Rainbow Theatre soundboard emerged in late 2011 in absolutely superb quality. They were broadcast on the radio in 1975, but this recording discovered is from a reel-to-reel tape intended for broadcast. This may well be the best-sounding recording of Queen on stage in the 1970s.
4) Providence 4-27-74 - master
Dan Lampinski's superb audience recordings from November 1974 through 1980 (including Queen in Boston '76) took the music collecting world by storm in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, his earlier recordings taped with average gear began to emerge, and amongst them was Queen in Providence '74. It is the second-earliest Queen tape from a US show known to exist, and it offers great insight into Queen's second (and last) tour as a support act. Mott The Hoople's headlining set was recorded as well.
5) Tokyo 4-19-75 - alternate source
The year began with a bang when the (almost) complete first show in Japan was heard for the first time. A breathtaking listen, even in average sound quality.
6) Tokyo 3-22-76 - "Get Your Knickers Off" (Tarantura)
For the first time, a Mr. Peach recording introduced a new show to the Queen canon. The opening night of the Japanese 'A Night At The Opera' tour was heard for the first time, although the recording is a bit more distant than Peach's Himeji and Fukuoka recordings. Nonetheless, collectors can only hope there are more shows like this on Tarantura's "to do" list.
7) London 6-6-77 - audience recording
This audience tape of the first night at Earls Court confirms that Freddie had mic problems throughout the show (unlike the Hyde Park '76 mic dropouts that exist only on the video). This is a much-welcomed alternative to the dry-sounding video feed, even if the quality isn't great overall. The taper finally took the recorder out of his pocket by the encore, so a couple tracks sound pretty good.
8) New York 12-2-77 - Super 8 footage
This distant video emerged in September, the first 8mm video to be seen from this tour. It is only three minutes of footage (a single 8mm reel), but any 70s footage of Queen is invigorating upon initial viewing.
9) Tokyo 4-14-79 - "Bootleg Race" (Tarantura)
Even though much compression was added, it is still the best-sounding audience tape of Queen in 1979. The quality of the recording makes the flaws in Freddie's voice painfully clear, but overall it is still an excellent performance well worth hearing.
10) Tokyo 2-17-81 - "Teo Torriatte" (Tarantura)
This is another great-sounding Mr. Peach tape, but this one was absolutely mauled by compression added after the fact. The recording is still one of the best of the year, but one can only wonder how glorious the unaltered master tape sounds. I'd add the "Need Your Loving Tonight" bootleg of the 2-13-81 show to the list, but it suffers from the same issues. Since there are six other sources from that show (two of which sound just about as good), it didn't make the cut.
11) Kassel 5-18-82 - upgrade
This is a very underrated Hot Space show, and a substantial upgrade appeared in 2011. Freddie Mercury was arguably at his creative peak on stage in the spring of 1982, and this performance from him and the band is at least as good as the offically-released Milton Keynes show. Sheer Heart Attack being the second song in (not part of the encore, where it usually sat) also makes this a very interesting recording for the collection.
12) Providence 8-26-80 - upgrade
This is a great copy of the Providence audience tape. Unfortunately it's missing the first couple minutes of Jailhouse Rock, but it's by far the best recording from August 1980. The first known (albeit sloppy) performance of Dragon Attack is contained herein.
13) Tokyo 5-9-85 - "Last Stand At Budokan"
Nearly every Japanese show was taped, and half of them have more than one audience source. In March, a fourth source from Queen's last show at the Budokan emerged. It is a close second to the source Wardour bootlegged, but it is still a great recording in its own right.
Thanks especially to the tapers - without you, most of this joy simply wouldn't exist !
Looking forward to seeing everyone's lists and opinions.
"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinskihttp://www.queenlive.ca