May 13, 1978
The 40th anniversary of this show has just recently passed, and this particular version of it wouldn't have been possible even a week ago. It is compiled from 4 versions of the same audience tape. And there is a hell of a tale to go along with it.
It's an average sounding recording of an excellent performance, the last night of the News Of The World tour. For decades, the only copies to circulate were missing the first two songs and the last ~45 minutes of the show (cutting out part way through Brian May's guitar solo). But now the latter segment sees the light of day for the first time.
Now how did this happen?
Sometimes people just find old tapes in their attic and happily circulate them with the best of intentions, or give them to a well-meaning person to transfer to digital and then post online.
This tale is anything but.
There was a group of hardcore Queen fans called the "Royal Family" who followed the band around the world to most of their shows for years. They sometimes taped the shows, and most of their recordings have remained uncirculated. But recently, someone from the group anonymously went rogue and started letting out the recordings, beginning with Liverpool 79 last year, and continuing now with several tapes from 1978. This person opened up and told stories about the culture within that tightly knit group of fans. While doing one's best not to engage in any character assassination, this person had some pretty lurid stories to tell about their cliquiness, as well as a competitive nature in recording the concerts. That competitiveness got so extreme to the point that they began to steal and destroy each other's tapes that weren't deemed "good enough" quality, while the tapes that did manage to pass the litmus test would then circulate amongst a limited circle of people, usually with any number of adjustments purposely done to the content in order to keep the best versions for themselves. This apparently led to a lot of in-fighting, and people eventually defecting from the group.
The fact that this version of this show comes from four different copies, all of which have seen some sort of quality degradation (far beyond simple tape generation, as I will explain below) and have missing songs in one place or another, attests to this first hand account.
The content (which is exactly as I received it):
The guitar solo is assembled from three different copies, all of which are cut in different places (and it's entirely missing on one of the copies). Brian plays bits of Three Blind Mice and Frere Jacques as he sometimes did in this period, and the sound quality of each segment fluctuates because of the source changes (make of this what you will). The last couple minutes of his solo and the lead-in to The Prophet's Song (reprise) as heard here are the best indication of how nice the uncut master must sound.
Liar has been snipped part way through (just after Freddie holds out the mic to let some audience members sing/shout the parts), with an artificial reverb/delay added to the spot where it cuts out, making it impossible to know what kind of cut it is. And all of the remaining edits on all of these sources have fade-outs while the tape hiss remains, which indicates that every one of the edits was consciously done after the fact, and with analog gear. Yet another indication of zero transparency from whoever initially let these tapes out.
A brief moment of audience cheering at the beginning of Bohemian Rhapsody has been made considerably louder (probably as a watermark, which was a common tactic with some tape traders back in the day who wanted to keep track of who was circulating their copies, as they ultimately didn't trust their recipients even though they were "friends"). Two of the four copies of the show contain this segment, and the inferior of the two doesn't have this volume fluctuation, proving that the adjustment was indeed intentional.
* the oldest known transfer of the familiar bulk of the show, in mono sound
** transferred decently, but reduced to mono (the last 9 songs have less bottom end, and are slightly distorted at times)
*** common transfer of the bulk of the show (stereo, but with more tape hiss, and a bit overblown with occasional bass distortion in one channel)
**** stereo but quite an overblown transfer, and it becomes more and more overblown as the show progresses (also, one channel is muffled)
All I did was speed correct the tape wherever necessary, and did seamless cross-fades between the different copies. All four copies should should look something like this:
AUD > Cassette (x) > WAV (GoldWave speed correction and edits) > FLAC level 8
Mercury's voice is in excellent shape, and the band are very tight at the end of the tour, with plenty of highlights throughout the show, including a special addition of White Queen for the last night's sake (also its final live appearance). Tonight also sees the final performances of many of the Opera, Races, and News Of The World songs (Mercury absolutely slays in White Man).
This is one of the earliest tapes of Love Of My Life with the singalong. At this stage it's still pretty raw and fresh for the band and audience alike.
This may well be the best live performance of Bohemian Rhapsody from the 1970s.
Jailhouse Rock is more of a 12 bar blues jam than the song proper. They were probably tiring of playing it every night for 8 years by this point, and they finally did drop it after this show.
This is the first time the band closed with We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. They almost trainwreck the end of the former!
It's pretty unfortunate that this entire recording has the fingerprints of people who have intentionally destroyed a tape of one of Queen's greatest performances. But for now it is the best copy of the show yet to emerge, so hopefully you'll all enjoy it for what it is. A giant thank you to this anonymous person for finally letting out these tapes after 40 years.
Furthermore - there have been a number of people operating under fake names in the private messaging section of this forum circulating versions of single songs from this show and others in horribly reduced sound quality, all purposely mislabelled as Stafford 5-7-78. This post is a very cordial "piss off" to those people so that they can no longer waste people's time with their worthless carrot dangling and associated stupidity.
A tape of the previous night's show also exists and will soon circulate as well. Its story is far less complicated than this one, but it also emerged from the aforementioned delightful online mess. So let's leave it on a positive note and something to look forward to.
More info here: http://queenlive.ca/queen/78-05-13.htm
1) Somebody To Love */**
2) White Queen **
3) Death On Two Legs **
4) Killer Queen **
5) Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy **
6) I'm In Love With My Car **
7) Get Down Make Love **
8) The Millionaire Waltz **
9) You're My Best Friend **
10) Spread Your Wings **
11) It's Late **
12) Now I'm Here **
13) Love Of My Life **
14) '39 **
15) My Melancholy Blues **
16) White Man **
17) The Prophet's Song **
18) guitar solo [cut] ***/*/****
19) The Prophet's Song (reprise) ****
20) Liar [cut] **
21) Bohemian Rhapsody **
22) Keep Yourself Alive **
23) Tie Your Mother Down **/****
24) Sheer Heart Attack [cut] **
25) Jailhouse Rock **
26) We Will Rock You **
27) We Are The Champions **
28) God Save The Queen **
This is now an inferior copy. See here: www.queenzone.com/forums/1513688/1978-05-13-london-second-generation.aspx
Enjoy, keep it lossless, and don't bootleg this !
Artists must pass on, but sometimes a mix of passion, good fortune, diligence, expertise, and meticulous labor can capture and restore some of the beauty they left behind.http://www.queenlive.ca