Added on 18-Oct-2010
Queen The Singles Collection Volume 4 – Final box set released today.
The final volume in the massively impressive retrospective four box set, Queen: The Singles Collection 4, has been released today.
Buy now through Amazon, Play.com and HMV.
The closing chapter to the entire history of Queenâ€™s worldwide singles releases, Volume 4 tracks the bandâ€™s output through the latter years of 1989 to 1999.
The 13 CD singles housed in this set complete the project to rediscover every one of Queenâ€™s singles to have made the top 40 anywhere in the world, all replicated in faithful detail to their original form.
Together, the four volume set offers over 100 tracks chronicling Queenâ€™s extraordinary journey through the world-wide singles charts: from the very first single Keep Yourself Alive in 1973, to the very last single in 1999.
And what a spectacular journey Queen made: no less than 14 out of the 16 A-sides in this set achieved top 10 chart positions worldwide.
Added extras which are likely to be of particularly special interest are ‘Queen Talks’, (a collage of interview snippets from various band interviews randomly strung together for comical effect), live versions of Stone Cold Crazy recorded in London in 1974, and Rock In Rio Blues, a unique live concert recording from the ‘Rock In Rio’ festival in Brazil in 1985.
The ten years covered here, 1989-1999, follow an especially eventful period in the bandâ€™s history.
Queen began the period by delivering another No 1 album, â€˜The Miracleâ€™. It gave the band five UK chart singles of which the last to be released, the album title track which came in November 1989, opens this collection.
Now, living under the shadow of Freddieâ€™s increasingly failing health and other personal turmoils, times for the band were beginning to look increasingly uncertain.
Yet, Queen remarkably found the means to reinforce their band unity â€“ crediting the writing of all new songs to Queen rather than individual writers – and move forward to produce another strong album. By February 1991, under two years after the release of â€˜The Miracleâ€™, the band delivered their 14th and last band studio album made with Freddie, â€˜Innuendoâ€™.
Freddieâ€™s health concerns had obviously spurred the band on to channel whatever time was left into one of their most creative and accomplished periods. Brian May said: â€œI think more than anything, â€˜Innuendoâ€™ shows evidence of the four of us consciously trying to use each other to the maximum and writing together.â€
The title track became the bandâ€™s first No.1 single since Under Pressure a decade earlier, and was a grandiose masterwork of to rival Bohemian Rhapsody. Four further singles from the album followed, including the deliciously high camp, Iâ€™m Going Slightly Mad, and a song that was to become the one most often played in memory to Freddie, The Show Must Go Onâ€, a song marked in history as the last released before Freddieâ€™s death.
â€œIn retrospect itâ€™s easy to view almost all the lyrics in light of Freddieâ€™s demise,â€ wrote Q journalist Neil Jeffries, â€œbut â€˜Innuendoâ€™ is anything but maudlin. It stands as the most complete and archetypal over-the-top Queen album perhaps since â€˜Night At The Operaâ€™ itself. And Freddie sings his heart out.â€
Freddie died later the same year, on November 24.
In his final days, Freddie, despite being very ill, had continued writing and recording whenever he could manage to do so. In the following four years after his passing, Brian, John and Roger set about reassembling the material that Freddie had left behind, some of it only fragments of uncompleted songs, but they would also complete the recordings of finished songs such as the painfully telling A Winterâ€™s Tale, the very last song Freddie wrote.
A Winterâ€™s Tale was among ten tracks to make up Queenâ€™s last studio based album, â€˜Made In Heavenâ€™, released in November 1995. Including a handful of live recordings and two hits compilations, it was Queenâ€™s 20th album.
â€˜Made In Heavenâ€™ showed Freddie in strong vocal form. Despite the obvious problematic conditions under which some of the material had been recorded, the album had a sense of celebration about it. Bookended with the ethereal Itâ€™s A Beautiful Day, the album had a warmth about it which over-rode any risk of this being a gloom-laden â€˜tributeâ€™ to the bandâ€™s former leader.
The album was launched with the single Heaven For Everyone, a song which had first appeared on Roger Taylorâ€™s The Cross â€˜Shove Itâ€™ album and to which in 1987 Freddie had contributed the vocal. This reworking of the track gave the band a No.2 single in the UK and a top ten single around the world. The album itself would top the charts across the world becoming one of their biggest selling albums.
Brian May’s Too Much Love Will Kill You, a song May had originally recorded himself on his 1992 â€˜Back To the Lightâ€™ album, but here delivered by Freddie digging deep into his emotions, produced the albumâ€™s third top 20 hit , and earned Brian May and his co-writers an Ivor Novello award for both music and lyrics.
Another note of interest in this box set is the inclusion of two further double A-sided singles – the first was in Box 3. Too Much Love Will Kill You backed with Queenâ€™s reworking of Freddieâ€™s 1985 solo track I Was Born To Love You, which became a band No.1 hit in Japan in 2004, eight years after its original release. The other double-A is Let Me Live, with lead vocals shared by Freddie, Brian and Roger, which gave the band a top 10 single in the UK, backed with live versions of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champions’ from the ‘Live At Wembley ‘86’ album – a hit in Holland in 1992 and released as a single in its own right.
â€˜Made In Heavenâ€™ eventually delivered the band five hit singles. The last, released a year after the album, in November 1996, was the albumâ€™s most playful track, You Donâ€™t Fool Me â€“ a hypnotic dance floor groove which became a massive Euro club hit. The track continues to be one of Queenâ€™s most regularly remixed tracks, even today. The CD single included here pairs the single edit version with the original album version.
Going against the premise that the 4 box set compilation should not duplicate any song, an exception was made to include again in volume 4 Bohemian Rhapsody, included in this volume for the reason of historical context.
Here the track features as one side of the double-A sided single released in 1991 with These Are The Days Of Our Lives after Freddieâ€™s death and issued as a charity single to raise funds to support HIV AIDS, the cause behind Freddieâ€™s passing.
The single returned the band to No. 1 in the UK and throughout the world, and from the proceeds Queen donated a million pounds to the Terence Higgins Trust. The rest of the proceeds flowed to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, the HIV AIDS charity set up by Queen in Freddieâ€™s name, which continues to this day to support AIDS projects world-wide.
The remaining members of Queen returned to the studio to record together for one last time in 1997 for what would be their final band single: No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young.
The song had been written by Brian as a direct tribute to Freddie, inspired by the inauguration of the statue erected in is honour in Montreux, Switzerland, and Brian had recorded it as a solo track. However, Roger, on hearing the track, persuaded Brian that the song would make a worthy Queen recording, a collective tribute to Freddie. It remains the only Queen track ever released without Freddie. Released in the UK in January 1998 as a double A-side with Tie Your Mother Down, this single was also the flagship for the compilation album QUEEN ROCKS â€“ a collection of the harder Queen rock tracks over the years.
This final recording reunion of Brian, Roger and John also brought about the filming of their final video together. In the footage for No-One But You the bandâ€™s lasting love for Freddie is movingly apparent.
In 1999 the third instalment of Queen’s ‘Greatest Hits’ trilogy was released by EMI, achieving platinum status around the world. The compilation gave rise to the last single to carry the Queen name, a specially remixed version of the 1981 hit Queen shared with David Bowie, Under Pressure’.
The Queen Singles 4-box series closes in appropriate style â€“ perhaps as Freddie himself might have wished â€“ with a rare live recording of Under Pressure from Queenâ€™s very last concert â€“ the mammoth open air Knebworth Park performance on August 9th 1986.
Queen The Singles Collection Volume 4
Audio Supervised by Justin Shirley-Smith, Joshua J Macrae, Kris Fredriksson and Martin Lau. Re-mastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road.
Compiled with the help of Greg Brooks and Gary Taylor. Design by Richard Gray. All sleeves courtesy of the Brian May archive.