Reissues, exhibition kick off Queen’s 40th anniversary celebration

Queen

Queen. Photo courtesy Capitol Records

The surviving members of Queen are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary with a series of releases, reissues, special limited-edition items and events around the world.

“I can’t believe it’s been that long and that we are still around in such a big way,” drummer Roger Taylor said. “I’m amazed and grateful!”

Queen’s entire 15-album studio catalog is being reissued in a series of deluxe, two-CD editions. One CD will contain the updated, remastered original album, and the second disc will feature rarities, some of which have never been available before, even in bootleg form. One example: Five first-album demos recorded at London’s De Lane Lea Studios in December 1971 were pulled from the only existing copy — an acetate from guitarist Brian May’s personal archives. Not even May’s surviving Queen bandmates, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon, had copies.

(Love Queen? Give these books a closer look: “Queen,” “Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock,” “Queen The Early Years” and “Freddie Mercury: His Life In His Own Words“)

A huge amount of work has already been put in behind the scenes to unleash a completely newly remastered set of the original Queen LPs and CDs,” May said. “I know our fans will appreciate the attention to detail, bringing the early albums closer than ever to the magic of the vinyl originals, but with the benefit of up-to-the-minute quality technology.”

The group’s first five studio albums — 1973′s “Queen,” 1974′s “Queen II,” 1974′s “Sheer Heart Attack,” “1975′s “A Night At The Opera” and 1976′s “A Day At The Races” — are the first deluxe editions that will be reissued.

The bonus tracks accompanying each reissue, by album, are:

“Queen” — “Keep Yourself Alive (De Lane Lea demo, December 1971); “Great King Rat (De Lane Lea demo, December 1971); “Jesus” (De Lane Lea demo, December 1971); “Liar” (De Lane Lea demo, December 1971); “The Night Comes Down” (De Lane Lea demo, December 1971); and “Mad The Swine” (June 1972).

“Queen II” — “White Queen” (live at Hammersmith Odeon, December 1975); “See What A Fool I’ve Been (BBC Session, July 1973-2011 remix); “Seven Seas of Rhye (instrumental); “See What A Fool I’ve Been” (B-side version, February 1974); “Nevermore” (BBC Session, April 1974).

“Sheer Heart Attack” — “Now I’m Here” (live at Hammersmith Odeon, December 1975); “Flick of The Wrist” (BBC Session, October 1974); “Tenement Funster” (BBC Session, October 1974); “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” (a cappella plus); “In The Lap Of The Gods … Revisited” (Live at Wembley Stadium, July 1986).

“A Night At The Opera” — “Keep Yourself Alive” (long-lost re-take, June 1975); “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Operatic Section a cappella); “I’m In Love With My Car” (guitar and vocal version); “You’re My Best Friend” (backing track); “’39″ (live at Earl’s Court, June 1977); “Love of My Life” (live single version, June 1979).

“A Day At The Races” — “Tie Your Mother Down” (backing track); “Somebody To Love” (Live at Milton Keynes, June 1979); “You Take My Breath Away” (Live in Hyde Park, September 1976); “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy” (Top of the Pops, July 1977); “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)” (HD mix).

Hollywood Records has reissued Queen’s debut single, “Keep Yourself Alive” b/w “Son and Daughter” on a limited-edition 7-inch single to coincide with Record Store Day. It also issued “Greatest Hits II” for the first time in North America. The “Queen on Vinyl” reissue program also will be completed this year with the release of the five final studio albums.

In other anniversary activity, the gallery exhibition “Stormtroopers in Stilettos” opened in London, and plans are in place for the exhibit to tour around the world.

Over the course of its career, Queen released 18 albums and 18 No. 1 singles and sold more than 300 million albums worldwide. The band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and the U.K. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The band received its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in October 2002. A Vevo channel dedicated to Queen will be launched this spring. In its native U.K, Queen’s “Greatest Hits I” holds the record of being the biggest-selling album of all time, ahead of albums by The Beatles, Oasis, Dire Straits and ABBA.

In March 1971, Deacon joined May and Taylor’s London group — which had changed its name from Smile to Queen nine months earlier when lead vocalist and keyboardist Freddie Mercury joined nine months earlier. As live artists, Queen literally conquered the world. Acknowledged as one of the greatest stadium bands of all time, Queen performed more than 700 concerts worldwide. It was the first band to open up South America and the Eastern Block, with world record-breaking concerts in Argentina, Brazil and Hungary.

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