Monday, 16 January 2017

"A Night At The Opera: 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition" by QUEEN (November 2005 EMI Records CD+DVD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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Too many anniversaries and way too many excuses to reissue a classic yet again - but which is the best version to buy of this iconic Seventies album? I'd argue the '30th Anniversary Collectors Edition' beats all the others on two fronts that should matter - an amazing CD remaster on Disc 1 - and a genuinely fan-pleasing Bonus DVD with heaps of quality extras. Here is the Scaramouche and do the Fandango...

Released November 2005 - "A Night At The Opera: 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition" by QUEEN on EMI 00946 3 38478 2 5 (Barcode 094633845725) is a CD and DVD Reissue/Remaster and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (43:08 minutes):
1. Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To...
2. Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon
3. I'm In Love With My Car
4. You're My Best Friend
5. '39
6. Sweet Lady
7. Seaside Rendezvous
8. The Prophet's Song [Side 2]
9. Love Of My Life
10. Good Company
11. Bohemian Rhapsody
12. God Save The Queen
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th album "A Night At The Opera" - released December 1975 in the UK on EMI Records EMTC 103 and in the USA on Elektra 7E-1053

DVD, PAL, 4:3 (No Region Coding):
The DVD had months of preparation where the original tapes were microscopically remastered into a 5.1 Surround Mix thereby genuinely giving the best possible remaster. It also features for the first time visuals for every track on the album (the original video for "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been digitally restored) with "Good Company" created especially for this release. The Main menu allows you to select the album in PCM 24-Bit STEREO or 5.1 SURROUND as well as allowing Song Selection. Off the Set Up tag - you also find the option to play each of the twelve tracks and their videos with an Audio Commentary (mostly Brian May). There are even lyrics and subtitles in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

KRIS FREDRICKSSON and BOB LUDWIG are the team responsible for the Audio Restoration and Mastering (they also did "A Day The Races" - see separate review) and the Audio is stunning to say the least - probably (as Brian may thinks) - the best teh album will ever sound. 

While many of the original of-the-time videos looks decidedly blurry (despite cleaning it's the way they were lit and shot) - the new videos have allowed the band to put together hundreds of images and memorabilia shots for say "Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon" - it's properly amazing stuff and must have taken forever to do.

The outer 30th Anniversary Plastic Slip Case looks nice at first but is so prone to serious scuffing given any kind of use. The gatefold digipak has BRIAN MAY liner notes on the extensive work put into the reissue and an embossed front sleeve like the original vinyl album did. The beautifully laid-out 20-page booklet keeps it simple - just the lyrics with photos of the band and album artwork interspersed between the words. Both the CD and the DVD have the famous David Costa crest and logo.

Having had the 1994 CD for years - the upgrade in sound here is kind of shocking. The wild guitar and piano intro of "Death On Two Legs" now sounds properly mean - as do the Brian May screaming guitar parts on "I'm In Love With My Car". That keyboard opening on "You're My Best Friend" is punching with the menace of an irate kangaroo while the grungy guitars of "Sweet Lady" flit from speaker to speaker with a vengeance - coming at you in clever Roy Thomas Baker production ways.

But if there was one track on this album that would show sure-fire improvement over previous versions (apart from the obvious "Bohemian Rhapsody") - it was always going to be near nine-minute Side 2 monster "The Prophet's Song". Wow! The vocal gymnastics by Mercury and indeed the whole band now comes at you with astonishing clarity (this must surely have made its way into the grey matter of a young Kate Bush). And then there's 'that' song - "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm of the age when I remember the video on Top Of The Pops astonishing audiences everywhere across the Christmas of 1975 and into the New Year. It sounds fantastic and I can't hear that amazing guitar break now without thinking about the 'dudes' giving it some head banging in the car.

2015 will see a 40th Anniversary and greed will no doubt dictate yet another uber deluxe reissue - but as Brian May says in this 2005 reissue "I doubt if it can ever be bettered!" He's been there and back on this one...and he would know...

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