I usually don't review these types of documentary style music DVDs, as I am more into the whole concert DVD experience – as the title of my website so clearly spells out. But since this new Queen DVD showed up in my mailbox alongside some another concert DVDs I had requested, I figured that I owed my nice distributor a short review. I am also a big Queen fan.
Queen – The Complete Review is a new special edition two-DVD set that was recently released by Pride DVD and distributed by MVD Visual. The DVD offers an in-depth look at every album and standout track that Queen ever recorded, and in doing so provides a fascinating overview of this band's brilliant career.
The DVD is narrated by an English-accented lady who sounds like she could be the queen mum herself, but most of the material is narrated by a host of music journalists and radio personalities. The DVD has "THIS FILM IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY QUEEN OR ANY MEMBERS THEREOF" prominently stamped on the back of the case, so the only thing missing from this film is any new commentary from the band members themselves. There are only a few short interview clips with Freddie Mercury, which were all taken from earlier Queen videos.
The documentary moves in succession through each of the band's studio albums, beginning with their 1973 self-titled debut, and finishing up with their last album (with the original line-up), Made In Heaven, which was released in 1995. Made In Heaven was actually released three years after Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, from AIDS, and features material that was recorded with Freddie before he passed away.
The DVD mixes in some excellent old BBC footage of the band performing live, starting with "Keep Yourself Alive," the first single off Queen I, and it is a real hoot to watch. Freddy Mercury is wearing his signature, skin-tight, one-piece, ballet dancer's suite, that completely exposes his super-hairy chest and abs, while Brian May elegantly struts around the stage wearing his huge white cape. Ahhh, '70s rock.
Simon Bradley, from Guitarist Magazine, provides some of the best commentary, especially for us guitar fans. He discusses, and also demonstrates, many of Brian May's famous guitar riffs and solo's using a signature model Brian May guitar, plugged into a VOX AC-30 amplifier, which has always been May's go-to guitar amp. Bradley also discusses how May, with the help of his father, custom built his own "Red Special" guitar back in 1963, and then sums up May's technical aptitude with the humorous quote, "Brian has a PHD in astrophysics, so he is not exactly the thickest man in the world."
Other than using his own custom-built guitar, May's unique tone also comes from his use of an English six pence coin (with serrated edges) as a pick. May has only ever recorded with a guitar other than his Red Special on two songs, "Long Away," where he used a Burns Steer 12-string, and on "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," where he used a 1977 Fender Telecaster. You will also see him play the Telecaster live on the "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" video footage included on this DVD.
This is not a Queen biography as much as it is a chronological album overview. It is amazing to see how much this band's music transformed throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s. You've got the early purveyors of progressive metal with Queen I, Queen II, and Sheer Heart Attack, the bombastic, theatrical, prog-rock of A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races, and the remarkable variety of, pop, rock, glam, disco, and metal on everything that followed.
The main feature spans two discs and lasts about three hours. Bonus features include a discography, a "Queen – The Collector" feature, and a short bio of all of the DVD contributors. You even get a couple of interactive Queen quizzes with such silly titles as "The Hardest Queen Quiz Ever," and "The Hardest Interactive Queen Quiz in the World Ever." They were pretty damn hard too – I only scored about 50 percent.
The production quality of the DVD is very good. The full frame picture looks excellent and the main feature flows superbly between the various commentary tracks, video footage, and still images. The DVD menus are a bit low budget looking, but everything is laid out well.
Queen – The Complete Review provides a nice compliment to my still growing Queen concert DVD collection. Now I've got to go review the new Queen and Paul Rodgers DVD.
2. Queen I and Queen II
3. Sheer Heart Attack
4. A Night At The Opera
5. A Day At The Races
6. News Of The World
8. The Game
2. Flash Gordon
3. Hot Space
4. The Works
5. A Kind Of Magic
6. The Miracle
8. Made In Heaven
Overall Rating – 7/10Powered by Sidelines