Rare Cuts Vol. 4 (Master Stroke FFMS-008)
(79:47): Under Pressure (Naked Remix), Radio Ga Ga (Extended Version), Keep Passing The Open Windows (Extended Version), It’s A Hard Life (Piano less Mix), Man On The Prowl (Extended Version), I Want To Break Free (Vocals And Guitar Remix), Hammer To Fall (Hollywood Remix Promo Single), Is This The World We Created…? (Earthrise Version), Thank God It’s Christmas (Hollywood Long Version), There Must Be More To Life Than This (Freddie And Michael Jackson), A Kind Of Magic (Extended Version), One Vision (Extended Version), You’re The Only One (Piano Demo), Pain Is So Close To Pleasure (Extended Version), A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling (Extended Version), One Year Of Love (Extended Version), New York New York (Excerpt From The Movie)
The fourth volume of Master Stroke’s six volume Queen Rare Cuts series documents remixes of tracks from Hot Space through A Kind Of Magic. It starts off with a “naked” remix of “Under Pressure.” It sounds like the basic album cut, but Freddie’s and David Bowie’s vocals are pushed to the center of the mix. The piano and guitar are also highlighted and the famous bass line is pushed deeper into the mix.
The next eight tracks are variations from The Works, recorded in Los Angeles and released in 1984. The extended remix of “Radio Ga Ga” can also be found on The Works Hollywood Remaster released in 1991, the 12″ vinyl and 12″ Collection CD. It reaches almost seven minutes and has several instrumental interludes not found on the regular studio cut.
“Keep Passing The Open Windows” is the extended version found on the UK “Thank God It’s Christmas” 12″ vinyl. The song is identical to the version found on The Works until the final two minutes where it goes into a strange section of synthesizer loops and sound effects including Freddie’s “yeah” repeated over and over again. It’s followed by a rare mix of “It’s A Hard Life” missing the piano. Brian May’s guitar takes a more prominent role in the arrangement.
The extended “Man On The Prowl” can also be found on the UK “Thank God It’s Christmas” 12″ vinyl and 12″ Collection CD. It’s double the length of the commercial version with added piano, bass and vocal bits. “I Want To Break Free (vocals and guitar remix)” is a bit of a misnomer. It features the vocals and guitar almost exclusively, but the synthesizer solo in the middle is also present (so there wouldn’t be silence). It’s a rather pointless track.
“Hammer To Fall” is taken from the US Hollywood Records promo CD in 1991. The Malouf remix is the same as the album version except the drums are a bit cleaner sounding and the vocals on the final verse are remixed with a phase effect. “Is This The World We Created…?” is taken from the Earthrise: The Rainforest album released in October 1994. It’s the same track as found on The Works but with several seconds of jungle noises added to the end.
The final Works era track is the extended “Thank God It’s Christmas.” This can be found on the 1992 US released The Queen Collection 3CD set, it’s ten seconds longer than the original single due to an extended drum introduction.
“There Must Be More To Life Than This” was written in LA during The Works sessions. Intended to be a duet with Michael Jackson, it eventually was scrapped and was released the following year on Freddie’s only solo album Mr. Bad Guy. A bare-bones piano demo was released in 2004 on State Of Shock (Great Pretender Records GPR-001). The piano demo featured vocals by Jackson only with Freddie accompanying on the piano and giving directions (“ad-lib,” etc).
The new demo features Jackson and Freddie sharing vocals. Some of the lyrics have been changed (Jackson’s creepy lament of “a world without children” is thankfully omitted), and there is a full instrumental accompaniment including guitars, bass, drums, and synthesizer strings and trumpets.
The rest of the tracks on this disc originate from the A Kind Of Magic sessions. The first is an extended mix of the title track which can also be found on the 12″ vinyl and 12″ Collection compact disc. Clocking in a six and a half minutes, the first half is the album version of the cut, followed by a long instrumental section. The thumping bass and May’s guitar take precedence. It finally returns to the album version at the end.
“One Vision” is another extended mix which is found on 12″ vinyl and on A Kind Of Magic Hollywood Records remaster in 1991. It is the same mix as found on the album but with a longer solo in the middle featuring Taylor’s jungle drums and Freddie’s vocal gymnastics. “You Are The Only One” is a demo recorded by Freddie featuring himself on piano. Lasting two minutes, it was recorded in Munich and features no real lyrics just scat and “I’m so sorry” repeated several times.
“Pain Is So Close To Pleasure” is an extended mix of the single version, not the album version which differs by having a different introduction, fade out, and more instrumental bursts in the middle. This take has a much longer introduction with added bass and percussion and a nice little guitar doodle by Brian at the end.
“A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling” is an instrumental track variation of “Don’t Lose Your Head.” The extended version, found on the A Kind Of Magic 12″ vinyl clocks in at five minutes and has extra percussion. “One Year Of Love (Extended Version)” appears on Highlander – The Immortal Edition. It features a two minutes long introduction. The final track is the Highlander snippet of Freddie singing “New York, New York.” The actual track is thirty-seven seconds long but the label include a minute of dialogue from the film. It’s a nice version but unfortunately the entire performance (if there was one) has ever surfaced.
The sound quality on all the tracks is superlative and is well thought out and sequenced. It’s Volume 4 is a very nice collection of rarities worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)