Complete Kampuchea Concert (Gypsy Eye GE-137/138)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – December 26th, 1979
Disc 1 (70:58): Opening, Jailhouse Rock, We Will Rock You (fast), Let Me Entertain You, Somebody To Love, If You Can’t Beat Them, Mustapha, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down Make Love, You’re My Best Friend, Save Me, Now I’m Here, Don’t Stop Me Now, Spread Your Wings, Love Of My Life, ’39
Disc 2 (43:08): Keep Yourself Alive (including drum & guitar solo), Silent Night, Brighton Rock (ending), Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (reprise), Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Sheer Heart Attack, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen
The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 represents one of the most extreme case of social engineering and genocide in the twentieth century. The communist rule initiated a program by which all were forced to work in labor camps for twelve hours a day and the wholesale execution of professionals, intellectuals, and non-ethnic Cambodians. During this time the extent of genocide in the killing fields was hard to know since they forbid outside intervention. Vietnam captured Phnom Penh on January 7th, 1979, the Khmer Rouge were forced out of power and it is estimated between 1.4 million and 2.2 million were killed over the four years.
It is in this context that Secretary General of the U.N. Kurt Waldheim asked Paul McCartney for a concert to raise funds. He agreed and three shows were scheduled at the end of Wings’ Back To The Egg tour. Queen were touring the UK on the Crazy tour which was a payback tour for ignoring their homeland on the Jazz tour, and also for their number two single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Queen were scheduled to play six shows at the end of the tour in London, each in a different venue: Lyceum Ballroom, Rainbow Theatre, Purley Tiffany’s, Tottenham Mayfair, Lewisham Odeon, and Alexandra Palace (seven months before it caught fire).
The band agreed to tack one more show onto the schedule for the event, playing in the Hammersmith Odeon on Boxing Day. They were the only act to play on a bill alone and did not participate in the Rochestra ending with McCartney on December 29th. Each of the four shows were both filmed and professionally recorded. The film Concert For Kampuchea released in August 1980 with two Queen tracks, “Now I’m Here” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
In April an LP was released Concerts for the People of Kampuchea including one Queen song, “Now I’m Here.” More footage was used for the German TV special but unfortunately the entire show hasn’t surfaced from these sources and have been out of print for twenty-five years.
Crazy Tour In London was released on LP in 1980. This is missing “Keep Yourself Alive,” the guitar solo, and the “Brighton Rock” reprise. “Silent Night,” played during the guitar solo, is placed at the beginning of the show. This show can also be found on the vinyl Crazy Duck in 1984 which utilizes the television soundtrack. In 1999 Crazy Tour In London was pressed onto silver disc from a vinyl copy and was released complete with cardboard sleeve duplicating the original artwork. Since it was copied from vinyl, this has the same defects as the original vinyl.
Complete Kampuchea Concert was released by Gypsy Eye in 2000. They use the same audience recording but a copy that sounds closer to the master tape. It is much more clear and all of the songs are in their proper sequence. There are small cuts after “Save Me” and “Brighton Rock” (at least), but there are no cuts in the music and this is virtually the complete show.
Given the level of playing, Freddie’s impeccable voice, and the meaning behind the show, Queen’s final concert of the 70’s stands as not only the greatest of their career but among the best ever. Whatever doubts the band may have had after Jazz were dispelled by the success of the latest single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and this confidence would be carried into their next album The Game. To have such a sublime performance in an excellent sounding tape is a tremendous blessing to collectors.
The set list is based upon the previous tour. The tape picks up with the opening electronic tone rising in pitch and with the thunder cracks the band hits the stage with a the cover tune “Jailhouse Rock,” their old encore which was added to the opening salvo after the first week. “How are you rock and rollers? Are you having a good Christmas? You feel crazy? Okay let’s do some more” Freddie greets the audience before “Let Me Entertain You.” This is a song destined to be a great opener but curiously was only played in the second in it’s short life span.
After “Somebody To Love” Freddie prattles on saying, “I know this feels like a Cecil B. DeMille production of the Ten Commandments tonight but don’t worry about the cameramen. Right now we’d like to do a song…my god it’s quiet in here. Is it always like this at Hammersmith? Are you supposed to be a sophisticated crowd?”
The audience responds and cheers loudly before going into “If You Can’t Beat Them.” The early medley was changed from the previous tour. “Mustapha” made small cameos but on the Crazy tour is sung complete for the first time and “Bicycle Race” is dropped, never to appear live again.
“For those of you who don’t know, this night brings us to the end of the tour. I don’t care. We’re gonna be here all the time, don’t worry about it” Freddie says before their latest single “Save Me.” Two songs, “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Spread Your Wings” make their last live appearance and the latter is among the best versions ever of the song.
Brian May speaks about the point of the show afterwards saying, “As you may know this is a special night for charity for the people of Kampuchea.” The acoustic set is limited to only two songs. “Keep Yourself Alive” is expanded to include not only a drum solo, but May’s guitar solo including “Silent Night” for the Christmas season. They don’t return to the song but instead end with the closing verse of “Brighton Rock” in a nice surprise.
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was their hit single and is received so ecstatically that the audience continue singing the chorus even after the song is over. The band play along and accompany the singing mob before moving right into “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Sheer Heart Attack” is the first encore and the audience applaud loudly when Freddie throws over the amplifier stack and the show ends with “We Will Rock You” (sung from the shoulders of Superman) and “We Are The Champions.”
Complete Kampuchea Concert is one of the most important releases on the Gypsy Eye label since it is the only silver release of this great show in the proper sequence. It is a show that contains a sizzling performance in a excellent recording and is highly recommended.