Days Of Our Lives BBC Documentary (Apocalypse Sound AS 203)
Along with celebrating Queen’s fortieth anniversary this year with an expanded and remastered catalog, the BBC produced what could be considered to be the definitive television documentary of the band. The goal is by using both new and archive interviews, it brings the story of the band together as it has never done before.
The result, Days Of Our Lives, is one of the best Queen documentaries produced. It follows the expected narrative. It starts off with the meeting of Brian May and Roger Taylor and the formation of Smile with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon joining the band later to the death of Freddie, the massive tribute concert, and the release of Made In Heaven.
Much in this documentary has been covered before. The first episode, focusing upon their career in the seventies, offers good musical insight into their hits leading up to their biggest hits “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites The Dust.”
The second episode focuses more upon their role as a pop music phenomena. Discussion of their music becomes less important for their latter albums such as A Kind Of Magic, The Miracle and Innuendo, and their image more. The importance of Live Aid is discussed as well.
Thankfully Freddie’s illness and death are treated very tastefully compared to other documentaries. This is mainly due to the producers not focusing as much upon the press’ reaction as they do upon the effect upon the band members themselves.
Some of the previously unseen footage is truly remarkable. There is black and white footage of early Smile live performances from 1969, their first appearance on the BBC in 1974 playing “Seven Seas Of Rhye,” and various outtakes from their videos seen for the first time.
Apocalypse Sound use a pristine dub off of the BBC telecast itself and has excellent sound and video. Since the band probably won’t release it themselves, this is a viable alternative and is worth having. Listed below are the track for each episode and the BBC description of each.
Episode 1: Intro We’re Gonna Stay Together Until We’ll Die, The Birth Of A Legend, Queen, Now I’m Here, Opera, Races, News, Jazz, Crazy Little Thing
In 1971, four university students got together to form a band. Since then, that certain band called Queen have released 26 albums and sold over 300 million records worldwide. The popularity of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon is stronger than ever. Their story is a remarkable one, a narrative that covers early struggles, huge obstacles, success, arguments, breakups, triumph, tragedy and an enduring legacy – all against a backdrop of brilliant music and stunning live performances from every corner of the globe.
In this film, for the first time, it is the band that tells their story. Guiding us through an extensive archive full of hitherto unseen footage, the documentary reveals how four strong-minded individuals, all capable of writing massive hit songs, worked together so successfully for four decades. Queen never did anything by halves – meaning their highs were massive, but their lows catastrophic. It is a compelling story told with intelligence, wit, plenty of humour and painful honesty.
Episode 2: Intro Flash, South America, Under Pressure, Hot Space, Works, Sun City, Living On My Own, Live Aid, Magic, Miracle, Innuendo, Heaven
The second half of this documentary sees Queen at the peak of their powers. With the ultimate showman in Freddie Mercury and a string of rock anthems to their name, Queen smashed attendance records with a series of stadium shows across South America.
But the band quickly learned that if reaching the top is tough, staying there is the biggest challenge of all. With a loss of focus in the studio, the decline in popularity in North America, increasing internal tension and a desire to pursue solo projects, it seemed as if the band had had its day. Then came the performance from Mercury at Live Aid, and their record breaking Magic tour in 1986. Queen were propelled back amongst the very best. Rejuvenated, the world was once again at their feet, but then tragedy struck and threatened to tear the band apart.