Queen – Early Battle (Breakdown – 116)
Early Battle, from the CDR label Breakdown, is a very good early document taken from Queen’s first visit to the US in support of Queen II. Queen was the opener for Mott The Hoople so the show is more compact than the UK dates from earlier in the year. It is a very good sounding source that borders on being excellent at times and contains a rare performance of “See What A Fool I’ve Been” in place of “Great King Rat”. Brian mentions Portland after “Ogre Battle” authenticating the source. There are several cuts between tracks but all songs seem virtually complete. Queen delivers a fired up very enjoyable sounding performance.
This tape suffers from some slight speed fluctuations probably from tape stretching. The first part of the show from “Procession” through “See What A Fool” runs fairly close to the proper speed but the rest of the tape, starting with “Liar”, runs closer to 5% fast with additional tape speed issues that do improve as the show progresses. “Son And Daughter” contains some of Brian May’s guitar work that would later make its appearance in “Brighton Rock” on their third LP, Sheer Heart Attack.
Freddie says “you’re wonderful, this is our first time here and we’ll have to come back” before the “Big Spender” medley which sounds like it switches to a different source and is slightly muffled compared to the rest of the show. It is possible that the taper moved thinking the set was over and was in a different spot for this. There is a strange noise on the tape that resembles a bird call or bird whistle that is present on both sources. Luckily, it only occurs in between songs and occasionally at the very start or finish of songs and doesn’t interrupt the performances. The back cover lists “Shake Rattle And Roll” as part of the medley but it is actually “Bama Lama Bama Lou”, a common second encore for this era.
This performance from Portland is a great early Queen concert but unfortunately not the definitive release due to the various tape speed issues. Packaging is the typical one sided artwork and is more than sufficient for a CDR release. Hopefully, one of the silver Queen labels will present a more definitive version in the future as early stuff like this deserves better coverage.