Queen – Pop Spectacular (Wardour-016)

 Pop Spectacular (Wardour-016)

Golders Green Hippodrome, London, UK – September 13th, 1973:  Intro., Procession, Father To Son, Son And Daughter, Ogre Battle, Member Intro., Liar.  The Stadium, Liverpool, UK – November 17th, 1973: Procession, Father To Son, Son And Daughter, Ogre Battle, Hangman, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar

Wardour visits the early Queen on this release. There are three separate tapes spread across these two discs, and two of them make their pressed disc debut. The focus of Pop Spectacular is another edition of the well-traveled BBC broadcast from Golders’ Green Hippodrome on September 13th, 1973. This is the best sounding document of the band from the very early days and deserves a lot of attention.

The tape has been released several times in the past couple of years as First Procession on Gypsy Eye, Complete BBC 1973-1977 and Queen Will Be Crowned, the latter two on the Digital Queen Archives label (who have been very quiet since for the past six months).

Earlier releases used a tape from the airwaves, while Queen Will Be Crowned was taped from a broadcast but is the complete show with all of the commentary from Alan Black for the very first time making that it definitive.

Pop Spectacular is different because it is sourced from a copy of an actual BBC transcription disc for the very first time (BBC Transcription Services Disc (CN 2073/S)). The sound is very good and clear with evident surface noise. It emphasizes the higher frequencies and is very dynamic and enjoyable compared to First Procession which sounds dull and muffled. Still, Queen Will Be Crowned is still the definitive version based upon sound quality and completeness.

The other two tapes are the real center of interest on this release. Pop Spectacular is balanced with a tape that surfaced last year at the Queen Fan Club convention in Wales. It’s a half hour of their show in Liverpool on November 17th, 1973 and all early Queen live tapes are cause for excitement. It is a fair and listenable tape a distance from the stage. It’s better than the Birmingham tape from November 27th. Freddie is having some serious mic problems.

The band plays the beginning of “Father To Son” several times till the equipment problem is fixed, and it cuts out several times during the course of the tape.  Luckily another version of the unreleased track “Hangman” is present and what a version! They build up such unbearable tension in the song as Freddie narrates the insidious tale. It all comes to a climax as he says “Here it comes…YOU’RE GONNA WATCH ME DIE!!” and the rest of the band come crashing in with the “Ogre Battle” inspired fast riffs.

The tape sadly fades out in the middle of “Liar”. The rumor is this is only the first half of an hour long tape. That will be an event if it is true and hopefully it will contain the never-before-heard early version of “Stone Cold Crazy” that is known to have been played but never before documented.

Milwaukee 1975 (bonus cdr)

Uptown Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, USA – March 7th, 1975

Procession, Now I’m Here, Ogre Battle, Father To Son, White Queen, Flick Of The Wrist, In The Lap Of The Gods, Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Son And Daughter, Guitar Solo, Son And Daughter (reprise), Keep Yourself Alive, Stone Cold Crazy, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, Big Spender, Modern Times Rock’n’Roll, Jailhouse Rock, God Save The Queen

Milwaukee 1975 is a free bonus disc and a very nice touch by Wardour. This could have stood on its own (in fact this was released simultaneously with In The Lap Of The Queen on Gypsy Eye). The tape never circulated before appearing on the internet recently. It’s a very good audience source from Queen’s first headlining tour of the US in support of Sheer Heart Attack.

This period in Queen’s history is very poorly documented and only fragments from Atlanta, Santa Monica and a short soundboard fragment from Winterland in San Francisco exist. Thus this is the most complete and best sounding document and another strong concert by the band. The crowd are die-hard Queen fans, knowing all of the songs and gushing over the new material (“That’s from the new album” someone by the tape says after “Stone Cold Crazy”).

The only negative is “Seven Seas Of Rhye” wasn’t performed this night. All of the tapes on this release serve as a reminder of the ambiguous darkness that hung around Queen before their slide into camp by the time they did the Flash Gordon soundtrack. As with all of their releases, this is limited to only three hundred copies and is another highly recommended Queen title to their catalogue.

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