Prime Jive (Wardour-030)
Queen’s little visit to Japan in February 1981 was unusual for several reasons. They gave five concerts, all in the capital Tokyo with no visits to the provincial cities. There is also confusion about what exactly they were promoting on this tour. Their latest LP was The Game, but Flash Gordon was released the previous December as a Queen album and not simply as a soundtrack for the film.
All of the newer numbers came from these two (“Save Me” is introduced as “the next single”). This was also a year when Queen played no major tours but only three small ones. This, the South America Bites The Dust tour in Argentina and Brazil in early March, the Gluttons For Punishment tour of Venezuela and Mexico in late September and early October and the two Montréal concerts in November for their We Will Rock You film is the sum total of their live appearances.
What makes these concerts highly collectable is the expansion of the “instrumental inferno” to include an expanded Flash Gordon suite including “Vultan’s Theme” along with the “Battle” theme, “Flash” theme and “The Hero”.
This arrangement was introduced in the February 13th show (documented on Need You Loving Rock on Gypsy Eye (GE-206/207)) and played again on February 16th. Also these shows are the live introduction for “Rock It (Prime Jive)” which had a limited stage life, being included in South America and served as the sometimes opener for the nebulous Hot Space set lists in 1982.
Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan- February 16th, 1981
Disc 1 (61:19): Intro, Jailhouse Rock, We Will Rock You (fast), Let Me Entertain You, Play The Game, Mustapha, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down, Make Love, Rock It (Prime Jive), Save Me, Now I’m Here, Dragon Attack/Now I’m Here (reprise), Love Of My Life
Disc 2 (47:39): Keep Yourself Alive, drum solo, guitar solo, Vultan’s Theme/Battle Theme, Flash, The Hero, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Another One Bites The Dust, Sheer Heart Attack, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen
The first two discs covering the February 16th show come from a new tape source the has never circulated. The older source is fair to good with a big cut in the drum solo. This source is very good and clear although slightly distant with some crowd noise over the music. The only cut in the tape is a tape flip at the beginning of “Keep Yourself Alive”.
The “instrumental inferno” begins with this track and goes all the way to “The Hero” in one long medley. Right where the “Brighton Rock” guitar solo ends the keyboards come in for the fantastic high energy “Vultan’s Theme” and makes me question why this wasn’t a regular part of the set! It adds another dimension to a Queen concert (this is the closest they ever came to having a keyboard solo) and judging by the audience reaction it was very exciting.
Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan- February 17th, 1981
Disc 3 (55:52): Intro, We Will Rock You (fast), Let Me Entertain You, Play The Game, Mustapha, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down, Make Love, Rock It (Prime Jive), Save Me, Now I’m Here, Dragon Attack/Now I’m Here (reprise), Love Of My Life
Disc 4 (55:39): Keep Yourself Alive, drum solo, guitar solo (incl. Sakura Sakura), Battle Theme, Flash, The Hero, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Another One Bites The Dust, Sheer Heart Attack, Teo Torriatte, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen
The following evening’s show on February 17th covers discs three and four of this collection and surfaced incomplete before on Zoom Up on Rag Doll (RDM 942019) and complete as Freddie Was Here on Masterport (MP-013). This tape is clearer than the previous evening being very bright, loud and enjoyable. About ten seconds is cut from “Flash” but otherwise it is musically complete. The band drop “Jailhouse Rock” that served as the opener since the US tour the previous year and begin straight away with “We Will Rock You (fast)”.
Freddie sings “Perfume comes naturally from Tokyo, cars she couldn’t care less…” in “Killer Queen” to the delight of everyone. “Rock It (Prime Jive)” is played again. The set list says that “Vultan’s Theme” was dropped from the Flash Gordon suite, but it is here segued into the “Battle” theme just like the LP. The girls close to the taper are very vocal by the end (even singing along to “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Teo Torriatte”) and their screaming is very loud during “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the encores.
Wardour have set the standard with stellar Queen releases and Prime Jive is yet another one. They did a great service by finding and releasing the tape from the February 16th show and remastering the following evening to produce the definitive release of these essential concerts. Like all of their releases this is limited to only three hundred copies worldwide.