Queen – Rare Cuts Vol. 1 (Master Stroke FFMS-001)

Rare Cuts Vol. 1 (Master Stroke FFMS-001) 

(71:12):  Brighton Rock (Original Master Remix), Ogre Battle (BBC Remix Version), Killer Queen (Original Master Remix), Liar (BBC Master), Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll (BBC Master), Doing Alright (Smile Version), Son And Daughter (BBC Master), Keep Yourself Alive (BBC Master), Flick Of The Wrist (Single Edit), Stone Cold Crazy (BBC Master), See What A Fool I’ve Been (BBC Master), Now I’m Here (BBC Master), White Queen (As It Began) (BBC Master), In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited (Sampler Edit), Funny How Love Is (Single Edit), Love Of My Life (Stand Alone Version), Bohemian Rhapsody (Original Master Remix), Carousel (Instrumental)

Many years ago there was a thriving Queen market for silver discs with labels such as Gypsy Eye, Queen Digital Archives and Wardour pumping out many interesting titles each month. These days Wardour produce a couple of titles per year (and not very good ones at that) and both Gypsy Eye and QDA are gone leaving on Tarantura, trolling the vast Mr. Peach tape archive, as the sole provider of great Queen silver titles.

Rare Cuts Vol. 1 is the first release of a new Queen-dedicated label Master Stroke.  Like QDA a decade ago, their initial efforts focus upon collecting upgrades of very common material and mixing up with much more rare tracks.

Much of the disc is occupied with songs from the BBC sessions which have been released countless times before including “Ogre Battle,” “Liar,” “Modern Times Rock N Roll,’ “Son And Daughter,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Stone Cold Crazy,” “See What A Fool I’ve Been,” “Now I’m Here” and “White Queen (As It Began).”

Other tracks are more interesting, such as the three “original remaster mixes.”  The first, “Brighton Rock,” features a strange different beginning, a heavily edited guitar solo, Freddie counting off in the middle, and Brian asking “how was that” after the song ends.  The lyrics, melody and structure of the piece is intact, but the feel is much more raw and aggressive than the official version on Sheer Heart Attack.

“Killer Queen” is much closer to the studio version.  It is the same vocal performance, same drums and  rhythm.  This take is missing some of the backing vocals and guitar ornaments in the verses.

The third “original remaster mix is “Bohemian Rhapsody” from A Night At The Opera.  It features the same piano and vocal performance with the same lyrics.  But there are different effects on Freddie’s voice in the first section.  The opera middle is the same except the effects and volume on the different voices.  In the third part, one measure is omitted from May’s initial guitar solo and the volume is raise on the piano.  There is incomprehensible studio chatter at the song’s end.  

“In The Lap Of The Gods…revisited” is taken from the UK Digital Master Sampler Promo CD (EMI 1994). The final exploding effect is somewhat cut from the track.

“Funny How Love Is” and “Flick Of The Wrist” are the common single edits.  “Funny How Love Is” is taken from the Japanese 3″ CD single of “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and is only true stand-alone mix of the song. It starts with a piano chord and percussion background and ends like the Digital Master Sampler version with a fade out.  The other attempts at a stand alone edit include the final chord from “March Of The Black Queen.”

“Flick Of The Wrist” is the basic studio track which starts without the transition from “Tenement Funster” but instead a slightly shortened piano opening and ends with the “baby you’ve been had” lyrics and a drawn out guitar chord.  This version was released on the Japan 3″ CD single “Killer Queen” in 1991 and the 2008 UK Singles Collection Vol. 1.

The stand along version of “Love Of My Life” is simply the studio cut without the transition from “The Prophet’s Song.”  

The final track “Carnival” is a one minute-seven second instrumental track that was used for the intro to “Brighton Rock” on Sheer Heart Attack.  You can hear the circus music and some mutterings in the crowd.  There is no Queen music in it, but it’s interesting to hear nonetheless.

Rare Cuts Vol. 1 is a curious mix of common and truly rare (on silver disc) tracks presented in excellent sound quality.  It is the first release from Master Stroke, a new Queen label, which hopefully will continue to press onto silver Queen rarities.  

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