Queen – Rare Cuts Vol. 2 (Master Stroke FFMS-004)

Rare Cuts Vol. 2 (Master Stroke FFMS-004)

(76:18):  Bohemian Rhapsody – Piano Version (Original Master), Fat Bottomed Girls (Malouf Mix), Tie Your Mother Down (Hollywood Remix), I’m In Love With My Car (Hollywood Remix), Death On Two Legs (The eYe Version), You’re My Best Friend (Hollywood Remix), Stone Cold Crazy (Trent Reznor Remix), Sweet Lady (Live At Hyde Park 1976), You Take My Breath Away (Instrumental), Somebody To Love (Hollywood Remix), Fight From The Inside (The eYe Version), We Will Rock You (BBC Master), Get Down Make Love (Original Master Remix), Feelings Feelings – Take 9 (Outtake), More Of That Jazz (The eYe Version), It’s Late (BBC Master), Sheer Heart Attack (Rocks Version), Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) – Full Version (High Definition Mix 2005), We Are The Champions (Instrumental)

All good releases require a sequel and the Master Stroke label followed up their initial release with Rare Cuts Vol. 2.  Just like the first, the second volume anthologizes the rare tracks from Queen’s career, this time A Night At The Opera in 1975 through Jazz in 1978.

The first track is a “piano” version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  All the instruments are removed from the track except for the piano.  The vocal performance is the same as found on A Night At The Opera with some difference in the mix during the middle “opera” section.  Mixes like this are beneficial in focusing upon a specific part of a song, and this one is good for emphasizing Freddie’s actual vocal delivery of the studio cut.  

The narrative in the song has always been mysterious.  Why did his momma shoot a man?  Why did she pull “my” trigger?  Why does he have to leave and “face the truth?”  But the vocals have enough passion and conviction to gloss over its vagaries.

The rest of the tracks are culled from official releases that can be easily found.  “Fat Bottomed Girls” is the Malouf mix from the 1991 Hollywood remaster of Jazz.  It has some phasing added to the vocals and guitar and drum effects, and has slightly different lyrics at the end when Freddie sings “them dirty ladies get me every time.”

“Tie Your Mother Down” is another remix from the 1991 Hollywood edition of Queen’s catalogue.  Minor vocal effects added to Freddie’s lead vocal and some lead guitar removed.  The differences are minor but are effective.  It is followed by another 1991 remix “I’m In Love With My Car.”  This version starts with a vocal phased intro of the band singing “I’m in love with my car” with engine sound effects and goes into the normal drum/piano intro.  The same chorus is used at the end.

“Death On Two Legs” is called “The eYe Version,” taken from the EA videogame released in 1998.  The game uses a forty-second clip, but this track is a three minute long edit without the lead vocals.  This version is very good at emphasizing the diabolic piano melody Freddie composed for the tune.  It’s the product of a very angry mind and shows how vicious (in music) he could be.

It’s followed by another 1991 Hollywood remix.  “You’re My Best Friend” from A Night At The Opera sounds almost identical to the regular studio cut.  Freddie’s vocal is a bit louder, but otherwise there is nothing interesting about it.  

The Trent Reznor remix of “Stone Cold Crazy” was released on a three track promo CD and the Hollywood Records Freakshow promo sampler CD among others.  It’s a great remix, sounding close to NIN circa the Broken EP, a mix between the Queen song and “Happiness In Slavery.”  Reznor thrown in some samples from “Sheer Heart Attack” and studio sound bites such as Freddie saying “that should have been a good take” at the end.

“Sweet Lady” is simply the live version from the famous Hyde Park performance in 1976 and is taken from the DVD Classic Albums: The Making Of A Night At The Opera.  This take isn’t available on any official CD.

The demo for “You Take My Breath Away” is a simple run-through with Freddie on piano.  It’s followed by the last 1991 Hollywood Records remix in the collection.  “Somebody To Love” has little touches here and there, but nothing too significant or interesting.  

“Fight From The Inside” from News Of The World is taken from The eYe.  It’s a three minute long instrumental track showcasing the bizarre rhythms of the track.  It’s followed by the 1977 BBC version of “We Will Rock You.”  This version incorporates both the “slow” track and the “fast” arrangement, with Roger Taylor reading from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha as a bridge.    

“Get Down, Make Love,” another track from News Of The World, is simply a more raw mix of the studio track.  It lasts fifteen seconds longer, has less reverb and affects in the verses, and ends with Freddie’s “love,” a period of silence, and a cymbal crash instead of only Freddie’s “love” like the official version.

“Feelings, Feelings” is a Brian May written outtake from the News Of The World sessions and two takes are in current circulation.  Take number ten was included on the 2011 re-release of the album, so Master Stroke offer take nine.  It starts off with studio chatter saying “number nine” in the same intonation as John Lennon on “Revolution #9” from The Beatles.  Thought to be from earlier in their career, it’s a basic and enjoyable rock number.

“More Of That Jazz” from is taken from The eYe game.  It’s a simple instrumental without vocals and the snippets of the other songs found on the studio cut.  It starts off with the opening guitar chords instead of the lazy drum beat, but otherwise is the same as found on Jazz.   

“It’s Late” dates from the October 1977 BBC radio session.  Found on countless bootlegs, it’s is a strange edit of the studio cut and the ecstasy middle of “Get Down, Make Love.”

“Sheer Heart Attack” is an edit found on the Queen Rocks VHS release.  It’s almost identical to the News Of The World mix except missing some of the guitar effects.  It’s followed by the High Definition mix of “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)” found on Jewels II and Japan 2008 In Vision.

The final track in this collection is a semi-instrumental version of “We Are The Champions.”  Freddie’s vocals from the verses is missing, but the chorus of “we are the champions” is intact.  It’s interesting and a nice addition, but not very revealing.  

Overall Rare Cuts Vol. 2 is a good release, but not very ground breaking.   Almost all of these tracks can be found in other collections in similar sound quality.  We could assume that other volumes, covering their eighties and nineties output, will be forth coming and hopefully will have actual rarities making it worth having.    

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