Rare Cuts Vol. 3 (Master Stroke FFMS-006)
(72:57): We Are The Champions (Acapella Version), We Will Rock You – Fast Version (Live at the Nippon Budokan 1979), Don’t Stop Me Now (Ultra 12″ Remix), Bicycle Race (Backtrack Remix), Dreamers Ball (Live from the Pavillon de Paris 1979), Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Vocal & Guitar Mix), Another One Bites The Dust (Ultra 12″ Remix), Save Me (Complete Synth Demo), Save Me (Vocal Demo), Sandbox (Unreleased Version), Play The Game (Alternate Acapella Version), The Hero Flash Gordon (Movie End Credit Version), Staying Power (Promotional 12″ Remix), Las Palabras De Amor (Demo Version), Action This Day (Demo Version), Backchat (Demo Version), Calling All Girls (Acapella Version), Under Pressure (Ultra 12″ Remix)
The third volume of the Rare Cuts series on Master Stroke presents rarities from 1977 to 1982 from News Of The World to Hot Space. Not only is the their peak in popularity, but also a peak in their experimentation with other musical styles and with flirtations with many and various fashion statements. None of the tracks on this disc are new, but it is a nice compilation of the rarities floating around in different forms.
Rare Cuts Vol. 3 has three a capella tracks that sound like they are derived from the Rock Band video game, “We Are The Champions,” “Play The Game” and “Calling All Girls.” These have been floating around for several years and are very limited in appeal. While it’s interesting to hear Freddie’s melodramatic intonation, there isn’t much really of value.
“We Will Rock You,” the “fast” arrangement from Nippon Budokan, 1979 and “Dreamers Ball” live from the Pavillon de Paris, 1979 both come from the bonus online only streaming for the 2009 Absolute Greatest collection. Both are excellent and exciting to have on compact disc. There are eighteen total tracks ranging from 1974 to 1986 (the bulk of Queen’s live career) and it would be great to have them all on compact disc (not that we’re greedy or anything).
Master Stroke also include three “ultra 12″ remixes” of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Under Pressure.” The first two are very long, averaging about eight minutes, are are simply the commercial versions of the tracks with instrumental introductions and interludes taken from the songs. They’re fun for dancing, but ultimately aren’t very creative.
But the third “Under Pressure” is quite creative. Lasting 4:44, it features the song set to a disco beat and with variations of David Bowie’s and Freddie’s vocals ripped from other parts of the song. According to Queen Vault there are at least eleven remixes of this track, making it one of the most popular. This version demonstrates how great the song is for the clubs with yet another nice version to dance to.
The interesting tracks include the demos for The Game and Hot Space. “Save Me,” one of Queen’s more underrated tunes, is represented with two separate demos. The “synthesizer” demo starts with a count-in before the track. The grand piano is missing and is replaced by a synthesizer playing the melody, vocal and bass parts. An electronic drum machine keeps the beat. The following vocal demo is a bona fide studio outtake and not a Rock Band style isolated track. It is a minute long tape featuring Freddie singing the song over the instrumental track.
“Sandbox” dates from the 1979 sessions for The Game at Musicland Studio in Munich. It is a heavy instrumental track featuring piano, bass and drums. Brian May doesn’t’ appear on the track (perhaps this was an impromptu jam session while Freddie, Roger and John were waiting). There are occasional vocals, but nothing coherent. This track first surfaced in 2004 at the Queen Fan Club convention. Recorded straight from the audience, the track was marred by Greg Brooks repeating “Property Of Queen Productions” throughout, but thankfully this version has that edited out.
“The Hero Flash Gordon” is taken from the closing credits of the film. It is the same recording as found on the soundtrack but slightly sped up and with additional shouts from Freddie. It’s followed by the excellent five minute promo remix for “Staying Power.” It’s basically the same track from Hot Space but with additional guitars.
Following “Staying Power” are three demos from Hot Space. “Las Palabras De Amor,” clocking in at 4:20, is quite similar to the commercial take but seems more basic. It also omits the ten second build-up to the song, replacing it with a short drum intro, and contains several lyric changes.
“Action This Day” is also quite similar to the official version except for some changes in the mix. The synthesizer solo at 2:19 is noticeably different and slightly longer. The backing vocals after the horn solo are missing and there are slight changes in the lyrics. It’s been rumored that a demo with Taylor singing exists in the vaults, but it has yet to see the light of day. And for “Back Chat,” the obvious difference is Taylor’s heavy drum solo ninety seconds into the song is omitted, leaving only the normal beat.
Ultimately, this is another nicely assembled collection of Queen artifacts that are nice to have enshrined on silver disc and is worth having.