Queen - "Hot Space" Deluxe Edition (2011) CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, August 22, 2011

Queen - "Hot Space" Deluxe Edition (2011) CD Review

This is the first of the 2CD Queen reissues that I've heard and Hot Space was probably a bad entry point to the series as this release looks like a "cash grab".

Starting with the bonus EP, the 5-track disc runs 23 minutes so these tracks could have easily been appended to the main disc (like the bonus tracks for Thin Lizzy's Bad Reputation).

The bonus EP contains:
1. "Staying Power (Live in Milton Keynes, June 1982)"
2. "Soul Brother (B-Side)"
3. "Back Chat (Single Remix)"
4. "Action This Day (Live in Tokyo, November 1982)"
5. "Calling All Girls (Live in Tokyo, November 1982)"

Taking this disc apart track-by-track:

- This live version of "Staying Power" is from Queen's Live at the Bowl CD which documents the band's Hot Space tour. As only four songs from Hot Space were played during this concert, you would have thought all four songs would have been included on the bonus disc.

- "Soul Brother" was the b-side to "Under Pressure" and I believe this is the first time this track has made it to CD. This is a full-on "Aretha Franklin-style" soul ballad with Freddie Mercury singing predominately in a high falsetto.

- "Back Chat (Single Remix)" - A complete throw-away as this is a single edit that runs twenty second shorter than the LP version.

- "Action This Day" and "Calling All Girls" come from the band's concert at Seibu Lions Stadium in Tokyo, Japan on November 3, 1982. Eight tracks from this show were previously released as bonus tracks on Live at the Bowl DVD so it is anyone's guess why the band is seemingly being very stingy with the remaining thirteen tracks.

I generally don’t write reviews of the original album when reviewing one of the many 2CD “deluxe editions” that the industry seems to be banging out by the truckload but I don’t think I’ve every heard all of Hot Space before.

While most everyone knows the song “Under Pressure”, that song is NOT indicative of the music on this disc. For a band that once prided themselves on using no synthesizers, most of the tracks sound like warmed-over Nile Rodgers leftovers or throw-away dance floor tracks. The predominate use of synthesizers and electronic drum machine tracks make this disc sound very “80s” and dated. There are a few moments of “classic” Queen ("Las Palabras del Amor", “Under Pressure”. “Life is Real (Song for Lennon)”) along with some enjoyable segues into Bronski Beat style pop but the dross significantly outweighs these tracks and this makes for a very uneven listening experience.

For the Hot Space tour, Queen played these songs much harder than the studio versions and the use of real instruments (as opposed to electronic beats) breathed some new life into these tracks. As such, an unreleased live show from this tour (or the remainder of the Tokyo show) would have made this set more interesting. At minimum, the original (and heavily bootlegged) version of “Cool Cats” with David Bowie’s backing vocals would have made a nice addition to the bonus disc.

This 2CD set hasn’t yet been released in the US but is available as an import on Amazon for $14.99 (new) through third-party sellers. (No one in their right mind should pay the $30 list price for this set.)