Queen’s 40th anniversary is now upon us, and the band plans to pull out all the stops to celebrate this historic occasion. “2011 is an important year for Queen,” said guitarist Brian May. “And there will be a lot of activity.” Adds drummer Roger Taylor, "I can’t believe it’s been that long and that we are still around in such a big way. I’m amazed and grateful!” This year-long event will be marked by a series of releases, re-releases, special limited-edition items and events around the world.
As the centerpiece in the 40th anniversary celebration, Queen’s entire 15-album studio catalog is being reissued in a series of deluxe editions. Every note is being tweaked, every piece of artwork is being cleaned, freshened up and resourced—wherever necessary—with the legendary Bob Ludwig doing the remastering, working from the original source material. The albums will be released in three waves staggered over the next year, with the first wave—comprising the first five LPs—coming this May.
Each studio album will be released in a new two-CD edition. The first disc will contain the updated, remastered original LP, while the second disc will be packed with rarities. Some of these gems have never before seen the light of day, even in crappy bootleg form. To cite a particularly fascinating example, five first-album demos recorded at London’s De Lane Lea Studios in December 1971 were pulled from the only existing copy on the planet: an acetate from May’s personal archives. Not even his bandmates had a copy.
“A huge amount of work has already been put in behind the scenes to unleash a completely newly mastered set of the original Queen LPs and CDs,” May noted. “I know our fans will appreciate the attention to detail, bringing the early albums closer than ever to the magic of the vinyl originals, but with the benefit of up-to-the-minute quality technology.”
In other anniversary activity, the gallery exhibition “Stormtroopers in Stilettos” opens in London on Feb. 25, with plans in place to tour the exhibit around the world. According to May, this unprecedented event “will highlight in some innovative ways the growth of the ‘Early Queen.’” On April 12, Hollywood will reissue Queen’s debut single, “Keep Yourself Alive” b/w “Son and Daughter,” on seven-inch vinyl in a limited edition coinciding with Record Store Day and on April 19, the label will issue the band’s Greatest Hits II for the first time in North America. This classic collection includes the rock standards “Under Pressure” and “Radio Ga Ga,” plus many other classics from the second half of Queen’s run, including the worldwide smashes “I Want It All” and “Innuendo.” Additionally, the “Queen on Vinyl” reissue program will be completed this year with the release of the final five studio albums.
Bonus Tracks on the First Five Studio Albums:
Queen (1973) 1. Keep Yourself Alive (De Lane Lea Demo, December 1971) 2. Great King Rat (De Lane Lea Demo, December 1971) 3. Jesus (De Lane Lea Demo, December 1971) 4. Liar (De Lane Lea Demo, December 1971) 5. The Night Comes Down (De Lane Lea Demo, December 1971) 6. Mad The Swine (June 1972)
Queen II (1974)
1. White Queen (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, December 1975) 2. See What A Fool I’ve Been (BBC Session, July 1973 - 2011 Remix) 3. Seven Seas Of Rhye (Instrumental) 4. See What A Fool I’ve Been (B-side Version, February 1974) 5. Nevermore (BBC Session, April 1974)
Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
1. Now I’m Here (Live at Hammersmith Odeon, December 1975) 2. Flick Of The Wrist (BBC Session, October 1974) 3. Tenement Funster (BBC Session, October 1974) 4. Bring Back That Leroy Brown (A Cappella Plus) 5. In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited (Live at Wembley Stadium, July 1986)
A Night at the Opera (1975)
1. Keep Yourself Alive (Long-Lost Retake, June 1975) 2. Bohemian Rhapsody (Operatic Section A Cappella) 3. I’m In Love With My Car (Guitar & Vocal Version) 4. You’re My Best Friend (Backing Track) 5. ‘39 (Live at Earl’s Court, June 1977) TBC 6. Love Of My Life (Live Single Version, June 1979)
A Day at the Races (1976)
1. Tie Your Mother Down (Backing Track) 2. Somebody To Love (Live at Milton Keynes, June 1982) 3. You Take My Breath Away (Live in Hyde Park, September 1976) 4. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Top Of The Pops, July 1977) 5. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) (HD mix)