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One of the better accounts of the band read during my mild obsession with Queen. Like it says on the tin, George Purvis covers every album, song, concert, collaboration and compilation ever produced by Freddie, Brian, Roger and John - together and individually - with the knowledgeable yet biased opinion of a true fan. Purvis knows what he likes - Freddie's 'amazing vocal control', 'dulcet piano' and 'the complexity of Freddie's songwriting' (OK, that might be my bias showing through!) - and what he doesn't ('Was this shambolic release even necessary?'), but he's nearly always fair to the respective members and in his judgement of various songs and albums.

As a Queen novice, I found this potted history and compendium of tour dates, track listings and behind the scenes trivia fascinating. For me, Queen's reign ended with Freddie Mercury's death, and my personal listening preferences stretch from Queen II to A Day At The Races, but Works covers from the early days of the band members right up to 2011 (my copy) and the author's laughably dismissive quote that 'happily for all, a Queen + Adam Lambert partnership never happened' (spoke too soon there, George lad).

Sad geek that I am, I particularly enjoyed the A-Z listing of songs, although I wasn't really interested in the solo efforts by the band or the later collaboration with Paul Rodgers. I love the combination of facts and quotes that really helps to build a musical biography of the band. Freddie rushing through 'Crazy Little Thing' on acoustic guitar before Brian could intervene; 'Death on Two Legs' sounding so vindictive that 'Brian felt bad singing it', according to Freddie; Brian's love of Freddie's songs 'It's A Hard Life' and 'The Miracle'; and Roger writing 'Loneliness', 'Old Friends' and 'You Had To Be There' for Freddie after losing the singer to AIDS. There are similar neat little details about the albums too, including Brian's idea to use Freddie on the cover of the first album.

I get the feeling, perhaps erroneously, that Brian has waited a long time to regain control of his music from Freddie's influence, touring with Paul Rodgers, Kerry Ellis, Adam Lambert and no doubt other 'guest singers' to come. He and Roger Taylor are the last men standing of the original and irreplaceable line-up, John Deacon having retired from the music business after Freddie's death, and I wish both the guitarist and drummer well. However, Queen will never regain the magic of the early days, and a good deal of that magic was Freddie Mercury, singer, songwriter, pianist, performer. Reading this account of the first twenty years and beyond was both inspiring and depressing, especially coming to the party a good twenty years too late!
 
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AdonisGuilfoyle | Jun 8, 2016 |