A new documentary focusing on the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury will include a snippet of the unreleased Michael Jackson collaboration “There Must be More to Life Than This” and a demo with Rod Stewart singing the previously unreleased “Take Another Piece of My Heart,” along with a never-before-seen appearance with the Royal Ballet in 1979.
The Great Pretender, due September 25, 2012, also features rare footage from the band’s initial TV appearance, Mercury’s earliest filmed interview, and newly filmed talks from fellow Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. The documentary was produced and directed by Rhys Thomas, who worked again with the group that created the recent BBC documentary Queen: Days of Our Lives.
[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We dig into Queen favorites like “Under Pressure,” “Spread Your Wings” and “Stone Cold Crazy,” then return for spins of “You’re My Best Friend,” “Ogre Battle” and “Flash”.]
Thomas found film of Queen’s initial television appearance among the belongings of the late comedian Dick Emery, and unearthed the 1976 interview with Mercury in Australia. He also found a rare talk with NBC, also filmed in 1976, as well as film from Mercury’s 39th Black and White birthday party in Munich in 1985 — footage made for the video for “Living On My Own,” and promptly banned by his record company because of its cross-dressing theme. There are also interesting video outtakes from “I Want To Break Free,” “One Vision,” “Days of Our Lives,” “I Want It All,” “A Kind Of Magic,” “Princes of the Universe,” “Living on My Own,” Born To Love You,” “Great Pretender,” “Made In Heaven,” and “Who Wants to Live Forever.”
Among the others interviewed for the documentary: soprano Montserrat Caballé, composers David Arnold and Mike Moran, lyricist Tim Rice, and comedian and lifelong fan Matt Lucas, among others. The Great Pretender, presented in high definition, will be available in DVD and Blu-ray.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Queen. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
SHOULD QUEEN CONTINUE WITHOUT FREDDIE MERCURY AND JOHN DEACON? ADAM LAMBERT SAYS: ‘IT’S THEIR PREROGATIVE’: The news that Queen will appear with yet another lead singer has some fans returning to what’s becoming an age-old conundrum: Is it Queen without Freddie Mercury? Heck, is it Queen without John Deacon? Don’t ask Adam Lambert, the American Idol finalist who’ll front Queen at this year’s Sonisphere Festival. “That’s really up to (Queen co-founders) Brian (May) and Roger (Taylor); it’s their band,” Lambert said. “I think that at this point the feel what they’re doing is appropriate and it’s their prerogative. If someone feels like their legacy should be left alone then they’re missing out on a great concert. That’s the bottom line.”
QUEEN – DAYS OF OUR LIVES DVD (2012): As this sprawling new documentary makes clear, Queen knew — and from the very beginning — that they were on to something. That it took everyone else so long to notice only seemed to spark them to greater heights of genre-jumping, expectation-confounding genius. Because of the way that they had built their own legacy, Queen didn’t have a working template to get trapped in. “They were very opened minded, Queen audiences,” May adds. “We never felt constrained.”
ONE TRACK MIND: TANGERINE DREAM WITH BRIAN MAY, “STAR SOUNDS” (2011): You suspected, just from listening to his wildly inventive work with Queen, that there was little guitarist Brian May couldn’t do. This live collaboration with space-music pioneer Edgar Froese’s Tangerine Dream confirms it. Sure, May has a well-known interest in the cosmos and its exploration, having earned a doctorate degree in astrophysics. But, for all of the many styles that May has excelled at over the years, for all of the times he’s played completely in service of the song — showing such great flamboyance, then such sharp-edged restraint — I still didn’t know what to expect once that famously bushy mane was dropped in amidst this kind of long-form, open-ended improvisational music. We will, we will … space you?
ONE TRACK MIND: QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS, “SAY IT’S NOT TRUE” (2007): “Say It’s Not True” originally appeared on the group’s 2005 live album, Return of the Champions, in a more stripped-down acoustic form sung by Roger Taylor. This version, however, is a much more embellished studio recording with Brian May and Paul Rodgers contributing significantly. Otherwise, it’s a very typical charity song: The lyrics were a bit trite and obvious; the melody was also a bit simplistic. It felt like something we’d heard a million times before. Yet, while there were no real surprises in store, it managed to invoke some of the magic of Queen: It builds at just the right moment into a glorious power ballad.
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