Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Queen 8: Live Killers

While their albums were popular, Queen was one of those bands that was best experienced in person. They were a big concert draw around the world, even in countries where English wasn’t the primary language, so when the time came for a live album, they were ready. Being the ‘70s still, and being Queen, Live Killers was a double.

A thunder crack opens the album, and the band soon kicks in with a sped-up rendition of “We Will Rock You”. Freddie actually asks the attendees if they’re ready to rock, then they plow into “Let Me Entertain You”. The introduction to “Death On Two Legs” is bleeped, apparently purposely to avoid a lawsuit from the object of the lyrics. It ends almost abruptly to segue into “Killer Queen”; this too is cut short to switch to “Bicycle Race”, which also is truncated in order for Roger to sing “I’m In Love With My Car”, salvageable due to Brian’s shredding. Things slow way down for “Get Down, Make Love”, complete with nutty interlude, and “You’re My Best Friend” closes the side.

“Now I’m Here” has an interesting intro, as the delay effect used for his voice kicks in before the song starts. After about four minutes the band stops so Freddie can the crowd in a call-and-response, which continues after the band comes back in, and then again towards the end. The crowd, of course, eats it up, going on to cheer the drum break. Rather than continue the illusion of a concert, the album fades to silence before returning with an acoustic “Dreamer’s Ball” and a gentle “Love Of My Life”, with which the crowd also sings along, eventually taking it over. They also cheer the return of the band for a stomp through “‘39”, and then the band plugs back in for “Keep Yourself Alive”.

“Don’t Stop Me Now” isn’t ecstatically received; maybe the audience wasn’t that familiar with it yet. They’re more happy about “Spread Your Wings”, and for singing along with it. “Brighton Rock” is twelve minutes long, mostly to accommodate Brian’s lengthy guitar showpiece and Roger’s phased drums, recommended to fans of Led Zeppelin’s later performances of “Dazed And Confused”.

Side four opens with the crowd chanting “Mustapha”, of which Freddie adds a few lines instead of the expected intro to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And since there was no way to replicate the middle section onstage, that part from the record itself comes through the speakers until they can finish it themselves. “Tie Your Mother Down” ends with Freddie bidding the crowd good night, fading to silence, and encoring with “Sheer Heart Attack”. After another fade, the familiar beat of “We Will Rock You” signals that song, followed by “We Are The Champions” and their version of “God Save The Queen” played over the PA.

Live Killers is one of the few Queen albums never to be expanded with bonus tracks. Some of it sounds a little too clean for a live recording, and indeed overdubs have been accounted for. Other enterprising souls have also spent a lot of time documenting which tracks came from which shows. But as a representation of the band onstage, it delivers. Which was the point. Besides, their next album wasn’t ready yet.

Queen Live Killers (1979)—3

1 comment:

  1. It's one of the best live albums ever. Even with some overdubs!