Keeping with the spirit in which it was made, Brian May and Roger Taylor cut 30-second version of “20th Century Fox Fanfare” to open the soundtrack for the forthcoming Bohemian Rhapsody biopic.
With 22 tracks and an 80-minute runtime, the album has room for many previously unheard goodies, including “Doing All Right … revisited” by a reunited Smile, the pre-Freddie Mercury band that morphed into Queen. “We Will Rock You” appears in a “movie mix,” in which an in-concert recording is appended awkwardly to the studio version, and a previously unreleased live performance of “Fat Bottomed Girls” is outstanding and does in fact make the rockin’ world go ‘round.
But the real bait for Queen fans is the inclusion of the group’s full set at Live Aid, which loses something in audio-only format. Though rightly famous for reintroducing the band to an international audience, it’s truly no great shakes, consisting only of a truncated version of the title track, “Radio Ga Ga,” a Mercury-led call-and-response titled “Ay-Oh,” “Hammer to Fall” and “We are the Champions.”
Weak material. Strong playing. Historic recording.
Studio tracks spanning Queen’s career include bonafide classics such as “Somebody to Love” and “Killer Queen” and lesser, post-The Game songs like “I Want to Be Free” and “Who Wants to Live Forever.”
Elsewhere, live versions of “Keep Yourself Alive,” and “Now I’m Here” are reminders of Queen’s unparalleled prowess on a concert stage, while yet another singalong rendition of “Love of My Life” just takes up room that could have been better used by a song Freddie Mercury sung on his own.
For all of these reasons, Bohemian Rhapsody (The Original Soundtrack) presents a real conundrum for fans. On the one hand, the LP is laden with filler (a “revisited” version of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “The Show Must Go On”) and songs everyone has heard too many times already (“Under Pressure,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”); on the other, there are just enough gotta-have-them rarities to make even wavering music buyers ultimately pull the trigger.