I’m giving this DVD release of Queen Greatest Video Hits a wholeheartedly enthusiastic thumbs up, but first let’s unspool some reasons why you assume you don’t want this. The first reason is that you barely remember three instances of a Queen video: the band in drag for “I Want To Break Free,” doing a tribute to Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis in “Radio Ga Ga,” and that diamond-pattern pose of all four members, faces illuminated, for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” an image that truly is that most-abused term: iconic. Beyond that, what is there?
Well there are a lot of videos that show the band on a studio stage, or in a recording studio, a few more conceptual videos later on when dry, performance-mimicking productions no longer held interest, naked women on bicycles for “Bicycle Race,” but there really isn’t anything that stands out as an audio-visual memory to last, no “Billie Jean,” no “Material Girl” or “Money For Nothing.” Admit it: at the mention of those songs your mind’s eye played the videos. I mention “Play The Game” and you remember nada.
So if there are no videos that you immediately recall, and the ones I mentioned before ran closer to bland than grand, why should you get this or give this to the Queen fan in your life? The answer is that which was at the heart of almost every Queen venture — the set sounds awesome. With soundtracks replaced with the audio from the albums (and don’t be alarmed because the performances were lip-synched to start with) this is the closest we yet have to a Dolby 5.1 Greatest Hits package.
There are exclusions. The set does not include “I’m Going Slightly Mad” from Innuendo, but if I recall correctly that video was made during the throes of Freddie’s last times and, therefore, he was not looking well. If that is why the song isn’t added, I’m rather at peace with that choice. I wish “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” was here but I don’t think there even was a video for it, and if there was it was held back likely for the same reason as “I’m Going Slightly Mad.” It’s not that the producers are undercutting the reality that Freddie Mercury was withering toward the end of his battle with AIDS, I believe. It’s more that the fans want to remember the guy as a powerhouse. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that is wisdom or revisionism amok.
What I know is that if you haven’t the inclination to sit and watch the clips, you’re getting a massive two-disc sampler of Queen’s best with Queen Greatest Video Hits in speaker-busting surround sound. You’re getting “Killer Queen,” “Somebody To Love,” “I Want It All,” “Under Pressure,” “Who Wants To Live Forever,” and so much more. Buy it maybe for the sights but own it definitely for the sounds.
Queen Greatest Video Hits is available from Amazon.com