“Return Of The Champions” by Queen

Artist: Queen & Paul Rodgers
Title: “Return Of The Champions”
Label: Hollywood Records
Release Date: 10/25/2005
Genre: Rock
Rating: 7/10

Released at the same time as the concert performance DVD, this CD offers you the chance to simply enjoy the music with your auditory senses alone. The concert itself was widely discussed online and in print media because the idea of Queen touring with Paul Rodgers handling the lead vocals would put fans of the music on two separate sides of the argument. Cynics felt it would bomb and oddly enough that was far from the case as venue after venue sold out despite them. Fans of both Rodgers and Queen were the luckiest of all for the presentation was handled with a level of respect that I think found Freddie Mercury smiling down on them. The music is done well and as one might expect Rodgers is no Mercury in the vocal sense but his resonant bluesy style works well for some of the numbers just the same. It’s hard to replace a talent like Mercury but with him passed away for so many years the remaining group members were bound to find a way to make the music live on in the concert stage. Sadly John Deacon would not take part in this sort of reunion, leaving only Brian May and Roger Taylor from the original line up with some stellar assistance from studio players to handle bass, keyboards and additional guitar. A good sampling of Queen classics is presented and some changes are offered on instances like “Hammer To Fall” which is played acoustically. Both May and Taylor also sing a lot during the show and truly shine adding to the quality of their musicianship. For “Bohemian Rhapsody” the audience is treated to Freddie Mercury singing on the piano (presented on video screens for the audience) while the band plays along. Rodgers returns at the end section of this song to lead the band triumphantly into “The Show Must Go On”. The audience itself is apparently pleased and this is most noticed during the response to “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions”. For these songs the entire Hallem Arena (Sheffield England) is singing along.

The amount of early Queen material is very limited and that makes sense given the vocal differences. To compensate for this there is a handful of Bad Company & Free material delivered. I found it pretty cool to hear “All Right Now” performed by members of Queen and felt this made the concert a little more than just a Queen tribute/reunion. It was more like good friends who joined their incredible forces to play classic music for a hungry audience. I also watched and reviewed the concert DVD and I have to say that I enjoyed this a lot more since it was shot so well I felt I was in attendance. Perhaps the group should have issued both of these pieces as one release but that was not the case. With two individual products to choose from the Queen fan can decide for themselves. A full-color booklet is included with a lot of shots from the tour itself. This is a solid concert release but you have to be accepting of the fact that Freddie is not being replaced as much as honored. It was a job well done.

Track List:
1. Reaching Out
2. Tie Your Mother Down
3. I Want To Break Free
4. Fat Bottomed Girls
5. Wishing Well
6. Another One Bites The Dust
7. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
8. Say It’s Not True
9. ‘39
10. Love Of My Life
11. Hammer To Fall
12. Feel Like Makin’ Love
13. Let There Be Drums
14. I’m In Love With My Car
15. Guitar Solo: May
16. Last Horizon
17. These Are The Days Of Our Lives
18. Radio Ga Ga
19. Can’t Get Enough
20. A Kind Of Magic
21. I Want It All
22. Bohemian Rhapsody
23. The Show Must Go On
24. All Right Now
25. We Will Rock You
26. We Are The Champions
27. God Save The Queen

Official Website: www.Queenonline.com

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