Queen have always been a target for the bootleggers. Though there is no doubt these guys are thieves, there is also no doubt these guys are supplying a genuine need. The band have only released 'Live Killers' and
'Live Magic' and these are not nearly enough to satisfy fan hunger.
So while Queen might complain they are being ripped off, it's the price they have to pay for being rock mega-stars. And lets face it, they aren't short of a bob or two!
Also, for the really fanatical fans these bootlegs are often the jewels in their record collections and the source of much pride and envy. Furthermore a rare bootleg of good sound quality can often prove a very sound investment.
Japanese bootlegs of Queen are not only rare but also very valuable.
Obviously, concerts are the main target of the bootleggers and as Queen are the greatest live band in the world
they have suffered from the attentions of the shady gentlemen more than most.
But for those who can afford it there are official radio transcription tapes of live shows. The BBC has perfect quality tapes of the awesome '75 concert at the Hammersmith Odeon and Capital Radio recorded the legendary 'Hyde Park' concert in '76. Unfortunately these tapes cost over 50 pounds each!
From the early days in '73 there exist Radio One tapes containg songs like 'Liar', 'Keep Yourself Alive' and 'Son & Daughter' along with cover versions of 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'I'm a Man'. More importantly, one such tape include a song called 'Hangman' that was never officially released, so it is a must for any serious collector.
The '74 UK and Euro-Tour produced various bootleg albums, the most widely circulated of which were 'Rouges And Scandals' (good stereo) and 'Sheet Kickers' (good stereo) which included versions of 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' and 'Modern Times Rock and Roll'. Some of the excitement of that year can be seen in the film 'Live At The Rainbow' and though the band intended to release a live album of this concert is has yet to appear.
1975 saw Queen set off an yet another mammoth world tour taking in the US, Canada and Japan. This tour was also widely bootlegged. While most of these illegal albums leave much to be desired in terms of sound quality the American leg of the tour did produce the very fine 'Royal American' (Santa Monica Civic Auditorium March '75) bootleg. This really captures the drive and excitement generated by the band on tracks like
'Flick Of The Wrist', 'Son & Daughter' and 'Hey Big Spender'.
'Duck Soup' is another good quality American bootleg and was recorded in Seattle in March '77 and features tracks like 'Somebody To Love', 'In The Lap Of The Gods Revisited' and 'Saturday Nights Allright For Fighting'. From San Diego in '77 came Side 2 of 'No News Is Good News' - Side 1 was recorded in London '78. One of the rarest Queen bootlegs is the show at the LA Forum in December '77 which has an acoustic
version of the band singing 'White Christmas'.
In Japan Queen caused a sensation. Their hi-tech glitz and dazzle intoxicated the locals who very nearly rioted in
sheer excitement. It was love at first sight and this mutual love affair is still going strong.
Inevitably the band were bootlegged on this tour, particularly the Budokan concerts in Tokyo. 'Kimono My Place Live' (excellent Stereo) features 'Great King Rat', 'Shag Out' and 'Procession'. The following year in a return visit to Japan, Queen concerts led to a rash of more bootlegs like 'Mercury Poisoning' (good mono),
'Geisha Boys' (good mono) and 'Tokyo Rampage'(good stereo). For obvious reasons there Japanese bootlegs are hard to get and are very collectable items.
Xmas Eve 1975 saw the now legendary Hammersmith Odeon concert which led to bootlegs like 'Command Performance' and 'Christmas At The Beeb'. Again, the official BBC tapes with perfect sound specially for
radio broadcasting are available for about 60 pounds for those who can afford them.
The 1976 Hyde Park concert was bootlegged by the Japs as 'Free In The Park' and is of excellent quality
though Capital Radio have the definitive but expensive (100 pound) tapes of this momentous gig.
Spring 77 and the band were on the road again and this led to perhaps the finest of all Queen bootlegs, from Sweden called 'A Day At The Warehouse' recorded at the Broend by Hall Copenhagen in May. In full stereo, this double album is a classic taste of Queen with blistering versions of many tracks from the band's early albums.
It is now very rare.
For John Peel's show Queen recorded versions of 'My Melancholy Blues', 'We Will Rock You', 'Spread Your Wings' and a medley of 'It's Late' and 'Get Down Make Love' from 'News of The World'. Many people think these tapes are far better than the versions on the LP which is why there are so many versions of
The band's international success has created a lucrative market for the cowboys to exploit. From May '78 Wembly came more excellent bootlegs. Again the band could make these obsolete by releasing their own tapes of these shows as was planned, but there now seems little chance of that.
Throughout the tours of the Eighties the band have been heavily bootlegged all over the world, particularly Europe and Japan. Their stubborn refusal to release official material from the mountain of tapes in their
possession has created the bootleg industry. So come on guys, give us the real thing. Put up or shut up.