British rockers Queen enjoyed a banner year in 1975. They had built a steady following with the release of their first three albums and pulled out all the stops for 1975’s “A Night at the Opera,” the most expensive record ever made up to that point. To cap off the year, Queen performed a Christmas Eve concert at London’s famed Hammersmith Odeon and the show was aired live on BBC television.
That magical night is chronicled in “A Night at the Odeon – Hammersmith 1975,” which is being released this week on CD, DVD and LP. It’s a terrific performance by one of the all-time great rock bands and is a must for anyone who loves the music of Freddie Mercury & Co.
“This concert was very special because it was the first time we ever played a whole show completely live on TV … the Christmas show,” guitarist Brian May recalls. “The quality, after great rescue work and transfer into the digital domain, is amazing. And the energy we had comes across very forcefully.”
The 19-track CD features 15 originals and four covers spread out over 75 thoroughly entertaining minutes. The Hammersmith Odeon show was, without question, Queen clicking on all cylinders. Among the standout performances here are “Now I’m Here,” May’s “Guitar Solo,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Big Spender,” “Seven Seas of Rhye” and “Sea What a Fool I’ve Been.”
The band only performs an abbreviated version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was in the midst of a nine-week stint atop the U.K. charts, as part of a medley that also included “Killer Queen” and “The March of the Black Queen.” It doesn’t detract from the concert as a whole, but I find it odd that Queen didn’t perform “Rhapsody” in its entirety. This one’s a must, folks. (Jeffrey Sisk)