Greatest Video Hits, Vol. 1

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Queen's position in the forefront of video pioneering has never been in question. "Bohemian Rhapsody" may not have been rock's first video, nor the most impressive, but it was certainly the first to draw a collective gasp of amazement from the watching millions, and when the deluge of new directors hit the airwaves, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was the touchstone that inspired so many to greatness. Sadly, any ingénue wandering into Greatest Video Hits, Vol. 1 expecting more of the same, or searching for the further invention that hallmarked the band's 1980s video output, is in for a shock. Twenty-two tracks, dating from 1973-1980 (later efforts will doubtless comprise volume two) and spread across two discs, include a mere handful that even threaten to approach the conceptual heights of the biggie, and even they intercut the action with on-stage footage. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," with its cabaret-meets-the Village People choreography; "Flash," with the band performance echoed by action from the movie; and a newly designed "Bicycle Race," with its bevy of unclad bicyclists, all threaten to break the mold in places, but they are the exceptions. Not that there's anything wrong with what listeners/viewers do get, of course. Love him or hate him, Freddie Mercury ranks among his generation's most watchable showmen, both dressing and moving with a flamboyant grace that is a fantasy sequence in itself. Besides, the familiar footage (the bulk of this DVD was originally released in 1981 as the Greatest Flix VHS) is appended by a wealth of extra goodies, including a couple of vintage British TV performances ("Killer Queen" and "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy"), a documentary on the creation of "Bohemian Rhapsody," audio commentary from the bandmembers, and, perhaps most spectacular of all, a remastering job that brings a new dimension to the sound on even the most basic of audio equipment.

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