Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

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Ladies and gentlemen -- a night at the opera. And if you can excise the bum notes struck by the evening's two virtuoso metal workouts, "Sweet Lady" and "The Prophet's Song," you are left with a startling vision of Queen's most extravagant live offering ever. An altogether eccentric set list sets the scene. Isolate the highlights of the first four Queen albums, and few of the tracks on display here would appear on the list. What they lack in crowd-pleasing fodder, however, they remedy with the wool that's pulled over the audience's eyes -- and the glee with which the audience helps the band shear the sheep in the first place. That said, "White Queen" and "Sunday Afternoon" are triumphs which unquestionably deserve their inclusion, while the mid-set medley excerpts precisely the right moments from all four songs. Not the most popular bits, not the most famous bits, but the bits that actually gave the songs the immortality which still makes you fly when you hear them. Maybe the band had lost some of the tightrope walking trickery which marked out earlier tours; maybe, too, they were already heading towards the vaudeville grandiosity which would ultimately reduce their effective creativity to a simple single or two every album. But frozen onstage before an adoring Tokyo Audience in April 1976, ripping into a genuinely delirious "Lap of the Gods," Queen are also at the top of their game. If you own just one Queen live bootleg, make certain it's this one.

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