Stone Cold Classics

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It seemed like as good a moment as any for Hollywood Records to release a new Queen compilation: the recent Queen + Paul Rodgers tour, live album, American Idol appearance, and PBS concert special/DVD were generating plenty of publicity. There is already a slew of Queen compilations available, and given all this recent activity, one might expect a record company to release yet another in the hopes of cashing in, but Stone Cold Classics is still a good best-of disc. However, this album isn't a particularly well-rounded sampling of Queen's discography. Though no one could deny that these are all strong and important songs for any Queen fan or curious newcomer, it is odd that classics like "Killer Queen," "Under Pressure," and "I Want to Break Free" are mysteriously absent. With the singular exception of "These Are the Days of Our Lives," every song on Stone Cold Classics represents the hard rock side of Queen's repertoire. This is undoubtedly an area of strength for Queen, but by no means the group's only one. Especially with 1997's Rocks compilation taken into account, a greatest-hits CD featuring an 11-song smattering of the band's most well-known rock hits seems redundant, but the bonus tracks included at the end of the disc are very telling. Two live tracks of Queen and Paul Rodgers playing "All Right Now" and "Feel Like Makin' Love" -- hits the frontman made popular with '70s rock outfits Free and Bad Company -- serve as reminders of why this disc was released in the first place. Rodgers' raspy take on arena rock singing makes for an altogether heavy sound when he and Queen collaborate, one that isn't very well suited to the band's lighter material. Thusly, assuming that the selections on Stone Cold Classics were made in order to draw in new listeners to the original Queen recordings, then these tracks may well be the best possible choices. For potential fans whose first Queen experience has been with the new lineup -- and very likely during their appearance on American Idol -- this mix will create an easy transition from the new to the old.

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