The Crown Jewels

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By reading the advertisement for the eight-CD Queen box set The Crown Jewels, you get the feeling that it will be a flawlessly assembled package. It boasts that it includes "meticulously remastered" versions of the band's first eight studio albums (from 1973-1980) and includes a booklet with rare photographs and essays by "noted rock historians." Unfortunately, The Crown Jewels is ultimately a big letdown. For starters, Queen's entire catalog was already remastered and re-released in the early '90s with bonus tracks and remixes included on each disc, so many of Queen's fans will already own the separate CDs. It is incomprehensible that, with a list price of over 100 dollars, the CDs included in The Crown Jewels do not include any of these bonus tracks or remixes. And while fans will be impressed that each of the CD jewel cases have been made to look like replicas of the original records (with cardboard embossed covers), not to mention the set's blue velvet carrying case, the sound of the CDs is not remarkably different from the early-'90s single reissues. And as far as the booklet with "rare photographs and essays by rock historians," all it contains is a single essay by MTV VJ Matt Pinfield (since when is he a "rock historian"?!) and absolutely no rare pictures -- just images from the original record inserts. Although there's no debating that the actual music included in The Crown Jewels is some of the finest rock music ever recorded (90 songs are included in all, such as "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Another One Bites the Dust," etc.), the set should have been a lot better. Stick with the Hollywood single CDs; for a few extra dollars, you'll be getting the rarities and remixes not included here.

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