A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

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A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Good Apothecary Man » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:54 pm

I wrote this for Amazon, having bought the book last Friday. I am interested in whether fellow Queen fans agree with me - particularly about the possible factual errors I mention near the end.

Brian May is an extraordinary individual. Best known as one of the members of the legendary group Queen and widely acknowledged to be one of the most innovative guitarists in the history of rock music, he is also an accomplished astrophysicist with a PhD in interplanetary dust and a tireless campaigner on behalf of the cause of animal welfare. May is also an aficionado of Victorian photography, his interest in which is closed linked to a lifelong passion for the world of 3-D photographs – stereoscopy.

The result is this magnificent book: lavishly packaged, beautifully presented and full of hundreds of previously unseen photographs – many but not all in 3-D – spanning the entirety of Queen’s career up to the final tour with Freddie Mercury in 1986 and beyond to Brian and Roger’s collaborations with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert. The extraordinary influence on Brian of his parents – particularly his father, Harold, with whom he famously built his ‘Red Special’ guitar – is also evident through the inclusion of intimate family photographs, including Brian’s first efforts to take 3-D photographs in the back garden as a child and pictures of proud mum and dad visiting Brian on tour in the USA in 1977.

For the reader interested in learning the basics of stereoscopy, there is a full but accessible explanation at the beginning of the book of the principles and techniques of 3-D photography and, throughout, references to the different makes and models of camera used to take various photographs. The real joy of the book, however, is to be found in the photographs themselves – many taken spontaneously – capturing the band and its entourage on and off stage, at work and at play. For the Queen obsessive (like me), there is treasure to be found on every page.

Despite the limitations of camera technology, every phase of the band’s career is well represented, thanks in part to May’s (increasing) willingness to lend his camera(s) to others to capture pictures of the band, particularly on stage. The result is that ‘the early years’ are documented visually as never before – from shots of the band in rehearsal above a long-forgotten pub before the release of the first album to moments of relaxation during the recording of A Night At The Opera. Their tours of Japan are particularly well represented – perhaps because new technology was available to buy over there long before it hit western shops.

Though the older photographs inevitably lack a certain sharpness, the graininess actually serves to enhance their authenticity, irresistibly drawing the viewer into the scene. This book demonstrates that, at its most effective, 3-D photography offers a far more intimate and ‘realistic’ representation of a moment than conventional ‘flat’ photographs. Consider, for example, the feelings of claustrophobia induced in the viewer by the back-of-the-limousine photograph of the band on page 36 and the image of Freddie, Mary and John huddled in an aeroplane crossing the American continent on page 103. The viewer can almost feel the heat generated by the ‘pizza oven’ lighting rig (page 135) or reach out to touch the various drums and cymbals that surround Roger on stage (page 151, for example).

There is a substantial accompanying text (and captions), placing the individual photographs in their historical and geographical context. More than that, the text reads almost as a mini-history of the band, sketchy in places but nevertheless packed with insights and anecdotes, many previously unheard – at least by this reader. As May says in his introduction, the text is entirely his own, unmediated by a co-author or ghost writer. His ‘voice’ is instantly recognisable to visitors to ‘Brian’s Soapbox’ on his website and, for the most part, this works absolutely fine. Only occasionally do detours up and down the byways and ‘B’ roads of May’s many passions threaten to distract us on this wonderfully nostalgic journey – recurring references to animal rights, in particular. Less agreeable are references to up-to-the-minute (2017) political issues – particularly Trump and Brexit – the inclusion of which will inevitably ‘date’ those segments of the text.

Having paid £50 for the book, inevitably I find that the few errors and typos grate – not least, the thank-you dedication to Roger on page 4 (“benificence” – unless that’s an in-joke). There are also references to “Jeff Lynn” and “Max von Sidow”. The involvement of Queen archivist Greg Brooks ensures that the factual history is extremely accurate, though the caption on page 134 that the robot face on Roger’s bass drum was never used in Europe is simply wrong, as many photographs can attest. This reader did feel that the picture of the stage set-up at Madison Square Garden on page 167 was somewhat misleading. Its appearance beneath a chapter-heading stating ‘1980’ with a caption urging the reader to compare it with a picture taken in February 1977 implies a three-year gap between the two photographs, when in fact the page 167 picture is clearly from the News Of The World tour in November 1977 (the magnificent ‘Crown’ lighting rig is clearly visible) – a gap of only a few months. One puzzle is May’s reference to Led Zeppelin’s dramatic lighting effects on stage; he refers to witnessing a powerful performance of Kashmir in Wisconsin. Kashmir appeared on the Physical Graffiti album, released in 1975, but May dates the performance to “just before we were a proper touring entity”. Either his memory is faulty on this point or he is suggesting that Queen only really ‘got their act together’ with the live show from the A Night At The Opera tour later in 1975.

Nonetheless, these minor quibbles – hopefully, corrected or clarified in a future edition – pale into insignificance when set against the many, many delights to be found in this five-star book.
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby deakysghost » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:02 am

Thanks for the detailed review.

I finished reading / viewing the book at the weekend, I got the Fan Club signed edition.

I couldn't help but feel that more is missing than is in the book but maybe that is down to Brian's memory?! The text constantly veering off course to talk about animals and politics was irritating, maybe that content should be kept on his 'soapbox' online. The pictures are in some cases grainy but are of their time. As a middle aged man I really didn't want or need to see RMT semi naked in stereo!

All in all an interesting book but it really needs a good co-author to keep Dr Brian on track and to avoid alienating the reader with his opinions. Like the other Brian May 3D books it's a one time novelty read then onto the shelf.

I rate at 5/10 overall
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Good Apothecary Man » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:56 pm

Absent-mindedly trawling through YouTube last night, I was reminded of another 'error' I had noticed. Discussing Queen sharing (with Procul Harum) the prize for best single of the last 25 years at the Britannia Awards in 1977, Brian writes on page 110: "The event was transmitted live, but only on the radio, so you're unlikely to see any footage of this on YouTube."

I doubted this, having vague childhood memories of being absolutely gutted at having missed 'seeing' Queen because I was out for the evening at some event or other. Younger readers should bear in mind that this was several years before home video so, if you missed something on television, well...tough! Wikipedia (not, of course, absolutely guaranteed to be 100% accurate) confirms that the event was broadcast on ITV.

There are a few seconds of footage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcE68k4Onmw starting at 18:48. Whether anything more substantial survives, I don't know.
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Jimi » Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:29 am

it is interesting (and galling) that these 'errors' or ommissions are prevalent.
Its really odd. I mean that piece of footage is pretty famous in Queen circles.I 'think' I had it on the Magic Years VHS from back in the day.
Begs the question who proof reads this stuff?
no one is my guess
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Good Apothecary Man » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:34 pm

Fair comment, Jimi. I am full of admiration for the time, effort and money that has obviously gone into restoring live material from way back when - especially the Live at the Rainbow stuff - and I look forward to future releases. But, I absolutely agree: when it comes to the packaging of official Queen product, quality control too often seems to be lacking.

Ironically, I have a vague recollection of reading many years ago (maybe in the George Tremlett book from '76) that the band insisted, very close to the deadline, that the printing of the Queen II sleeve be pulled because of some error or other. To me, that anecdote spoke volumes about the production values of the band. Compare that story with those dreadful 'DoRo' products from the '80s and '90s, which were littered with errors as well as being awful in themselves. I have just been randomly glancing through the sleeve notes of The Platinum Collection. It's as if the writer has never heard of apostrophes and other errors don't take much finding ('White queen', to cite just one example).
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby jjmillenium » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:12 am

I'm quite dissapointed with this book. The photos are ok, but the text.... he don't tell anything new that we don't know. It seems that the text was write on 2 nights. Is not a bad book, but.... 60 euros??
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby musicalprostitute » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:48 pm

deakysghost wrote: The text constantly veering off course to talk about animals and politics was irritating, maybe that content should be kept on his 'soapbox' online.


I adore Brian and respect the fact that he has such true, strong convictions; but a Queen book such as this is simply not the place for his personal views (unless related to the band obviously).

One of the reasons I loved Queen growing up was because they gave me escapism from the same old shit: I could immerse myself in their albums or videos, etc. without having to hear about politics, personal views, blah, blah, blah...there is a time and place for such thoughts and - Brian - as lovely a soul as you are - please keep these sort of things away from Queen releases and (as the poster rightly states above) leave them to your soapbox (badgers et al).
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Guru » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:49 pm

I didn't really fancy paying £50 for this, but when Amazon dropped it to £35 over the weekend, I went for it (knowing that it might yet go lower and end up in my local branch of The Works).

It arrived this morning and I read it this evening.

While it was nice to see previously unseen photos, many were unseen for a reason! The quality of many pics is really quite poor, although the gems make it worthwhile.

The text, however, is shocking. I'm no writer, but by about page 20, it was clear that an editor was required. All those tangents and asides should have been either moved to footnotes or, in most cases, removed. Explaining pre-decimal currency twice was at least once too many... The stories themselves - again, interesting, but there's a nagging feeling that much more is NOT being said (or, ironically, has been edited out) - what went wrong with John Reid? What was regrettable about the way John Harris left? There at least half a dozen points that end "but that's another story" - and every time I experienced a pang of frustration that those other stories are unlikely to be told.

The cover is utterly shocking, of course.

Finally, I have additional information for the second edition (HAAAAA!) - the football match they went to in Japan was probably the Intercontinental cup between the European Cup holders and the Copa America winners, held in Tokyo every December from 1980. I couldn't tell whether it was 1981 (Liverpool) or 1982 (Aston Villa) from the photo, mainly due to the lack of actual footballers in the photo!
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Guru » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:51 pm

Jimi wrote:it is interesting (and galling) that these 'errors' or ommissions are prevalent.
Its really odd. I mean that piece of footage is pretty famous in Queen circles.I 'think' I had it on the Magic Years VHS from back in the day.
Begs the question who proof reads this stuff?
no one is my guess


It could have been filmed to tape for subsequent non-live broadcast, but the only live transmission was radio. So, no error in that case - I'm not defending Jeff Lynne & Max von Sydow by any means!
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby AlexKx » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:51 pm

Guru the cover is shocking in what way?!
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby Good Apothecary Man » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:34 pm

Guru wrote:Finally, I have additional information for the second edition (HAAAAA!) - the football match they went to in Japan was probably the Intercontinental cup between the European Cup holders and the Copa America winners, held in Tokyo every December from 1980. I couldn't tell whether it was 1981 (Liverpool) or 1982 (Aston Villa) from the photo, mainly due to the lack of actual footballers in the photo!


I have a vague memory that it was actually Nottingham Forest and a quick Wikipedia check confirms that they won the European Cup in 1980.
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby TheHero » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:22 pm

phpBB [video]
Release Date News Of The World 40th Anniversary Edition: 17 November 2017
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby TheHero » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:33 pm

phpBB [video]



phpBB [video]



phpBB [video]





Brian would fit right into the Back To The Future trilogy here.. :lol:
Last edited by TheHero on Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Release Date News Of The World 40th Anniversary Edition: 17 November 2017
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby TheHero » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:05 pm

phpBB [video]


phpBB [video]


In the video above (part 5) Brian mentions that Freddie played the Fender Telecaster on Crazy Little Thing Called Love, not only live; but Freddie also played the guitar on the record!
- I didn't know that. :shock:

Then he says the last time he saw that guitar, was in one of their store rooms in London, and it got stolen.
Too many people had keys to their store rooms. :shock:
Release Date News Of The World 40th Anniversary Edition: 17 November 2017
 
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Re: A review of 'Queen in 3-D'

Postby TheHero » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:42 pm

phpBB [video]
Release Date News Of The World 40th Anniversary Edition: 17 November 2017
 
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