City: London, UK
Venue: Hammersmith Odeon
Date: December 24, 1975

Setlist:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Big Spender, Jailhouse Rock, Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, God Save The Queen


       

This one-off show was a radio and TV simulcast, as the band's popularity was soaring in the UK at this time. It originally aired live simultaneously on TV (BBC2's Old Grey Whistle Test) and the radio (Radio One). Due to public demand the show was later repeated on Radio 1 on February 28, 1976, and the video was retransmitted on BBC2 on December 28, 1976. It is definitely the most bootlegged Queen concert, as it has since been broadcast countless times on the radio worldwide and shown many times on TV, and so for decades it has kept the bootleggers busy.

The band had to cut down the length of their set for TV. Instead of playing Bohemian Rhapsody twice, they open with Now I'm Here to maximize the number of songs they're able to play. They knew the song worked as an opening number, as they had used it on the Sheer Heart Attack tour.

There are moments when the band sound nervous, as they're playing their largest audience to date, including tens of thousands of people watching on TV. Brian's vocal harmonies are iffy at times, especially in Now I'm Here. Freddie hits couple of bad notes on the piano in White Queen when he first enters, and then hits a couple wrong chords at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody. Roger's snare drum seems to have some problems tonight. It may seem as if he forgot to turn it on when White Queen's guitar solo starts, but it seems to actually turn itself off towards the end of the song! The snare is off again at the beginning of the first chorus of Liar.

All these things aside, it's still a great performance and the recordings are a fantastic document of Queen at an important point in their career - not even considering the fact that both Freddie and Brian were very ill that day. Despite this, Brian has a superb night on his guitar, turning in fantastic renditions of White Queen and Brighton Rock, particularly. He plays a bit of Three Blind Mice during his solo spot, something which he'd often do during this period.

During Roger's drum intro to Liar, Freddie says, "Sock it to 'em Rog." It is a superb version of the song overall, although near the end, Roger misses his big flam to cue everyone into the coda. They recover well, although Freddie, clearly startled to some extent by Roger's mistake, sings "Everything you do is sin" for the first and second lines, instead of starting with "They never ever let you win" as usual.

After the first encore of Big Spender and the Jailhouse Rock medley, the TV and radio broadcast end and the band return for a second encore. Brian May announces, "This is where we start, I think. We're on our own now, ok?" He is referring to the fact that the film crew have packed up their gear and left by this point in the evening. Freddie then introduces Seven Seas Of Rhye as "a number we forgot to do in the set."

It's clear in this version of Seven Seas Of Rhye that Freddie's voice has not quite developed itself yet. He doesn't hit most of the high notes with clarity or precision as he would in later years. Also, his delivery of See What A Fool I've Been, while solid, would be built upon. By 1977, he is much more confident as a performer and uses his voice to greater lengths in this song.

Brian May would later recall the show. "Freddie and I, though me particularly, had dreadful flu and could hardly walk, let alone play so it wasn't one of our greatest performances. But it was still all very exciting. It was the adrenaline that kept us going."

Brian and Freddie's parents met for the first time at this show. It turns out they had lived close to one another for over sixteen years, yet somehow had never actually encountered one another.

This show greatly increased the band's popularity. Soon all four of their records would be in the UK top 20, a great feat.



As revealed by the original live video broadcast on the Old Grey Whistle Test, most of the speeches between songs mentioning the fact that it was Christmas were later edited out of most audio and video rebroadcasts of the show. After Ogre Battle, Freddie says: "Right now Queen would like to drink a special Christmas toast to everybody here, all the viewers. So cheers!" Before Liar, he says, "And now a special Christmas edition of a little number called Liar." Roger, before he jumps into Big Spender, says, "Alright, Merry Christmas. Thanks for a fab year. We're gonna do some rock and roll." There is one exception, however - Freddie saying "Thank you, Merry Christmas everybody" at the end of In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited is fully audible on the video rebroadcasts, although it was muted on the recordings for later radio broadcasts.

This video is the best document of Freddie's strip act during Big Spender. The kimono, worth about $500, was given to him by a Japanese fan earlier in the year. All known videos are missing Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, and God Save The Queen. It has been long said that the BBC filming crew were packing up their equipment during the encore. In June 2009, Brian May called out to the masses for amateur footage of these final songs, in hopes that it could be used for a pending DVD release.

This is an excerpt from the "Sounds" newspaper from 1-31-76 (transcribed by someone with pretty poor grammar, which I tried to correct where I could):

"Both Fred and Brian felt the show was fantastic while they were doing it but were horrified when they saw a videotape immediately afterwards. "It's not up to you anymore. It's up to the cameras, the lighting people. You can't help getting Mycroft images (those coloured lines that dominated the screen half the time) when the cameras got that close to me. I knew that was going to happen. It's also very hard to decide what audience to cater for. The people in front of you have paid money to see you but at the same time you're doing a prestigious concert and you have to try to make sure you come across on TV." Both Fred and Brian felt they failed in that respect. But then, the show did come in the middle of business meetings delayed by their recent tour and preparations for four months in America, the far east and Australia. They had two days to "perfect the repertoire: what do you choose and what do you leave out? Also we were used to pacing ourselves for an hour and a half. I wouldn't want to do live TV again. Film is much better because you have control over it."

Both predictions would essentially turn out to be true. They would never perform specifically for TV again (except for the two songs on Saturday Night Live in 1982), they would only shoot three concerts on film (the two nights in Montreal '81 and the Budapest '86 show - although they wouldn't have control of the Montreal footage for about 25 years, and much of the Budapest footage would be lost).

An edited version was broadcast on BBC2 in November 2009 (Ogre Battle, White Queen, and Son And Daughter were excised). Fortunately, the many Christmas references were not edited out, and for the first time the almost complete Jailhouse Rock medley was heard in high quality (it was slightly edited). The miscue near the end of Liar was orrected, and a few slight vocal overdubs were made. The press release stated:

"The fruit of more than four years detective work to find missing video footage and even the original multi-track audio tapes which were thought to have been wiped, this new 50 minute version of the show features a fantastic new sound mix produced by Queen engineers Justin Shirley-Smith, Kris Fredriksson, and Joshua J Macrae."

White Queen and Now I'm Here from this show were released as bonus tracks on the 2011 releases of Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack respectively, and the videos of Ogre Battle and Son And Daughter were made available on iTunes. They were all the same sound mix that was heard on the 2009 BBC broadcast (except for White Queen, which was omitted from the broadcast).


Recording length: 1 LP, incomplete
Quality: A
Source: Radio
Lineage: "Command Performance" LP

         
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, God Save The Queen


This 1976 bootleg sourced from 1976 re-broadcast was the first release of this now famous concert, the second Queen bootleg to be released in the US (the first being Sheetkeeckers). The bootleg would be re-released several times through 1982, always containing the same source material.

White Queen, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Big Spender, and Jailhouse Rock are missing. Now I'm Here is misspelled as "Now I'm Sure," and on some versions it's actually edited (about a minute is missing, with the second chorus seamlessly cutting into the third).


Recording length: 63 minutes (1 CD, incomplete)
Quality: A+ / A
Source: Radio
Lineage: "White Queen Night" (Gypsy Eye) silver

     
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Big Spender, Jailhouse Rock [cut], Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, God Save The Queen


This is the common mix, as heard on any of the countless radio broadcasts. Many bits between songs are edited out.

Big Spender and Jailhouse Rock are the edited version from the 1989 official VHS release "Rare Live".


Recording length: 46 minutes (1 CD, incomplete)
Quality: A+
Source: Multi-track
Lineage: Westwood One CD > Apple G4 > Bias Peak (removed commercials, etc.) > FLAC level 8
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited


This is from a pre-FM CD, intended for broadcast on April 12/13, 2002 on the Westwood One radio network. It is missing Bring Back That Leroy Brown and everything after In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited. The quality is outstanding, and surely better than any radio broadcast of this particular mix, the common mix.


Recording length: 54 minutes (1 CD, incomplete)
Quality: A+
Source: Radio
Lineage: Swedish FM radio 'P3 Live' 4-29-05 > CDR (0) > WAV > FLAC Level 8
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye


A Swedish radio station broadcast a completely different mix of the famous Hammersmith concert in 2005 - its only airing. The drums sound much more full (especially the snare), although the backing vocals are slightly buried. Big Spender and Jailhouse Rock are once again omitted, presumably for copyright reasons.


Recording length: 59 minutes (1 CD, incomplete)
Quality: A+
Source: Radio
Lineage: Tracks 1-14: Swedish FM radio 'P3 Live' 4-29-05 > CDR (0) > WAV > FLAC Level 8
Tracks 15-16: BBC FM rebroadcast > Cassette (0) > FLAC level 8

 
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, God Save The Queen


"There Ain't No Sanity Clause" is a CDR bootleg release. It contains the 2005 Swedish radio broadcast, with the last two tracks being patched in from a great copy of a radio broadcast of the original mix.

The title of this bootleg comes from the Marx Brothers' movie called A Night At The Opera, which Queen named their album after.


Recording length: 59 minutes (1 DVD, complete)
Video/Audio quality: A / A
Source: Video
Lineage: "Christmas Eve At Hammersmith" (Room 101) silver

Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Big Spender, Jailhouse Rock


Although incomplete, the video quality on this DVD is outstanding. The audio is great as well, although mono - a completely different mix from the two radio mixes mentioned above.


Recording length: 1 CD, incomplete
Quality: ?
Source: Radio
Lineage: "A Very Special Christmas" (Godfather) silver

     
Track listing:
Now I'm Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I've Been, God Save The Queen


This 2005 bootleg is a straight knock-off of "White Queen Night" by Gypsy Eye, with a few tracks from the Tokyo 4-19-75 LP tagged onto the end.

A second version was released in 2007, including a DVD.



                                                                                                                                   

Here are a plethora of bootlegs of this show, all from various radio and TV broadcasts from over the years ("Halfpence" is from a 1983 broadcast, for example). It's worth noting that the "X-mas 1975" (Stoned) version was likely the first Queen bootleg CD ever pressed. Thanks for Andreas Voigts for the majority of the scans.

The "We Will Rock You" and "You're My Best Friend" bootlegs from 1992 are actually mostly comprised of tracks from the Live Killers album.

Here's a link to the always-reliable GS review of the Godfather Records release: http://www.collectorsmusicreviews.com




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