(CBS News) Not only werebut they pioneered the music video as both an art form and a promotional vehicle. Long before the advent of MTV and CGI technology, the British rock band made some really daring and innovative clips, with their 1975 classic hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" being the prime example.
The best of Queen on video from the early '70s to the late '80s are now collected on this new 2-disc DVD set, "Greatest Video Hits" (Eagle Vision), which came out on Tuesday. Previously, those videos were available on DVD about ten years ago but as separate installments. And unlike those earlier DVDs, this new version of "Greatest Video Hits" does not have the featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage, and other bonus music videos ("Keep Yourself Alive," "Liar," "Back Chat" and others). Instead, the only "extra" featured on this new package is audio commentary by surviving members Brian May and Roger Taylor along with archival interviews with the late Freddie Mercury and bassist John Deacon. But even without those frills, this DVD set has over two hours' worth of greatest hits from a band that was truly meant for video.
To this current and younger generation, the clips, particularly from the '70s, may seem primitive by today's technological standards. But the band's energetic stage presence in front of the camera, not to mention the legendary music itself, more than compensates. Clearly the focal point of the clips is Mercury, who dazzles through his trademark stage movements, as captured in performances of "Tie Your Mother Down," "Killer Queen," and "Another One Bites the Dust."
The two standout clips from the first period of Queen's history are "Save Me" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." "Save Me," from the 1980 album "The Game," is striking as it combined live action and animation. And of course, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is still an amazing and memorable video--it's essentially a recreation of the cover from Queen's 1974 album "Queen II" with some then-special effects during the song's "opera" section.
On Disc Two is when Queen's videos in the '80s went beyond mainly performance clips, thanks to the direction by likes of David Mallet, Russell Mulcahy and Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher. Some of those conceptual and visual triumphs from this period include "The Miracle," in which kid actors posed as the band members; the futuristic-looking "Radio Ga Ga," which incorporated footage from the Fritz Lang film "Metropolis"; and "A Kind of Magic," which again blended live action with animation. Another notable video from the '80s is "I Want to Break Free," in which the band members dressed up in drag in what is a spoof of the British soap opera "Coronation Street." Again, Queen proved adept as dynamic performers in clips that featured them mainly on stage or in the studio, as is the case of "Hammer to Fall," "I Want It All" and "One Vision."
For a Queen fan who already has both Greatest Video Hits I and II, this new DVD set sans the bonus material is redundant, unless you want just the all the videos in one package, simple as that. For new people, however, who are just getting introduced to Queen, this collection is essential in understanding how Queen were important - along with Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Duran Duran --- to the birth of the music video revolution. And just like their music, Queen's videos showcase what this band has always been known for throughout their career: excitement.