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Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen
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Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Based on new interviews, the first behind-the-scenes narrative biography of one of the biggest and greatest rock bands of all time: Queen
ebook, 433 pages
Published June 26th 2014 by Da Capo Press (first published 2010)
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If you're a devoted fan of Queen but not a scarily obsessive read-every-article-scoured-every-detail fan, you'll love this, except for the ultra-irritating errata and lousy editing in the ebook version (I got the paper version cheap, but haven't yet read that, so whether it has the same issues or not I have yet to discover). It lost a star for the latter.

On the whole, it's not a bad read. Has a lot of the early stuff that most fans will have read about already, but it does go into detail about t
Jan 01, 2017 Ewa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a detailed and well-documented account, this one is a must. Having spent hours on end talking to all those close to the band and reading all available documents, the author creates a highly informative story of the greatest band ever (at least for me). It's a great read in the era of smartphones - you can always check the facts, consult uncle Google for a set list from a concert years ago, and play the songs to accompany any given chapter. The only thing I'd like to see mor ...more
Feb 12, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you followed Queen's career from the 1970's (and didn't like their move away from guitar rock!) can highly recommend this. Honest and complied from lots of interviews. The author has interviewd them all though the years.

Made me reach for a few Queen cds and a spent a long time on youtube with nice memories (Liverpool Empire 1977, Wembley Arena & Bingley hall Stafford 1978)...

Jul 24, 2011 Jacky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Would give zero if I could. Typos/editing issues, novice-like factual errors, and author with blatant contempt of the band...Story has been told more objectively and effectively by others. glad I didn't have to pay for this book.
Paul C
Aug 03, 2011 Paul C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why did I read a book about Queen? I do not know. But this book was about Queen.
East Bay J
May 04, 2013 East Bay J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-bios
Well... huh. I was really looking forward to reading Is This The Real Life? and enjoyed reading it but, sadly, it just falls short.

There have been a fair amount of Queen bios over the years, more so since the passing of vocalist, Freddie Mercury. The casual Queen fan or the simply curious will likely pick up loads of information from reading this book, but anyone who is a Queen fan, who has paid attention over the years, who has, perhaps, read a previous Queen bio, will end this book feeling lik
Is This The Real Life fails to live up to my expectations. Once again I fell victim to reading a Biography from someone not in the band and paid for it with sheer boredom. The thing about books like this, especially coming on the heels of a wide assortment of other like-minded Bio's about a group like Queen, is that once the well has been tapped, the latest author then has the task of coming up with "new" stuff to justify reading his book about a band that has be written about countless times.

Jan 05, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating stuff here! Mark Blake does an enviable job of combining his own personal interviews with previously published research, commentary, and quotes to form a seamless narrative of one of the world's greatest rock bands. While a die-hard Queen fan myself, I respect Blake's evenhanded coverage of all of Queen's highs and lows. While there were certainly ugly elements of Queen, and of Freddie, Blake managed to deal with them honestly while not glossing over or taking attention away from the ...more
Benjamin Richards
Oct 10, 2015 Benjamin Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patricio Guevara
I used to sneak downstairs, as a kid, and put Queen - Queen on the record player before my Mum and Dad woke up. I listened over and over again. The sound of Queen and Freddie Mercury has been a constant companion my whole life. I was also quite upset by Freddie Mercury's death in 1991.

The reason I only give Is This the Real Life 4 80% is due to what I felt was a cold, dispassionate second half of the book. The author seemed to run out of steam and skated over what could have been extremely engag
Richard Olney
Dec 19, 2015 Richard Olney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written nearly twenty years after the death of Freddie Mercury, this book is impressively detailed on the early years of the band and their members and the "before they were famous" phase of their career. It's also very good on what has happened to the band and brand since 24 November 1991.

As someone who listened to Queen almost exclusively in my teenage years, it's interesting for me to read their story written by someone who, i understand, doesn't like the band. I remember buying their albums,
Tom Mueller
Mark Blake's trip through the years is a fast paced bio of Queen and their individual members. Dozens of interviews with band members and those who knew them best brings this one to life. This read prompted me to revisit some of Queen's CDs with "new ears". My new outlook on the genius of Queen as a whole gave me greater appreciation of how intense and broad based their work is, especially when delving beyond the Band's "standards".
Queen can not be saddled with any one genre; B sides - and espec
Peter Jansens
I've always wanted to read a book about Queen, more out of interest and in search of the saucy anecdotes (nude dwarves with cocaine trays on their head!), than for being a fan. Of course, on digital, I've got the 'Opera' and 'Races' albums, and the greatest hits 3-cd-set, which made me conclude that Queen was not a spend force in their latter days. Innuendo, for instance, is a great great prog rock piece, their rhapsody of the nineties (incidentally, with Steve Howe on guitar).

I only could think
Dave Butler
Feb 12, 2015 Dave Butler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
being a huge queen fan - i saw the night at the opera tour and several after - and a big classic rock fan - i really enjoyed all the stories about queen and freddie mercury interacting with led zeppelin, jimi hendrix, the who, elton john, and genesis etc. It was startling to read about all the excess surrounding queen at the height of their popularity, how horrible and stupid many of the record company execs were (refusing to release bohemian rhapsody or demanding it be edited first), it was rea ...more
Wim Van
Could have been a lot better with the story on offer. It isn't particularly well-written and if it hadn't been about Queen I wouldn't probably have finished it. There are lots of mistakes in the text. At one point, it even got a Queen song title wrong. What bothers me more than anything, though, is the way John Deacon is often ignored. Sure, he was the quiet one. But too often, it goes: Freddie did this, Brian said that and Roger did something else. And John? Not mentioned. And if he is mentione ...more
May 25, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this more than I expected to as it moves right along so the tabloid-ish writing doesn't bog down too much. Less "salacious" than some others.
There were some good points made and newish interviews, not just the same old ones, though I did see many of the same old quotes.
Very Team Brian May, though I think May was a cooperative source, so . . .
I have read so many Queen books there is probably not much to choose between them. I am a lenient reader of this genre.
I would not consider this ac
Mar 07, 2011 pianogal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music, nyjob
This is a decent book. The writing at times is atrocious at times, but there is still something about it that will pull you in.

I had a trememdously hard time getting over the fact that the author chose to pluralize Queen. As in Queen were. Over and over. Technically, this could be argued as correct b/c Queen does consist of 4 guys - so...plural. But you could also substitute "The band" for "Queen" and that is singular - 1 band. The band was...Queen was...
I could deal with it, until pg. 254 when
Arnout Brokking
Verdict: 2 ludwigs

Elaborate look into the rock-band Queen and it members. Filled with facts, interviews and little known details. Personally, I got bogged down by those details.

Why should you read it?

Because it tells, as far as I can see, as complete a picture of Queen the band, and its members, as possible. Care to know where Brian May lived when he was 14? It'll tell you.

Why should you not read it?

If you don't care where Brian May lived when he was 14, or who was the sound engineer's best mate
Mar 27, 2015 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good book, perhaps not as good as The Brian May Story or As It Began by Jacky Gunn. As an early Queen fan it is not very surprising that I enjoyed the first 200 pages of the bands life. From A Day At The Races (1976) the albums came and went pretty quickly.

Found the book did rely on a lot of secondary resources & not too many (if any), first hand accounts. I wouldn't quote The Sun or The News of the World as valued resources.

25 Nov 1991 was an upsetting day & I feel this book
Jun 01, 2011 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story of hard-glam supergroup Queen benefits from talking to both guitar god and physics genius Dr. Brian May and Not-from-Duran-Duran drummer Roger Taylor. Reclusive bassist John Deacon doesn't talk to anyone, and the eternally fabulous Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991. This is tragic on many levels, for it would be fun to listen to his explanation for his outrageous diva-like behavior in the group's high years. I wish there was more detail about the group's collaboration with David Bo ...more
Deia Skitalica
This is certainly more comprehensive than Lesley Ann Jones' bio on Freddie, and - because Queen is the subject - it's a fantastic read, but I really only picked it up because I can't yet find Jackie Gunn's Queen: As It Began in ePub anywhere.
A feast of mistakes and a lack of flow throughout: thus, a professional editor would have been a great idea!

The many references to the band's origins, interviews, and performances had me spending countless hours on youtube - especially Official Queen Romani
Stacy Brown
This history of Queen is a very candid and informative read. I enjoyed learning the history of a group that was making music before I was born and was still relevant when I discovered music for myself. Unfortunately, there are so many details and the writing style is so matter of fact that, the book is a difficult read. I would have liked to know more of the personal stories that show you the personalities of the members.
Jan 25, 2015 Soph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I did enjoy this book, but the typos were incredibly annoying. It was really interesting to read about their experiences whilst in the band. But I did find it all a bit contradictory. "She said, he said". But still interesting none the less. I hope to find a better written biography of the band to enjoy.
Aug 06, 2011 Kent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Queen fans
Thorough review of the band as it grew from nothing to one of the world's most famous, but not as interesting as i thought it would be.

I saw FM & Queen play here in StLouis a few times, and they are one of my all-time favorite bands. Freddie Mercury is one of the very few celebrities that I miss a lot.

But i dont know him or them any better after reading this book.
David Melbie
Oct 05, 2011 David Melbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Music fans
Recommended to David by: Picked from library
Ever since my longtime friend, Jake Lampman, put the needle down on that first cut -- Keep Yourself Alive, I was a fan. Brian May impressed me a lot with that song and future cuts like The Prophet's Song and Headlong. As I am also a lover of harmony singing, Queen covered it all for fans of heavy guitar riffs and good singing. Long live Queen!
Courtney Streeter
Jul 01, 2015 Courtney Streeter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
#1 rule of my life - if Queen/Freddie Mercury is so much as mentioned (in a positive light, of course) by any form of media then that piece is automatically deemed perfect.

And HERE. Here we have a WHOLE BOOK dedicated to Queen & Freddie. What more could anyone want? A cure for HIV/AIDS back in 1991, most likely.
Jan 31, 2013 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a queen fan since I was a kid and really enjoyed reading this book.
But, now could the author get the date of Freddie's death wrong!?!
he writes that Freddie died on Nov. 25, 1991. He died on November 24!!! Who edited this book!?!
Tony Schirtzinger
A very enjoyable book. A different view of the band than I had from just listening to them and what I heard from other sources, but not so surprising as I would have thought. It's amazing they managed to make great music for so long.
Mar 17, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent and extremely in-depth read on the formation and tribulations of Queen. For me, the book best exemplified the disconnect between European and American audiences' love of the band. Great for fans.
May 14, 2012 gargravarr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a Queen fan since i was 6 years old, listening to A Night At The Opera. This book gives an insight into the way the members got into music, met and became, for a time, the biggest band on the planet.
Jessica Hall
Aug 27, 2013 Jessica Hall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As an avid Queen fan I feel saddened I have to rate this one star, but it was awful. One of the worst Queen related books I've ever read. Couldn't get in to it at all and felt like reading it was a chore. :(
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