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Get Lit: Queen - The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock by Phil Sutcliffe

Coffee-table books on rock bands usually fall into one of two categories; either they're chock-full of great visuals with very little textual information, or the book looks like the U.S. tax code with a few snapshots thrown in. Thankfully, music journo Sutcliffe got it right both ways with this work, a must-have under the tree for any Queen fans on your list. Though utilizing mostly previously published interviews, Sutcliffe offers a detailed and comprehensive history of the band from their early days (when three-fourths of the classic lineup was known as Smile) up to their appearance during last season's American Idol finale. In addition, rock scribes and stars alike chime in on the band's albums, music, and impact. Not surprisingly, the late flamboyant and mercurial Freddie Mercury leaps off the pages both in stories and photos, a born performer if there ever was one (though in one magazine questionnaire reproduced here, he lists "Liza Minelli" as his own favorite performer).

A complete tour itinerary shows that Her Majesty's Legions played Houston a total of four times in their career (2/26/77 at the Sam Houston Coliseum, and 12/11/77, 8/10/80, and 8/20/88 at the Summit).

The real treat of Queen, though lies in the 500+ photos of the band in action and memorabilia including vintage backstage passes, T-shirts, record sleeves from around the world, and posters. Ironically, many of the tour laminates - designed by Mercury himself - feature scantily clad or nude women, many of them (of course), fat bottomed girls.

Voyageur Press, 288 pp., $40.

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