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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK

Queen album brings rock to Iran


Bootleg albums made Queen one of Iran's most popular bands

Rock band Queen, fronted by gay icon Freddie Mercury, has become the first rock act to receive an official seal of approval in Iran.

Western music is strictly censored in the Islamic republic, where homosexuality is considered a crime.

But an album of Queen's greatest hits was released in Iran on Monday.

Mercury, who died in 1991, was proud of his Iranian ancestry, and illegal bootleg albums and singles made Queen one of the most popular bands in Iran.

Lyrics explained

The album contains hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, The Miracle and I Want to Break Free, but reportedly omits a number of Queen's love songs.

The cassette, costing less than $1 (55 pence), comes complete with translated lyrics and an explanatory leaflet.

It tells Queen fans that Bohemian Rhapsody is about a young man who has accidentally killed someone and, like Faust, sold his soul to the devil.

On the night before his execution he calls God in Arabic, "Bismillah", and so regains his soul from Satan.

Queen's gay frontman Freddie Mercury had Iranian ancestors

Akbar Safari, a salesman at a Tehran book and record store, said the album was already selling very well.

"It is the first rock album to hit the market legally and people are surprised and pleased to see it has the lyrics, not just the music," he said.

Other western acts to have had albums of selected songs released on the official Iranian market include Elton John, Julio Iglesias and The Gypsy Kings.

Books containing original and translated lyrics by many western singers have also been published in Iran, in response to the demands of a nation where 70% of the population is aged under 30.

The books contain lyrics by artists such as Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion and controversial rapper Eminem.





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