Hello my friends. This is a rather unusual day for me to be blogging but listening to Queen a few days ago gave me the creative spark for this entry. I am going to tell you why Queen rocks my world.
To give you some background on how I became the fan I am of the band, in 1977 or 78 when I was a really little guy, my youngest sister Jackie had the News Of The World album on vinal record. She had put the first 5 songs of side 1 on tape and I remember hearing We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions and liking the songs but I had no idea what they would make me think of later in life.
This is going to sound really strange to everybody reading this but when I hear the harmonies leading up to the chorus of We Are The Champions I think of playing with plato back when I was going to either nursery school or kindergarten. I don’t understand why I think of playing with goo, compared to what the song is really meant to be but there it is. I don’t remember hearing the song Sheer Heart Attack back then but I do remember hearing We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions as well as: All Dead, All Dead, Spread Your Wings and Get Down Make Love. This was when I was 4 or 5 years old and I think I turned out sortof okay.
Fast-forwarding to 1991, my best friend and room mate at school Bob Reid had managed to get me into Queen by playing songs from Sheer Heart Attack such as: Tenement Funster, Flick Of The Rist and Lilly Of The Vally. He had it on vinal and put it on tae for himself when he went to school each week and actually thought it was one song. So did I, until my Mom read out the track listing to me when I had bought the cassette first and then the CD a month or 2 later. Bob and myself both had Queen’s Greatest Hits on tape as it was released by Electra records in North America in 1981. His version was different from mine in that it had the Dolby noise reduction on it which made certain parts of songs hard to hear. Plus, it blotted out certain words like the word hard in the line “I work hard every day of my life” in the song Somebody To Love. My version also had the full length version of Keep Yourself Alive on it, while his had the single version with the early faid out.
I began to pester my Mom to buy me all the CD’s as they had come out on Hollywood Records in 1991 and for some reason, she obliged and she took me with her sometimes to buy some of them. Others, she would go out and get them for me. These days I would go out and buy them myself on CD or on iTunes. I just downloaded all the studio albums and I have some comments to make about the editing of some of the tracks that are not correctly edited and mastered on the Hollywood 1991 CD rereleases, compared to the originals and the 2011 deluxe rereleases.
On News Of The World the track It’s Late is missing some guitar at the beginning of the song on the 1991 rerelease and it was restored on the Queen Rocks compilation in 1997. It thankfully is heard on the 2011 deluxe rerelease, like all the other screw ups I will mention here.
Good Old Fashion Loverboy from A Day At The Races has a slight edit during the words “just for you.” This is when Freddie sings the line “be my Valentino just for you.” This was also restored on later rereleases of Greatest Hits compilations and on the 2011 deluxe version.
On In The Lap Of The Gods from Sheer Heart Attack there is a bar missing in the vocal section on the 1991 rerelease. This just before the first time we hear the phrase “leave it in the lap of the gods” being sung in harmony. Thankfully it was also fixed in the 2011 deluxe version.
On Crazy Little Thing Called Love there is a little edit on the 1991 rerelease, which sounds like the tape has been stopped on the second d major chord in the main riff. You have to really listen for it to hear it. Thankfully that was fixed in the remastering on future compilations and on the 2011 deluxe rerelease of The Game.
On the track I Want It All from The Miracle there is a different version from the single or the original EMI 1989 version on the 1991 rerelease. The chorus is sung only once before the second verse, without the harmonized second chorus. There is a different sound to the drums when the song goes into the final 2 choruses after the guitar solo and Freddie sings the second bridge again with a slightly different melody. On the 1991 rerelease the drums sound more dense and after “I want it all” is sung Freddie sings “yeaheeeeeyeah heah” as you hear on the single, when the song starts cold, meaning with only vocals. On the single and the 1989 and thankfully the 2011 deluxe version the original 1989 EMI version is restored.
As for everything else, it’s all good and even the track assignments are better on the deluxe versions. For example: the track Stone Cold Crazy starts with the kick drum and guitar feedback right away on the 2011 deluxe version, while there is a slight length in the song on the Hollywood 1991 rerelease, which has the reverb from the snare drum from In The Lap Of The Gods. You have to really listen for it but it is there.
Another thing that deserves comment are some of the remixes that ended up on the Hollywood 1991 versions and the bonus material on the 2011 deluxe versions. I wasn’t impressed with some of the contemporary remixes of some of the songs like: Dragon Attack, Seven Seas Of Rhye, and Flash. Well, I take back what I said about the remix of Seven Seas Of Rhye somewhat because the samples from Queen are kinda cool. However I was not willing to try and turn on kids I went to school with, who only listened to bands like: Poison, Cindarella, Warrant, Extreme and Metallica with tapes that had a rock album on them but also have a hip hop type of track at the end. I made a big mistake once when I made a tape with the Hollywood Bonus Remix of We Will Rock you as the first track and I was mocked for it by my peers. Despite this it didn’t stop me from listening to Queen.
I liked all of the bands I listed above too but not to the same degree they did and that’s why I gravitated to a band like Queen. They could rock with the best of them all though they could also write some rather unrock and roll stuff too. Plus they also did some techno stuff like: Radio GaGa and Invisible Man. However I liked and always will come home to the hard rock material they have recorded because I am a guitar player and I like the sound and the energy.
We even played a Queen song in my high school lab ensemble. We did Dragon Attack during our June 1992 concert and I of course, sang lead vocal on it. I pushed hard to get that song in our repertoire that year and well, I got my way. As for singing the song I think I did the song justice and I sure hope that Freddie would be proud. During the Christmas noon hour concert my friend Bob Reid and myself did Thank God It’s Christmas and I learned it in about a day or two, after my Mom had brought home a 3 CD boxed set with the 2 North American Greatest Hits packages that came out that year and a bonus CD with an interview with all 4 members of Queen and the song itself at the end of the disk. Bob played keyboard and I sang lead vocal and played guitar on the song and it wasn’t a bad rendition of the song.
In 1995, when Made In Heaven came out I went out and got it with the help of a good friend and I immediately stuck it in the CD player and gave it a spin. I listened intently to Freddie’s voice on each song so I could figure out when his vocals were recorded. If you listen very carefully you can tell what period of time a song came from that he layed down a vocal.
For example: It
s A Beautiful Day was recorded in 1980 and I knew that his voice was a bit younger on that track but I wasn’t quite sure how old it was. This is when I began to learn more about it on Wikipedia and on the 2011 Deluxe Version of The Game. The idea from which that song was hatched was included as a bonus track and it was just Freddie and a piano.
Another surprise for me was finding out that the track Mother Love was the last song Freddie sang before he died. As his illness progressed his voice was still strong but it became thinner and thinner. This song however, sounded like it was recorded in 1989 or some time before then. It was only when he goes up high that it is apparent that it was very close to the end of his life that he layed down the vocal for that track.
Fast forward to 2014, I still love Queen but my tastes have become harder and I listen to other metal bands like: Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Pantera, Korn, Stone Sour, Sepultura, Soul Fly, Five Finger Death Punch, Metallica, Trivium and many others. While all the bands I mentioned here may not all be directly influenced by Queen they have some of their DNA. Most of them have written songs with guitar harmonies as a part of the beginning of the song or a guitar solo. In some cases they are used as a part of a song going into a transition in place of strings.
Others have name checked the band as a main influence, yet they sound nothing like them. For example: Jonathan Davis the singer for the band Korn stated that Freddie Mercury is one of his big influences as a vocalist. It makes sense because he does tend to sing in falsetto some times and he does have a range to his voice. He can pull off harmony vocals on the albums and do his trademark screams and growls as well as singing.
Even The Smashing Pumpkins have been influenced by Queen in that Billy Corgan has been known to multitrack his guitar parts. On one song in particular: through The Eyes Of Ruby from the Melancholy And The Infinite Sadness album. There are about 65 guitar tracks which include harmony guitars like what Brian May does with Queen. Also, Trent Resnor from Nine Inch Nails has said that Queen are an influence on him. He even used a sample of Body Language at the end of a remix of one of his songs and covered Get Down Make Love as a b side of the single Sin from the Nine Inch Nails debut album Pretty Hate Machine.
How many bands have been an influence in varying degrees on as many bands as The Beattles and The Rolling Stones? I can’t think of any. Even Metallica has mainly influenced bands from the heavy metal genre. If there were know Queen we wouldn’t have either: Lady GaGa or Katy Perry. Even Fu Fighters had a chance to play with Queen a few times. Brian May has even helped out on some songs. He even played with grunge band Soundgarden on a version of a song called New Damage which was released on a compilation in 1993 called Alternative NRG. You can find the song on Youtube if you like and it isn’t bad.
To close this entry in the blog: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon have made a real impact on many genres, media and our lives in the last 41 years. Since Queens first album in 1973 hard rock has never been the same, with the crunch added to the guitars for affect and the musicianship of all of them put together has made Queen one of the few acts to help define more than one genre of music. This is also thanks to innovation on the part of the band and the people who have helped produce their albums. If we didn’t have Queen would we have the big drum sound that was prevalent in the 1980s? Would any other band besides Kiss use concussive pyrotechnics during their live show? Lest we forget that Freddie liked to involve the audience in the show by call and response and by entertaining and not just playing for them.
Anyway, that is me gushing about how much I love the rock band Queen. I am very excited to hear what Brian May and Roger Taylor have done for the new album entitled Queen Forever. If it is anything like Made In Heaven it should be good; even if it isn’t like the early stuff.