Archive for Brian May

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Queen- The Works

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2017 by 80smetalman

Here is a perfect example of why I never buy or not buy an album on account of one song. When the first single from Queen’s album, “The Works,” came on the radio, my response was “What the hell?” I thought “Radio Ga Ga” was several steps down from what I had loved about Queen throughout my teenage years of the 1970s. The conclusion I was starting to draw was that they were departing from the harder rock music I enjoyed and were selling out to the synth pop of the 1980s. Fortunately, I didn’t let one bad song close my mind so I didn’t miss the rest of this cool album.

I have always had this sneaking feeling that Queen knew exactly what they were doing. “The Works” might open with the mentioned single which might alienate some of their hardcore fans, therefore, they followed up “Radio Ga Ga” with the hard rocking second track, “Tear It Up.” After the first ten seconds of rocking out to that song, you are completely thinking, “Radio Who?” Then if the hard rock of “Tear It Up” isn’t enough to grab you, Queen hit you with a very Queen sounding “It’s a Hard Life.” This song is Queen as they have always been as it follows the script of all the great classics. “Man on the Prowl” is a very likable rockabilly song in the vein of the famous, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” I love the little piano bit at the end. “Machines (Back to Humans) is a very progressive sounding tune. While there are elements of hard rock, there are some very quirky sounding keyboard sounds on the song, some of them sounding like a robot. Plus there is the famous harmonizing from the band. This is my favourite track on the album because Queen do hear what they have always done best. Incorporate several different musical genres into one song. On my first listen and the many subsequent listens after, by the time my favourite track was at its conclusion, I had totally forgotten “Radio Ga Ga” was even on the album.

Some may argue that “I Want to Break Free” is on the line of that first single. I have to slap down such fools. True, there is a little disco back beat to it but May’s guitar is definitely present, especially when he does that solo. Yes, some people might have discoed down to it but I just listen to it. Saying that, it’s not the best track on the album, there are so many better ones. The next one in fact, “Keep Passing the Open Windows.” This is on the lines of my favourite track, but not quite to the same level. “Keep Passing the Open Windows” is my third favourite track. There’s some good Queen elements on here as well. BTW, “Tear It Up” is my second favourite. “Hammer to Fall” is a good rock out and it follows on very nicely. I do like May’s guitar solo on it. “The Works” ends on a interesting note. It’s a ballad type song, “Is This the World We Created.” It’s almost an anti- climax to the album but the band makes it work and end the album on a good note.

Track Listing:

  1. Radio Ga Ga
  2. Tear It Up
  3. It’s a Hard Life
  4. Man on the Prowl
  5. Machines (Back to Humans)
  6. I Want to Break Free
  7. Keep Passing the Open Windows
  8. Hammer to Fall
  9. Is This the World We Created

Queen

Freddie Mercury- lead and backing vocals, piano

Brian May- guitar, backing vocals

John Deacon- bass, rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Roger Taylor- drums, keyboards, backing vocals

Thank God, I never let one song on an album influence my decision to purchase it. If that was the case, I would have completely missed out this great album from Queen.

Next post: Tony Carey- Some Tough City

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Another Thought on George Michael

Posted in Concerts, Death, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2017 by 80smetalman

When my last post went to Facebook, a good friend brought up something I had totally forgotten about. I realise now that I should have picked a better song for George Michael. Thing was that I don’t recall seeing his performance of the Queen classic, “Somebody to Love” at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in 1992. On advice, I watched it on Youtube and I have to give George full marks here. His performance of that song was superb. It might have had something to do with the fact that the other members of Queen were playing with him. Brian May still does that guitar solo. So, I would have to put that song on the album.

George at Wembley in 1992

George at Wembley in 1992

I would also add Jefferson Starship’s “Girl with the Hungry Eyes, ” David Bowie- “Suffragette City” and possibly “Blue Jean” as well.

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet Project

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

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Here’s another album that would have passed me by hadn’t been for MTV. The single from Queen guitarist Brian May’s album, (yes I know it’s really an EP) “Starfleet Project” was never played on radio, at least not on my local station in New Jersey and this was before it degenerated into a top forty station. I remember the video for “Starfleet.” It looked like something out of “The Thunderbirds” with the puppets and stuff. The science fiction theme to the video added to it. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the video but I loved the song and thus, had to get the EP.

From the video to "Starfleet"

From the video to “Starfleet”

Now you have probably noticed that the album is from Brian May and Friends and boy did Brian choose the right friends to help him record this. He got Eddie Van Halen to accompany him on the guitar and Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon fame to do the honours on the drums. Those names right there should tell you that what you are about to hear is totally going to blow you away and they do.

There might only be three songs on the album but they are three memorable ones, plus the fact that the shortest of these three is still over seven minutes made “Starfleet Project” an album in my book back then. Starting with the title track, it is the more commercial of the three. Brian shows that he knows his way around a keyboard a little bit but he still does some great guitar work on the song. I had always suspected from his Queen days that he could sing and he clearly shows it here.

Track two is the more bluesy “Let Me Out.” Here, May and Van Halen really start to go to town with the solos. They are so good that I can never remember what Brian wants to be let out of. However, it’s the third track that takes you to Neptune and beyond. Here we have the two mentioned guitar greats paying tribute to another guitar god, Eric Clapton, with “Blues Breaker.” When that happens you are guaranteed nothing short of guitar heaven. For nearly thirteen minutes, Brian and Eddie go back and forth trading off guitar solos, each one as good as the last. There is a short break in the action for a bit of ivory tinkling from Fred Mandel but things go back to the blistering solos. This song alone makes the entire album a must have.

Track Listing:

  1. Starfleet
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Blues Breaker
Brian May

Brian May

Brian May- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums

Phil Cohen- bass

Freddie Mandel- keyboards

Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Starfleet”

Queen might have been taking a hiatus in 1983 but Brian May wasn’t. He went well above and beyond and showed his true talents on this album.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Infidels

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Great Rock Albums of 1979: Pat Travers- Live! Go For What You Know

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by 80smetalman

Raise your hand if there has been a musical artist you like who you hadn’t t listened to in many years where when you finally do get around listening to them again, you remember how much you really liked them. I put up my hand to Pat Travers. He was another musical great who never made it onto being played on the old AM clock radio. I first heard about him when I saw this album advertised in a music catalog. Back in the late seventies, they use to have these record clubs where you get an initial offer of buying six albums for a penny to join but you had to buy so many albums in two years. It was such a catalog where I discovered Pat Travers.

Once again, it was my military experiences of widening my musical horizons where I finally got to listen to this great artist and it was this live album. “Live! Go For What You Know” was the perfect album to showcase all of his great songs and guitar talents. The most noted song from this album is “Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights” which many of the bands playing to bars and clubs in North Carolina seemed to play. I also really like “Hooked on Music,” “Go All Night” and “Heat in the Street” but all of the songs here are some powerful, blues based, kick ass rock and roll.

Often have I mentioned the ever growing list of underrated guitarists from the seventies and recently, I have consciously been more picky about who I add to the list. However, Pat Travers is one guitarist who definitely belongs on the list. I might even go as far as to equate him with the likes of some I’ve already mentioned like Gary Richrath, Craig Chaquico and Rory Gallagher, ok I can’t leave out Brian May. Travers can definitely bend the six string to his will and a listen to this great live album will confirm it.

Track Listing:

1. Hooked on Music

2. Gettin’ Betta

3. Go All Night

4. Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights

5. Stevie

6. Makin’ Magic

7. Heat in the Streets

8. Makes No Difference

Pat Travers

Pat Travers- guitar, vocals

Mars Cowling- bass

Pat Thrall- guitar, backing vocals

Tommy Aldridge- drums

The moral of the story here is don’t go a long time without listening to someone you know is good. I made that mistake here with Pat Travers and my excuse of not owning any of his material doesn’t cut it. So, I’m going to have to go out and buy this fantastic live album. Praise the Lord for Amazon! I think you should give it a listen too, I guarantee you won’t regret it. I am wondering and my buddy Stone started my mind rolling on this one, if Pat Travers is yet another great artist the numpties at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have ignored.

Next post: Olivia Newton John- Totally Hot

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Queen- Jazz

Posted in 1978, 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by 80smetalman

 

Coming off the success of the 1978 smash, “News of the World,” Queen proved with the follow up album, “Jazz,” why they were a force to be reckoned with back in the late 70s. For me, “Jazz” was every bit as good as their last albums and some of the predecessors as well. Track after track on this album is consistently good and has me bobbing my head along each time I listen to it.

I remember when I heard the very first track, “Mustapha,” I wondered whether or not they were taking the proverbial. Maybe Freddie Mercury was doing a Frank Zappa bit and I had the paranoid worry that they were going disco. However, down the line of the song, the guitars kicked in and all was well after that. Then came my favourite track on the album, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and the hit “Bicycle Races” as well as some other fine songs climaxing with “Don’t Stop Me Now.” A very good album indeed and I’m glad I’m paying tribute to it here.

Track Listing:

1. Mustapha

2. Fat Bottomed Girls

3. Jealousy

4. Bicycle Races

5. If You Can’t Beat Them

6. Let Me Entertain You

7. Dead On Time

8. In Only Seven Days

9. Dreamer’s Ball

10. Fun It

11. Leaving Home Ain’t Easy

12. Don’t Stop Me Now

13. More of That Jazz

Queen

Freddie Mercury- lead and backing vocals, piano

Brian May- guitars, lead and backing vocals

Roger Taylor- drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals, electric guitar, bass

John Deacon- bass, electric and acoustic guitar

I have to confess, back in 1979, I tried very hard to dislike Queen, due to my homophobic views back then. Something I regret now. However, when I heard the singles from this album, I couldn’t help liking them. The music of Queen has the aura that is very hard not to like and today, I am a full fledged fan.

Next post: Dire Straits

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Ablums of 1978: Queen- News of the World

Posted in 1978, Music with tags , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by 80smetalman

Yes, this is another abum, which was actually released in 1977, but “News of theWorld” by Queen was one of the albums that made my spring in 1978. The hit singles “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions” spear headed Queen’s push for rock and roll dominance in the early months of that year. Both songs were used as a motivation for my high school basketball team when it want to the South Jersey final. Unfortunately, they lost that game, but those songs still were true rock anthems.

I have always liked the sound of Queen and this album was one of the reasons. The operatic harmonies were groundbreaking at the time and I’m not just talking about “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Furthermore, as I said before, Brian May is truly up their with the guitar playing elite. However, the problem I had with Queen back in 78 and 79 was Freddie Mercury and my own homophobic views. The fact that I know I wasn’t the only one who had them doesn’t justify it at all. My fears of being branded gay kept me from openly saying that I liked Queen’s music. I’m just glad I have become much more open minded in my adult years and can truly appreciate what a great band Queen are and what a great album “News of the World” was. In the spring of 1978, Queen surely were the champions of the rock world.

Track Listing:

1. We Will Rock You

2. We Are the Champions

3. Sheer Heart Attack

4. All Dead All Dead

5. Spread Your Wings

6. Fight From the Inside

7. Get Down Make Love

8. Sleeping on the Sidewalk

9 Who Needs You

10. It’s Late

11. My Melancholy Blues

Queen

Freddie Mercury- lead vocals, piano, percussion, cowbell

Brian May- electric and accoustic guitars, lead vocals on “All Dead All Dead” and “Sleeping on the Sidewalk,” backing vocals

Roger Taylor- durms, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Sheer Heart Attack” and “Fight From the Inside”

John Deacon- bass, accoustic guitar, Spanish guitar

The best thing to say about this album is that it triumphed in spite of homophobia. Not only the hits, but other great tracks like “Get Down, Make Love” and “Sheer Heart Attack” make this album such a great classic. Queen are another act that has stood the test of time and have given us great rock memories.

To prove I’m completely over my homophobia, here’s a picture of Freddie Mercury in his body stocking, which in 1978, I thought was very gay.

 Next post: Frank Zappa- Zappa in New York

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Also available on Amazon, Barnes& Noble and Froogle

 

 

 

 

Great Guitarists of the 70s

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by 80smetalman

When people think of the great rock guitarists in the 70s, they will almost always mention what I call the big 3, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.  

These three were considered by many to be the top of the heap back then. Eric Clapton thrilled many with his gutsy blues style and Jimmy Page opened a door with a new style for the many metal axemen which would follow him. Eddie Van Halen was the late comer, arriving on the scene in 1978 and carrying on into the 80s, he set the standard which other guitarists could only hope to achieve.

I’m sure many would put forward arguments for many other guitarists and rightly so. The 70s did have its share of those who could smoke the fingerboard. Of that many, the three I wish to put forward here are Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ted Nugent.

As a teenager in the mid and late 70s, I heard many would be guitarists copying the famous riffs on “Smoke On The Water” first played by Ritchie Blackmore when he was in Deep Purple. Blackmore had a style all his own. However, considered by many to be the “master of the riff” was Tony Iommi. You only have to listen to classic Sabbath songs like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” to see why. Like Van Halen, Ted Nugent was a late comer for me. Sure, he had been around before then but it wasn’t until 1977 when I heard “Cat Scratch Fever” on my little AM only radio, that I would eventually realise that I was listening to one of the guitar greats.

As in the above, I am definitely sure that many would suggest a lot of guitarists for the final category, the “underrated guitarists.” There were many guitarists who are considered great but didn’t fully get the recognition they deserved. However, I am going to list the three who I feel were definitely underrated back then; Brian May, Gary Richrath and Craig Chaquico.

Most of the British readers may be a little shocked that I am including Brian May here. It is true that in Britain, he was already being put in the above category. However, this wasn’t the case in the USA. While Queen were often in the charts, I don’t remember much talk about May’s guitar skills back in the 70s. In fact, one person shot him down saying that the guitar was dubbed in fifteen times when Queen albums were being produced. Boy, I wish I had a time machine. That is why Brian May didn’t get the respect he deserved as a guitarist.

The problem is when people think of REO Speedwagon, they tend to think of their more commercial stuff in the 80s and don’t realise what a hard rocking band they were back in the 70s. I am going to touch on this more in the future. But this is why their guitarist Gary Richrath, still probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I challenge anyone to listen to the song “Roll With the Changes” of the album “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and say differently. When I listen to that song and most of their other 70s stuff, I fully appreciate the guitar work of Richrath.

Back in the 1970s, Jefferson Starship were considered a band that made “mellow out love songs” and just about all of their singles were that. That is why their guitarist, Craig Chaquico, didn’t get the recognition he deserved back then. However, when I hear his solos on the songs “Run Away” and “Ride the Tiger,” I know that I am listening to a man who knows how to work the six string. Chaquico was a great guitarist and fortunately for him, Jefferson Starship changed to a more rocking sound in the 80s and his talents were given more appreciation.

I know there are many more axemen I could name here and everyone is invited to contribute who they think might have been a great guitarist in the 70s.

Next Post: Great Rock Albums of the 7os, Aeromsith- Toys in the Attic

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