From time to time I’ve been known to ‘rock out’ to the glorious sounds of Queen. Sure they could be way over the top, but they were the very best at it. Well, Queen has given us the opportunity to do it all over again with a new vinyl box set.
The albums have been completely remastered by Bob Ludwig and pressed on coloured 180 gram vinyl using the half speed lacquered process. Each records colour is designed to match up with its albums original artwork.
The set will also include a 108 page hard cover book containing hand written lyrics, memorabilia and extensive notes on each album as well as download cards for high quality digital at 320 kps.
Queen The Studio Collection will be released on September 25th and is available for pre-order at all the usual retailers and the Queen online store.
It’s hard to gain respect when you are the world’s most bombastic band. Ask ELO or Queen about critical reception and there will always be those critics who point out the over the top nature of such artists. On top of this Muse can’t shake the fact that vocalist/guitarist Matthew Bellamy phrases his singing like The Bends era Thom Yorke and plays flashy guitar reminiscent of Brian May. Thing is, if you were to describe the ingredients of a great sounding record, you could do much worse than those guys.
The only thing that can save artists from the line of ‘artistic achievement’ and ‘unholy disaster’ is a group of songs that both the band and their fans can embrace as “really f’in cool.” So now you have Drones, an album that uses the mechanical bringers of death as a metaphor for the loss of humanity, identity and empathy. It shoots for the stars and attempts to play more like a rock opera on the movie screen than a mere record put out in 2015.
Odd as it seems, they make it work. Sure you get the impression that they listened to a few popular 80’s records along the lines of The Power Station and Foreigner to update their previous sounds, but damn, it’s fun and they sell it with conviction. You might accuse them of being pretentious; an honest criticism in their case, but the basic fact is that Drones is entertainment. Think of it this way, not every war film made is about the consequences of violence; some are released so that people can watch big explosions and stuff popcorn in their face simultaneously… and there is nothing wrong with that.
So when Bellamy sings “men in cloaks / always seem to run the show / mercy / from the powers that be” you can either roll your eyes or turn up the volume, but there is just no way you can ignore it.
Now for the purchase details.
Muse does know how to treat their fans and make a few bucks. You can buy Drones on all the usual physical mediums or you can buy this gorgeous gem.
In a tri-fold cover, the deluxe edition contains two 180 gram red vinyl discs, CD, DVD, download card and two litho art prints. It’s pricey and you’ll need to cover shipping… but damn, it looks pretty sweet.
Back in the mid 80’s when the crimping iron was king and glam-rock-metal kids wore makeup in the fashion of Poison, a movie came out that was so bad it was absolutely brilliant – Maximum Overdrive. The villain was a big rig truck wearing a Green Goblin mask, the hero was Emilio Estevez, and the director was none other than the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Trucks, lawnmowers and even vending machines turned homicidal in a film King himself would admit to being done as he was “coked out of his mind.” Ultimately it was a film that stretched “suspension of disbelief” beyond any reasonable limit.
Well, I certainly can’t say what or even if The Darkness was ‘on anything’ but it certainly takes a sense of humour to enjoy this record. The Darkness always seemed to have their tongue planted firmly in cheek, but now I have my doubts. You see, I’m not quite sure if this is a band that takes itself seriously or not anymore; and I’m not sure if their intention is rock supremacy or parody; I just know that the guitar “licks” are straight from the era of Whitesnake, White Lion and vocals are over the top cliché. The big hair 80’s had music was catchy, the subjects silly and spandex was thought to be cool.
From track number one “Barbarian” the axe swings a heavy blow against… well… it swings a mighty blow, and the falsetto screams of… well… screams. “Reducing the feeble citadels to ashes and blood stain / enslaving the sweet women folk / while every man is slain” is hilarious in its “epic-ness” as a description of story rather than storytelling itself.
Things get even more… um… colossal (that sounds good) throughout the record as The Darkness take on sounds of Queen doing the soundtrack for Flash Gordon. We are told to “open up your mighty wings and fly” in that high pitch testimonial climax on “Mighty Wings.” Regardless, it has all those metal moments of high drama and sound. You can imagine waves crashing, lightning flashing, broken hearts and quests for the nature of existence.
It isn’t that The Darkness have put out a bad record, it’s just that like Maximum Overdrive it stretches the “suspension of disbelief” beyond my capacity. Do they know they have broken the forth wall down and have in essence become a musical episode of Disney’s Phineas & Ferb? Is Last Of Our Kind a parody, and if so, who is it a parody of?
Legendary punk bands best known song, just because I was playing Guitar Hero the other day and it reminded me how frickin’ cool they are. I’ll be starting to write about some past Record Store Day finds and Social Distortion will definitely be a part of it. (And rumour is, their first record will be coming out on vinyl for RSD)
“Redemption Song” – Joe Strummer
There is so much more to Strummer than the Clash. Damn I miss him. Streetcore was re-mastered for vinyl back in 2012, and comes highly recommended from this reviewer and many others.
“Help” – The Damned
I love punk covers of classic songs. Either you love the Damned or you never got into punk at any point in your life.
“Secret Agent Man” – Dwight Twilley
Singer / Songwriter almost no one has heard of, yet captures my attention with some great songs… and of course, I love this cover – so there! Actually comes from an album full of covers.
“Blood and Roses” – The Smithereens
Something about the Smithereens and their brand of 80’s power-pop catches me every time I listen. They are just so damned easy to sing along with.
“Get Up” – Bleu
Then you take that power-pop thing into the 2000’s and give it to a guy who loves the studio and with a bit of blending you end up with Bleu. Sure it’s another rock song about staying strong in the face of adversity, but we can all use one of those from time to time.
“I Think We’re Alone Now” – The Rubinoos
Shift back down a gear and we end up with cult fixtures the Rubinoos who are famous for providing the theme for Revenge of the Nerds and taking Avril Lavigne to court for plagiarism.
“September Gurls” – The Bangles
Awesome cover of Big Star, who are the originators of the power-pop genre, the Bangles are just a lot of fun to hear at any time.
“The Great Salt Lake” – Band of Horses
Was gifted to me when I was doing all that “driving.” Was a great companion during hard times. Sometimes a few songs can make all the difference.
“Better Man” – Beth Hart
Another of those ‘musicians musician,’ Beth Hart is well known amongst her peers, but hasn’t found a door big enough to get her past the small venue life. Weird, because every time I hear her I wonder why she isn’t bigger than many stadium playing bands.
“When The Stars Go Blue” – Ryan Adams
One of my favorite tracks off Gold (which I kinda talked about a week or so ago), this is one of those songs that just gets covered a lot. The Coors w/Bono did a pretty good cover… although I’ll still take the original.
“Rocket Man” – Elton John
Or should I say “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time).” I couldn’t resist putting it on here right after Adams seeing as the post from last week featured them both.
“Burnin’ For You” – Blue Oyster Cult
Sometimes when you put on one classic 70’s track, you feel like hearing another. What I always loved about these guys is that they never seemed to fit into a genre proper. They weren’t metal, or prog, or … they were just a band that put out some songs I really liked.
“Second Option” – Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell
I’ve always loved this song, but also found it strange that Cary would collaborate with a vocalist who sounds so similar to what she already had in Whiskeytown. I hear this and I pretty much picture Ryan Adams singing it.
“The Day That Lassie Went To The Moon” – Camper Van Beethoven
This was really my introduction to Camper, who I discovered after Cracker (go figure). Right away I just fell for the quirky characters found in Camper songs and have remained a fan ever since. I was lucky enough to see them together a month back.
“A Long December” – Counting Crows
I don’t know why I consider these guys a guilty pleasure, but I’m a fan. For some very odd reason, every time I hear this song I picture Kermit the Frog singing it. Really, I just think the green muppet himself would do an awesome version.
“Deadwood” – Dirty Pretty Things
I was rather bummed when the Libertines called it a day after only two records… I was cheered up when I heard “Deadwood” blast out my speakers. Good to hear that the Libertines have gotten back together, but I’m not holding my breath over the quality of work that will come out of it. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
“Horses” – Gemma Hayes
Something about this song just frickin’ caught me and has never let me go. It was just the kind of song that gets you to buy the record and then the whole back catalogue.
“Need Your Loving Tonight” – Queen
Just because I have been spending a bit of time listening to them recently, I think I’m just about over this phase.
“I’m A Little Airplane” – Jonathan Richman
Just like on that Sesame Street bit, my kids and I would spread are arms out, sing and pretend to fly.
Of course I love vinyl more than any other form of music listening, but sharing music is also fun… so… if you’re doing that Spotify thing, each week I plan to publish a playlist with some tunes I’ve been playing around the house. I’ll be updating this with a bit of info as this post is a bit of a test to see how the playlist looks on the blog. Or you can friend DS Barrett on Facebook where the playlist will show up first. Anyway, here it goes – March 1/15 Playlist Hope you enjoy!
“Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways
Was listening to a lot of Joan Jett this past week as I got her Greatest Hits on (cherry bomb red) vinyl a few days ago. I decided to put the Runaways version on simply because I really wish I had it on vinyl. Maybe some day… Still can’t believe that a sixteen year old kid (Cherie Currie) could pull off that much power and venom.
“In The Street” – Big Star
What was it that Westerberg sang about Alex Chilton – “I never travel far without a little Big Star”. This is an alternate version of the song taken from the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me. By the way, loving this song has nothing to do with That 70’s Show, but then again, it doesn’t hurt it either.
“Stutter” – Elastica
I love the female perspective on this song. Probably because every girl I ever dated had to pretty much smack me in the head to get me to figure out they were interested. “What… you’re actually talking to me (gasp, gulp) um… nice weather.”
“Substitute” – The Ramones
Awesome rendition of the Who classic from their covers record Acid Eaters. I got it as a Christmas gift from my birth mother, which makes me love it all the more.
“Stone Cold Crazy” – Queen
For some reason more people seem to be familiar with the Metallica version, which is funny because I thought Motley Crue had covered it… anyway – this is the original from Sheer Heart Attack, which I picked up used a few weeks back.
“Kindergarten” – Zeus
The song that turned me on to this band. Frickin love these guys.
“Bleed A Little While Tonight” – The Lowest Of The Low
Pretty much said it all when I wrote about them a little while back.
“déjà vu” – Mo Kenney
My wife and I were talking one night and we had the TV satellite playing music for us when this came on. I think I might have actually ‘shssh-ed’ her while I scrambled for a pen and paper. Mo Kenney was a staple around the house for a few months after that.
“Milwaukee” – The Both
Love Aimee Mann and Ted Leo and this song brings out the best in both. The music video is pretty funny as well.
“I Am The Cosmos” – The Posies
Wish I could find the Beck cover of this song. I know he did it during the “Sound & Vision” session back in 2013. Anyway, this Posies cover of Chris Bell is quite awesome.
“Daddy’s Gone” – Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse
Have tried writing about this song and album a few times. 2009-2010 was the worst year of my life. I spent a lot of time driving the two hours between my parent’s house and my home when both fell ill in 2009. Dark Night of the Soul was keeping me company a whole lot during those trips and “Daddy’s Gone” had me thinking about where I wasn’t.
“Can’t Cry Hard Enough” – Victoria Williams
Funny story. I was at the concert when this was recorded. I yelled out a request for “This Moment”. After explaining that she had never played it live before – she did it anyway. The album it’s taken from is (drum roll) This Moment: Live In Toronto.
“Hummingbird” – Imaginary Cities
In March of 2010 I went to see the Pixies at Massey Hall in Toronto. Imaginary Cities opened the show. They were phenomenal. I’m sure I’ll be writing about them soon.
“All The Young Dudes” – David Bowie
It isn’t that the Mott The Hoople and Bowie versions are all that different… I just like how Bowie seems to perform songs rather than simply sing them… discuss if you must.
“Nausea” – Beck
Some songs just make me and my kids rock out as we drive from point A to B. Beck has quite a few songs that get us doing the Wayne’s World head nod thing.
“Bull in the Heather” – Sonic Youth
With Kim Gordon doing the publicity thing for her new book Girl In A Band, I’ve found myself pining for the 90’s version of Sonic Youth. Oddly enough, I always preferred her songs.
“Pumping On Your Stereo” – Supergrass
Please don’t tell anyone, but I kinda liked Brit-Pop… and I really got into Supergrass for a while.
“Spectacular” – Graham Coxon
Speaking of Brit-Pop… another song about a boy fantasizing over a picture in a magazine. Makes me yell at my stereo – “Dude – your lead guitarist for fuckin’ Blur… as if you couldn’t get her number and ask her out for coffee!”
“Wave of Mutilation (Peel Sessions) – Pixies
Sooner or later I’ll get around to writing about Doolittle 25. This was the tour I caught back in 2010 and Kim Deal was still in the band. Not sure it would be a true Pixies concert without her.
“Limitless” – Dust Galaxy
Heard this on a magazine compilation a few years ago, then I had to spend a few weeks tracking down the who, what, where and why and order the damn CD online. Dark and sinister rock…
We would stay up and just talk until the wee hours. It was a bond we had, although it probably meant way more to me than her. Cousins, although not by blood, when my aunt said we were too old to sleep in the same room, we instead just went to the sofas down stairs and kept the conversation going.
There wasn’t any specific music as we chatted, it’s just that Queen’s The Game reminds me of those times. It was at at my cousins place where I first listened to this record but over the years it began to fade into the background, until I recently picked up this used copy on vinyl. It was the only format that I really wanted to own it on. I’m sentimental that way. If I originally heard it on vinyl, then that is how I want it now.
Queen put out ‘better’ records of course. (Although, The Game has sold more than any other Queen record due to two number one hits “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”)
Early on they did the prog thing, and then they started this hybrid roaring twenties in the distant future bit. Honestly, I always pictured Queen as being at their best when imagining a movie cross of styles between Metropolis and Blade Runner. While Mercury and May were always a pretty much “over the top” duo, The Game along with the Flash Gordon Soundtrack was the end of the FM years for Queen as they began turning towards Mercury’s more ballad and broadway inspired material. He has always been the greatest vocalist to come out of “Rock”, but in the 80’s and 90’s it was as if he wanted to prove it… in my experience, when the ego gets bigger than the music, that’s when an artist begins to really… um… suck!
From The Works on I just couldn’t get into it. “Radio Ga Ga” was a song that just forced a change in the station. Maybe the Brits at Live Aid were into it, but that song drove me insane.
So it was nothing new after that. Sure I would, and did go back to listen to Night at the Opera and Day at the Races, but it was like photographs of days gone by. The Game, is a great classic record, but it is best suited as an entrance to memories. My cousin and I see each other now and then, but it’s been a long time since we sat up talking late into the night about nothing and everything. Meanwhile Queen keeps trying to keep memories alive, and in the process kinda ruin the legacy they have.