After the band’s album “Flash Gordon”, Queen actually released one of the biggest selling albums of all time their “Greatest Hits” which has sold well over 25 million copies worldwide. At one point it was said that one in every three families in the UK had a copy. It was on the charts in the US for over 400 weeks which is insane. The band was on fire and constantly busy. They wasted no time in getting back in to the studio to record their new album “Hot Space”. They started in June of 1981, but wouldn’t finish until March 1982 due to touring and other obligations. The album finally saw the light of day on May 21, 1982.
The band went a completely different direction with this album, I mean they pulled a complete 180o turn. The rock sound was replaced with a wide variety of sounds including disco, dance, pop, funk, r&b and pretty much everything but rock. When Kiss did this, they really only did it with a couple songs because “Dynasty” still had more rock than disco. Queen doesn’t do anything halfway, they went all in and it didn’t quite have the impact they were hoping. Although the album went on to sell over 3.5 million copies worldwide, upon its release it barely went Gold in the US only reach #22 on the charts. This album turned off a lot of people in the US and their popularity started to wane in a big way. But it wasn’t only the album. Homophobia set in with the US market as well and they weren’t as accepting of Freddie Mercury. This caused the band to actually stop touring the States after they finished the ‘Hot Space Tour’. Things were not all that well in the Queen camp. The good news is, the States came around eventually and Freddie is loved by all and I think people now realize what a true talent he really was. And this is really a story for another time as we are going to stick to the music.
The album kicks off with the funkified song “Staying Power”. It is full of synthesizers, drum machines and even horns that were arranged by Arif Mardin. This might be the only song ever by Queen with a horn section. There is no actual bass guitar on this as John Deacon plays guitar with Brian May. The bass sound is all effects. It isn’t a bad song if it wasn’t sounding the way it is. It is a complete left turn. I think we have the success of the song “Another One Bites the Dust” for this mess.
Welcome to the last Friday New Release post for May and let me tell you that May was a little of a letdown. There were a bunch of releases, but not a ton I was really that interested in hearing. Let me tell you, June makes up for it in spades. It gets way better in June. That doesn’t mean we have a bunch of nothing this week, there are a lot of great releases. Only a couple I want to hear and I will highlight those in Blue. Let me know what you want to hear this week and what I may have missed so every one knows what is available. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!!
Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia – (3 Legged Records / Thirty Tigers): The Atlanta boys are always bringing some great Southern Rock, Americana, Country Rock…whatever you need to label it. Just sit back and enjoy their blend of music and smoke ’em if you got ’em!!
Del Amitri – Fatal Mistakes – (Cooking Vinyl): It has been 19 years since the band’s last album. That is crazy. They got back together a few years back and have been touring, but finally getting around to an album. I am curious more than anything to see what they bring to the table after so long. Here’s to hoping for a great album.
Welcome back to The Original vs. The Cover. We are now going to look at the classic David Bowie song “Heroes” that was recorded by Bowie back in 1977 during his Berlin era. The cover song we are battling against is The Wallflowers’ version they recorded for the movie “Godzilla” back in 1998. Two powerhouse performances going up against each other and which one will win? We will see.
The song was written by David Bowie and Brian Eno and was inspired by Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti as he embraced his lover as they were standing next to the Berlin Wall. The song is about two lovers coming together when one was from the East side of the Wall and the other from the West. They will let nothing stop them from being together, not even the Berlin Wall. It is a beautiful sentiment. Now the song was released in 1977 and the song did fairly well going to #12 in the UK and was platinum status in the UK as well. It didn’t really do much in the States, but I still remember hearing the song. It has made many lists as one of the greatest songs of all time (which doesn’t bode well for The Wallflowers, but we will see.
David’s version was inspired musically by The Velvet Underground’s song “I’m Waiting for the Man” as the tempo and rhythm of the song plod along in the same fashion. The song and a lot of David’s music from the Berlin Era is very experimental. The drums, the keyboards and the guitars are arranged to be a little noisy in an anthemic sense to give it a rich, full texture, but the coolest part of the song is how they recorded the vocals.
The vocals are done in what is known as gating. Three microphones were placed at different intervals from David. The first at 9 inches from David, the second at 20 feet and the third at 50 feet. As David sang each verse, a different microphone would be used and as each verse came, the first microphone would be shut off and the second opened. As he sang each verse he had to sing louder and with more energy giving the song the effect it as if each verse was more important and sung more powerful as the song builds and builds. It makes David’s vocal so effective in their delivery in bringing emotion and power to the song. I have to say it is quite brilliant.
David’s song is one of his most covered songs, but I think the most famous is probably done by The Wallflowers. The band kept that same plodding pace, but the sound of the instruments is brought to the 90’s and modernized with a fuller band sound and a I think the drums and guitar are even more robust sounding then the original. They seem more alive and gives the song a more rock sound.
On the vocals, Jakob Dylan doesn’t use the same technique as David, but he is able to project his voice with each verse driving the song to be more powerful and emotional as it went on. Jakob and the band didn’t really change much on the song as they understood the importance and gravity of the song and were able to capture that feeling and yet I felt they made the song their own and make it sound like a Wallflowers’ song.
I have to admit they are both fantastic versions of the songs. As much as I love the musical stylings of The Wallflowers and Jakob Dylan’s vocals, there is no denying David Bowie’s legendary vocals. David Bowie is my choice of the winner for the best version of this song. I mean, it is David Bowie no less. He is a legend for a reason. Plus the pain staking efforts they went through to get the sound they wanted alone makes this song the best version. David Bowie, Brian Eno and Tony Visconti brought us one of the greatest songs of all time so naturally it is my pick. Now, if you like The Wallflowers version, I can see why you’d pick it as it is great in its own right.
I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs. Let me know which version you like the best and why. Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.
I, I will be king And you, you will be queen Though nothing will drive them away We can beat them, just for one day We can be Heroes, just for one day
And you, you can be mean And I, I’ll drink all the time ‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact Yes we’re lovers, and that is that Though nothing will keep us together We could steal time, just for one day We can be Heroes, for ever and ever What d’you say?
I, I wish you could swim Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim Though nothing, nothing will keep us together We can beat them, for ever and ever Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day
I, I will be king And you, you will be queen Though nothing will drive them away We can be Heroes, just for one day We can be us, just for one day
I, I can remember (I remember) Standing by the wall (by the wall) And the guns shot above our heads (over our heads) And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall) And the shame was on the other side Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever Then we could be Heroes, just for one day
We can be Heroes We can be Heroes We can be Heroes Just for one day We can be Heroes
We’re nothing, and nothing will help us Maybe we’re lying, then you better not stay But we could be safer, just for one day
I have been doing these collections for over two years and I have not done a David Bowie collection. What the heck was I thinking…forget that, what was I waiting for. That misstep is now fixed as I scoured the internet for a collection of memes celebrating all that is great about David Bowie. You are missed sir, but your music (and memes) will live on forever.
When I head David Hasselhoff (or The Hoff) was putting out a new album of cover songs, I told myself that I have to listen to this for the train wreck that it is going to be. I mean The Hoff has never been popular in the States for his vocal talent and yet, I was intrigued.
David has put together an eclectic list of covers and the most interesting part is the line-up of musicians he was able to get to assist with these covers. Let’s look at the cover songs and those individuals who helped out.
Open Your Eyes (Feat. James Williamson of The Stooges) – Lords of the New Church Cover
Head On (Feat. Elliot Easton of The Cars) – The Jesus & Mary Chain Cover
I Melt With You (Feat. Steve Stevens) – Modern English Cover
Lips Like Sugar (Feat. A Flock of Seagulls) – Echo & The Bunnymen Cover
Heroes (Feat. Composer Tyler Bates) – David Bowie Cover
Here I Go Again (Feat. Tracii Guns) – Whitesnake Cover
Jump in My Car (Feat. Todd Rundgren) – Ted Murley Gang Cover
Rhinestone Cowboy (Feat. Charlie Daniels) – Glen Campbell Cover
If You Could Read My Mind (Feat. Ava Cherry) – Gordon Lightfoot Cover
Sugar Sugar (Feat. Steve Cropper) – The Archies Cover
Mit 66 Jahren (Feat. Patrick Moraz of Yes and the Moody Blues) – Udo Jurgens Cover
Sweet Caroline (Feat. Ministry’s Al Jourgensen) – Neil Diamond Cover
One way to tell how good a band really is is to see them live. If you can’t do that, then it is to listen to one of their live albums. If they can capture what they have done in the studio and bring it to the stage or even take it up a notch, then you have a solid band. Growing up, I was never in to live albums. It was all studio albums for me. One day, that changed and live albums became the thing.
Now, I tend to be gravitating to the live albums and trying the get them on vinyl or even CD if that is all I can get. I figured we would go through what Live albums I have in my collection, then with the ones I am trying to get, my Top 5 Favorites and lastly let you weigh in on which ones I have to get my hands on as I am sure there are some I am not aware are great and I should go grab.
We will kick it off with the Hottest Band in the Land…KISS!! It was the Kiss Alive albums that did it for me. These things are great. I have 4 of them…Kiss Alive!, Kiss Alive II, Kiss Alive III and Kiss Unplugged. They did get original with their names as you can tell.
But that is not all, I also have a ton of Kiss Bootlegs as you have seen through my Kiss Bootleg Series…
The last Friday of November and Christmas is just around the corner which means one thing. Album releases start to become relatively scarce. You want to drop your album early enough that it makes it on people’s Christmas list, but not too late where no one will grab it as they have spent all their money already on Christmas presents. Now, there isn’t a whole lot I care about this week and in fact, there is only one. Some of the other might get a listen sooner or later. Have a great day and let me know what you are interested in hearing. Mine is in Blue.
Def Leppard – The Story So Far – (Virgin EMI/Mercury): Def Leppard is bringing yet another greatest hits release. Just what we needed, right? Well….not really. However, that doesn’t stop me from buying it. I have it on pre-order for the vinyl so I can’t get the 7″ Single of their Depeche Mode cover of “Personal Jesus”. Yes, I am becoming a completist with Def Leppard. Anyway, this is a pretty complete greatest hits package and not a bad one to get if you don’t have on yet. Enjoy!!
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships – (Dirty Hit / Polydor / Interscope)
Neil Young – Songs for Judy – (Shakey Pictures Records)
Welcome to another Friday of music new releases. There are a bunch to choose from, but sadly I am not real thrilled about any of them. That is probably a good thing since I had so many from last week that I am still enjoying. There is one I will listen to out of the bunch (highlighted in Blue) and the rest who knows if they will ever find the playlist. Hopefully with all to choose from, there is something that you will gravitate towards. Let me know what interests you are doesn’t. Thanks and have a great weekend!!
Tobymac – The Elements – (Forefront Records): Tobymac has always proven to me he is a talented artists whether it was with DC Talk or his solo works. The mixture of hip-hop, pop and rock is always a great combination. He spreads the word and makes it an enjoyable experience. This will be the only album this week that is a must listen, the rest…ehh!.
Live – Local 717 E.P. – (Kalvary Records): It has been awhile since any new Live material and it is much needed. I heard the song below and was intrigued. This might be first up for the day.
Elvis Costello & the Imposters – Look Now – (Concord Records)
Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground – (Comandante): This one might get a listen…this song is pretty good.
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In – (Matador): Okay, maybe this one too.
David Bowie – Loving the Alien 1983-1988 (11 CD Set) – (Rhino)
Blues Traveler – Hurry Up & Hang Around – (BT Recordings)
Evanescence – Synthesis Live – (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Nazareth – Tattooed on my Brain – (Frontiers Record)
Seventh Wonder – Tiara – (Frontiers Record)
Imperllitteri – The Nature of the Beast – (Frontiers Record)
City of Thieves – Beast Reality – (Frontiers Record)
Creye – Creye – (Frontiers Record)
Eric Clapton – Happy Xmas – (Bushbranch/Surfdog)
Young the Giant – Mirror Master – (Elektra)
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – Rocket – (Verve Forecast)
Graham Parker – Cloud Symbols – (100% Records)
Atreyu – In Our Wake – (Spinefarm Records)
John Hiatt – The Eclipse Sessions – (New West Records)
For My Sunday Song #103, I am going with another classic rock song “Under Pressure” by Queen & David Bowie. Two of the best come together to deliver what has become one of my favorite songs. The song went to #1 in the UK and only #29 on the U.S.’s Billboard Hot 100. We Americans can be stupid sometime. It was only Queen’s 2nd #1 song in the UK, the other was “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The song appeared on their 1982 album ‘Hot Space”.
“Under Pressure” is about how life’s pressure can really take a toll on your life and how it destroys everything; however, love is the answer and can make everything so much better. I definitely got all that from the song, but it was less about the words and more about the give & take of the vocals between Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. Two of the best artist of all time duking it out vocally is one of the greatest things you can ever hear. I guess God wanted to hear this song too as now both have passed over to the other side.
The song is also famous for that simple, two note bass line by John Deacon. That “don don don dondo don” (or something like that) was immediately recognizable and played throughout. After Deacon had come up with that riff, the band went to lunch or something and completely forgot the riff. One of the band members (or maybe Bowie) helped remind him what it was. That famous bass line is not to be confused with “don don don dondo don don” the Vanilla Ice riff for “Ice, Ice Baby”…there is a difference and he will tell you…whatever.