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.
For My Sunday Song #229, we are tackling on of the band’s biggest hits, “Another One Bites the Dust” off the Queen album “The Game” from 1980. The song was a departure for Queen as it was more funk and disco but it seems everything they do is a departure as they don’t follow anyone’s rules. The song went to #1 in the US and several other countries and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
The song was written by bass player, John Deacon, and let me tell you there is some bass in it. The song was inspired by the song “Good Times” by the Chic and resulted from John hanging out a lot with that band as he was a big fan. Now, Roger Taylor wasn’t a big fan of the song, but Freddie loved it and worked hard to get everyone’s buy-in on the song and thanks to Freddie it was put on the album and the rest is history.
The song has so many effects on it, but none are with a synthesizer. It is all bass, guitar, piano and drums. Deacon played all the instruments except Roger’s drum loop. Brian May was on it as he added numerous sound effects using his guitar and a harmonizer. Some of the effects were the tape played backwards at different speeds. As a result of this effect, Christian groups protested the band saying the band was using backmasking to hide messages. They thought the band was promoting the use of marijuana.
For this month’s The Original Vs The Cover, we are comparing the versions of the song “Higher Ground” originally performed by Stevie Wonder and then later covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Two great artists and two very different versions so which will come out on top.
The song was written by Stevie Wonder and it came out on his 1973 album ‘Innervisions’. It went all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart. It was a very successful song for Stevie and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #265 on the Top 500 Songs of all time. Not bad.
The song is possibly about two things. One being second chances and the other is reincarnation (which could also be considered a second chance I guess). Stevie wrote the song and recorded it in a span of 3 hours which to me is amazing. According to Stevie, he felt a sense of urgency to get it done as if something was going to happen and he needed to finish it. Just a few months later, he was in a car accident that put him in a coma for four days (3 days after the album was released).
Okay, let us get to the songs…
Stevie’s song is pure 70’s funk. It has such an awesome little groove and that unique wah sound comes from a clavinet using a Mu-Tron III pedal. What are those? Here is a picture (thanks wikipedia).