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.
On a dark stormy night in August, Queen + Adam Lambert came riding in to town for the very last show of their Rhapsody Tour. Yes, Charlotte, NC was able to bid farewell to this legend of a band who has seen a massive resurgence thanks in large part to the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and in small part due to the current singer Adam Lambert.
There is no exciting story to tell leading up to the show except the Rain Gods were nice to my daughter and I by not raining on us. We got in to the Spectrum Center and about 5 minutes later the skies opened up. People were coming in dripping wet, but no one cared because everyone was there to have a good time and listening to everyone’s favorite band, Queen.
When we finally arrive to our seats after a long line at the merch table and a long line at the bathroom and a short line at the refreshment stand to grab a couple of $5 waters (each), we were greeted to this…
A giant crown wrapping the stage. It looked so real and like it was made out of metal. Impressive. Even more impressive was the fact it was a giant TV screen. The graphics, detail, clarity, hell everything about it was impressive. It looked 3D without the glasses…amazing.
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.