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Queen Greatest Hits (UK Version) Review

General Information:

Artist: Queen
Album: Greatest Hits (UK Version)
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenre(s): Art Rock, Progressive Rock
Released: 1981
Length: 58 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): EMI, Parlophone Records, Hollywood Records

Track List:

01. Bohemian Rhapsody
02. Another One Bites the Dust
03. Killer Queen
04. Fat Bottomed Girls
05. Bicycle Race
06. You’re My Best Friend
07. Don’t Stop Me Now
08. Save Me
09. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
10. Somebody to Love
11. Now I’m Here
12. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy
13. Play the Game
14. Flash
15. Seven Seas of Rhye
16. We Will Rock You
17. We Are the Champions

Queen Greatest Hits UK Version Cover

Queen Greatest Hits UK Version Cover

Queen Greatest Hits (UK Version) Review

Greatest Hits is the first compilation and ‘best of’ album from iconic British rock band Queen. Released in different regions with slightly altered track listings, there isn’t a strictly definitive version of the compilation. The UK version features at least one song from every album from Queen II (1974) through to the Flash Gordon film soundtrack (1980).

Bohemian Rhapsody is the opening track and was Queen’s first and only number one UK single (1975) when Greatest Hits was released. One would not expect lyrics about committing a murder (Mama, just killed a man/Put a gun against his head/Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead) being executed via the electric chair (Thunderbolt and lightning/Very, very frightening me) and then sent to hell (Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me) to be part of the package.

Coming from a progressive rock background where song-writing sensibilities demand musical boundaries to be pushed, they are effortlessly married to pop accessibility and rounded off with a flamboyant exuberance rarely found elsewhere. Most notably this is found in the operatic segment of Bohemian Rhapsody, where the nonsense lyrics are spliced between the narrative just for the sake of doing so it seems. The song also lacks a chorus which makes it even more of an oddity in pop music and, yet, this unlikely single became one of the most easily recognised songs in British pop culture.

Considering that there are songs from 8 different releases on Greatest Hits, and noting Queen’s lack of inhibition when it came to crafting their sound, it should be of no surprise that the songs do not always flow from one to the next effortlessly. What is more remarkable is that everything featured here was released in a short period of 6 years.

After Bohemian Rhapsody the listener suddenly finds themselves a world apart in the mind numbingly repetitive bass hook from funk rock hit Another One Bites the Dust. More twists and turns ensue with the jovial piano-driven Killer Queen about a call girl and the sentimental You’re My Best Friend was written by bassist John Deacon for his wife. The centre piece of Greatest Hits is the infectious rock ‘n’ roll of Crazy Little Thing Called Love featuring hand claps, an acoustic guitar and Freddie Mercury’s Elvis-inspired performance but the bass is the underlying source of the momentum here. Jumping from that to the gospel arrangement on Somebody to Love or the jaunty nature of Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy lacks even the pretence of consistency.

Greatest Hits is concluded with the two iconic anthems from News of the World; We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. Often cited as a rock anthem, We Will Rock You is actually devoid of rock music entirely until Brian May’s guitar solo at the end. The rest of the song is made up of the instantly recognisable stomp/stomp/clap body percussion arrangement.

Immediately beyond the realm of a Spartan approach to music, Queen offers an absolute gourmet of songs that are loosely ordered into two halves as the best way to present the eclectic collection. The first is mostly material from Night at the Opera and Jazz whereas the second is divided evenly between Day at the Races, News of the World, Queen II and the ‘Flash’ theme song. Both halves have one song from Sheer Heart Attack and two from The Game, which produced four charting singles from 1979 and 1980, along with ‘Flash’ from the aforementioned film soundtrack.

Releasing this compilation at such a prosperous time for Queen must have played a big part in not only to the success of Greatest Hits as a business and marketing opportunity, but also in immortalising their contributions to music. Going on to sell over 25 million copies globally, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time and the best-selling album in their home country with 6.3 million copies sold to date.

For all the inconsistencies one could imagine finding on a compilation album, due to the nature of the format more than anything else, it isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to listen to all the way through. It will give newcomers a good oversight into the first half of Queen’s career and from there, a course can be plotted to specific albums based on any preference they find.

Ultimately, the flamboyant personality embodied by Queen combined with their immense creativity exemplifies what has made them endure as strongly as they have while attracting listeners, both new and old, to this day.

Performers:

Freddie Mercury: Lead vocals, piano, finger snaps, bicycle bells, handclaps, acoustic guitar, organ, synthesizer, foot stomps, co-lead vocals on “Fat Bottomed Girls” (chorus)
Brian May: Acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals, bicycle bells, handclaps, piano, synthesizer, foot stomps, co-lead vocals on “Keep Yourself Alive” (bridge)
Roger Taylor: Acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals, timpani, gong, triangle, chimes, bicycle bells, handclaps, woodblocks, tambourine, foot stomps, cowbell, co-lead vocals on “Keep Yourself Alive” (bridge)
John Deacon: Acoustic, bass and electric guitar, piano, bicycle bells, handclaps, foot stomps

Additional Performers:

Mike Stone: Co-lead vocals on “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”
Roy Thomas Baker: Stylophone on “Seven Seas of Rhye”

External Links:

Queen Homepage
Queen on Wikipedia
Greatest Hits on Wikipedia

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Green Carnation The Acoustic Verses Review

Green Carnation The Acoustic Verses

Artist: Green Carnation
Album: The Acoustic Verses
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Art Rock, Progressive Rock
Released: 2006
Length: 43 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Sublife Records, The End Records

Track List:

01. Sweet Leaf
02. The Burden is Mine… Alone
03. Maybe
04. Alone
05. 9-29-045
06. Child’s Play (Part 3)
07. High Tide Waves

Green Carnation The Acoustic Verses Cover

The Acoustic Verses is the 5th and final album by Green Carnation. It shows a drastic shift in sound by taking the soft art rock/progressive rock sound that could be heard on parts of their previous album, The Quiet Offspring, and letting its influence seep out to create an entire album based on that sound. The Acoustic Verses is full of low key melancholic vibrations and unstrained, almost delicate singing from Kjetil Nordhus to match the theme. The Burden is Mine… Alone only consists of an acoustic guitar, keyboard ambiance and straightforward lyrics but it manages to neatly summarises this theme over its short duration.

While the title of album allures to acoustic instrumentation, there are still some electric instruments used including the bass, keyboard and theremin. The acoustic guitars often take centre stage with the biggest exception being Child’s Play (Part 3). It is the only instrumental piece on The Acoustic Verses and only involves the piano and keyboard. Songs such as Alone and High Tide Waves see Green Carnation go as far as bringing in a string trio (consisting of a violin, viola and cello) to add another dimension to the rich sound of The Acoustic Verses.

In a throwback to Green Carnation’s knack for writing long songs back in the early stages of their career, they wrote a 15 minute, 3 part suite called 9-29-045 (Part 1 My Greater Cause, Part 2 Homecoming and Part 3 House of Cards). This is at odds with the other songs being that they are between 3 and 5 minutes. Placing it in the middle of the album was certainly a bold move as it could throw off some listeners but Green Carnation pulls it off and melds all the elements of The Acoustic Verses together to make a fluid sonic journey out of it.

Drummer Tommy Jacksonville deserves a special mention for being able to play a diverse and often subtle role that could have easily gone against the soft nature of the music. The drums haven’t been mixed too loudly which prevents it from overshadowing anything which leaves Green Carnation and your own ears with the best results.

Long-time fans could be disappointed by the change in sound, or even the lack of distorted heavy metal guitar riffs, but Green Carnation proves to be adept enough to dive headfirst into their new sound that lets the band end their career on a well-deserved high note.

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Andrew WK Close Calls With Brick Walls Review

Artist: Andrew WK
Album: Close Calls With Brick Walls
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Art Rock, Noise Rock
Released: 2006 (Japan), 2010 (international release)
Length: 48 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Universal Music

Track List:

01. I Came for You
02. Close Calls With Bal Harbour
03. Not Going to Bed
04. You Will Remember Tonight
05. Pushing Drugs
06. Hand on the Place
07. One Brother
08. Las Vegas, Nevada
09. Dr. Dumont
10. I Want to See You Go Wild
11. When I’m High
12. Golden Eyed Dog
13. Into the Clear
14. Mark My Grace
15. Don’t Call Me Andy
16. The Background
17. Slam John Against a Brick Wall
18. The Moving Room

Close Calls With Brick Walls Cover

Andrew WK Close Calls With Brick Walls Review

Close Calls With Brick Walls shows Andrew WK stepping down from the wall of sound approach of I Get Wet and The Wolf entirely. Instead, he allows for his creative spirit to run wild and takes his sound in a direction that no one could have predicted.

The throaty shouts are just a memory at this point as more conventional singing techniques have taken the helm, but perhaps the biggest change of all is the lack of adrenaline pumping guitars that were a staple of his sound up to this point. While the guitars still have an important role on Close Calls With Brick Walls, equal focus has also been put on writing more memorable moments for the bass, piano and drums that let them share the spotlight.

Calls With Brick Walls should solidify the artistic integrity of Andrew WK and dispel any notions of him as a gimmick act. The new direction will also probably alienate some hardcore fans who were expecting him to follow up in a similar fashion as before, but Close Calls With Brick Walls will reach out to new listeners and long-time fans alike. Andrew WK’s new sound is unique and just as engaging as his previous efforts but in an entirely different way.

External Links:

Andrew WK Homepage
Andrew WK on Wikipedia | Close Calls With Brick Walls on Wikipedia
Andrew WK on Discogs | Close Calls With Brick Walls on Discogs