One more thing that can’t wait, before I disappear for a few days …
Take a look over at the side bar to the right and pay special attention to the first item on the CD list. Daughter found out that the release date had been bumped up to this past Tuesday, so made sure that we hit a music store after our sessions with the optometrist that day. I was reluctant at first as it’s so hard to drag her out of such places, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Normally I clue in that she’s up to something when she’s especially insistent about something like this, but she “got” me this time. I walked right past the display, unbelievably, but she made sure that I retraced my steps and saw it. Guess how long I hesitated before picking my copy of the CD off the shelf.
Now you know that I’m going to have a lot to say about this new CD, don’t you?! Oh, I do, never fear! Early impressions? FANTASTIC!!! And yes, I meant to shout. If you’re looking for an exact replica of the old Queen sound, you won’t find it here. The songs have been mostly rearranged to at least some degree to suit the vocal range and style of the one doing the singing, as well as the ever more amazing skills of those doing the playing. But I knew not to expect the old, went into it with a totally open mind, and was totally blown away. Queen always were the best live band on the planet in their day and have lost nothing. Yes, it’s not all the original line-up, but the two remaining members make the decisions and have captured the old magic on this tour … and then some. Paul Rodgers can’t replace Freddie on vocals, but he doesn’t try. Rather, he makes his own magnificent voice work with the songs. And he is in fine voice indeed on this effort, both on the few inclusions to salute his days as lead singer of Free/Bad Company, and his renditions of Queen hits. Roger and Brian sound amazing, too, both on their own and in the marvellous three-part harmonies with Paul. I hesitate to say this, but I think that their voices harmonize better with his than with Freddie’s, at least live. But of course the great, late Freddie Mercury can’t and shouldn’t be absent from anything that is Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody is still his for the most part on this CD, with a bit of help from Paul on the rocking bit later in the song. And of course Love of My Life will always be his, even when it’s Brian taking lead vocals and conducting the crowd as they sing along. Nobody could hold an audience in the palm of his hand like Freddie, especially during that number, so I’ll always visualize him when I hear it. It always brings a lump to my throat, but on this occasion Brian starts off by dedicating it to Freddie’s elderly mother, who was in the audience at the concert in Sheffield recorded for this live album. Cue mega lump! Brian’s solo bits were the best I’ve heard from him, both vocally and on guitar. The sounds he can coax out of those strings have always been spectacular, but it just keeps getting better and better. Roger’s voice has slipped an octave or so over the years, but he can still hit the high notes. Not quite the “Galileo’s” anymore, but close enough. He had lead vocals on a song I’ve never heard before, which was a tribute to Nelson Mandela and the worldwide fight against AIDS/HIV. Said song contained a few notes that give hints to his background as a boy chorister, and he nailed them perfectly, without slipping into an annoying falsetto as so many are wont to do. There were loads of other surprises, too, including the gorgeous “acoustic” couple of verses of Hammer to Fall, before they kicked into the proper rockin’ version.
Anyway, I could go on and on … and on and on … but I’ll leave it there. It’s the best thing I’ve added to my CD collection in ages and I’d really recommend it to anyone, Queen fanatic or otherwise. Stephanie is so so about Queen, but she has been playing it even more than I have in the past couple of days. I don’t agree with her conclusion that it’s better than anything that Queen themselves put out, just different. But I do agree with her comment that it’s rock at its best. Well done, lads! When’s the next one coming out?