26 April, 2013

The Cosmos Rocks, a proper review

I've covered some of my thoughts on The Cosmos Rocks earlier, but in keeping with what's hopefully a better format, I'm re-doing my review.

My opinion on this album has shifted a lot. I think my initial excitement had to do with how excellent Return Of The Champions was for me. Seriously, Brian, Roger, and Paul Rodgers work really well together. I don't give a shit what any Bastard Queen Fan says... not just about this subject, but about anything in general.

So based on that track alone, I had really high hopes and expectations for The Cosmos Rocks. The fact that Brian and Roger are notorious perfectionists is enough for me to have high expectations, really. I wanted a good album. It didn't have to be A Night At The Opera-good, but it had to be decent, y'know? And by 2008, Brian, Roger, and Paul should have been able to cut an amazing album in their sleep.

I will say it again and again and again: The intro to Cosmos Rockin', which I imagine was supposed to be a nod to One Vision's intro, with the slow voice and all, was fucking stupid. Specifically, what that voice said was stupid. I cannot, for the life of me, listen to that intro without cringing. The rest of the song holds up okay, though. It's got a good, catchy riff, and the lyrics aren't too terrible. But then, like any and every Queen album, most of the lyrical content is never meant to be anything deeper than what we hear - obvious exception being Bohemian Rhapsody (I don't care what the actual meaning is, but there's definitely something major underneath the surface). But even something like Sleeping On The Sidewalk can resonate so profoundly for someone for any given reason. But the lyrics for Cosmos Rockin' are definitely disposable, as Freddie would say. There's not much thought to them, which would be fine if this was the case on just this song. But sadly...

Not to sound cliche`, but Time To Shine was a nice breath of fresh air. Maybe because it sounds like it could have been on Innuendo. But it's structurally and lyrically good. There's no part of it that I dislike, which is always a plus. Not much more to say, really.

Still Burnin' is mostly great. The chorus kind of reminds me of Tear It Up, in that it's just random words thrown together, but it works somehow. My only criticism is the stomp-stomp-clap from We Will Rock You thrown in at the 2:40 mark because it doesn't sound like a nod, but more like insecurity. It was like Brian didn't trust the track to hold up on its own, and dug up a hit that would be a complimentary overlap in the hopes that fans would dig it. I think if I had any say in it, I'd throw in a really kickass guitar solo, and put underneath that part of the solo and/or the chorus from We Will Rock You just above the background. To me, that would make more sense. But maybe there's a reason I'm not a great songwriter.

I like the first half of Small. The lyrics are excellent, and the simple acoustic is terrific. I think, honestly, it could have ended at the 2:43 mark. The guitar solo that comes in there seems a bit lazy, and there doesn't seem to be a reason to keep the song going after that.

Warboys is flawless. Fucking. Flawless.

I like We Believe because with Freddie, Queen wasn't all that political with their music. And unlike most celebrities, Roger and Brian aren't disingenuous. When they say something like, "We have to make the world better and quit being assholes to each other for no reason," they step up and do what they're able. And write songs after the fact to further promote their principles. It's the antithesis of the slactivism you see on Facebook!

I have a hard time getting into the lyrics in Call Me. Around the time he was collaborating with Queen, Paul's net worth was around $14 million, and he's singing about his house "crumbling down." I don't know if he's frugal or what, but I have a similar problem with the members of Green Day continuing to write songs about being poor, desperate teenagers stuck in the boonies well after American Idiot brought them tons of money (Billie Joe Armstrong is supposedly worth $55 million). This is totally my issue. I get that Call Me is supposed to be a throwback to the music of these guys' younger years, but I still can't enjoy it for what it is, which is a shame.

Voodoo is not really my taste, but it's an alright track. Not much to say beyond that.

When I first heard Some Things That Glitter, it made me happy that Brian finished his demo from 1986. And it was worth the wait! But I think I prefer Kerry Ellis' version.

My first taste of The Cosmos Rocks was this clip of C-lebrity on Al Murray's Happy Hour. The riff is catchy, the lyrics are snarky toward celebrities who are famous for being famous (and presumably toward artists who spell shit weird), and I adore it. Tip: If you think you're hot shit because you're an autotune-dependent amalgam of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Lady Ga Ga, Ke$ha, etc., this song is talking about you. And that's not a good thing. Before record producers were scouting - ahem - talent on Youtube, musicians put in a little thing called "effort", which was concentrated into their sound, and if they were good enough, their musical talent was enough to make them attractive and fashionable. There are people to this day who give zero fucks about how ugly Mick Jagger is. The fact that he's the guy that sings It's Only Rock 'N' Roll and struts on stage like a fucking chicken gives him ALL the sex appeal. And it's traced back to the music, so there's a nice cycle happening. But we don't have that anymore. Now we've got Justin fucking Bieber. It should be noted that it's not just that I dislike his music, his celebrity status has made him into a spoiled brat and allowed him to reach levels of "shitty person" no common person can hope to achieve or have publicly recognized.

.... But I digress.

The chorus of Through The Night sounds disjointed from the rest of the song. Or maybe "pasted in" would be a more accurate description? Even at 4:54, the track seems like an unfinished idea, and Paul sounds, to me, like he doesn't give a shit about singing this.

I like Say It's Not True for a variety of reasons, the first being similar to why I like We Believe. Second, because it not only addresses the devastation that HIV/AIDS brings to some of the more vulnerable parts of countries in Africa, it calls attention that the medicines readily available are too expensive in those countries. And the third reason is it reminds me of the collaborative efforts on Let Me Live.

... I don't know what the fuck is going on in Surf's Up... School's Out! Like, no idea. And, going on a similar train of thought as with Call Me, these guys are all in their 60s and they're singing about school being done for the year. I mean, what the fuck? Roger probably still has school-aged children, but surely his house is big enough that he's not feeling crowded by their presence in the summer months? And that obnoxious "YEEEAAAAAHH!" just makes me want to weep.

I've been trying to write this all afternoon, and I had to take a break for a couple hours to collect my thoughts. I think the main problem with this entire album is that nobody's pushing anybody to do better. The main reason every Queen album is awesome (some less so than others, but still) is that each member of the band demanded the rest of their band mates bring their absolute best to the table. I don't follow Paul Rodgers' career, but I can imagine he didn't get to this point by not taking his music seriously. That's not to say that Brian and Roger can't stand on their own, but when they work together, they have a responsibility to themselves and their devoted fans to deliver something damn good. Like, if The Cosmos Rocks was something just for the three of them, fine. But it was promoted as being a big deal, and therefore Brian and Roger, using the Queen name, had an obligation to put out something damn good. And while this wasn't the worst thing to ever happen to music, this is a pretty big let-down.

23 April, 2013

Wall art

It's no big secret that one of the walls in my apartment is dedicated to all my Queen stuff. I live alone, so I could very well have every inch of every wall covered in Queen stuff if I so desired, but I've chosen to keep the awesome concentrated in one specific area. Due to my finances and my discriminating taste, I'm very selective and careful about what gets put up.

I came across something pretty magnificent on my Tumblr feed, and I couldn't resist printing it out.

This is obviously not complete, but I don't care! I think I prefer it this way. This was done by AG (wewasglam). I told them I'd printed the picture to hang on my wall, and that I'd give them credit. So here's proof of that:

I also just got a really kickass poster from their Queen I photo shoot :-)

13 April, 2013

Random flailing and screaming

My friend Toni is awesome. He's my writing coach, friend, and fellow Queen fan. We bonded during one of my first writing workshops when I moved to Boston. I'd had a bad haircut and was wearing my fitted Queen hat (no longer in my possession. Sigh), and many of our conversations have revolved around Queen and Freddie ever since!

He went to see Queen at their Portland, Maine show on August 27, 1980. At the end of the concert, Freddie tossed some roses. Toni snatched one up and kept it in storage ever since. He recently got it back and decided to give it to me tonight. The color has since faded and it no longer smells like beer. But that's not the point. The point is...


According to A Concert Documentary by Greg Brooks (second edition), Queen's setlist was as follows:

Jailhouse Rock / We Will Rock You (fast) / Let Me Entertain You / Play The Game / Medley: Mustapha; Death On Two Legs; Killer Queen; I'm In Love With My Car; Get Down, Make Love; You're My Best Friend / Save Me / Another One Bites The Dust / Now I'm Here / Dragon Attack / Now I'm Here (reprise) / Fat Bottomed Girls / Love Of My Life / Keep Yourself Alive / Brighton Rock / Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Bohemian Rhapsody / Tie Your Mother Down / Encore: Sheer Heart Attack / Second encore: We Will Rock You (slow) / We Are The Champions / God Save The Queen

11 April, 2013

Gunpowder Gelatine and Bikini Whale

I went to Johnny D's in Davis Square to see the ever-awesome Gunpowder Gelatine on April 6th. The opening band was a B-52s cover called Bikini Whale. I'm not, by any stretch, a B-52s fan due to a retail-related, emotionally-scarring incident, but they were pretty excellent.

(Note, this is a different performance.)

Before that, though, I got to see the band walk in, give hugs, etc. and geek out with Allison and a friend (employer?) of hers. We discussed other tribute bands, Queen's Boston show in 1982, the Freddie Mercury biopic, etc. Usually they're really busy setting up so I can't say more than a few words to them, so it was really nice to have an entire conversation with at least one of them :-) Also, a REALLY hot (seriously, damn!) bartender didn't charge me for my soda (I'm not a big drinker)! I originally wanted to take pictures, and I brought my camera, but for some reason I always take embarrassingly bad pictures of their performances. But thankfully, Amanda Johnston, Allison's spouse, takes fantastic ones and gave me permission to use them :-) (thank you!)

When the show was posted on Facebook in March, I asked the band if I could put in a request for Spread Your Wings. The concert date was April 6, but April 5th is a significant anniversary for me. I figured they would play it and that would be the end of it, but they really went all out making me feel really appreciated and special. And John Doherty filmed the glorious moment (as well as many other songs)!!!

Yep, that's my shoulder and head :-)

Amanda tried her best to get this shot with her iPhone. I love it even if it is misleading about my body shape :-)

Yours truly with the shoulder bag :-)

So yeah! I had an excellent time even if I had to miss out on the company of my friend Katie. Next time!