Wednesday, August 21, 2013

LA and Vegas sightings


Holy procrastination, Batman . . . look who’s back.

Actually, I haven’t been procrastinating at all, we merely had a baby on April 1st (no fooling) which put everything else on hold, including blog writing.

Nonetheless, my wife and I figured we’d make a road trip this summer down to Disneyland before our five-year-old starts kindergarten in September. So we packed up the van, drove south through Helena, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and then on to Anaheim for a two-week stay at the World’s Happiest Place.

My first Queen sighting ended up being a “hearing,” so to speak. The mid-afternoon Pixar parade through the California Adventure Park featured Don’t Stop Me Now amongst the medley of tunes played. Here’s a video clip I managed to capture as The Incredibles family scootered by me:

video

This theme park sighting reminded me of the LegoLand rocks I wrote about here.

Photo by Patrick Brooks
Photo by Patrick Brooks
The big attraction at California Adventure is the Radiator Springs Racers ride at the new Cars Land exhibit. The level of detail built into the simulated landscape and associated buildings of Radiator Springs was truly amazing. Automobile-themed music was being pumped throughout the walking areas of Cars Land and since Queen made an appearance in the Pixar parade, I half-expected a cover version of I’m In Love With My Car to be included on the playlist . . . but it wasn’t.

My next southern California Queen sighting was one that I deliberately sought out . . . their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Finding it was simple;  I looked up the address for it on Wikipedia, typed it into Google Maps, and asked my buddy Mike May (aka ProphetM from the old alt.music.queen days back in the ’90s) to take us there.

Photo by Patrick Brooks
I remember the lobbying and fundraising effort in the early 2000s by a handful of dedicated Queen fans to get a coveted pink terrazzo marble star included on the Walk of Fame. 

Photo by Patrick Brooks
And while the exact location or address of a celebrity’s star may have some connection to their career (i.e., Farrah Fawcett in front of a hair salon or Roger Moore at 7007 Hollywood Blvd), I couldn’t see any immediate reason why 6356 Hollywood Blvd. would be special to Queen. The street numbers are arbitrary and the business establishment, Hemingway’s Lounge, doesn’t appear to have any connection to Queen’s history (assuming, of course, they were there in 2002 during the dedication ceremony).

After our holiday in LA was over, we again packed up the kids and van and headed back to Vegas again on our first stop-over on the journey home. (We stayed in Luxor’s pyramid this time, just to see how the elevators worked.) On the MGM promo TV channel there was a clip of Ryan Seacrest introducing the iHeart Radio Music Festival coming up in September.

To my surprise, he mentioned that Queen and Adam Lambert would be making an appearance together. Hmm, should I plan another trip to Vegas in a month’s time? Probably not, since it won’t be a full-on concert from Q+Lambert, just a limited appearance along with other artists. I’m sure Katy Perry will enjoy hanging out with Brian and Roger backstage talking about how well her Killer Queen perfume is selling.

Photo by Patrick Brooks
The final Queen sighting on our trip was also in Vegas. There is an entertainment collectibles store in Mandalay Bay called Art of Music which I stopped into for the hell of it.

Instead of wasting time looking for Queen paraphernalia on their walls, I approached the fellow at the cash register and merely asked him what they had. He showed me an autographed drum stick by Roger up for sale. (The framing job didn’t impress me too much. In my opinion, Roger’s drum stick should be the focus rather than one of many eclectic images in the composition.)  I then asked what guarantee I have that the autograph is genuine given my previous experience with Antiquities over in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. He said he’s only had two returned items in the past five years compared to Antiquities two hundred or so returned pieces.

How he acquired those stats is a mystery but I’m inclined to believe him.



http://festival.iheart.com/?cmp=artist19
http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/07/16/how-to-get-a-star-on-the-hollywood-walk-of-fame/

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bigot, Kween, and Queer?


Here in Canada, there’s a television series called Tribute Bands which has been rebroadcasting episodes on Much Music lately. When I first saw the program listing, I set up a series recording on my PVR in the hopes that Queen might make an appearance at some point. Who knows, right?

Sure, there are more well-known tributes to bands such as Rain (The Beatles) or The Pink Floyd Experience, but I thought the Queen tribute bands I knew of would at least warrant some coverage on the series.

The first episode that recorded was a Rush-themed show (Canadian TV series = Canadian band?) but the second episode was on Queen. The program originally aired in 2007 which obviously predates the formation of the penultimate tribute to the band — Queen Extravaganza from last year. (Hey, maybe Roger caught this Queen-themed tribute program which resulted in his online QE contest a few years later.)

The hour-long episode basically follows the history of three Queen tribute bands and their Freddie impersonators: One Night of Queen from Ireland (featuring talent show winner Gary Mullen); Almost Queen from the United States; and MerQury from Germany (although by watching this episode, you'd think they were Canadian).



The struggles faced by these three bands in achieving any modicum of tribute success are considerable compared to those faced by the fast-tracked promotion of QE through the official support of Roger and Brian themselves. These bands earned their reputations through old-fashioned hard work fostered by a common love amongst the members for the band and their music.

Seeing the three tribute bands on the show got me thinking about what other tribute bands could be out there, or have been out there. After a few days of searching online (including a generous portion provided by Shane’s Queen Site) there appears to be at least 79 tribute bands that have channelled Queen. Remarkably, only a handful of these bands have dead URLs or a lack of obvious evidence that they were still active, so the worldwide demand for Queen tribute shows seems to be quite strong. Here’s the full list of band names:







What struck me as I researched the bands were not only the sheer quantity of them but also the diversity of regions from which they’re based. No surprise, the United Kingdom has a strong showing with 23  tribute bands. For whatever reason, though, Italy lays claim to the most at 25!

What’s up with the love for Queen in Italy? I know that they’ve had a robust Queen bootleg community for years so perhaps the popularity of Queen tribute bands is further proof of some long-standing, deep-rooted fandom over there.

Since they can’t use the exact name Queen, most of the bands on this list settled for a moniker that has some connection to the band, either through song titles, song lyrics, royalty, or combination thereof. But what about those band names that have no obvious connection like Pilsen, The Pilgrims, Silk, or The Vipers? Well, Rain is a Beatles tribute band, so I guess it could work as long as the branding and promotion is strong enough.

The two names that were not like the others, though, are Bigot and Queer. Unless there is some cultural or linguistic wordplay going on that I’m not understanding, I wonder why they’d opt for such derogatory labels.

Another aspect that I find puzzling from a legal point of view is why the “sampling” of Queen’s musical intellectual property (i.e., bassline from Under Pressure) is considered an unethical business practice to the extent that Queen Productions will pursue the matter in court, but the sampling of their proprietary visual identity (i.e., typeface design, crest, legacy artwork) — used by pretty much all of these tribute bands to some degree — is literally ignored by Queen Productions. What’s the difference, I wonder.

http://www.axs.tv/programs/worlds-greatest-tribute-bands/
Did the Queen Extravaganza experiment — and subsequent media coverage — brought about by Roger and Brian give billionaire Mark Cuban the idea to put together an American Idol-ish reality show aimed at tribute bands? Maybe that question will be answered when Cuban’s newly launched AXS-TV network wraps up their series called The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands, which “…pays tributes to the legendary sounds, songs and artists especially of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.”

As an aside . . . Cuban, as you’ll remember, has at least a passing connection to Queen when his beloved Dallas Mavericks won the championship back in 2011. You can see how it all ties together here in an early Queenville blog entry.

http://www.queennation.com
Queen Nation, an American band listed among the 79 tribute bands above, is scheduled to be one of the acts for the new show on May 13, 2013. I wonder if Cuban and the producers considered inviting QE to perform. Surely, that would be a good test of the promises Roger made about their musicianship, right?

Wait a minute, maybe not. Most of the viewers would probably expect a Freddie impersonator, in which case they’d be very disappointed since QE is about being loyal to the music rather than recreating the spectacle of a Queen show.


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/mark-cubans-axs-tv-spotlighting-421143

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Monday, March 4, 2013

20/20 gets crazy


Hey, what’s this . . . Elizabeth Vargas in a Queen video? Not really. The theme of last night’s 20/20 program was mating and dating and the fallout that can happen when the pair-bonds of love are challenged.

The familiar chords of CLTCL begin almost immediately as the opening sequence for the program started. And then, to my surprise, a voiceover says that “the band Queen got it right when they said love can get crazy.”

Then they played a few seconds of the official music video before showing clips from the upcoming segments on love gone wrong . . . or right, depending on how you look at it.

Just as the segment teasers play out and Elizabeth Vargas begins her anchor duties, a stylized title design for the theme of the show appears and becomes the only recurring tie-in to CLTCL throughout the show. No more Queen appearances or song clips, I’m afraid.

I must say, though, that the title design isn’t that stellar. From what I’ve seen of past 20/20 title designs, they’re usually quite sophisticated; put together with a nod towards clever visual symbolism and effective correlation between the words and any connotative meanings associated with the segment itself. This one seems a bit pedestrian, in my opinion, with the heart motif and faux comic book aesthetic. But, hey, at least it was a Queen meme they were modifying and disseminating.

The variety of topics in this episode were nothing too shocking: high-paid mistresses, swingers, cheaters. What was missing on this relationship topic was a feature on porn stars. It would seem to be the obvious example of “co-workers with benefits,” so to speak, but perhaps the subject matter was too explicit for prime time.

Mind you, if they had an adult industry segment, they’d have to change the Queen reference to Body Language.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SNL under pressure to halt video release?



In 2005, Saturday Night Live released a highlight reel of their tumultuous run during the 1980s. While it was interesting to hear from the cast members and writers from that era of the show’s history talk about the politics and drama going on at the landmark program, it was a brief clip of Queen’s Under Pressure that caught my ear when it was rebroadcast the other night on NBC.

I own the five-disc, 25th Anniversary box set of SNL’s musical numbers which contains Crazy Little Thing Called Love from 1982. What was missing from that box set was Queen’s encore performance from that 8th-season episode, Under Pressure.

A lot of Googling only resulted in a grainy, poor quality clip of UP from that show. The conspiracy theorist in me is beginning to think that someone is intentionally going out of their way to restrict the commercial distribution of that performance for some reason. Having watched the entire low-quality video, it’s obvious that Freddie’s voice wasn’t in full-on working mode so perhaps Queen Productions lobbied SNL to have it removed from any official release — either as part of the music compilation discs or from the Season 8 episode altogether.

The clip that the In the ’80s program aired only showed the band at the start of the song and Freddie’s voice was sounding as it should; it’s only when the higher notes kick in later in the song that he intentionally avoids them. I read somewhere that Freddie was up the night before having a loud argument with a “boy toy” of his and the performance suffered for it the next morning. Whatever the case, was his singing so bad that Queen Productions would want to banish it from seeing the light of day in its entirety? It seems that way. But then SNL goes and teases us with a high quality clip of that performance that we can’t buy anywhere?

What’s even more strange is what this Amazon reviewer says of the five-disc DVD set:




What? Queen performed four songs from that episode? Since when did SNL feature four songs by their musical guests? That would be pretty sweet if that was the case. (Damn, I wish they’d release that episode on DVD.) Even without four songs being played, seeing the band  co-mingle with the SNL cast members at the end to say goodbye would be worth the price of admission.

Apparently, when Vanilla Ice was the musical guest on SNL in 1991, he did not make a fan out of Dennis Miller who played the real intro to Under Pressure before his Weekend Update segment and even said “I love Bowie.”  Thank you, Dennis.

The other Queen-ish sighting on the SNL in the ’80s program had to do with the departure of Lorne Michaels as executive producer and his interim replacement, Jean Doumanian for the 1980-81 seasons. Politically, the move was controversial and threatened the loyalty of long-time SNL fans, but the changes she brought to the cast and crew did not signal the end of the TV series as everyone thought. Her appointment generated a lot of media scrutiny, however, as this newspaper article showed:

Not only does the story title contain the word “queen,” the illustration could easily be a recap of Queen II and Innuendo. Fairies? Court jesters? A white queen? An evil black queen? Land of the fireflies? Down in the dungeon with Peaches? (Sorry, different album.)

Maybe this is where Roger got the idea to use Grandville drawings for the Innuendo album. Or maybe the illustrator of this image drew inspiration by listening to Queen II uninterrupted for a few weeks straight.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390445/

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tooth Tune Stands Test of Time


Queen can certainly lay claim to playing in front of tens of thousands of people at one time in arenas and stadiums where the sound is optimized for that particular venue. But I don’t think they anticipated having their music played through a “denta-mandibular sound-transmitting system.” That’s patent lingo for Tooth Tunes toothbrushes.

The physics behind the technology would make Brian proud. “. . . a small CPU in the handle plays the featured song on the chip by transferring vibrations through the bristles, which act as transducers, into the front teeth, through the jawbone, and into the inner ear.”

I actually picked one up at the drug store the other day thinking that our five-year-old might be easily duped into brushing his teeth for a full two minutes. He’s been on a WWRY kick lately that has him continually requesting the Queen + vonlichten version whenever we’re in the car, so why not keep the momentum going?

Out of interest, I checked out the Tooth Tunes website to see what other song choices there were and to my surprise the 2012 edition of brushes has Queen sharing the youth tooth market with artists that are a lot younger than themselves.

How did that happen? Were they selected merely through a voting system as their current website prompts you to do? Did WWRY survive the voting system going all the way back to 2005 when Hasbro first marketed the toothbrushes and has maintained the status quo ever since; up to and including its current manufacturer, Arm & Hammer? It kinda looks that way.

Tooth Tunes was originally marketed by Hasbro in 2005 with an expanding song list that’s included:

Walking on Sunshine by Aly & AJ
Fun, Fun, Fun by The Beach Boys
Let’s Get It Started by The Black Eyed Peas
Play My Music by The Jonas Brothers
The Party’s Just Begun by The Cheetah Girls
Shake a Tail Feather by The Cheetah Girls
Survivor by Destiny’s Child
Brush It! by Devo
Get'cha Head In the Game by Drew Seeley and Zac Efron
The Best of Both Worlds by Hannah Montana
Pumpin’ Up the Party by Hannah Montana
Rockstar by Hannah Montana
We're All in this Together by High School Musical Cast
What Time Is It? by High School Musical Cast
Wake Up by Hilary Duff
Canned Heat by Jamiroquai
Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney
Hold On by The Jonas Brothers
Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson
Rock and Roll All Nite by Kiss
All Star by Smash Mouth
Ser o Parecer by RBD
Umbrella by Rihanna
We Will Rock You by Queen
YMCA by The Village People
Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky) by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford
Never Say Never by Justin Bieber

Hey, look who’s on there twice. . . Cheetah Girls. Hannah Montana. The cast from High School Musical. I wonder if they’ll be helping the youth brush their teeth in the year 2037, which is essentially what WWRY is accomplishing. Do any of these artists have a 30-year shelf-life? Time will tell, I guess. Come to think of it, everyone thought that Bieber’s 15 minutes was up five years ago, so who knows.

I stumbled upon a fun little how-to project where Marty from Southeast Michigan (un)breaks apart a Tooth Tunes toothbrush, just to see how the technology works. Wouldn’t you know it? He had to pick the WWRY brush. (Who oh why couldn’t he have chosen Hilary Duff’s or The Village People’s?) It’s not for the faint of heart, but here’s a link to his photo essay on the breakdown of the brush.

It does make one wonder how Queen lasted so long in this series of toothbrushes and through two different manufacturers who presumably would have a mechanism in place to select relevant songs for the demographic they’re selling to. If the average toothbrush user of this product is in their tweens, that would explain most of the song selections. But Kiss and Queen?

Ironically, Gene Simmons, the king of licensing, didn’t win this marathon of a licensing deal but Queen did. Was it the fan voting that got everyone kicked off the island (so to speak) and Queen won through honest-to-goodness popularity, or was the Hasbro and Arm & Hammer marketing teams playing a role in keeping Queen on the list? Hmm, inquiring minds want to know.


https://nuxx.net/gallery/v/acquired_stuff/tooth_tunes/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth_Tunes

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Queen of Debt


Here in Canada we have a reality show called Til Debt Do Us Part which is like “Super Nanny for money,” as the host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade describes it.

A few days ago, an episode from 2008 was broadcast again and it had an unexpected Queen reference to it, which my wife caught as the program was playing in the background. The episode was called Queen of Debt and featured a Toronto (or it is Winnipeg?) couple that met back in 2002 when they were both members of The Official International Queen Fan Club.

In their own words, Grant and Jacqueline said that they emailed back and forth for a few months, met face-to-face, and ended up getting married. They have one daughter named Taylor May although at the time of the original episode airing in 2008, Jacqueline was four-and-a-half months pregnant with their second child. (I wonder if Taylor’s name is lost on most viewers?)

No word on what they ended up naming Taylor’s sibling — who presumably would be four or five by now — but I suppose if they had a boy, they could name him Deacon John, just to reflect back on how John was referred to on Queen I.

I was really expecting the Queen theme to be more substantial than what it was on the show itself. There was no talk of their combined Queen collections and whether that was a contributing factor to their ballooning household debt. Mind you, this show is about finances and not about an intervention, as a Queen addiction would require! Nonetheless, I was hoping to see remnants of Queen memorabilia strewn about their house, either posters on the wall, or fridge magnets, or CD/video cases by the television. Nothing.

Sure the episode is called Queen of Debt and the two parents are big Queen fans and their daughter is named after two band members and Jacqueline has a reputation for being a “coupon queen,” but what about snippets of Queen music that could have been slotted into those moments in the program that called for a connection back to the band? Like I Want It All as they talked about Jacqueline’s penchant for spending and couponing? Or Another One Bites the Dust as they had to clean out their living areas of all of the clutter that was accumulating? The possibilities were endless but no Queen song made an appearance.

In the spirit of fiscal responsibility, as the show preaches, perhaps the song royalties were too high.


http://www.slice.ca/Shows/ShowsPage.aspx?Title_ID=93097
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Vaz-Oxlade

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My kingdom for a horse


With a little mitochondrial help from a distant Canadian relative, the remains of Richard the III — recently found under a paved parking lot in Leicester — have been positively identified as those belonging to the late king who died in battle in 1485.

King Richard was immortalized in several mid-millenium writings, the most famous of which is Richard III by Shakespeare. One of the most famous lines spoken by Richard in this play is “A horse, a horse . . . my kingdom for a horse.”

I’ll admit, I didn’t know the phrase came from Shakespeare nor quoted from the character of Richard the III. I do, however, recall hearing “my kingdom for a horse” innumerable times while listening to Lily of the Valley.

Was Freddie trying to quote Shakespeare or is the reference more about King Richard? I don’t know. Whatever the case, with the kingdom for a horse phrase making the news this past week, Queen and the king have crossed paths as far as I’m concerned. 

Will the remains of the King of Queen be found in some obscure resting place 500 years from now? According to the news coverage of his funeral, Freddie was cremated (which is actually against traditional Zoroastrian burial practices) so unless his cremains are kept in an urn of some kind and the container is rediscovered in the future lying under some olive green shag carpet from the 1970s, his mortal remains are gone forever; presumably cast over Lake Geneva near Montreux, but Mary Austin is keeping his whereabouts under wraps for the time being.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_mercury#Illness_and_death
http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_III_of_England


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Red Special gets popcharted


Those crazy infographic nerds at Pop Chart Lab have done it again. Back in May 2011 they released a rock ’n’ roll haircut poster where both Freddie and Brian’s hairdos make an appearance. And now they’ve introduced a poster (A Visual Compendium of Guitars) that illustrates 64 of the most famous guitars in rock history. To no one’s surprise, the Red Special can be seen surrounded by other greats from the industry.

Based on year of manufacture (1963), it gets wedged in between Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Number One” Strat from 1962  and Johnny Cash’s acoustic Martin D-35 from 1964.







I’m somewhat surprised that the 0001 Strat which currently belongs to David Gilmour wasn’t included. Oh well, I guess they only had so many years to work with and there wasn’t room for another Stratocaster. Or maybe immortalizing the 0001 on this poster was too risky because it is up for debate as to its authenticity.

Seeing all of these guitar designs together, it’s interesting to note how radical the body shapes and designs got once Gene Simmons  broke away from a conventional solid body guitar mould in 1980 when he came out with his battle axe bass guitar. (I think he even got the term battle axe trademarked, didn’t he? I seem to recall reading something about it from the early ’80s.)

Prints of this poster are available on the Pop Chart Lab website and I see that they’ve also released a modified arrangement of the guitars for sale as a monochromatic t-shirt design, as seen here:



















http://popchartlab.com/products/a-visual-compendium-of-guitars
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_0001_Strat

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Queen featured in Revv52 show


A few nights ago, I attended a performance of British tunes by Revv52, a local vocal ensemble based here in Calgary.

Revv52 has been a local singing sensation here in Calgary since 1952 when it began life as the Calgary Choral Society operating out of the Wesley United Church. The essence of their group, as their website states, is to bring “…their unique and high energy performance to many audiences. Revv52 performances offer up a diverse fusion of musical styles and energy, layering vocal arrangements and rhythms.”

I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Revv52 until my colleague asked me if I was interested in going since she knew I was into classic British rock. When she showed me the London Calling promo for the event, I immediately noticed “Queen” listed first amongst the musical acts that were being covered. Hmm. How will they do on Bohemian Rhapsody, I wondered. What the hell, I’m in. My friend arranged to buy the tickets and we met up prior to the show which was being held at a local church.

As the three of us sat waiting for the show to start, I flipped through the complimentary program and noticed two Queen references: 1) Radio Ga Ga was mentioned in the Artistic Director’s commentary about how the show came to be, and 2) Ga Ga is listed again in the centrefold spread at the end of Act 2.

Here’s the full list of 19 songs performed in the show:

Act 1
Those Were the Days (Mary Hopkins)
Dedicated Follower of Fashion (The Kinks)
Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones)
Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
Downtown (Petula Clark)
To Sir With Love (Lulu)
For Your Love (The Yardbirds)
Time of the Season (The Zombies)
If I Fell (The Beatles)
My Generation (The Who)

Act 2
Video Killed the Radio Star (The Buggles)
Adventures of Major Tom (David Bowie)
Mercy (Aimee Duffy/Stephen Booker)
Wannabe (The Spice Girls)
Every Breath You Take (The Police)
Your Song (Elton John)
I’m Not in Love (10cc)
London Calling (The Clash)
Radio Ga Ga (Queen)

Wait a minute . . . they’re closing with Radio Ga Ga? I didn’t expect that. Okay, let’s see who in the audience will follow along in fascist style to the hand-clapping that was bound to come up during the chorus.

During the 30-minute intermission, I mentioned to my two concertmates that I didn’t think that Radio Ga Ga was famous enough for this crowd to be a strong closer. One of even admitted that she hadn’t even heard of the song. So I found it on my iPhone, hit play, and held it up to her ear but it still didn’t ring a bell for her. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come for the finale.

Photo by Patrick Brooks
After Dan Duguay — one of the senior members of the vocal ensemble — delivered a strong version of London Calling, he introduced the four musicians who constituted the “band” — Trevor Waters, Steve Pineo, Kit Johnson, and Nicolai Drost. His comments ended and another voice could be heard: “The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles. This was their finest hour. Winston Churchill. Freddie ‘freakin’ Mercury!” There was a mild roar from the crowd. At least a few people in the audience were on board for the finale.

The opening synthesizer segment to Radio Ga Ga could be heard and then the drums kicked in. Kitty Bosch, a female soloist from the group, stepped forward and delivered a decent rendition of the tune. The hand-clapping from the crowd didn’t happen (at least not that I could see from the angle I was seated at), but that’s okay. I think the fact that 55 singers were gesturing in unison was enough to mimic the music video and get the point across.

As a finale, this song did get a standing ovation so as a closer it seemed to work. Brian Farrell, the group’s Artistic Director and Conductor, turned around to face the audience during the ovation period and when people began to sit back down, Brian shared these thoughts . . .

“London, England...quite a town. It was 2004 when I went there for the first time. And I went there with a Calgarian who actually had two hit singles on the British charts at the time. He’s now an international singer and songwriter. He’s from Calgary. Well, at the time he was performing in a matter of ten days 30 clubs all over England. It was the very first time in my life that I had been to clubs like this. Very first time. I was amazed. Well, this summer I went back to London and this time I walked the streets where The Beatles walked; where the Rolling Stones did their very first audition at Duck Lane. And just around the corner from Duck Lane is Denmark Street . . . and there was this studio, Regent Studio . . . Regent Sound Studio. That’s where the Stones recorded their first album. Yeah, and around the corner from that, not too far away, Trident Studios. A multi-track studio where David Bowie recorded his song Space Oddity. And Queen. Queen recorded their great, great hits. Queen. Queen! Give a listen . . . ”

And so began the piano intro to Somebody To Love. I guess Radio Ga Ga wasn’t the closer after all. Did they bring the house down, in my opinion? No, but it got more of a standing ovation than Radio Ga Ga, which is saying a lot. Apparently, the Revv52 show planned for May 2013 will be called British Rhapsody, so obviously they’ll be playing BoRhap at that show. Maybe they’ll even throw in an extra Queen tune like they did this time.

http://www.revv52.com
The next day, I sought out Brian Farrell’s opinion on all things Queen-related in this show as I figured he’d be privy to how those decisions were made. I compiled a list of questions and fired off an email to him after the performance:

Q: On the cover of the program, poster, etc., Queen gets first billing, so to speak, on the list of songs being featured. Was there a particular reason they were put first or was it simply coincidence?

A: Queen is so recognizable to the general public and certainly would draw attention.

Q: Radio Ga Ga ends the show according to the program. What criteria was in place to choose that Queen song over the more popular ones that could have been chosen, and was there a particular reason it was selected as the finale?

A: When I was in London this past summer, I talked to the gentleman who books punk bands at the 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street. He mentioned that Queen was embraced by him and the punk musicians when they performed their huge Wembley show in 1986. That song in particular is a huge stadium rock song.

Q: After RGG, you went on to describe the recording studios on Denmark Street that many famous acts used to record landmark albums. As soon as you mentioned Trident Studios, I knew where you were headed but was surprised at the passion behind your Queen commentary that segued into the real finale, Somebody To Love. Is Queen a favourite of yours and is that why you opted for a second Queen tune to wrap up with? Was there any discussion amongst the other Revv52 members as to alternative finale songs. If so, what were the suggestions?

A: I just appreciate great innovative music — Freddie Mercury had a one of a kind voice for that genre of music and the band was stellar. The innovations for the multi-track recordings were substantial! We were all confident that the closer would work as a Queen song — the theme of the song wraps nicely around what we were saying in the second act — radio was a thing of the past and video killed the radio star. Bohemian Rhapsody is the song we’ll perform in May. We knew that Somebody To Love was a strong arrangement and we could meet the demands of the music as Revv52.

Q: Did the gospel quality of STL have any bearing on its selection for a performance in a church setting? Just curious.

A: Hopefully the entire show didn’t reflect a church setting — we sought out the space because of its accoustic — we could do something with our signature sound in that venue. The arrangement of STL is excellent for the voices of Revv52 to shine!

Q: For what it’s worth, I think putting the Revv52 touch on Queen’s The Prophet’s Song would make an amazing performance. As a matter of fact, a whole concert of Queen tunes would be sweet, but that’s just me talking :-)

A: I enjoyed Queen in my earlier years, but I now appreciate the musicianship and the quality of the work as expressed in the writing when I am able to study an arrangement/vocal chart of their work.  And when we can bring it to life and express the music of Queen as a vocal ensemble of 55 singers and rock band!

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Photo by Patrick Brooks
As a side note, Dan Duguay and I have crossed paths once before. I was asked to design the cover art and liner notes for a CD called Songs From the Oil Patch by a group of local musicians who called themselves Hwy 63. Dan was one of the musicians involved with the project.

When I was at the recording studio one afternoon to get some cover art approved by the project’s main financier, I was called into the studio to help with background vocals on a song called Roughneck. Small world, eh?


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