With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ January 21, 2019


have never been a fan of biographical faction style films of musicians and bands, some have had their good points, while many have been dire in my opinion. So I really wasn’t keen to see the Queen/ Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but I was torn as everyone I knew that has seen it said it was stunning. They all told me I might need tissues to dry my eyes at times too, more of that later, but I thought they were bluffing. Anyway these last ten days or so I have been on an extended business trip to the USA. On Sunday I found myself downtown when it started to rain, so I thought why not pop into the conveniently close cinema. As luck would have it the next film on was ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ so I thought what the hell, I’ll give it a go!

The film certainly feels like it captures what life was like for Queen in the early days and how their life changed as they became successful. The story is told largely as Farouk Bulsara a.k.a. Freddie Mercury’s life but the interaction with all the other main players; Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, John Reid, Mary Austin, Paul Prenter and Jim Beach to name just a few is well portrayed and is full of pathos, humour and love. There are far too many highlights to mention all of them, you should see the film yourself if you haven’t already. But for me the gestation and recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is thrillingly done. The ongoing joke about Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car” is hilarious. The Live Aid element, not just the concert but the lead up to it is heartwarming and highly interesting to us music anoraks. Finally the way Freddie tells his band mates that he has AIDS is so emotionally moving that yes I did need the tissues.

I never spotted it at first but EMI Executive Ray Foster was played by Mile Myers and perhaps more amusingly for Queen historians the guy in the truck stop scene who seems to be giving Freddie the come on is none other than Adam Lambert! The script, the acting, the production, the casting and the soundtrack are all brilliant. However the best thing about it for me is Rami Malek who so many times during the film made me believe I was watching a documentary. He had the emotional highs and lows spot on, especially in the highs and lows of his relationship with his family and his band family. Also the confusion of his long time relationship with Mary Austin. I am so very glad that I got to see this film and just sorry that it took me so long.

 

“To avoid complications she never kept the same address” January 19, 2019

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As far as iconic band names go Queen must be right up near the top right? Well I think so, however they did consider other names, Brian May was apparently particularly keen on Grand Dance while Roger Taylor submitted Rich Kids. I wonder if Glen Matlock, Midge Ure and their gang knew about Taylor’s choice? Maybe the Rich Kids 1978 hit was all about Roger Taylor’s idea for a name. Who knows?

 

“You remind me of the babe” September 20, 2016

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I have always been a very big fan of David Bowie as regular readers of this blog know. However I have never been overly enamoured with his performance in ‘Labyrinth‘. But given that this film introduced a whole new generation to the former Mr Jones then I can’t complain. It also introduced the world to the acclaimed ‘Bowieage’ a.k.a. the cod piece like moose hoof that made an appearance in the groin area of the Dame‘s costume.

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So, why is ‘Labyrinth’ suddenly of interest? Well it has come to light that Mr Bowie may not have been first choice for the part of Jareth the Goblin King. Another two British rock stars were also considered for the role before David Bowie. Yes I can confirm that both Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury were also thought about as potential Goblin Kings! Personally I still believe that Bowie was the better choice from those three. What do you think?

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“We skipped the light fandango” October 15, 2014


Photo of PROCOL HARUM

Five years ago in 2009 Procol Harum‘s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was still the most played song on UK radio. Queen‘s  “Bohemian Rhapsody” was at number two in that listing. In a strange coincidence both songs use the word ‘fandango’ in their lyrics. Are their any other songs that use ‘fandango’ in their lyrics?

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“The best years of my life are like a supernova” March 17, 2014


Freddie-Mercury-of-Queen-011Before they chose the name Queen (which incidentally was chosen by Freddie Mercury) Messrs May, Mercury, Deacon and Taylor were at one point considering a very different name. They might well have been called Build Your Own Boat! Does that work for you? It doesn’t work for me. Would they have been as big with a name like that? Who knows?

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“Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go)” January 7, 2014

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Queen-Funny-D-queen-31231886-498-361Back in 1975 when Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was number one in the UK charts for the first time did you notice that it’s lyrics contained the name of the song which succeeded its 9-week run at the top in early 1976? I certainly didn’t notice, but obviously it has the phrase “Mama Mia” in it which is the title of the Abba song which followed it to number one. I wonder if that has ever happened since? It certainly didn’t happen when “Bohemian Rhapsody” returned to the UK number one spot after the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991. It was followed by Wet Wet Wet with “Goodnight Girl” then.

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“From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell” – Advent day 7 December 7, 2013


sevenWell that’s it, the first week of December is almost over and now it’s just over eighteen days until the big old bloke in the red coat parks his venison on your roof and somehow manages to squeeze his excessive girth down your chimney! That means of course that today is December 7th and that in turn means that todays choices that sit behind the advent calendar door feature the number seven in their titles.

Queen-To-Appear-In-Lego-Rock-Band-2First I bring you the mighty Queen with a magnificent slice of rock, “Seven Seas Of Rhye” taken from the album ‘Queen II‘. It was the bands first single and their first UK hit. It reached number ten in 1974 which was far better than their first two singles none of which charted. They were “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar”. It was the success of “Seven Seas Of Rhye” that supposedly inspired Freddie Mercury to take up Queen as his full-time job. The band made their first Top Of The Pops appearance performing the song in February 1974. The album version of the song fades into a few people singing an old British Music Hall song; “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside”. It was written by John A Glover-Kind and first recorded by Mark Sheridan in 1909.

s7ev123340The second song for today remains one of my favourites. It is “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. Is this perhaps Jack White’s finest hour so far? Very possibly in my opinion. It was released in 2003 and comes from the album ‘Elephant’. It reached number 7 in the UK chart, number 4 in Germany and number 3 in Italy. While it only made it to number 76 on the US Billboard chart it did climb to number one on the US Alternative Songs chart. It became their second biggest UK hit after “Icky Thump” from 2007. “Seven Nation Army” which was written by Jack White has been covered by many artists including; Living Colour, Flaming Lips, Metallica, Alice Russel, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kate Nash and Kelly Clarkson. It was also massacred (in my opinion) by X Factor runner-up Marcus Collins in 2012.

 

“Fairy tales of yesterday, will grow but never die, I can fly, my friends” July 31, 2013


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That well-known badger supporter Brian May has unearthed some recordings made by Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson at Jacko’s home in 1983. He has worked on them with fellow Queen member Roger Taylor and William Orbit. I guess the issue will be whether or not the three songs will live up to the expectations. was it quality control that kept them from release until now? Another big name duet for Jacko was Mick Jagger who joined the Jacksons on the single “State Of Shock” from the brothers ‘Victory’ album in 1984. Personally I was and still remain underwhelmed by that song. Other elements of posthumous twiddling may have fared well but for me the quality was lacking with the Beatles “Free As A Bird” which was based around a very basic John Lennon demo recording.But let’s keep fingers crossed that this stuff is actually good.

Michael+Jackson++Freddie+Mercury+FreddieMichael

Paul Gambaccini has suggested that the songs were dubbed the Llama recordings given that Jacko allegedly brought his Llama into the studio when Freddie was there. A cautionary note was sounded by the Guardian’s Laura Barton who said “It feels like we’re sucking the artists’ bones dry… sometimes it would be nice to leave them with a little bit of dignity.” I think I can agree with her sentiments there. But I obviously won’t pass judgement until I have heard the songs. The release seems likely to be later this year. So while you wait take a listen to some classic Jacko and classic Queen and a couple of Jacko versus Queen mash-ups!

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Lady Gaga – MEN Arena Manchester – Tuesday 11th September 2012 September 12, 2012


Some months ago I bought tickets for Catwoman and I to go and see Lady Gaga on her Born This Way Ball show. Well the time finally came around and we were there at the MEN last night. I should say up front that as far as the music goes I have been a fan of Gaga for a while so I was certainly looking forward to seeing her. But first there was the little matter of the Darkness who were on stage when we arrived at the MEN. I have unfinished business with these guys. I saw them at the Reading Festival back in 2003 when they were easily the highlight of Saturday afternoon. In fact highlight would be an understatement, they blew the opposition away. However the following year they were elevated to headliners and they truly sucked the big one, they were awful. So whilst I was pleased that they have got back together I was a little apprehensive. In my opinion they are easily back to their best and their new album is pretty good too. Catwoman wasn’t so keen and claimed that the volume almost had her ears bleeding! possibly a little exaggeration there!

After Justin and the boys left the stage we were promised a 30 minute wait for HRH Gaga, this stretched to about an hour which is never a good thing is it? Gaga’s entrance though did tick all the right dramatic and spectacular boxes. The curtains dropped to reveal a stage set that was part Disney princess castle and part Hammer Horror film left over. She then made her way onto the stage on the back of what can only be described as a very posh pantomime horse. For most of the gig the band were hidden away in the castle; shades of Bowie’s theatrical excursion across the USA in 1974 for the Diamond Dogs tour.

I felt that all of Ms Germanotta’s influences were on show during the evening. Bowie in the theatrical element, Freddie Mercury in how she tried to manage the crowd and I suspect her loyal little monsters won’t like this; Madonna for all the costume changes and a bra with two guns pointing from it. I can’t believe that didn’t have it’s roots in Madge’s now iconic cone bra from a few years back. How did all this rate? 9 out of 10 for the theatrical set, 4 out of 10 for crowd control and 8 out of 10 for costumes. Including one dress that allowed her to move like a Dalek, now that was cool!

Her songs are very strong and the dancers and the band are also very good. All the hits were rolled out “Born This Way”, “Just Dance”, “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro” to name but a few. It wasn’t her fault but I do believe the sound from her head mic could have been better. It certainly improved when she used a hand-held or one in a stand. Keeping up the scoring theme I will award her 10 out of 10 for the songs and 8 for the singing and the dancing, including the Lady herself, gets an 8 from me. So if I add all those scores together that would be 47 out of 60. Which is not a bad score is it? However I need to adjust it with at least a minus 30 for all the pretentious crap she spouted not so much between songs but in the prolonged talking part of the show. It’s right that a good artist should change the tempo of a performance but what she did was effectively grind it to a halt just to talk bollocks for what seemed like ages. I know that one of the dancers had suffered a family bereavement, but even so this was way, way over the top.

Constant questions about whether we ‘give a fuck’ or not tend to grate after a while. For the record I purchased tickets and I own her albums so I do give a fuck. My question to Gaga is do you? The little monsters worshipping mother monster is all well and good but her pontifications were almost cult like and a little bit Dubya in the sense that you’re either with us or you’re not, no in-between. I was with her, but now I’m not. So I assume that this make’s me the Gaga equivalent of a ‘cheese eating surrender monkey’

Also how many times did she have to tell us that “Born This Way” was written at the MEN during her last major UK tour. Once would have been enough. Then there was the new song about Princess Diana. It sounds like a reasonable song, but the spoken introduction which went on and on and on added nothing to it and would have struggled to raise a laugh or excitement from someone afflicted with a disease that means they laugh all the time.

She has a fixation for Disney Princesses and a clear dislike for Barbie which surprises me given how bland, insipid and devoid of controversy most Disney princesses actually are. It was quite amusing to see Ms Germanotta struggling to rip Barbie’s limbs off though. Overall I was disappointed I expected more from someone who I still believe has much potential and talent. But she really does need to take her head out of her, albeit rather nice, arse and get real before I would ever consider seeing her again.

Gaga has left the building and seems to have at least temporarily removed her head from her arse

 

London 2012 – The Olympics Closing Ceremony August 13, 2012


So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.

I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.

Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.

The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.

The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!

One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”

To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”.  The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.

Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.  This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.

George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90”  his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.

George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot

A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.

Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!

A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?

ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.

Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.

It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.

The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.

I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/  Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.

Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!

Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.

 

 
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