Hi folks. This is the third part of my post about my years as a Queen fan and it is meant to tie up some loose ends, plug any wholes in the story, any other metaphors to that affect. I had forgotten to mention how some things had taken place, in order for me to become the fan of such a band as Queen.
First of all, I’m going to go back to 1983, when I was being punished for speaking up. I could go on about other times I had been basically told to shut up by authority in school, but this is not the place for it. Maybe in another blog post I may tackle that and one which hurts more than you can imagine.
So, how did Bob and myself meet? In junior school when I was a bad boy, being punished for swearing. Actually, I called a potential bully a prick when I was just about to turn 10 in 1983 and it was over which record we would hear that night, or which records we had heard lately to help put us to sleep. Because of my mouth, I was shipped off to where the younger students stayed and slept, for the second time that school year. I was 9 and just about to turn 10 so, in Queen terms the Hot Space tour had ended and it would be a few months before Brian would get on stage with def Leppard and Los Angeles, during the Pyromania tour, which is documented on a live album, as the second disk of the deluxe version of Pyromania, to end off the show with Travellin’ Band.
The first time was because I had written a letter with all sorts of nasty words to a staff member, whom I had no love for, because she had made a bad first impression on me when I was six. My first memory of that person was them spanking me, for doing something wrong and we didn’t get a chance to say hi, or anything before then. I forget what it was and frankly, I don’t care.
Anyway, when I was in the other wing of the residence, I was walking around, crying and Bob basically took me into his room and we had become friends. We learned that we shared the same sense of humour and like the same TV shows at the time. We both liked mimicking other peoples voices and especially the staff at our school. No, we weren’t the only ones and other people were known to do that too and the staff knew that we did that. I don’t know how they felt and it doesn’t bother me either way.
Back then Bob was playing some hot piano and one song I remember was a tuen called Alley Cat and I don’t know who composed it, but I do remember that it was in the key of C. He had got better as years went on and even tried playing guitar. With Queen, I wasand will always be into the rock first and foremost, with Bob being into the ballads, symphonic rock and progressive rock side. I like all of that too, but as I had mentioned before I’ve always said that Queen are a hard rock band first before anything else. After all, that’s how the first album had started. Right?
Last I had heard, Bob is doing well for himself and this is an old link and he is older than 31 now. In fact, he will be 47 in November. http://bobreid.ca/?fbclid=IwAR1PpghU459MhK1TryuxxojOcluHaO0cCl-o_GTStivTFyCTN7E0TENyReI
When I had bought The Miracle on CD in 1991, it was on June 1st of that year, the day before I turned 18 and I remember being excited to listen to it and News Of The World on CD, as I had bought it that day as well.
The first Queen album I ever bought was Innuendo on tape in March of 1991 and next was Sheer Heart Attack in May of that year, also on tape. My first Queen albums on CD were News Of The World, The Miracle and once again, Sheer Heart Attack, with A Day At The Races in there somewhere.
I had got a portable CD player in 1991, with cassette and radio as a part of the unit and the first Queen album I had sampled was A Night at the Opera and Death On Two Legs, as I got it from my parents for Christmas that year and I would take it to school with me. That boom box also gave me strength in order to overcome the haters and I stuck to the first few albums and the hard rock, in order to try and change minds. I don’t think that it had worked, but I did try.
Our school had an event called Run For Light and I forget what the purpose of it was, but I do remember BohRhap being played during the 1994 event, which would normally take place in May, just before the May 24 weekend, or the Victoria Day long weekend in Ontario. It was documented on our audio yearbook for the 1993/ 1994 school year and our lab ensemble also played during the event, but no Queen songs that year. The closest thing to Queen for me that we did was to learn the song …In That Quiet Earth from the Wind & Wuthering album from Genesis and that album is one of the reasons I had put them in the long list of bands, who kept me holding on to Queen.
The first Queen song I had learned on guitar was probably Now I’m Here and I had learned any and all Queen songs by ear. I know I had tried playing bits of other songs from Innuendo and I Can’t Live With You was one of them. I couldn’t get the touch right for the latter and so, I had just played it like I had and learned it, like any other Queen songs, where the guitar was a main instrument, besides bass and drums.
Speaking of drums, the only Queen song I ever attempted to play on drums was Fat Bottomed Girls and that was back in 1991, when I only had the single version of the song to go from and had no idea, that the album version was longer. Needless to say, I sucked at it and I was better on guitar, vocals and bass. I did it because my guitar teacher wanted me to try and put together some sort of demo of myself and I had done that at home, but not with a band type of setting. I had opted to do everything myself and I managed to take care of everything, except for drums and I did play everything on the recording, but not everything was done well.
I did much better with Body Language in 1993, with keyboards, which was not my instrument and I actually sang it as well as Freddie did, but I had to change it slightly.
Another thing which kept me holding on to Queen was actually a TV weather channel. No, not The Weather Channel, but its Canadian counterpart called The Weather Network. Why and how? One of the music beds leading into winter storm coverage in or around 1992 sounded much like parts of Don’t Lose Your Head and during local forecasts, background music would play. Some of the music was jazzy, some classical, but others sounded rather Poppe and singable, like the less rocky Queen tracks. Some of the music reminds me of what Freddie or John had written and most of the music came from a group called Network Music Ensemble. The music was spread over many albums focusing on either a specific instrument, genre, or demeanor. For example: there is an album called World Beat with songs which have some Caribbean flavored, as well as other sounds throughout the world. There is an album called Gentle Guitar, which has songs which focus on the acoustic guitar and yes, there is even a song with a Caribbean flavour which ends it off. One of the songs on it reminds me (melodically) of some aspects of Play The Game, even if it is in a different key. Music from this group was and probably is played still on both The Weather Network and The Weather Channel, along with appearing in commercials or paid advertisements. Just do a search for Network Music Ensemble on which ever streaming service you use and there are a lot of albums to go through. I suggest looking through albums instead of songs, because that will make things faster and as a hint, all of the music I have found was released in 2011, according to iTunes and Youtube Music. I have found out that this music may have come out some time in the 80s and it doesn’t surprise me, given how the mixes sound of that time. There are countless examples of this with songs with drums, but I can assure you that what I am saying is true.
I had mentioned Nine Inch Nails and I had connected them to Queen immediately, even before I knew anything about Trent Reznor’s influences, or that he had done Get Down Make Love. The 1992 remix album Fixed is packaged in much the same type of CD case as the We Will Rock You EP in 1991 and I must have known that there was something there to why I love NIN as much as I do. In more recent years, I had read on Wikipedia that Trent was more affected by the death of Freddie, rather than John Lennon. That confirms it and would have, if I had known before 1996.
I had heard the fast studio version of We Will Rock You in 1992, over and over again over a period of 2 years, when radio stations had used foreground programming, especially on the weekends. Remember in the first post of this series I had talked about hearing songs which would later appear on A Night at the Odeon? I would hear WWRY and select songs from that concert until some time in the 2000s, when radio stations stopped playing live music as a part of long-form programming , which is what foreground programming is, from 30 minutes to 3 hours of nothing but specialized programming, either focussing on the genre or play live music, or (in the old days on FM radio) a trivia program on Sunday evenings, or a talk show in the middle of the day from Monday to Friday, or also on Sunday evenings until about 2004. Now it’s all about just playing what is in rotation and maybe a radio station will get one or 2 hours of free time, for foreground programming. Any talk shows are reserved for talk radio stations now, as programmers had circle the waggons sometime in the 90s.
When I finally had access to the internet and through a data plan, I had learned about the Queen The Greatest compilation from 2009, Queen On Fire and the singles boxed sets, which I wish were available to everyone digitally. Paul McCartney had released his own such boxed set of singles in December 2022 and it had many tracks which were never available to us on digital and streaming platforms before, without having to go on Youtube and search for the song as a video from a fan. I wish that Queen would rerelease all 3 volumes of the singles boxed set and then, we would all have all of the music which was released for us. Sure, collecting albums and CDs is good, but the most important thing is the music and that will outlast anything physical. Right? I know that I may get some pushback on this so, hear me out. I love CDs and I love the whole ritual of listening to music by putting the disk into the player, after taking the disk ot of the case. Then, close the player’s door, or drawer and push play. Off we go for 45 minutes or more, of continuous music listening and we won’t be back until the album is done. Now you can either purchase a full album, or cherry pick songs from iTunes which you want, or you can stream individual songs and create a playlist. I love the convenience of streaming, but what about the artist? Do we also think the artist makes a whole lot of money these days, given that they don’t get all that much from iTunes? Also, sales of physical music is down and it’s only those who want not just the music, but for something to look at who buy albums, or CDs these days. For me, it’s all about the music and it always has been about that. Sure, it’s nice to have a glossy package as an artefact, but what about physical space for other things? Besides, don’t we all have hobbies? Mine is amateur radioand I’m buying nothing on CD these days, because I want more music, but do not have the room to put things in an organized manner anymore, without the risk of not being able to move around my apartment and access things easily. Unlike Brian, I don’t have my music in alphabetical order and I prefer chronologically, by the artist. Unfortunately, with streaming we don’t get a choice in the matter, if you are like me and you prefer albums over individual songs. The trouble is that we don’t have time to sit down and listen to a full album, as we have podcasts to listen to, Youtube channels to watch by appointment and other things tying up our lives and shortening our attention spans. Besides, I like listening to albums when writing in a vehicle as I used to do, back in the day on the bus on the way to and from school. The only time I listen to a full album these days is when I get it for the first time ever and it is new to us all. I had pre-ordered it on iTunes and it had finally come down, on the day of release as a full complete puzzle. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea of where I come from.
To end off this post, let’s tie up a few more strands of my pre-Queen fandom I want to tell you about . In the 80s there was a documentary show on the radio called Discumentary and it was hosted by a man in Vancouver Brritish Columbia named Terry David Mulligan. That is where I first learned about not just Queen, but about other classic rock bands of the 60s and 70s, who had survived in the 80s, or in some cases had broken up after a member had died. Yes, he had done Led Zeppelin II, but for this blog I’m going to focus on Queen. He called them “the monarchs of British rock” and he played Death On Two Legs when talking about the band’s business peculiarities around that time and of course, he did touch on BohRhap and why not? The thing is that he only went as far as A Kind Of Magic and I actually liked that song when I first heard it, because of how Freddie sang the studio version. Before playing Killer Queen, he said something like “the critics hated them, but fans thought they were killer”. This is in reference to a lot of hard rock bands being pummelled by critics, including Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath Queen and others back in the day.
During 1996 I had met a Queen fan named Walter when I was in Hamilton and he had turned me on to The Magic Years documentary… all 3 parts of it and I loved it much better than the 1991 TV documentary hosted by Axl Rose. Speaking of documentaries, I currently have in my iTunes library: The Story of Queen: Mercury Rising, The Great Pretender, Queen: Day’s of Our Lives and Classic Albums: Queen – The Making of A Night At the Opera. The Classic Albums documentary wouldn’t be the last of its kind I would purchase over the next 6 years, with the latest being Def Leppard – Hysteria (Classic Album) in 2020, before the world stopped.
I had finally purchased The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 2019 and I wish that the whole thing was here, including U2 and Spinal Tap. At least we have the majority of the concert available to us and I’m happy.
One last thing, the songs I had heard from Queen on the radio or in the air in the 80s were: Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, Killer Queen, Keep Yourself Alive, You’re My Best Friend, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody To Love, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, A Kind of Magic, Under Pressure, Radio GaGa, I Want It All, The Miracle, Hammer to Fall, Machines, Great King Rat and Body Language. I wanted to avoid songs which I had heard in the previous documentary I had mentioned and I had heard Great King Rat as part of a short segment called Psychedelic Snack. I forget exactly when I had heard it, but I like that it sounded raw and ragged. That’s all I got for now and I may update this post in the future.