Journal Archive – April 2008

Welcome to another month of old journal entries. Again this wasn’t a particularly busy month, but there was a little bit of socialising, a surprise contact from an old friend, the new series of Doctor Who and various other bits and pieces to mention. So I hope you enjoy!

Note: Each time I publish a set of old journal entries, the previous post is backdated to its original year, so my blog remains tidy and chronological. You can see the posts so far on my Journals & Favourites page.
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Queen At 50 Reviews – News Of The World – Part 1

1977 could have been the year that Queen’s reign came to an end. With punk rock very much in the ascendancy, having gained traction over the previous few years, there was a greater appetite for raw power and simplicity in rock music, rather than elaborate and fancy progressive rock. And Queen’s last album, A Day At The Races, despite being an excellent collection of songs, hadn’t sold quite as well as its behemoth predecessor A Night At The Opera, with some critics and fans feeling that it was more of the same without any notable improvement. So it was going to seem too repetitive if they did the same kind of thing yet again.

The band were perfectly happy to adapt and take on the challenge though, and indeed were already keen to try something different from the multi-layered, complex productions they felt they’d done enough of by this point anyway. So even without the emerging competition from the punk scene, it was already the evolutionary path they were heading down.

As a result, News Of The World marked a shift towards a purer hard rock sound, and took just 2 months to record (compared to 5 for A Day At The Races). The tracks still had some beautifully arranged harmonies and instrumentation thrown in, but not as lavishly and prominently as before. There was also a change in how evenly the writing credits were distributed, with 4 tracks now written by Brian, just 3 by Freddie, and an increase to 2 each for Roger and John. And the band produced the album themselves, with assistance from engineer Mike Stone, now they had the experience and confidence to do so themselves.

It all worked out very well, resulting in another great selection of songs. And so, as you’ll be accustomed to by now if you’ve followed my posts to date, this is my personal review of each of the tracks, including a look at alternate versions, music videos, live performances, covers, etc, along with other bits and pieces that I’m aware of.

In this first post, in addition to more general discussion about the album, I’ll be focusing specifically on the first 2 tracks – We Will Rock You & We Are The Champions – as they’ve had such a colossal cultural impact and there’s a lot to discuss in relation to them. In Part 2 I will then move on to the other great tracks on the album. So I hope you enjoy!

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Queen At 50 Reviews – A Day At The Races – Part 2

Happy Japanese Queen Day! Following on from the wonderful variety of tracks on Side 1 that I reviewed previously, Side 2 of A Day At The Races continues to entertain with a mixture of offerings. It starts off with one of Queen’s most enduring and hugely popular hits, before taking us on a journey that ends up in Japan at the end of the album, which has important relevance to today, as explained for that particular track. So there’s plenty to cover as usual, and I hope you enjoy this latest set of reviews!

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Queen At 50 Reviews – A Day At The Races – Part 1

Happy 50th Anniversary to Queen! Although they first performed under that name on 18 July 1970, it wasn’t until John Deacon joined on 1 March 1971 that the group had its final, official line-up, so the latter date is more appropriate. And as they’re my favourite band of all time, I started doing a special Queen At 50 series last year, reviewing each of their albums and songs in obsessive depth and excessive detail. So, if you haven’t already, do check out my first post about their debut album for a longer explanation of why I’m so into them.

For this post I’m moving on to their 5th album. The musical majesty and stellar success of A Night At The Opera was always going to be a tough act to follow, and impossible to beat. But Queen were up for the challenge, and set about making A Day At The Races between July and November 1976. They produced it entirely by themselves for the first time, now that they had sufficient experience and were keen to give it a go, instead of employing Roy Thomas Baker like they had before. They continued to use engineer Mike Stone though.

The album was designed to be a companion piece to its predecessor with a similar variety of music. So it was again named after a Marx Brothers film, and Groucho Marx sent a note to congratulate them on their success and their “sage choice of album titles”. It also had a similar cover design to the previous album, with the colourful Queen crest on the front, but everything was on a black background instead of white this time. Brian later expressed a wish that both Opera and Races had been released together, as “the material for both of them was written at the same time, so I regard the two albums as completely parallel.”

The band are also credited in fun ways in the sleeve notes – in addition to the usual mentions of vocals, piano, guitar, etc, Freddie is the “Choir Meister” and contributes “tantrums”, Brian is the “Leader of the Orchestra”, and Roger provides “Pandemonium”. John is merely credited as playing Fender Bass and doesn’t get anything extra, which is reflective of his nature as the quiet one in the group.

A Day At The Races 2

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Queen At 50 Reviews – A Night At The Opera – Part 3

This is the final instalment of my deep dive into Queen’s epic 1975 LP, following on from Part 1 and Part 2. There is also a bonus post about Bohemian Rhapsody cover versions, but this post explores the rest of the main material.

The album of course finishes in style, courtesy of their biggest hit of all time, followed by a patriotic instrumental at the end. So let’s get straight on with it, as there’s plenty to discuss. I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – January-February 2008

September 2021 Introduction:

And so another year from my old journals gets underway. Well done and thank you if you’re still reading them all! In these first couple of months I had nice trips to socialise with friends in Exeter and bought some more DVDs, while on the downside I was struck down by the norovirus and we had issues with our phoneline. Plus I mentioned various news stories that caught my eye as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – June 2006

May 2021 Introduction:

Welcome to another set of entries from my old journal. This month wasn’t as eventful as the previous one, but there were still various bits and pieces to mention, including a training course at work, the World Cup, music downloads and DVD purchases, and other bits and bobs. So I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – November 2005

March 2021 Introduction:

Here’s another month of entries from my old journal. This time I had a lot of fun visiting my best mate to celebrate his 21st birthday, so that was the main thing to report on. I was also assessed for support I might be able to get for work because of my visual impairment, there were lots of DVDs coming out in the run up to Christmas that I was keen to get, and we had Children In Need and other delights on TV. So there’s a variety of things here as usual, and I hope you enjoy!

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Journal – September 2005

March 2021 Introduction:

We’ve reached another significant month in my life with these old journal entries, as I learn the outcome of my first ever job interview. It was also the month that Hurricane Katrina embarked on its path of destruction in America, and so given its inevitable dominance in the news it would have been remiss not to mention it. And amongst the various bits of entertainment I was buying, watching and listening to, ITV were celebrating their 50th anniversary, including a rundown of their top 50 shows. So I hope you enjoy this latest mixture!

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Journal – July 2005

February 2021 Introduction:

Welcome to another set of my old journal entries. It’s fair to say this was a month of mixed fortunes for the UK, particularly in London, and especially in the first week when so much happened in quick succession. I wasn’t living in London at the time, I was far away in Devon, but the events were so significant and dominated the news so heavily that I naturally wrote a lot about them.

On the one hand London hosted one of the massive worldwide Live 8 concerts, that gave us a lot of entertainment while sending an important message. Plus the city won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics, which was fantastic news. But all of that was quickly overshadowed by the bomb attacks on London’s transport network. And if reading about those is likely to upset you, then please feel free to skip some or all of this post as you feel necessary.

There are little updates about me in amongst all of that as well though, relating to my career and entertainment, and there are other bits of news I mention too. So even though some of this isn’t cheerful, I hope you find it an interesting look back nonetheless.

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