In the first quarter of 2011 Universal Music released a five disc super-deluxe edition of Elton John’s multi-million selling, career defining ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. While huge chunks of the album are undeniably great, did we really need another deluxe edition of this when an excellent three disc edition was released (complete with SACD compatible material) ten years previously? There are other parts of Elton’s huge body of works worthy of expanding.
The Royal Festival Hall in London is one of those buildings that splits opinion. For some, it’s an amazing piece of 70s architecture, a lasting snapshot from a time when things looked yellow and brown…and different; for others, its mess of passageways and stairs around every corner gives the feeling of being stuck in an Escher painting. The performance area is great for the “serious” music event, the classical performance or world music extravaganza; for the rock or pop audience, it’s a space that never quite reaches its full potential, with people dancing in a restrained way in front of their fold up seats. Nevertheless, it’s here that Deacon Blue have returned after selling out the venue two years previously.
David Bowie’s 2013 album ‘The Next Day’ broke a ten year silence. It was released with a huge fanfare, but absolutely no build up. That an artist of Bowie’s stature could complete an album in absolute secrecy is surprising. That he managed to do so in a world that’s constantly connected via an internet of rumours and with a media reporting every notable (and often less notable) celebrity’s every cough is astounding. ‘The Next Day’ was a good, but sometimes ordinary album. Its follow up, ‘Blackstar’ – released at the beginning of 2016 – is anything but ordinary. This, Bowie’s twenty-fifth (proper) studio album, is his darkest since 1995’s ‘1.Outside’ (the first chapter of the subsequently aborted Nathan Adler Diaries). It would be easy to say it is also his coldest work since the Eno-drenched second side of ‘Low’, but despite the darkness, ‘Blackstar’ is often touching in its bleakness. It’s low-key songs are riddled with refection and emotion, the final public words of a legend about to say goodbye to the world. But, of course, on the 8th January – the album’s official release date – this was not clear to anyone except David and those very close to him.
Real Gone’s first Queen poll, looking at the band’s 70s work, was a roaring success. Hot on its heels, we ran a second poll asking you to vote for your favourite songs from the second phase of their much-celebrated career. While similarly successful, the second poll showed how much love fans have for band’s singles – in this case, far more so than the album material.
There’s no denying the quality of Queen’s hits between 1980-1991. Aside from those from the “marmite” album ‘Hot Space’ (1982), the band achieved wall-to-wall greatness in the singles department during their stadium years; their singles still in regular radio rotation the world over. …And fans clearly still love them.
Over the past week, Real Gone has been running a poll covering Queen’s seventies output. We knew the idea would get people talking, since Queen are one of the few bands that could be considered a global phenomenon. We had no idea when it began whether the well known hits would dominate, or whether the long-standing fans would speak out for some of those lesser heard album cuts. [Full results here.]
Almost 1,300 votes were cast, and one thing is clear. People still absolutely adore ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It’s so entrenched within the Queen legacy, it’s become almost unavoidable. Although there’s a vast amount of great material recorded by the band between 1973-78, it was guaranteed a high placing, but it secured the top spot within hours and then held onto a fairly commanding lead. It’s easy to dismiss the song as overplayed, but if we are able to step aside from that fact for a moment, it’s still a fantastically crafted piece of music, unlike anything in rock music before, and – a couple of other Queen numbers aside – still stands out from so much since.