Archive for the ‘Freddie Mercury’ Category
“I’m moving into opera now. Forget rock and roll.” With those words, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury moved in on what may be the most grandiose phase in a long career full of theatrics. In 1987, with Queen not yet knowing they would have played their final live show one year before, the band’s whimsical frontman ventured into uncharted waters with Barcelona, an operatic rock album featuring a talented soprano whose voice he idolized, and put one of the final great flourishes on a career (and a life) carried out with brilliant extravagance.
Now, 25 years after the release of the “Barcelona” single, 20 years after its charting and for what would have been the singer’s 66th birthday, Barcelona comes back in a big way, reissued and reimagined with a brand new orchestration and three discs of extra content in September.
“I have now heard the best voice in the world,” Mercury told friends in 1981 after attending a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House in London. But the Queen singer was not speaking of star Luciano Pavarotti, but mezzo-soprano female lead Caballé. After some years, the duo arranged to meet; Mercury bought with him a demo co-written with arranger Mike Moran that the diva fell in love with immediately.
When approached to create a song for the 1992 Olympic Games held in the Spanish city Barcelona – Monsterrat’s birthplace – it was obvious with whom Mercury would collaborate. The pair worked separately on songs for a full album (all of which were primarily written by Mercury and Moran, with some input from Caballé and lyricist Tim Rice), with Freddie laying down falsetto guide vocals for Montserrat to sing.
The album was a respectable success upon release in 1988, with the title track climbing to No. 8. Mercury returned to Queen for The Miracle (1989) and Innuendo (1991), hiding the terrible news of his declining health due to AIDS until the day before his death at the end of 1991. While many remember the reascension of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the U.K. pop charts that holiday, “Barcelona” made a stunning return when reissued to commemorate that stirring Olympic ceremony, in which Montserrat took the stage herself to duet with Freddie’s ethereal voice during the opening exercises.
Now, Barcelona‘s coming back in a big way, and you can find out how after the jump.
Within My World: Dave Clark’s “Time” Reissued, Features Freddie Mercury, Dionne Warwick, Julian Lennon, Cliff Richard, More
Today, London’s Dominion Theatre is home to We Will Rock You, a tongue-in-cheek “jukebox musical” featuring the music of Queen. That show is currently celebrating its 10th year at the Dominion, but even before the “Bohemian Rhapsody” chaps came to town, the Dominion was no stranger to mega-musicals from rock stars. In 1986, Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five put his name above the title of a lavish spectacle called Time. Clark collaborated on the musical’s book and lyrics with David Soames; the music was provided by Jeff Daniels (not the actor of the same name). Clark was also credited with “creating and devising” the elaborate stage production. The April 1986 debut of the musical starred Cliff Richard as The Rock Star, and Sir Laurence Olivier, the latter appearing as a pre-filmed holographic giant head (!) named Akash. Arlene Phillips (Starlight Express) contributed choreography along with director Larry Fuller (Evita, Merrily We Roll Along), and John Napier (Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables) designed the massive production.
Time never received an original London Cast Recording, however, with Clark opting instead to release the show’s score as a star-filled, two-LP concept album prior to the London opening. Cliff Richard, of course, was enlisted to perform on the album, along with a “Who’s Who” of pop, rock and soul including Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Leo Sayer, Julian Lennon and the recently-reunited team of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. Olivier appeared on the Time album, as well. Close your eyes and picture the great actor intoning dialogue such as this:
Stand before me on the Sign of Infinity, all you of the Earth. With the granting of “The Law of Probenation” comes the application of change. I will give you the key. And with this knowledge, please realize, comes the responsibility of sharing it. I will show you the way: (It’s very simple). Throughout the Universe there is order: in the movement of the plane, in nature, and in the functioning of the human mind. A mind at is in its natural state of order is in harmony with the Universe, and such a mind is timeless. Your life is an expression of your mind. You are a creator of your own Universe, for as a human being you are “free to will” whatever state of being you desire through the use of your thoughts and words. There is great Power there. It can be a blessing or a curse…
Dave Clark has apparently never been comfortable with the compact disc, having refused nearly every offer to bring his storied DC5 catalogue to the format over the years. A mere handful of official releases have materialized including Hollywood Records’ 1993 double-CD anthology The History of the Dave Clark Five, EMI U.K.’s shorter counterpart Glad All Over Again, and Universal’s 2010 The Hits. He’s been more forthcoming with releases on iTunes, and now, the starry studio cast recording of Time is once more available. For its belated 25th anniversary, Time has joined the DC5 catalogue as available from that digital music provider.
There’s more in Time after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »