Sunday, June 27, 2010

Queen Song Memory of the Day

I'm being totally lazy today so I don't have a What I Wore to post, but I didn't want to not post a Queen song memory of the day in honor of my 100 Follower Giveaway (click here to enter).

Another One Bites the Dust - This is probably the first Queen song I ever loved. I remember when Napster first came out and I downloaded this song and listened to it so much that it got a little blip in the mp3. Don't worry though, John (Deacon, the bassist and writer of this song), eventually I properly purchased this song! I remember listening to the song over and over until I learned all the words - I particularly liked the second verse,

How do you think I'm going to get along without you when you're gone?
Take me for everything that I have then kicked me out on my own.
Are you happy? Are you satisfied? How long can you stand the heat?
Out the doorway the bullets rip to the sound of the beat. Look out!

When I drove 10 hours from Virginia to Connecticut to begin law school, I made a mix CD to listen to in the car. This song was on it (immediately followed by Rod Stewart's You Wear it Well). I listened to that CD probably a thousand times and to this day anticipate Mr. Stewart's song will begin when this one ends!

Stay tuned tomorrow, I've got some fitting room reviews that I'll post first thing in the morning!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Multiple Myeloma Race for Research 2010

Two Sundays ago, Husband and I participated in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Race for Research. I was hoping to post a write-up sooner, but the keeper of the photographs was being a little stingy about sharing with me so I had to wait! Here's our team:

This is the third year that Husband and I have participated in this race. The first year, we walked with my sister-in-law (and our dog Abbie) and between the three of us raised a few hundred dollars. This year, we fielded a team of more than twenty friends and family and together we raised more than $4000! It was a tremendous success!

Every year, one of the members of the MMRF Honorary Board acts as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Our first year participating, WNBA player Rebecca Lobo attended. The past two years, Ann Curry has participated. This year, Husband's cousin and aunt ended up walking a good portion of the race with her! I never realized that the Master of Ceremonies actually participated! Very cool! This makes me wish even harder that one of these years Keith Olbermann (also an Honorary Board member) will be the Master of Ceremonies - oh how I love him!

Two of our friends from Boston and one of our friends from New York came to join us. The latter brought his six month old daughter who is just a doll. I swear I'm going to steal this baby! We spent the whole day with her and I don't think she cried once! As soon as they arrived, I pounced on the stroller and picked her up to parade her around! At one point, her dad went to the bathroom and I was ready to run off into the night with her, but Husband stopped me! Boo!

Every year, MMRF hosts races all around the country to help raise money and awareness for this rare and incurable form of cancer. For additional information about MMRF Races for Research in your area, visit their website here.

Today's Queen memory is Fat Bottomed Girls. This is a more recent memory and I've written about it before. Back in March, my father-in-law got remarried. We all went down to Florida for a wedding weekend. After the ceremony, we had a reception and one of my new "step-brother-in-laws" was in charge of the music on his iPod. The family found out about my Queen obsession, found this song on his iPod, and gathered in the dance floor singing and dancing! It was tremendously fun and I'll probably think of them every time I hear this song from now on!

Happy Running!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited

We're still making our way through the set list of Queen's 1975 Christmas Eve show at the Hammersmith Odeon. In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited was written by Freddie Mercury and appeared on the band's 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack.

Readers, can I just ask that you bear with me regarding these videos as we explore these deeper cuts? Unfortunately, lesser known songs also mean less likely to get special video treatment. This video is nice, but it jumps around from era to era in a rather jarring way. The alternative was a black screen with the title of the song printed on it for 4 minutes so I went with this, but rest assured, I really am trying to find the best videos possible to introduce you to these songs!

Okay to the song...

In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited should not be confused with In the Lap of the Gods, which also appears on Sheer Heart Attack. The songs sound nothing alike - click here to listen to the latter which begins with RT hitting an absolutely insane falsetto note. Freddie wrote both songs and I have no idea why he thought it would be a good idea to give them near identical titles!

Every so often I'll listen to a Queen song, not think much of it, and then sometime later hear it again and be blown away. This is another song where this happened (others include '39, The March of the Black Queen, and Tenement Funster). Actually, it was a live version of the song, played at the band's 1986 Wembley concert (available here) that got me hooked. This song is repetitive - the main chorus is sung six times after two relatively short verses. The band really took everyone by surprise by playing this song at the Wembley show and it's one of the few non-single tracks from the 1970s that they chose to play.

For years, In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited was the final song of Queen's live set list. Later, Tie Your Mother Down replaced it as the set closer. The repetitive nature of the song really translates well to a live setting. I can only imagine how awesome it must have be to attend a Queen show in the mid-1970s and end the evening, singing this song with the band. Of course, Queen was known for many other audience participation experiences including Freddie's notorious call and response with the audience prior to singing Under Pressure (click here) and the infamous Radio Ga Ga double hand clap (click here).

This is another song written in 6/8 time (see here for a discussion of others) so I rather like listening to it during my easy runs. As I discussed in a prior post, Queen recorded many songs in 6/8 time which is terribly unusual for a rock band. This time standard showcased RT's drumming rather well and Taylor Hawkins (of the Foo Fighters) has specifically mentioned RT's drumming in this song as standout so be sure to listen for that!

Happy Listening!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Brighton Rock

When I told Husband a few weeks ago that I was delving into the Queen catalog and starting to feature their more obscure tracks, he remarked that perhaps I'd better change the feature to the Queen Song of the Month so I wouldn't run out of songs. Oh, silly Husband! Here is a link of all the songs that I consider eligible for the Queen Song of the Week feature. I think we'll be just fine for a long time!

And incidentally, Queenpedia is an amazing website that I use all the time for information on songs, singles, lyrics, concerts - seriously anything Queen related you might want to know is on that website. I can't recommend it highly enough!

Brighton Rock was written by Dr. May and appeared on the band's 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack.

Every so often, hardcore Queen fans will start talking about a song that I've not heard yet. Yes, I'm sure this comes as a shock to many of you: there are bigger Queen fans out there than me. Much bigger. As in have catalog numbers of albums memorized and have tracked down folks like Freddie's personal driver and RT's longtime roadie in order to hear stories about the band firsthand from folks who were there. So occasionally these fans will reference a song as being particularly great. This usually prompts me to at least check out the song and see what all the fuss is about. Usually I am not disappointed.

Brighton Rock was one of those songs. On the QueenOnline website, folks were listing their top Queen songs. This song kept showing up on everyone's list and I was a little embarrassed that I'd not heard it. So I downloaded it (along with a few other more obscure tracks that we'll get to eventually), burned a disc, and played it in my car for about a week. That's all it took to convince me that this song is incredible. In fact, shortly after I downloaded it, I created a ring tone out of my favorite portion (click here to see how to create a ring tone) and months later, I still use this ring tone.

If you have ever seen a DVD of a Queen concert, you might find the guitar solo from the middle of this song rather reminiscent of Dr. May's guitar solo (click here to watch his solo at the band's 1986 show at Wembley Stadium). I remember seeing the concert for the first time and thinking, "How does RT know what beat to play when he accompanies Dr. May on the solo?" It never occurred to me that the solo was from an actual song! Dr. May explained in an 1983 interview that the solo has since evolved to the point that there really isn't anything left of the original song, but he still utilizes the same techniques which have the same effect. Since Dr. May wrote the song, the guitar part is pretty awesome, but I'm rather fond of the drums as well (considered by some to be one of RT's best performances). Check out the multitrack containing RT's drum part only here.

The song starts off with carnival sounds and someone whistling the same tune that ends the song Seven Seas of Rhye. Seven Seas of Rhye is the last song off the previous album Queen II and Brighton Rock is the first track off the Sheer Heart Attack album. In the early days of Queen, they found it interesting to segue one song, or even one album, into the next. The vocals of this song are particularly interesting with Freddie alternating between his falsetto voice and his regular voice in order to portray both the male and female characters in the story. When played live, RT occasionally sang the "female" part of the song. After the bridge, the lengthy guitar solo starts and continues for several minutes before the final verse ends the song.

Happy Listening!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Birthday Girl! Birthday Girl!

Okay, believe it or not, I didn't make this (nor would I even know how to make it), but it was made for me and I think it's hysterical so here is my official birthday post:

Isn't he a cutie? Enjoy, everyone! I'll try to post some fitting room reviews at some point this weekend!

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Ogre Battle

Last week I mentioned Queen's 1975 concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Since we're into the real deep cuts of the band, it makes sense to just continue through the set list of that show. I've discussed a few songs played already (see Liar here, see Now I'm Here here, The March of the Black Queen here, Bohemian Rhapsody here, Seven Seas of Rhye here, and Keep Yourself Alive here) and one song on the set list is known and loved by non-Queen fans already (Killer Queen), but there are seven other songs which will carry this feature through most of the summer!

This week's Queen Song of the Week is Ogre Battle. This song was written by Freddie Mercury and appears on the band's 1974 album Queen II. One really interesting aspect of Queen II is the track listing: all of Dr. May's songs (and RT's one song) were on one side of the album dubbed "Side White" and all of Freddie's songs were on the other side of the album dubbed "Side Black".

All of the songs on Side White are rather introspective while the songs on Side Black emote a fantasy-type world. Freddie took this thematic approach to the album one step further and all his songs flow into each other. Ogre Battle is the first track on Side Black and is about, no surprise here, an ogre battle...

No, seriously, it's about an ogre battle.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think RT wrote the lyrics to this song seeing as how he's the king of straight up literal lyrics (see The Whisperers which was written about the book The Horse Whisperer and begins with the line, "Between men, between horses..." Oh RT, you lost me right there, dear.) Freddie wrote the song on acoustic guitar, which is hard to believe given the "heaviness" of the song. This song has some amazing vocal harmonies, including RT's falsetto screams during the interlude.

For a more detailed analysis of the song, check out Bechstein Debauchery here.

Happy Listening!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Day at the Races (or my first 10K of the season)

A big question amongst Queen fans is which album is the best. There really isn't a general consensus on this issue as the band released 15 studio albums in a span of twenty years covering all different genres of music.The albums from the 1970s are the favorites of many fans because they were "albums" rather than just collections of possible singles as many of the 1980s releases were. Currently, I think I'd have to say that my favorite Queen album is their 1976 release "A Day at the Races".  This album contains two of my favorite songs: Drowse and The Millionaire Waltz, but also includes perennial favorites Somebody to Love and Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy. I've also recently begun to appreciate Long Away, You and I, and White Man much more than I previously had. And just this week I heard a Hollywood Record's remix of Tie Your Mother Down that tones down the guitar a bit and I found it rather less grating than I typically find the song! How exciting!

"A Day at the Races" has an alternative meaning today, however, since this morning I ran my first 10K of the season with two of my fellow princesses. I woke up at 5:30 a.m., did my prerace routine of Powerade Zero and a Fiber One poptart, dragged Husband out of bed (he was coming for cheering purposes and to supervise two mini-princesses who were in attendance), and drove 45 minutes to the race site. The weather was pretty awful. It was hot and humid before the race even began at 7:30 a.m. Then about 20 minutes into the race, the skies opened up and it poured for about ten minutes. However, it was so humid after the rain stopped that by the time I finished the race, I was completely dry! UGH!

I had joked that today would be a test of which was more miserable: running in high humidity weather or running a race when you've slagged off with your training. I can now report that the latter is much more miserable. As hot as it was today, it was my breathing that made me the most miserable so I'll definitely be getting myself out of bed for training runs to prepare for the DIVA Half Marathon this fall. I will say though that for as horrible as I felt during the race, my time was surprisingly quick so that is a sign of me potentially building up some speed this summer which would be lovely.

On the plus side today, I received my new running skirt (purchased before the shopping ban was imposed). It is just adorable and I can't wait to wear it. All the princesses have purchased one and they'll be our team uniforms in at the fall half. Adorable, right? The pattern is so pretty and flowery and there are little running girls hidden in it too. We saw a lady today at the race wearing the skirt version (no capris) and it was just darling. We also had quite a few runners ask us about our skirts mid-race. I must say, we were quite the fashion sensations today! (Buy your own running skirt here.)

I'm debating whether I should buy this shirt to wear with my snazzy new capri skirt as my DIVA running uniform. I mean, it has the crown on the front so right there it seems totally appropriate for the race, and then it also has Queen written on it so everyone who sees me will be reminded of the best band ever which will make them happy. I'm not sure about the red though which could clash with my hot pink capris. And it says, "We Are the Champions" on the back which seems a bit silly seeing as how my racing goal is typically to finish without dying, not actually to win. I mentioned it to my fellow princesses today and they thought it was worth purchasing. We'll have to see - luckily I have several months to decide.

I took a nice long nap when we got home (after having a yummy breakfast) and later I'm off for a birthday celebration for one of the princesses. What a royally themed weekend I'm having!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Liar

As I said last week, I've highlighted every song off Queen: Greatest Hits that I intend to feature so from here on out, we're into the real deep cuts. Most of these songs weren't released as singles, aren't on any album other than the original studio album on which they appeared, and, most tragically, haven't been heard by most non-Queen fans.

I hope to remedy that by encouraging some of you to check out these much lesser known songs.

It makes sense to start at the beginning. Liar appeared on Queen's 1973 self-titled debut album. It was written by Freddie Mercury.

This song opens with a great drum solo which includes both clapping and a cowbell. How can you go wrong with that combination? That flows into a guitar solo. As Freddie Mercury starts singing, the tempo slows and the volume lowers slightly, but that's not the case for long. This song was a live favorite for years and was played at the band's 1975 Hammersmith Odeon Christmas Eve show in London. The boys have been taunting fans for nearly a year with the release of this concert on DVD, but we've yet to get an official release date. Incidentally, the BBC has aired the polished up concert (albeit edited to fit in the hour allotted) a few times since November 2009. But of course, not living in England, I've not had the chance to see it.

The story goes, that after years of rehearsing and playing smaller gigs, the boys were ready to sign a record contract. However, no one would sign them without a demo and no one would let them record a demo without a contract. A Catch-22, if there ever was one. Luckily, the boys were able to strike a deal with Trident Studios: they could use the studio basically as guinea pigs testing out new equipment. The resulting demo included songs which would ultimately appear on the band's first two albums. Liar was one of those songs. This is actually considered one of the first Queen songs dating back to 1970.

Even though the band was young at this point (they were all in their early to mid twenties), their distinctive sound is already evident. Can you hear RT's voice singing backing vocals? And the unique sound of Dr. May's Red Special is instantly recognizable. Reviews of the album suggested that great things were in store for Queen and that certain was the case. Thanks in part to their tremendous debut effort and amazing songs like Liar.

Happy Listening!

Special thanks to Bechstein Decauchery, an absolutely amazing website that discusses in great detail the recording process of Queen's fifteen studio albums. As less has been written about these lesser known songs, I'll be relying a great deal on this website for information in the coming weeks. Click here to check it out.