Monday, September 05, 2016

Farrokh of the 70s: Queen Energy

It's Labor Day and I have been working up a tremendous birthday tribute for someone who'd be turning 70 today.
Friday we honored the 5th Beatle (and 6th Stone?), who achieved greatness to last forever in spite of struggling so mightily when he was alive with the psychosexual baggage of this barbaric social construct we all call home. Today, we continue that trend with a similar story of someone revered by tens of millions of people, yet whom few really knew when he was alive.
By many accounts, Farrokh Bulsara -- you know him as Freddie Mercury -- is considered the single greatest vocalist and performer in the history of Rock music. His music, and that of the seminal-beyond-words, Galactic Hall-of-Fame band he started -- and had the unprecedented audacity to name Queen -- is undeniably among the most justifiably revered that will ever be produced.
Somewhere, at all times and in all lands, a Queen song sung by Freddie Mercury is being played. Whoever is listening is likely singing along with every word... even if they speak no other English. There simply is not -- and for sheer electric power and vocal muscle, will likely never be -- a recording artist to match him.
I mean, you're asking yourself right now... why is Josh putting all animated gifs? Does he want to crash my laptop? But I decided, for the first time ever in three years of doing this, to use these pix because Freddie Mercury -- gone from AIDS almost 25 years -- is still in motion among us, and I felt it germane to illustrate that point however possible here.
He was born with a dental abnormality that supplied him with two extra back teeth, creating a wholly unique vocal embouchure that made him sound and project as no other singer, in any genre, ever. For his band and music, he took the shredding power of Heavy Metal, the bombast of Progressive Rock, and the grandiosity and flair of Musical Theater and synthesized those elements into, arguably, the most popular and eternal Rock group of all time.
I can't think of anyone I have ever known that doesn't love Queen. Not a one. In the 1970s and 1980s they made records worshiped the world over, featuring tunes whose appeal will never wane. That they were largely masterminded by a gay person who didn't live to be 50 years old is a bit lost on people, but not I.
As a gay man I often wonder why. What is so important about oppressing us that the Freddie Mercurys and the Billy Prestons and the Sylvesters (he turns 70 next September, and will be here then) -- who supply endless enjoyment and pleasure to everyone regardless of denomination or ideology or creed -- can't be allowed to last and deliver their precious gifts to our sphere? It's a question to which I probably won't ever get the answer, but it'll never stop me from asking.
The saddest part is that these people don't fully get to bask in the glory they have wrought, and whilst here often lead lives of confusion and melancholy that seek escape from their undeserved plight. Freddie was no different and, in a time when The Plague was rampant and most folks were, well, just fine with that, he paid the ultimate price. And somewhere, an ardent homophobe jams "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- often cited as the #1 Rock song of all time, by the way -- without so much as an ironic glimpse. Any way the wind blows, indeed.
It doesn't really matter. They are gone with their hatred in the blink of an eye, never to be remembered. Freddie is immortal and cannot really die. He wins, always. Life is temporary, but Art is something that -- properly constructed with longevity in mind -- lives forever. Sorry, haters... and don't let the iron door of history hit you in your tight little ass on the way out, neither.
To honor this heroic individual who means so much to me and people like me especially, here comes a finely chiseled exemplar of a full, unedited, pro-shot film of a complete Queen concert from their absolute heyday.
This two hours of "How To Kill An Audience" instructional video mayhem was captured at the end of 1977 in the old Summit in Houston, Texas just as Queen's epochal News of the World record dropped like an atomic bomb on a waiting world. It used to circulate from a nearly unwatchable, heavily generated VHS tape, but someone unearthed the 1st gen source of all those inferior versions and that is what is here for you today.
The Summit
Houston, Texas USA

01 intro: We Will Rock You (slow)
02 We Will Rock You (fast)
03 Brighton Rock
04 Somebody to Love
05 Death On Two Legs
06 Killer Queen
07 Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy
08 I'm In Love with My Car
09 Get Down Make Love
10 The Millionaire Waltz
11 You're My Best Friend
12 Liar
13 Love of My Life
14 '39
15 My Melancholy Blues
16 White Man
17 The Prophet's Song (Freddie Mercury vocal solo)
18 Brian May guitar solo
19 Now I'm Here
20 Stone Cold Crazy
21 Bohemian Rhapsody
22 Keep Yourself Alive
23 Tie Your Mother Down
24 We Will Rock You
25 We Are the Champions
26 Sheer Heart Attack
27 Jailhouse Rock
28 God Save the Queen

Total time: 1:53:18
disc break goes after Track 15

Freddie Mercury - vocals & piano
Brian May - guitars & vocals
Roger Taylor - drums & vocals
John Deacon - bass & vocals

looks like a 1st gen off the master VHS of the unaired station master,
with remastered mono PCM sound
includes the 2019 definitive DJGreg remaster of the classic, VHS-sourced complete concert

Dual layer PAL DVD (4.61 GB)/2CDs (726 MB FLAC of DJGreg remaster)
If you dig these guys -- and like I said, who doesn't? -- this is a sort of Holy Grail and I'd advise you snag it as fast as your browsers will allow. As you do, remember to never, ever forget its architect, Freddie Mercury... born this day in 1946 and gone a quarter century, yet still somehow a gargantuan, implacably regal presence in our world.--J.
9.5.1946 - 11.24.1991