Chris Uggen's Blog: bad queen and other improbable pairings

Thursday, February 16, 2006

bad queen and other improbable pairings

seventies pomp-rockers queen are touring this year, with former bad company and free frontdude paul rogers taking the late freddie mercury's parts. rodgers and mercury were contemporaries and unusually good vocalists, but their styles were ... different.

mercury was over-the-top, theatrical, and campy. rodgers was straight-ahead, macho, and bluesy. hearing the latter interviewed this morning, however, i identified the missing link: rodgers emulated little richard's voice and mercury emulated little richard's style. still, i'm tempted to overpay to see them next month. it wouldn't be queen, of course, but rodgers' leather-lunged shouts might be a nice complement to brian may's big guitar sound (aside: almost bought his li'l vox amp this spring, but opted for this one). in any case, i'm now convinced that a seemingly improbable pairing will generate more fan interest than an expected one (e.g., queen's flirtation with george michael).

i tried to think of a similarly disparate pairing for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. here are a few that come to mind, but you can probably think of better ones:

1980s: michael stipe fronting u2.
hmmm. i'd pay to see beautiful day, but edge and peter buck already have more than a little in common. maybe it would be more interesting to pair bono with r.e.m. -- losing my religion would be killer.

1990s: the flaming lips' wayne coyne fronting pearl jam.
now we're getting somewhere. just imagine wayne's reedy falsetto over alive. for the reverse, we'd get to hear eddie vedder belting out she don't use jelly. he would certainly take do you realize? in an entirely new direction. it is probably best not to think about that one too long.

2000s: how about weezer's rivers cuomo in outkast?
hey-ya would be great fun onstage. putting andre 3000 into weezer would result in some outstanding versions of beverly hills and buddy holly.

that settles it. let's put andre 3000 in queen! two words: bohemian rhapsody.


At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've gone back and forth on the Queen + Paul Rogers concert as well. Queen's one of my all-time favorite bands, but I think it might be just, well, a bit too sad, without Freddie. It'd be great to hear Brian May's sweet tone live though - Brian May has a blog as well, by the way: Kinda entertaining.

Back in high school, I convinced a fellow Queen fan friend of mine that I'd heard on MTV that Prince was going to be touring as vocalist for Queen and they were going to call it the "Rock Royalty Tour." He actually believed me for a few weeks. I still think that combo would work pretty well though.

- Jon

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Mike W. said...

I hate to reinforce the overimportance of the singer (since it implies the expendability of the rest of the band), this iteration of Queen does nothing for me. Perhaps it is the importance of the interaction between two people (Freddie wouldn't be the same without Brian May, or Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, or any number of comparisons), but nonetheless, I couldn't imagine supporting this kind of tour. It's becoming more and more commonplace ("The Dead," or whatever the post-Jerry Garcia guys called themselves, the new INXS, and I believe that The Doors actually toured, as "The Doors," with Ian Whatshisname from The Cult). It's a trend that I don't particularly care for in the slightest.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the most stomach-churning example of this trend: That "Courtship of Eddie's Father" guy, Brandon Cruz, filling in for Jello Biafra in the Dead Kennedys several years back. I still hold a quiet grudge against my friends for going to see them perform.

I may be showing my age, but I'd rather stay at home and play "Killer Queen" on Guitar Hero (the only instrument I'm qualified to play) than see a non-Freddie Mercury try to be Freddie Mercury.

At 8:54 PM, Blogger c said...

michael stipe sang a version of "one" backed by larry mullen and adam clayton from u2. michael stipe could sing a lot of u2 songs, in my opinion.
i don't think bono would do so well singing rem songs.

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

I think I'd have to agree that when a band had something, they had it, and when it's done, it's best left alone and enjoyed on CD (or iPod, whatever suits your fancy). I don't know much about most bands, but I do love the Beatles. The whole "let's record a couple new songs using old recordings of John's voice" thing a few years back with the Anthology craze really bugged me. It just ain't the Beatles without a living, breathing John Lennon and ain't nothing to be done about it.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Woz said...

Funny that no one thought to mention the possible pairing of B-Real and RATM after Zach left. Both musicaly and politically he would've been a much better addition than Chris Cornell, who seems by all rights to have ruined the most important band of my generation. I mean, we all appreciate "hunger strike," but the man sounds wayyy too much like a poor Bonn Scott impersonator for me to ever be comfortable with him.

Incidentally, when he was really lobbying for a nickname from the first years, we had kicked around the idea (at my insistence) of bestowing "Freddy Merc" as Uggen's new name, due to his mean guitar skillz and fancifully feathered 'do, but it failed to garner the necessary unanimitiy. But it was all done with respect.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous chris said...

thanks, anon., did you check out any of the audio clips on the queenpluspaulrodgers site? better than expected, but best on the old free stuff.

mike, i guess that's why this choice intrigues -- you couldn't have found a singer who was more self-consciously un-freddie. i didn't know that about the dks -- my boy was listening to them tonight and i gave him abuse for not finding his own generation's music.

c gives a good example of a superband pairing that might work. judging from his stage persona, stipe is a great front-person who could probably stretch across numerous genres. i'd love to see him glam it up and do a ziggy stardust thing, but that's just me.

sarah, i thought briefly about 60s pairings. i went down the road of swapping mick jagger for john or paul, but it sort of made my head explode to do so. i'd rather swap john for roger daltrey and put him in the who to slug it out with townsend. or, let ray davies bump mick out of the stones.

woz, i love cornell's sound on soundgarden and audioslave, but the songs don't move me either. it ain't ratm. ac/dc certainly hit the "replacing the dead singer" nail on the head -- take a couple years off, then bring in the new guy and name the comeback "back in black" and open the shows with it. very rock and roll.

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous sarah said...

Based on their Super Bowl performance, I'd say the Stones, and maybe Mick in particular, could use a little bumping. But don't mess with my Beatles, man!!!


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