Queen—All Dead, All Dead (with Freddie Mercury vocals)

Queen’s News of the World (1977) album turned 40 years old this year. I was five years old when it came out. It would be six or seven years more until Queen were firmly on my radar, and so would begin a lifelong love of the band.

To celebrate the anniversary of the album’s release, Queen are releasing a box set on Friday 17 November that includes a number of recently unearthed out-takes and rarities.

News of the World 40th anniversary box set
News of the World 40th anniversary box set

Among the rarities is this hybrid version of “All Dead, All Dead” (side 1, track 4) featuring alternative lyrics and vocals from Freddie Mercury.

What I didn’t realise, all these years of listening to the song, is that the song was written by Brian May about the death of his childhood cat.

It’s a beautiful song, even if does have the ‘wrong’ lyrics.

The box set is released on Friday 17 November costing £109.99.

Brian May’s guitar setup and bass guitars

I’m a sucker for articles or videos about Brian May’s handmade guitar, the Red Special. Premier Guitar has both, and is one of the best and most thorough that I’ve seen.

Something I didn’t realise was that in May’s original design for the guitar, which he built with his father, he had included an ‘F-hole’, like a violin. The article shows an arch top guitar that Andrew Guyton from Guyton Guitars built for him featuring that F-hole.

What is not featured on the video is that Brian May Guitars now make a large number of variations of his iconic guitar, including the original (in a variety of finishes), a mini guitar, an acoustic and now a bass.

I remember as a teenager making sketches of a bass guitar version of the Red May Special. I wonder if I still have them? I dreamed that one day I would build my own… maybe one day. Now I see that both Brian May Guitars and Guyton Guitars have built bass versions and they are quite beautiful pieces of craftsmanship.

There’s a new book scheduled to be published by Hal Leonard next month with the snappy title Brian May’s Red Special: the story behind the home-made guitar that rocked Queen and the world. More information on the Queen website.

DigiTech Brian May pedal

DigiTech Brian May pedal

So there I was the other day innocently browsing the World Wide Web looking for a suitable, compact treble booster pedal for my guitar setup when I stumbled upon the news that DigiTech are to release a Brian May pedal in their Artist Pedals series of effects pedals.

I found elsewhere online a list of the seven tones that this pedal will offer:

Model 1: “Keep Yourself Alive”
Model 2: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Model 3: “Tie Your Mother Down”
Model 4: “We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions”
Model 5: “Crazy Little Thing”
Model 6: “Brighton Rock”
Model 7: “Winter’s Tale / Deacy”

and the photograph comes from Brian May’s website.

Press Release

DigiTech is developing the Brian May Artist Series Pedal as Queen continues its latest tour. With a musical career spanning three decades, Queen founding member Brian May is a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer. Brian has penned 22 Top 20 hits worldwide. His unmistakable tone has been sought after for years by guitarists around the world.

Now, working closely with Brian May and under the watchful eye of legendary recording engineer and producer Eddie Kramer, DigiTech is recreating seven of Brian’s classic, signature tones by applying its proprietary technology called Production Modeling™. The Brian May Artist Series Pedal furthers DigiTech’s philosophy of developing products designed to supply guitarists with the best sounding, most creative tools possible.

“Working closely with Brian, legendary producer Eddie Kramer and the entire DigiTech R&D department, we have employed our Production Modeling technology ensuring absolute accuracy in duplicating Brian’s tone,” stated David Rohrer, DigiTech Market Manager for Guitar Products. “Now guitarists can either use Brian’s seven presets to recreate his classic tone, or just use them as a starting point to create their own sound. It is a very powerful and flexible pedal that will rock the world.”

DigiTech’s breakthrough Production Modeling is being used to reproduce the studio and live guitar sounds, including effects and processing, of Brian May. This includes modeling the speaker cabinets, microphones and microphone placements, pre and post effects, and the recording engineer’s production magic. Every aspect of the signal chain has been considered and recreated, resulting in completely accurate models of Brian’s tones.

Commenting on working with DigiTech to create his new Artist Series Pedal, Brian May stated, “I’m very happy to be working with DigiTech on this project and Eddie Kramer…”,

(Source: DigiTech Press Release, 11 April 2006)

Also in the pipeline, according to the clogged-one’s website, is an affordable treble booster pedal, and a book co-written with Greg Fryer about Brian May’s setup (guitar, pedals, amps, six-pence, etc.)

How exciting!