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.

The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke

For all these years that I’ve been a fan of the rock band Queen, and Queen II (1974) is one of my favourite albums of theirs, I had no idea that the song “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke” was actually describing a painting by English artist Richard Dadd.

The painting took Dadd nine years to complete, from 1855–1864, and is only 54 x 39.5 cm in size. You can read more about the history of The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke on Wikipedia.

This video shows us Freddie Mercury’s guided tour through the painting.

The next time I’m in London I must go look for it in the Tate Britain collection.

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.

Queen—News of the World (1977) on Family Guy

Brian shows Stewie a copy of Queen—News of the World (1977)
Brian shows Stewie a copy of Queen—News of the World (1977)

Queen was the first rock band that I fell in love with. So I was delighted when I spotted this screengrab from an episode of Family Guy.

And even more delighted when I found this accompanying video on YouTube:

“He’s bleeding man! He’s bleeding! And nobody’s doing anything about it!”