Return Of The Champions
Album DetailsRETURN OF THE CHAMPIONS By Greg Brooks and Gary Taylor The collaboration between Queen and Paul Rodgers began as a one-off show at the Hackney Empire in London on November 11th 2004, with both artists attending the first UK Music Hall Of Fame ceremony. They performed We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions and All Right Now together for the first time. Brian had worked in the studio with Paul before this, and also performed live with him, but the Hackney Empire show was the first time all three men had joined forces. As well as being a solo artist in his own right and having been the front man of Bad Company and Free as far back as 1970, Paul Rodger's musical roots are firmly rooted in blues and soul music, and with his distinctive and gritty rock voice, rare musicianship, and song writing ability, he was the perfect companion for Roger and Brian, and the best choice to step into the rather daunting Queen fold. The collaboration was not planned and actually happened by accident. In September 2003, at the Royal Albert Hall, Brian had performed with Paul again, this time for the 50th Anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, and it was on the strength of this performance that made Brian changed his mind about working with another lead singer. Roger agreed that there was certainly a chemistry with Paul, and on the strength of this they asked him to join them on stage for the Music Hall Of Fame event. With Freddie Mercury's passing in November 1991, and with John Deacon now retired, Queen would now be represented by Brian May and Roger Taylor. The two men still wanted to tour but of course with half the band absent, quite how this would happen was a real dilemma. Roger explained, “We’d been sort of thinking about touring for years after Freddie’s death, and the first thought was, ‘No, we don’t want to do it. It doesn’t feel right.’ And then we considered doing it with a couple of people, but it didn’t work out. Brian and I didn’t feel happy about it. We felt it had to be right.” Brian added, “Paul Rodgers was a hero of Freddie’s and a hero of ours in the days when we were starting. The ‘Fire and Water’ album from Free was one of our bibles when we were starting off. So I went through a complete change and suddenly I thought, ‘Yeah we could do this. We could do one more tour, and the songs would mean something new.’ This would not be like re hashing or like trying to pretend Freddie’s still around. Suddenly we can re-interpret these songs with someone who understands what he’s about, someone who relates to us, and Paul Rodgers is the guy. Suddenly it felt right.” For the first time in nearly 20 years, Brian and Roger, now back to the trio format of the pre-Queen band Smile, of the late 1960s, with Paul Rodgers out front and with supporting musicians Spike Edney (Keyboards), Jamie Moses (Guitar) and Danny Miranda (Bass), kicked off a European Tour in 2005. It began with a small gig for fan club members only, at London’s Brixton Academy on March 28th, and ending in stark contrast with a huge show on 15th July at London’s Hyde Park – a concert originally scheduled for July 8th, but postponed because of the terrorist attacks on London the day before. Before the European tour commenced, a concert was held the Fancourt Country Club in George on 19th March at the second 46664 concert in South Africa. This was the first official concert as Queen + Paul Rodgers As well as dates in the UK, the tour would also take the new band to France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Holland, Sweden, Ireland and Portugal. The shows were well attended and Paul soon established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Contrary to popular belief at the time, Paul’s intention was never to replace Freddie in Queen, nor to mimic him. He only ever planned to be his own person on stage, doing his own thing and injecting his own inimitable style and interpretation to the Queen material that so many fans regarded as sacred. The fans soon realised that Paul was an entertainer very much in his own right, with terrific stage presence, and with the band performing several Free and Bad Company numbers as well as Queen regulars, it took no time at all for the new front man to win over the curious and rather apprehensive audience. The first live album under the Queen + Paul Rodgers banner, Return Of The Champions, was recorded at the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield England on May 9th 2005, the fifth of seven UK dates, and was released as a double album on 19th September. Issued on CD and as a triple vinyl boxed set, the album reached No 12 in the UK charts and 84 in America, as well as achieving varying top 30 positions throughout the rest of the world. The album was produced and engineered by Justin Shirley Smith, who has been involved with co production and engineering on several of Queen’s latter studio albums. The artwork design by Richard Gray employs a very striking concert photograph of the band on stage, obliterated by the massive lighting rig used throughout this tour. The show features Queen material predominantly, but also some great old numbers from Paul’s past too, including Wishing Well, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Can’t Get Enough and the classic All Right Now, all of which were included on the album. No new material was included in the live set simply because the three men had not yet recorded anything together. That particular prospect was to follow later. The new show begins with just Paul at centre stage singing the start of Reaching Out, while the rest of the band are hidden behind a black curtain obscuring the stage. As the song ends, the familiar chords of Brian’s trusty Red Special guitar cry out from behind the mask, tearing into another huge rendition of the concert favourite Tie Your Mother Down, and then the gigantic lights change instantaneously as the curtain drops to the ground to reveal the whole band. The song now reaches the opening thunderous blast of Roger’s drums and the band joining forces with Brian. Already the crowd is captivated, and the show has only just begun. These first two songs would make up the only single to be issued from Return Of The Champions. Along with Fat Bottomed Girls, the CD was released in Europe only on August 29th. The tried and trusted Queen favourites continue with I Want To Break Free, Fat Bottomed Girls and Another One Bites The Dust, and as if the band had never been away at all, the audience sing along and react as enthusiastically as ever to each track the band performs. Paul is featured on guitar for Crazy Little Thing Called Love, just ahead of the acoustic part of the show. Leaving the drums, and to greatly rousing applause, Roger walks the length of the long centre catwalk at this point to a smaller stage out front, followed by Jamie and Danny who accompany him on guitars for a new song called Say It’s Not True. This song was written by Roger in 2003 for Nelson Mandela, as part of the 46664 Aids campaign. After this rather moving recital, the three men leave the stage and are replaced by Brian on his own. Seated on a stool with an acoustic guitar, with a lone spot light upon him, and poignantly reminiscent of so many Queen concerts when Freddie would also be seated next to him, Brian must first deal with the crowd’s affectionate chanting of “Brian! Brian! Brian!” directly at him, and literally from only a few feet away, before he can begin the songs that are certain to provoke deafening approval. Always greatly moved by the reception he gets from Queen fans, Brian composes himself and begins to sing, but soon lets the crowd sing along with him to the much loved favourites of ’39 and Love Of My Life – the latter of which was dedicated to the conspicuously absent Freddie, every night. Back to his ever-reliable electric guitar now, Brian kicks off a much calmer version of Hammer To Fall, from The Works era of 1984. After singing the first verse, Paul joins in and brings the song to its familiar heavy middle section and conclusion. Roger plays a drum solo next, aided by Brian on guitar for a little known Sandy Nelson song, at least to new Queen/Paul Rodgers fans, entitled Let There Be Drums. Roger then takes lead vocals as well as drums for his own composition, the mighty I’m In Love With My Car, B-side of Freddie’s Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975, and a favourite among fans, be it the studio recording or concert rendition. Brian takes his solo spot next, with a seven minute guitar Solo followed by an instrumental song from his debut solo album (Back To The Light, 1992) called Last Horizon. Roger resumes lead vocals again at this point to perform a truly beautiful track, in These Are The Days Of Our Lives from Innuendo; the last album recorded during Freddie’s life time, and which Queen never got the chance to perform together in concert. However, though not present in person, Freddie is certainly around in spirit – not just in the minds of his two band mates, but of course in the hearts and minds of so many Queen fans present. A rather lovely touch here is the sudden and rather startling appearance of Freddie on the stage by means of old footage projected onto a giant screen at the back of the stage. The images of Freddie (and the band) in Japan in 1975 long before his illness was an issue, accompanying this new performance of Day Of Our Lives, with its exquisite lyric, is an emotional moment for all concerned. Roger’s eloquent tribute to his departed friend is followed by Radio Ga Ga. Again Roger, who wrote the song, sings the lead, but then Paul returns to the stage to take over for the climax, as Roger gets back to the drums. Yet another Taylor penned song is next, in A Kind Of Magic, from the 1986 album of the same name, and this time with a superb vocal from Paul that brings new perspective to the track. Another of the many songs from The Miracle (1989) and Innuendo (1991) albums that Queen never got to perform live with Freddie, is the anthemic and no nonsense I Want It All, a song more or less created with the concert environment in mind and which always lifts the audience to new heights. Paul Rodger’s delivers this powerful sentiment with appropriate panache, and it is a highlight of the show. Even so, one cannot help but ponder the intriguing prospect of Freddie on stage cajoling the masses into joining him with rousing choruses of “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all… and I want it NOW!” If there was ever one Queen song that couldn’t be left out of the set, then it surely has to be Bohemian Rhapsody. The form it now takes is a sheer delight to behold. Footage of Freddie on the piano from Wembley 1986 is projected onto the screen, while the new band respectfully plays along with him. Reaching the famous opera section in the middle, the band leaves the stage and footage of Freddie and John are seen on the screen at various times throughout Queen’s long and illustrious career. Paul takes up vocals for the rock part of the song, as the band blasts back onto the stage. For the final part, the even larger than life Freddie on screen joins Paul in a spellbinding vocal duet, and leaves the audience, just like the lyric says, with shivers down its collective spine, as Freddie is seen on the screen for the last time. Another song written for the stage is the typically grandiose The Show Must Go On. This, without doubt, would have been a phenomenon for Queen on tour, had circumstances been different for Freddie. But, that said, even the great man himself would be proud of Paul’s more than competent handling of this devilishly troublesome song. Paul was, after all, a great favourite of Freddie’s. If anyone was ever going to make this song truly count on the big stage, and certain other notable Queen songs too, then Paul Rodgers was the man. This is a powerful performance, but it does of course mark the tail end of the show. After Paul’s instantly recognisable All Right Now, from the Free days of the 1970s, the band end the show triumphantly, and as always, with We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. It is hard to imagine the Queen show ending any other way. In time honoured tradition the show still ends with the taped God Save The Queen track as the band say their farewells and exit the stage. The Champions returned, but now they are gone again. An accompanying DVD video directed by David Mallet was also released to represent this Sheffield concert, on October 31st 2005 and included the same tracklisting as the album, with a bonus track of John Lennon’s Imagine, recorded during the summer Hyde Park concert in London. The DVD was a huge success and hit the No 1 spot in the UK as well as top 5 positions in almost every country around the world. After the success of the European Tour, the band played a few dates in America in October, in Aruba, East Rutherford in the USA, and at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Two new songs would make it into the set, both from Paul’s past, Bad Company and Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy. At the Hollywood bowl, ex Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash would play with the band on Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love. Following the American shows, a six date tour of Japan commenced on October 26th with two dates at Tokyo’s Saitama Arena, two at Yokohama, and then Nagoya and Fukuoka. The Tokyo show on the 27th was filmed, and a DVD video called Super Live In Japan was released on 28th April 2006 exclusively for the Japanese market and including extra songs not played in Europe, namely Paul’s Fire And Water, Queen’s 1976 Japanese single Teo Torriatte, and an acoustic version of the massive Japanese hit I Was Born To Love You. On 3rd March 2006, a 23 date USA tour commenced in Miami and took in many major cities throughout the States. The tour also included two shows in Canada, Vancouver and Toronto. Brian and Roger would return to the U.S. on May 25th to attend the first ever VH1 Rock Honors show in Las Vegas, and be the first band to be inducted there. They played a short live set with Paul Rodgers, along with fellow inductees Kiss, Judas Priest and Def Leppard. In 2007, with ever more productions of the Queen/Ben Elton Musical We Will Rock You launching around the world, to accompany the fifth record breaking year at London’s Dominion Theatre in London, Queen was/were declared the Top British Band of all time, as voted for by BBC Radio 2 listeners. Over the last seven years Queen have also been inducted into the USA Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001, allocated a star on the Rock And Roll Walk Of Fame in 2002, and inducted into the USA Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2003. In 2004 Bohemian Rhapsody was inducted into the USA Grammy Hall Of Fame, and following the Las Vegas premiere of the musical We Will Rock You, the band’s hand-prints were placed in cement at the Rock Walk Of Fame in Hollywood. In 2005, Queen’s legendary performance at Live Aid (of 20 years earlier) was voted the greatest live show of all time by a cross section of performers and critics. In 2007 it was announced that Queen and Paul Rodgers would enter the recording studio to start work on a brand new three-way collaboration album. This was a hugely exciting and significant development, with certain fans (Queen, Free and Bad Company alike) in something of a quandary over what might emerge. The first sample of this unlikely merging of talent came in the form of a free internet download track and video of Say It’s Not True - released on World Aids Day, December 1st. This newly recorded track featured all three men sharing vocals and was shown live at the 46664 concert in South Africa on the same day, as the band could not attend. A CD was released on December 31st, with all proceeds going to Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids awareness campaign. Although not a huge seller, as the track had already been available as a download, and achieved over 100,000 hits, the single did reach No 5 in Italy. In 2008 it was announced that Queen + Paul Rodgers would hit the road again for a series of concerts to commence in Moscow, Russia on 15th and 16th September. The 28 date arena tour will visit 14 countries in just seven weeks, including Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic, Austria, and of course the UK, ending with a show in Dubai. The tour is planned to conclude with a highly anticipated return to South America. Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers are currently working furiously upon the new album, tentatively titled The Cosmos Rocks. They have each written and produced material, which of course remains closely guarded, and at this time the release target is September 2008. So far, there have been two tantalising samples of the new work; firstly with Roger’s Say It’s Not True, and most recently with a UK television performance of C-lebrity, another non-subtle Roger Taylor composition. Also in 2008 millions of fans from over 40 different countries voted Queen the Best Rock Band Ever, in an internet poll. It was further revealed that between them, Queen and Paul Rodgers have released more than 50 albums during their long careers and have sold in excess of 300 million records.
Did You Know?1. First live album featuring Paul Rodgers on lead vocals 2. A complete show from one of the bands hugely successful European Arena tour dates 3. Roger re-visited his past when performing Let There Be Drums- he first played this in the sixties with his band Reaction 4. Special promo singles were released in Europe and USA (Tie Your Mother Down / Fat Bottomed Girls) 5. A special double album advance CD-R acetate was made available in USA
1. Reaching Out
Lately I've been hard to reach I've been too long on my own Everybody has a private world Where they can be alone Are you calling me? Are you trying to get through? Are you reaching out for me Like I'm reaching out for you?
5. Wishing Well
Throw down your hat, kick off your shoes I know you ain't goin' anywhere Run 'round the town singin' your blues I know you ain't goin' anywhere. You've always been a good friend of mine, But you're always sayin' "Farewell" And the only time that you're satisfied Is with your feet in the wishing well. Throw down your gun, you might shoot yourself... Or is that what you're tryin' to do? Put up a fight you believe to be right And someday the sun will shine through. You've always got something to hide Something you just can't tell And the only time that you're satisfied Is with your feet in the wishing well. And I know what you're wishing for Time in a peaceful world Time in a peaceful world Time in a peaceful world Time in a peaceful world You've always been a good friend of mine, But you're always sayin' "Farewell" And the only time that you're satisfied Is with your feet in the wishing well
6. Another Ones Bites The Dust
Ooh, let's go Steve walks warily down the street With the brim pulled way down low Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet Machine guns ready to go Are you ready, hey, are you ready for this Are you hangin' on the edge of your seat Out of the doorway the bullets rip To the sound of the beat yeah Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust And another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust, eh Hey, I'm gonna get you too Another one bites the dust How do you think I'm going to get along Without you when you're gone You took me for everything that I had And kicked me out on my own Are you happy, are you satisfied How long can you stand the heat Out of the doorway the bullets rip To the sound of the beat - look out Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust And another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust, eh Hey, I'm gonna get you too Another one bites the dust Hey - oh take it Bites the dust bite the dust hey - hey Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust, ow Another one bites the dust, hey hey Another one bites the dust, heeey - ooh show down There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man And bring him to the ground You can beat him, you can cheat him, you can treat him bad And leave him when he's down, yeah but I'm ready, yes I'm ready for you I'm standing on my own two feet Out of the doorway the bullets rip Repeating to the sound of the beat - oh yeah Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust And another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust, yeah Hey, I'm gonna get you too Another one bites the dust Shoot out - hey, alright
13. Let There Be Drums
No lyrics - Instrumental
19. Can't Get Enough
One, two, One, two, three, Well, I take whatever I want, And baby, I want you, You give me something I need, Now tell me I got something for you, Come on, come on, come on and do it, Come on and do what you do, I can't get enough of your love, huh, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, Listen, Well, it's late and I want love, Love that's gonna break me in two, Gonna hang me up in the doorway, Gonna hang me up like you do, Yeah, Come on, come on, come on and do it, Come on, come on, do what you do, ooh, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, huh, I can't get enough of your love, What I say now, Oh, I can't get enough of your love, ow, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, Say it again, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, I gotta tell you, baby, that I, I love you so much, I can't get enough of your love, I love you so much, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, Mmm, You know what I'm saying, baby, I can't get enough of your love, I can't get enough, enough of your love, I can't get enough, enough of your love, I can't get enough of your love, yeah, This one, this one, Woo, Oh, come on, baby, Come over here right now, oh, Oh.