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Shane’s Rock Challenge: QUEEN – 1980 – Flash Gordon

| 13 May 2014 | Reply

Shane’s Rock Challenge: QUEEN – 1980 – Flash Gordon

Queen - Flash Gordon cover

You’ve gotta hand it to Queen – they were never shy of a challenge or a decidedly left turn. Instead of just writing a theme tune for the high camp B-sci-fi-masterpiece Flash Gordon (starring Sam Jones, Melody Anderson and Max Von Sydow), they turned in a complete album’s worth of material.

Of the 18 tracks, only two feature lyrics – Flash’s Theme and Hero. Both are written primarily by guitarist Brian May, and are above average riff-driven pop rockers. Interestingly, the majority of the tracks are composed by either May or singer Freddie Mercury, with all of Mercury’s songs on Side A of the original record, and most of May’s on Side B. Coincidence, or something more sinister? The band had taken to working apart more and more by this stage of their career, but the album still holds together and does what it should – support the movie coherently.

The rest are more ambient – background music for key scenes. This doesn’t mean they’re bad – Football Fight for instance is very cool – but it does mean that a lot of fans expecting the wall-to-wall bombast of a ‘normal’ Queen album might have been pretty disappointed by the record.

The single of Flash was also a different mix to the album version, containing dialogue only from the first scene of the movie, rather than all the way through, and it’s surprising how less cool that makes it.

The 2011 40th Anniversary reissue tacks on an extra EP with the single, a couple of early versions and Flash and The Hero live, making it a value added purchase, though you have to scratch your head and wonder what changed so dramatically that the band who once proudly plastered “NO SYNTHESISERS” on the record sleeves now relied on them almost as much as the guitar sound which made them famous.

Flash Gordon received a bump in popularity in 2012 when Seth McFarlane cast Sam J Jones as a gonzoid version of himself in the Mark Wahlberg movie Ted, and Jones plays it to the hilt opposite Marky Mark’s Flash-obsessed character. Check that out, including edited bits of Football Fight and Flash, here:

By Shane Pinnegar



Category: Shane's Rock Challenge

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