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Brian May & Friends - Star Fleet Project

Brian May & Friends - Star Fleet Project

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Star Fleet Project
Company: EMI
Catalog: 1C 038 1678061
Year: 1983
Country/State: US/UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: 3 track EP
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 308
Price: $15.00

Best time to play: Unless you're a hardcore Queen fan, probably not all that often
Weird project by Queen's guitarist ... If you believe the story (no reason not to), the tracks that ended up on 1983's "Star Fleet Project" were recorded for fun with no intention of releasing them.

Here's what the liner notes said:

"Stop! What you have just picked up is not you normal kind of album. Not an album which has been "Thoughtfully pieced together by a coordinated band as a balance and polished listening experience. No a Queen album. Not a solo Brian May album. It is a record of a unique event.

On the 21st and 22nd of April 1983, five musicians from different backgrounds, who had previously known each other only as friends played together for the first time. Purely for fun. In listening to this record I hope you will share in the excitement as well.

Star Fleet is the theme tune for a superb TV sci-fi series broadcast in England for kids of all ages; Japanese visuals and British soundtrack including music by Paul Bliss. The heroes pilot space vehicles which can assemble into a giant robot for land battles. The aliens fly fantastic insect-like craft which spawn smaller fighting machines; all intent on possession of the secret of F Zero One. Having been introduced to all this by my small boy, I became equally obsessed by it, and formed the idea of making a hard rock version of the title theme.

A few months later I found myself in Los Angeles doing very little. I suddenly realized that four musicians with whom I'd long wanted to play, were at the end of a local telephone call. To my great surprise, they all liked the ideas I had so I took my courage in both hands, booked a studio, and in we went. None of us had done this kind of thing before -- no record company, no plans for release, no back-up organization -- just us. Just for fun.

I could have put away these tapes in a bottom drawer and kept them as a private record of one of the best experiences of my life. But the few people I've played them for have urged me to 'publish and it will make me very happy if others can enjoy the stuff the way I have. I've attempted to hone Star Fleet into something like a 'proper record' -- my thanks to roger [Taylor] for helping me with the chorus vocals. But I haven't messed one scrap with the tracking done on the day. The rest is simply mixed 'naked'."

So a quick word of warning - if you were expecting to hear a Queen-styled concept album, this was going to be a major disappointment. A three track EP (though it clocked in at close to thirty minutes), the album featured a heavy dose of blues with May and guest Eddie Van Halen spending most of the album exchanging blues licks ('Let Me Out' and 'Blues Breakers').

"Star Fleet Project" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Star Fleet (Paul Bliss - arranged by Brian May) - 8:04
I have to admit that the first time I heard 'Star Fleet' it sounded like a Starcastle tune - you know; progressive, but in a clunky fashion. The goofy lyrics gave it a certain low tech, campy charm and if that wasn't enough, the accompanying Transfomers-on-the-cheap video was simply hysterical (May's floating head makes me snicker every time I see it). You can see the promotional video on YouTube:: The liner notes included the following remarks about the tune: " ... recorded on the first day, you can hear a kind of nervous exhilaration. The new situation produced a strange and different kind of energy." rating: *** stars
2.) Let Me Out (Brian May) - 7:13
Hum, easy to see why May didn't sing much for Queen - his voice wasn't, but ... just not very strong and distinctive. Come to thing of it, that's a pretty good description for 'Let Me Out'. A pedestrian blues number, the track didn't gain any energy until about four minutes in when May and Van Halen began exchanging guitar solos. According to the liner notes: " ... an old song of mine which found new life. I n the last solo of 'Let Me Out' Edward tortures his top string to its audible death and winds up quite naturally on the remaining five." rating: ** stars

(side 2)
1.) Blues Breaker (Dedicated to E.C.) (instrumental) - (Brian May - Eddie Van Halen - Phil Chen - Fred Mandel) - 12:41
Even if you don't like standard blues tunes (and I'm not a big fan of the genre), 'Blues Breaker' was probably one to check out. May and Van Halen literally tore up the studio on this extended instrumental and managed to make it sound like they were having a blast in the process (part of the fun is trying to keep track of which one was playing lead at any given point in time. May's comments on the song: ' ... in 'Blues Breaker' , which of course is purely spontaneous you can hear a much more relaxed set of people just laying back and enjoying the fresh inspiration of each other's playing ... you can hear us smiling as we search for answering phrases." rating: **** stars

Shame it was only an EP ... wonder if they recorded any more material ?
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