Queen - Hot Space
NME.COM feature on Queen - Hot Space album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 01 December 2003
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Queen - Hot Space: Wikipedia Album Entry
Hot Space is an album by English rock band Queen, released in 1982. Marking a notable shift in direction from their earlier work, Queen employed many elements of disco, Pop Music, R&B and dance music on Hot Space, being partially influenced by the success of their 1980 hit "Another One Bites the Dust" . This made the album less popular with fans that preferred the traditional rock style they had come to associate with the band, though Hot Space did fit in with the Queen tradition of incorporating many disparate influences into their music.
Queen's decision to record a funk album germinated with the massive U.S. success of "Another One Bites the Dust" (and to a lesser extent, the UK success of the song too). In hindsight, while it seemed a carefully calculated move to capitalise on their incidental interest in "black music", it was considered by some to be a temporary blow to their reputation. While the album's second single "Body Language" did peak at #11 on the U.S. charts, the accompanying video was not accepted to be put on rotation by MTV for its erotic overtones (particularly those that hinted at Freddie Mercury's sexuality) which may have resulted in a backlash from the more conservative sections of the band's fan base.
Despite the controversy over the album's new sound, (Disco/Funk-influenced rock music) "Under Pressure" was well-received by fans and became the band's 2nd #1 hit in the U.K. It also reached #29 in the U.S.
"Staying Power" (Mercury) – 4:10
"Dancer" (May) – 3:46
"Back Chat" (Deacon) – 4:31
"Body Language" (Mercury) – 4:29
"Action This Day" (Taylor) – 3:33
"Put Out the Fire" (May) – 3:15
"Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)" (Mercury) – 3:39
"Calling All Girls" (Taylor) – 3:53
"Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)" (May) – 4:26
"Cool Cat" (Deacon / Mercury) – 3:26
"Under Pressure" (Queen / Bowie) – 4:02
Bonus track (1991 Hollywood Records CD reissue)
"Body Language (1991 Remix by Susan Rogers)" (Mercury) – 4:45
Main article: Staying Power
The horn arrangement for "Staying Power" was added by Arif Mardin (who also produced Chaka Khan and added horn sections to Bee Gees and Aretha Franklin records)."Staying Power" would be performed on the band's accompanying "Hot Space Tour", albeit much faster and heavier, with real drums replacing the drum machine and guitars and keyboards replacing the horns (this arrangement contained no actual bass guitar, as John Deacon would play guitar in addition to Brian May. The bass sound for the song appears to be played on a keyboard by either Morgan Fisher or Fred Mandel). It was also played on Queen's The Works Tour albeit less frequently than on the Hot Space Tour. In Japan, the band released "Staying Power" as a single in July of 1982. The song was also issued as a single in the US, in November of 1982. It failed to chart in either countries. Mr Mardin's bit was recorded in New York.
The bassline of "Dancer" was played on a synthesiser (a Roland Jupiter 8) by writer/guitarist Brian May. The song itself — a tantalising fusion of rock and funk — is something of a follow-up to "Dragon Attack" from the band's 1980 album The Game in that it fuses heavy elements of music with danceable ones, as Led Zeppelin did. The phone message at the end of "Dancer" is in German, and was recorded in a hotel room in Munich; it roughly translates to "good morning, this is your wake-up call". The lyrics of "Dancer" are also notable for being the only ones on the album that make reference to the album title itself.
Main article: Back Chat
"Back Chat", written by bassist John Deacon, is the track most influenced by black music. In addition to normal bass duties, John also plays rhythm guitar and electric piano on the song. As a single, it stalled at 40 on the UK charts. On the video commentary on Greatest Video Hits 2, Roger Taylor makes it clear that he hates the music video for it. On the Hot Space Tour, Brian May plays the song using his Red Special (As opposed to a Fender Telecaster). The electronic drums are also replaced by acoustic drums (Saved during the drum solo).
Main article: Body Language (song)
"Body Language" is atypical among Queen songs, being the sole single released by the band that does not include guitar (save for during the closing strains, which are made more prominent throughout the 1991 remix). Mercury, who composed "Body Language" on synth bass, had previously explored the instrument's potential with his contributions to the Flash Gordon soundtrack. The "Body Language" video, featuring scantily-clad models writhing around each other, proved somewhat controversial and was banned in a few territories. The song also appeared in the 1984 documentary film "Stripper", being performed to by one of the dancers.
Action This Day
"Action This Day", one of two Roger Taylor songs that appear on the album, was clearly influenced by the New Wave movement/style current at the time; the track is driven by a pounding electronic drum machine and features a saxophone-like synthesizer solo, played by producer Mack on an Oberheim OB-Xa. "Action This Day" takes its title from a Winston Churchill catchphrase that the statesman would attach to urgent documents, and recapitulates the theme of social awareness that Taylor espoused in many of his songs. The band performed "Action This Day" live on the Hot Space Tour in a more conventional arrangement, replacing the drum machine and bass synth with a rock rhythm section.
Put Out the Fire
"Put Out the Fire" is an anti-firearm song written by Brian May, with lead vocals by Freddie Mercury. May recorded its guitar solo under the influence of alcohol (after many unsuccessful attempts). Though never released as a single, "Put Out the Fire", the album's most 'traditional' Queen song, later appeared on the Queen Rocks compilation in 1997. A new video was also produced for the accompanying video compilation, featuring a live performance of the song intercut with footage of fire and explosions.
Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)
Mercury wrote "Life Is Real" as a tribute to John Lennon, whose murder in 1980 had also previously prompted the band to perform his song "Imagine" on tour. Like Lennon's songs, "Life Is Real" features a sparse piano-based arrangement and a melancholy tone. It is also one of the few Queen songs whose lyrics were written before the music ("Killer Queen" being another). The title may be a reference to the lyric "love is real", from Lennon's 1970 song "Love". It contains the slightly offensive line "...Loving like a whore." It begins with three bell-like piano notes, meant to recall the opening bells in Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over," and "Beautiful Boy." Also, the first two words, "Guilt stains..." are virtually identical interval-wise (though in a different key) to Lennon's first two notes in his song, "Mother."
Calling All Girls
The first Roger Taylor song (however with Mercury on vocals) to be released as a single (albeit in selected countries, including the United States and Australia, but not the United Kingdom), "Calling All Girls" failed to create much of an impact on the charts where it peaked at #60 in the U.S., despite having an entertaining music video based on the George Lucas film THX 1138. Taylor composed "Calling All Girls" on guitar, and played the feedback noises during the song's break. Queen rarely performed the song on tour, but a live recording from Japan in 1982 is commercially available on the Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl DVD, where "Calling All Girls" accompanies the photo gallery. The single was released in July of 1982 and reached #33 in Canada and #60 in the US.
Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)
Brian May's lyrics for "Las Palabras de Amor" were inspired by Queen's close relationship with their South American fans, and have been interpreted as an allegory for the Falklands War. (actually the album was released during the war, and must have been recorded long before the war started) A Top 20 hit in the UK, "Las Palabras de Amor" marked the band's fourth appearance on Top of the Pops (the first, second and third being for "Seven Seas of Rhye", "Killer Queen" and "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy"). For this mimed performance May is seen playing a grand piano though on the recording there are only synths (played by May). May also sang lead vocals for the harmonized line "this time and evermore".
"Cool Cat", written by Freddie Mercury and John Deacon, originally featured David Bowie on background vocals and even a few lines of rap during the middle eight. According to Mercury in a 1982 television interview, Bowie was unhappy with the results and requested them to be removed. On the album version, Mercury sings the entire song in falsetto. The alternate take with Bowie's vocals still intact is widely available on various bootleg recordings and surfaces from an early 1982 vinyl "Hot Space" test pressing from the USA. This is also the only Queen studio track on which John Deacon uses the popping technique.
Main article: Under Pressure
A now phenomenally famous duet with David Bowie, "Under Pressure" was the result of an impromptu jam session in the band's studio in Montreux. When it was released in 1981, the considerable numbers of Queen and Bowie fans ensured that "Under Pressure" reached #1 in the UK singles chart. Nine years later, its bassline and piano parts were sampled by Vanilla Ice to form the basis of his hit "Ice Ice Baby", creating a highly controversial industry event. Freddie Mercury was the primary director of this track, with he and Bowie as the main lyricists (each writing the lines they sang). Part of the chord progression is based on a rough demo of Roger Taylor's unreleased song "Feel Like". The songwriting is credited to all five participants.
Country Charts Sales
Peak position Weeks Certification Sales
Austria 1 12 Gold 25.000
Norway 3 11
Sweden 4 6
United Kingdom 4 19 Gold 350.000
Germany 5 200.000
Japan 6 80.000
France 7 300.000
United States 22 21 Gold 800.000
John Deacon – bass, guitar, synthesiser, rhythm guitar
Brian May – lead guitar, synthesiser, piano, backing vocals, synth bass on "Dancer", Lead vocals(one line in Las Palabras de Amor)
Freddie Mercury – lead vocals, piano, synthesisers, synth bass
Roger Taylor – drums, drum computer, backing vocals, octave lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards
David Bowie – lead vocals, percussion & keyboards ("Under Pressure")
Arif Mardin – "Hot and spacey" Horn arrangement and production ("Staying Power")
Mack – production, keyboard programming ("Action This Day")
The album title refers to the band's use of more spartan arrangements included on the songs, i.e. a conscious effort to create a "hot space" between the notes.
Michael Jackson, who was close friends with the band during the time, later cited Hot Space as a building block for his own blockbuster album Thriller.
The cover art of U2's 1997 Pop album, Blur's 2000 Best Of compilation, and "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1994 Greatest Hits Volume II bear some similarity to the Hot Space cover (which, in turn, drew its inspiration from the cover of The Beatles' album Let It Be. Pop, like Hot Space, was also an attempt to make a dance/funk album, both of which received mixed results.
The 'Hot Space Tour' was Queen's last tour of America until the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour in 2006
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