Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

George Michael & Queen with Lisa Stansfield (live) (EP)

(Click on heading to visit George Michael's official website.)
Style: tribute, covers, hard rock, pop rock
Label: Hollywood Records
Year: 1993
Home: Britain

Members: George Michael, Lisa Stansfied ~ vocals
Brian May, Danny Jacob, Martin Bliss ~ guitar
Freddie Mercury ~ piano/vocals
Lynn Mabry, Shirley Lewis, Jay Henry ~ b. vocals
John Deacon, Deon Estus ~ bass
Roger Taylor, Peter Michael, Jonathan Moffett ~ drums
Chris Cameron, David Clayton ~ keyboards
Andy Hamilton ~ ewi

Additional: Maggie Ryder, Chris Thompson, Miriam Stockley ~ b. vocals
Mike Moran, Spike Edney ~ keyboards
Josh Macrea ~ drums

I remember when 'A Concert For Life: A Tribute To Freddie Mercury' originally aired ... I still have the vhs recording I did that day direct off of MTV, commercials & all ... though I sat glued to the tv all day I knew it would be something I'd want to watch again & again. To Queen fans like myself it was as important as Farm Aid or Woodstock in both the musicians it collected & the man/music who it celebrated. It was almost bigger than life ... it was certainly as big as Freddie himself. Everyone was there who was anyone in music. It was one of the first times I saw Spinal Tap & the first time I saw Metallica live, let alone it brought in so many musicians new & old where every performance was something special. Also, for those of us who were disheartened by the death of Freddie it brought hope that Queen would go on to make music once again. I remember thinking which singer I wanted to replace him. My choice was split between Gary Cherone of Extreme & George Michael ... Paul Rodgers was/remains no where in sight. For Cherone it was because of his light tenor & somewhat over-the-top energy & body movements, while for for GM it was the break some three minutes into "Somebody To Love" when he sends his voice soaring into falsetto after getting the audience clapping. It's a brief moment but has a tremendous impact towards showing GM's talents at their best. When GM released the Five Live EP sometime later I thought it interesting - he was the only performer to release any music from the concert, though far from the only person who should have ... I'm still waiting for Robert Plant's under-appreciated mystical take of "Innuendo" to be officially released ... & I thought this might be a sign of things to come with Queen. Sadly, it wasn't. But, without doubt, particularly listening almost 20 years later, this is a climactic moment for GM & one can see why he'd want to preserve as an album. I've always believed him to be one of the best rock singers of the past decades, sadly his studio output has been so varied & scattered that outside of his greatest hits collection it's sometimes hard to really get a feeling of his talent & overall range. But, luckily we have Five Live, which is GM at his best - live on stage with no overdubs to fool the listener or distort his voice & nothing to fall back on but emotionally powerful compositions. No originals but the covers are as strong as the originals. GM, though a great writer & studio wizard as is obvious from his untouchable Faith, has had a tendency to let the vocals be overwhelmed by the music, pulling away from from what makes him so great ... outside of his tight pants & sexy looks. In Five Live it's all about the voice - the way it should be. The focus & opening track is "Somebody To Love", performed with Queen at the tribute concert. This is followed by the R&B medley of "Killer" & "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", followed by the the lesser known "Calling You" from a Wembley Stadium concert which leans more on electronica than the rock as previously demonstrated by Queen. Inserted after the medley is Queen's "These Are The Days Of Our Lives", again featuring the remaining members of Queen but also with fellow Brit Lisa Stansfield. It's an under-rated nugget on the album, though there's really not a single bad track of the six selections. Today Stansfield has gone the forgotten way of many 90's singers whose musical style is no longer in vogue ... but in 1993 she was riding the wave of her successful album So Natural. Today her inclusion in the EP is almost nostalgic but listening again it should inspire one to go back & revisit her catalog & charming voice. The EP ends with "Dear Friends" from Queen's Sheer Heart Attack & is a somewhat odd inclusion particularly at but one minute & featuring exclusively Freddie singing & playing piano, though the lyrics belay the reason behind its inclusion. Overall, though musically delightful & a top-notch tribute that itsn't forced, this is a strange little release. At first it feels almost like an unnecessary release that's just for publicity ... if it wasn't for the fact that all its proceeds were given to charity. While, it's so different than what GM had done until then ... though it does fulfill the requirement that every musician release a live album, something he didn't even do with Wham!. But, the secret to this release is in knowing what we do now about GM's personal life. At the time the general public didn't know GM was gay, let alone that his lover Anselmo died the month before this EP was released from AIDS complications. Today we realize that, like everything GM has done though it might not be immediately apparent, this EP holds a very personal statement. Of all the musicians who performed that day for Freddie & AIDS awareness here we had a publicly-closeted gay man who knew the threat of AIDS firsthand but felt he couldn't say a thing. Was there a moment when he wanted to speak up & share the news that his lover was at home dying from the decease? We'll never know but looking at this small release we can hope the answer is an affirmative. Today, some critics might call him a hypocrite for not speaking up, though at that time public perception of gay was different & coming out still potential career death, but there's a lot of closet gay men who have done much worse than make a tribute to a fallen friend, bring further awareness about a stereotyped gay disease & give all the profit to charity/research. Some might even say GM should be punished for not coming out but the anguish of making such an album for such a cause & not saying a word about his recently departed lover was probably mental punishment enough. Any further judgment is unfair ... so all that's left to do is enjoy the music.



3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this piece on this site! I just finished watching the Tribute concert for like the 200 time in the last couple of years. I could watch it everyday, well, not everyday since it would get old like any music played EVERYDAY. To me, it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen or heard and to this day it still gives me chills to listen and watch it. Thanks again. I found this site because I had always wondered who the

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  2. Guess part of my post got cut off. I found the site because I was always curious who the guy backup singer was since during the Queen portion of the concert they thanked Maggie and Miriam and not Chris. I only have the Queen portion and not the entire concert. Thanks again for the info and great blog on this! :)

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  3. Thanks for all the comments. That tribute concert has stayed with me over the years as a real viewing highlight. I think I still have the 8 hour vhs tape of it somewhere! I also have always considered George Michael one of the best voices out there so when this CD came across my desk recently - well, how could I ignore it? Anyways, when it first came out I was curious about it but didn't buy it. Hopefully I answered your Q about the back-up singer. I try hard to make sure I have every participant's name down, even when I have to dig it up.

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