Sunday, April 06, 2008

Number 513 - Queen & David Bowie


Number 513

Queen & David Bowie

"Under Pressure"

(1981)
.
.
Genre:Rock
Charlton Heston 1924 to 2008
"Damn them! Damn them all to hell!" Those damned dirty apes .. line from Charlton Heston in "Planet of The Apes" 1968. Rest in peace Sir. Planet of the Apes really scared the shit out of me when i was a child,. I was about 10 years old when i saw this movie for the first time on telly in the mid 70s. So scary that I watched from behind the couch with one eye open, one hand covering the other eye and the other hand covering my mouth. I miss being scared like that now. Mind you watching Queen & David Bowie performing "Under Pressure" scared the crap out of me too back then, its sort of like today's equivalent of Rufus Wainwright and Scissor Sisters performing. Now that's true horror. Mind you "Under Pressure" had one of the best riffs in history of rock, so it just goes to show, you never know when the most unlikely pairings strike gold.
Queen had been working on the song under the title "Feel Like" but weren't yet satisfied with the result. The final version that became "Under Pressure" evolved from a jam session the band had with Bowie at its studio in Montreux, Switzerland, therefore it was credited as co-written by the five musicians. According to Queen bassist John Deacon (as quoted in a French magazine in 1984), however, the song's primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury — though all contributed to the arrangement. An earlier, embryonic version of the song without Bowie called "Feel Like" is widely available in bootleg form.
There has been some confusion about who created the song's famous bassline. John Deacon said (in Japanese magazine Musiclife in 1982, and in the previously mentioned French magazine) that David Bowie had created it. In more recent interviews, Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have credited the bass riff to Deacon; Bowie also said on his website that the bassline was already written before he became involved. The bassline may have an even earlier source – it bears striking resemblance to the first theme of the third movement of Sibelius' first symphony of 1898. In any case, the September 2005 edition of online music magazine Stylus singled out the bassline as the best in popular music history. The first title found for this song was "People on Streets". It then became "Under Pressure".
Roger Taylor was frequently rumoured to be the song's chief writer, however, it appears that he served more as an intermediary for Mercury and Bowie (two of rock music's biggest stars at the time), being friends with both men. Taylor was involved in the production of the track and did some preliminary mixes with Bowie in New York, but Bowie was unsatisfied with these results and wanted to re-record everything. In the end, the final mix was done with the involvement of Mercury and recording engineer Mack, under a lot of "pressure" from Bowie and Taylor (according to Brian May in a 1982 interview). "Under Pressure" was one of the few Queen songs not written by Taylor that he sang in his solo concerts, the others being "We Will Rock You", "The Show Must Go On" and "I Want to Break Free".
Although very much a joint project, only Queen incorporated the song into their live shows at the time. Bowie chose not to perform the song before an audience until the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, when he and Annie Lennox sang it as a duet (backed by the surviving Queen members). However, since Mercury's death and the Outside tour in 1995, Bowie has performed the song at virtually every one of his live shows, with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey taking Mercury's vocal part. The song also appeared in setlists from A Reality Tour mounted by Bowie in 2004, when he frequently would dedicate it to Freddie Mercury. Queen + Paul Rodgers have recently performed the song as well. While Bowie was never present for a live performance of the song with Mercury, Roger Taylor instead filled for back-up vocals usually in unison with Mercury as Mercury would take over most of Bowie's parts. This showcased the talent of Mercury as a vocalist as he could powerfully deliver the song as a heavy rock song rather than a ballad.~ [Source : Wikipedia]
For Queen see Number 805, #799, #747 & #539
For David Bowie see Number 634
For Annie Lennox visit Mellow Mix Vol #134
Roling Stone understandably have no view of this song as it was a one off recording.
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (It was a one off buddy) and the Album ranked at Number (Ahh see, it was only a single *finger*)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 74.7 out of 108

Click play to hear the rest of the album
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By The Year 1955 to 2005:
underlay crowbarred trademe

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