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Holly2003 user not visiting Queenzone.com
Hot Buttered Soul
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Posted: 19 Oct 10, 03:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There's been lots of analysis of Queen tracks here but very little about Smile tracks like Earth, Polar Bear, Blag, Step on Me and April Lady. I have these on a cd called Queen in Nuce, which has bad sound quality. (They've also been released on an album called Getting Smile and on a CD called Ghost of a Smile). So my small contribution to start this off is that I can see similarities between Earth and the ANATO track, 39. The main melody isn't that similar but the background vocals are reminiscent of 39. The major theme in Earth is of an astronaut leaving home and never coming back to Earth; the major theme in 39 is of an astronaut leaving home and coming back to Earth so much later that it is no longer familiar to him. And on a side note, the bit in Earth where the spaceship takes off is very similar to David Bowie's song Major Tom. Did Smile use a synthesiser to achieve this effect or was it the Red Special?


"With a population of 1.75 million, Northern Ireland should really be a footballing minnow. Instead, they could be better described as the piranhas of the international game" (FIFA.com)
Sebastian user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 19 Oct 10, 07:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think it's an organ.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 19 Oct 10, 11:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I classify "Earth," "'39," "Space Oddity" by Bowie, "Rocket Man" by Elton John and maybe a few others in what Roger aptly calls the Science Fiction-Space-Folk-Rock genre.

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Posted: 23 Oct 10, 03:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

That's interesting, I never thought about a connection between "Earth" and "39".
But the break at 1:50 in "Earth" always reminded me of what they have done later in "Flash".

Holly2003 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 13 Nov 10, 08:46 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The guitar fills in April Lady are reminiscent of the guitar fills in Flick of the Wrist.


"With a population of 1.75 million, Northern Ireland should really be a footballing minnow. Instead, they could be better described as the piranhas of the international game" (FIFA.com)
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Posted: 13 Nov 10, 13:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Ghost Of  A Smile" is available in FLAC on the internet, complete with the cover art.

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Posted: 25 Feb 11, 13:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The Ghost Of A Smile CD is well worth tracking the down. The remastering is excellent and they sound great!

I had five of the six Smile tracks (no "Doin' Alright" for some reason) on a bootleg CD I found in a shop in Greenwich Village, NYC, in 1995 and they sounded like they were copied straight from a Gettin' Smile LP, complete with clicks and snaps. Still, at the time, I was happy to have them in any form. That CD was called "The Unobtainable Royal Chronicle, Volume 1," and it had a bunch of other rare B-Sides and Extended Versions and such, so in the pre-internet days, when these tracks were nearly impossible to find without spending a crap load of money and going to conventions, that CD was a gold mine. I bought it and "Volume 2" at the same time and thought I'd found the Holy Grail!

For the record, "The Unobtainable Royal Chronicles" were both knockoffs of "The Ultimate Back Catalogue" CDs, but I didn't know that at the time and didn't care. I still have never come across either since, though I did stumble on "The Ultimate Back Catalogue, Volume 3" on CD in a shop in Toronto years later. I still have all three, though I've replaced all the tracks with mostly newer remasters or better quality transfers in the years since. 

The In Nuce CD I listened to once at HMV when I saw it on the shelf and it sounded like the same transfer I had on the URC CD, though more muffled. Needles to say, I didn't bother getting it. The Ghost Of A Smile CD I found at the old Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street not long after and snatched it up immediately! Glad I did.

Anyway, back to Smile...

I love all six tracks. "April Lady" was always a favourite and of the three recordings of "Earth" that Tim Staffell made in his career, this one, I think, is the best. It's definitely my favourite. The other two recording were for Morgan's "Nova Solis" album (1972) and Staffell's "aMIGO" album, with Brian. Both feature Morgan Fisher, too. Fisher, by the way, played live with Queen on the Hot Space Tour and appears on the Live At The Bowl CD/DVD. Also on aMIGO is a version of "Doin' Alright" which is a complete re-imagining of the song and sounds way different from the Smile and Queen versions.

I like hearing the differences between the Smile version and Queen version of "Polar Bear." It's worth hunting a copy of that demo down. Still, though, my favourite recording of "Polar Bear" has to be Valensia's cover of it on his Queen Tribute album. That's one of the few times I think a Queen-related song reached its potential by another, non-Queen artist. 

It's also neat hearing the earlier 1984 demos of "Step On Me," which sound pretty close to the finished Smile version. Find those if you can!

Lastly, good old "Blag". It's arguably the earliest version of the "Brighton Rock Solo," which happily lives on to this day. "Blag" itself it an alright song, but its real draw is the solo. Like "Brighton Rock" itself, I think "Blag" was mostly written to house the solo. Which is interesting when you think it lived there, then in "Son And Daughter," then "Brighton Rock," then freed itself live and began to consume other tracks, like "Bijou," "Last Horizon" and "Chinese Torture". It is the great unstoppable solo, rampaging through concerts like an awesome guitar rock Godzilla!

Long live Smile!