Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Lester's Album Discussion Thread - "Flash Gordon"

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Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 09:03 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I know what you're thinking: "First, he starts a ridiculous rumor that Brian's a heroin addict, and now he's starting an album discussion thread about Flash Gordon. Is he on all the right pills?" (see what I did there? Nyuk nyuk)

Anyway, I'm serious about this - technically, it's a Queen album (I know I skipped over Live Killers; a live discussion thread will be coming later), so let's discuss it, for better or worse.

Those pesky rules:


1. If you don't own the album, do not contribute. I want this to be a discussion, and posts by somebody saying only "I like 'Keep Yourself Alive' on Classic Queen, is that on this album?" or something to that nature contributes nothing to the discussion.

2. As most people have been quick to jump down the throats of foreign posters about their English, I can only ask that those not familiar with the language do their best. For those who speak English as their first language, there really is no excuse. Try to formulate your thoughts so that everyone can enjoy them. No speaking in tongues, please.

3. You don't need to like the album - these aren't appreciation threads, these are discussion threads. If you don't like the album, don't be afraid to say so! Everyone should be responsive to constructive criticism, so if the album isn't one of your favorites, explain why in a decent manner instead of just saying, "This album sucks because of X song"

3a. Disagreements are encouraged. Well, okay... not exactly encouraged, but don't be afraid to disagree with someone as long as you disagree in a dignified manner.

BAD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "WHAT?! 'THE KISS' IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST SONG RELEASED BY QUEEN! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT, YOU JACKASS! ANYONE WHO LIKES 'THE KISS' LIKES BOILS ON THEIR FACE AND BEING TORTURED BY TOADS BITING THEIR FINGERNAILS! A POX ON YOUR FAMILY AND ANYTHING YOU SHOULD SPAWN, YOU HEATHEN!"
Poster A: "..."

GOOD:
Poster A: "'The Kiss' is probably my favorite song off the album."
Poster B: "It's not that great, in my opinion, but what do you like about it?"
Poster A: "I like the segue from 'Execution Of Flash' and the orchestration. Freddie's vocalisations are just great."
Poster B: "Hmm. That's exactly what I don't like about it."

*Posters A and B share a beer and become best friends*

4. NO NUMERICAL RATINGS, PLEASE!!! Discussion threads do not equal giving something a grade. If this was called "Let's rate the albums", that would be different, but I want people to discuss the albums. There's no point in listing your favorite songs without giving some kind of insight.

5. These will be posted whenever I damn well please. I know I initially said every two weeks, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you gotta post, man. Or sometimes I get so damn busy, I'll just forget about it and all that.

6. For other discussion threads, check out:
Queen (first album): http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=569759
Queen II: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=587802
Brian May's solo albums: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=575007
Sheer Heart Attack: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=648592
A Day At The Races: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=670647
News Of The World: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=684170
Jazz: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=687482
The Game: http://www.queenzone.com/queenzone/forumnew/forum_topic_view.aspx?Q=839968


The first person who mentions the argument above about 'The Kiss' gets slapped in the face.

Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 09:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Honestly, I actually really like this album, not so much as an album I can sit down to and get into, but as background noise. Keep in mind that David Bowie had released "the Berlin trilogy", two of those albums - Low and "Heroes" - featuring ambient, synth-based compositions that were very dark and sinister in sound. It almost sounds like Queen had been listening to those albums when they recorded this soundtrack.

Whereas the synths sounded out of place on The Game, here they're essential to the atmosphere: the film as it stands is goofy and completely tongue-in-cheek, and some of the songs - especially 'Football Fight' and 'Flash's Theme' - reflect that wonderfully. But by adding synthesizers to some of the more serious numbers, Queen added depth and moodiness to the sound, obviously alienating some fans in the process.

The album was evidently recorded over a lengthy period of time: the band were asked by Dino deLaurentiis sometime in 1979 if Queen would record a soundtrack for the album, but sessions didn't start until the early part of 1980, during The Game sessions (even then, I believe, only demos were recorded); the bulk of the album was recorded between the US and UK/European legs during October and November 1980. But the album doesn't sound rushed or sloppily edited: each song flows in and out of each other, so that it doesn't feel like eighteen different compositions; rather, it feels more like two very lengthy pieces of music, one on each side.

The only irritating thing about the album is when that nagging piano riff and chorus from 'Flash's Theme' pops up in other pieces. It's something I noticed that Brian did again on the Furia soundtrack nearly twenty years later; that said, most of Brian's pieces from the album are essentially the same, though there are exceptions. 'Battle Theme' is a scorching rocker, blending in nicely from 'Vultan's Theme', and how great is it that Brian did an over-the-top rendition of 'The Wedding March'?

Roger's three compositions - 'In The Space Capsule', 'In The Death Cell', and 'Escape From The Swamp' - are surprisingly more drum oriented than anything he's done before, especially the third piece, which is a variation of his nightly timpani solo. John's two pieces, 'Execution Of Flash' and 'Arboria', are brief and mostly atmospheric, and, as described above in the rules, I really dig the whole 'Execution Of Flash' into 'The Kiss' transition.

Shame that only one single, 'Flash', was released from the album; 'The Hero' is such a great rocker that it really deserved to be a contender in the hit parade.

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 09:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Though i like gettin slapped in the face, i won't make the remark..too cheap.

Anyway....

Flash Gordon.
Great as a soundtrack, not as a Queen album.
I hardly listen to this record, cuz it's just a huge sound collage of guitar harmonies and synths imo. The Hero is enjoyable untill it bursts into Flash's Theme again.

The album is basically Battle Theme/Flash's Theme repeating over and over again.
The fact that Brian wrote most of the music is proving that he can really be repetetive in terms of guitar work. Strongest songs are (or at least songs i listen to once in a while)Football Fight, The Wedding March(WOW)and The Hero. Weak lyrics for Flash's Theme, highly uninspired collection of one-liners and a repetetive chorus. Again works great for the film, but a hiddious record to listen to.



Killed by drones.
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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 09:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The story is that producer Dino de Laurentis wanted the loudest, most outrageous band on Elektra's roster, and that someone suggested Queen. Probably a good choice, as Queen's music has always been very wide-screen and theatrical. The problem with soundtracks is the repetition of a recurring theme, and methinks that after listening to many reprises of the Flash theme it becomes annoying. Of the two proper songs, The Hero is a fantastic track, a great rocker with a great outro by Brian. Flash's Theme has always been widely ridiculed for the 'Flash..ahh ahhh' section, but I'm pretty sure that's due to Queen's humour always being overlooked. The rest of the album showed a diversity in writing styles, but it's tough to get fired up about short snippets of mood music, though I think the Execution of Flash segueing into The Kiss is some of the finest music Queen ever made.




You know, good times are now.
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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 09:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Love the threads Lester - but down to business.

Flash Gordon (or Flash for short), was originally conceived as a ‘pet project’ by Italian movie producer Dino De Laurentiis who originally hoped that Federico Fellini would direct this film. Eventually, the film was commissioned in 1979 and directed by Mike Hodges.

At a very late stage of production, when the film was almost complete, the original soundtrack - not composed by Queen, but by English film composer Howard Blake - was still pencilled in as the official film score. Blake was involved early in the 'Flash Gordon' project because of his previous contributions to film (‘The Duellists’, and ‘Riddle Of The Sands’) and TV incidental music (‘The Avengers’, and ‘Play For Today’).

It really was an eleventh hour decision to use Queen for the more commercial opening and/or closing credits, prompting De Laurentiis’ famous quote: ‘Who are the Queens?’.

However, once involved, the band delivered on more than just the two agreed tracks, and eventually ended up recording a whole film’s worth of material. The 'spirit' of the recording sessions is captured in the ‘Flash’ promo video, as Brian May once claimed that ‘…they decided to score the film like an old fashioned orchestra’, and that ‘…they scored the music to the rough cuts of the film’. This information is vital to our final understanding and appreciation of the album.

First, some of the Queen music was itself ‘inspired’ by the Howard Blake score. Even if the Queen score was not directly linked to Blake’s, it was, created in part, as an alternative. (In other words perhaps more of an antithesis than a compliment – but for a contrast to exist, there must be an original concept to begin with).

Second, from this we also discover that the work was not preconceived or planned in advance. Gone was the luxury of Freddie’s pre-planned mentally scored ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and instead, we are faced with Queen ‘working on the hoof’ as they were forced to toil under the arduous conditions of unknown visual elements, tight film schedule deadlines, and the converging worries - if the divergent tracks would add up to a competent film score. For these reasons, this seems to be not only one of Queen’s most economical albums, but the most ‘live’ of the studio sessions, primarily because as Brian May intimates, they were just making it up as they went along.

Before I go on to look at the actual Queen release, perhaps a spin of the original Howard Blake material may transport us back to that pre and very early Queen involvement stage.


OST: Flash Gordon/Amityville 3D, Howard Blake
Recorded 1980/ Released 2000
Composed, Arranged and Conducted by Howard Blake
Produced by John J. Alcanter III (Exec.); Ford A Thaxton
Performed by National Philharmonic Orchestra
Promotional Release June 2000
Contains themes from Flash Gordon by Queen
The Hero (0:41)
Opening Titles/ Killer Storm/ Plane Crash (7:15)
Rocket Flight (1:30)
Arrival/ Mongo Greeting/ Palace Entry/ The Court Of Ming (3:59)
Barin And The Hawkmen (3:14)
The Princess/ Dale’s Seduction/ Football Fight (2:13)
Bell And Coffin/ Zarkov/ Rocket Ship Fight (3:20)
Flight To Arboria/ Harem (2:06)
Telepathy/ Dale’s Drug (2:07)
Arboria (1:32)
Dale’s Fight (1:32)
Zarkov And Dale Escape (1:25)
Torture/ The Swamp (2:11)
The City Of The Hawkmen (1:01)
Tree-Stump Duel/ Beast In The Swamp (6:00)
Romantic Reunion (0:27)
Duel On The Sky Platform (7:48)
Firefight/ Finale: Death To Ming And Flash’s Victory (1:06)
Amityville 3D
Main Titles
Car Death
The Boat Dock
The Mermaid
The Doll
Mother
The Beast
End Titles

If interested, you can still find the Howard Blake version (and Queen themes) by following this link:

http://www.moviemusic.com/soundtrack/flashgordonamityville



"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 10:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Fascinating stuff, John :)

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 10:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

...and two years later Mike Hodges filmed "Body Language" promo video... (though I'd preffer to see what Fellini could do with that stuff)

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 13:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

John S Stuart wrote:



Second, from this we also discover that the work was not preconceived or planned in advance. Gone was the luxury of Freddie’s pre-planned mentally scored ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and instead, we are faced with Queen ‘working on the hoof’ as they were forced to toil under the arduous conditions of unknown visual elements, tight film schedule deadlines, and the converging worries - if the divergent tracks would add up to a competent film score. For these reasons, this seems to be not only one of Queen’s most economical albums, but the most ‘live’ of the studio sessions, primarily because as Brian May intimates, they were just making it up as they went along.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Brian the most active and involved in the process? Wasn't he the one who through himself into the process? I wonder what Freddie thought?

What strikes me as odd is that for a band noted to be over-the-top perfectionists, they would do something like this that had to be completed on the fly. Flash also comes out toward the tail end of their very active album-tour-album schedule. I wonder how much tension was in the band during the recording sessions?


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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 14:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

yeah the execution of flash sounds like a bit of a mix of who wants to live forever and white queen.


Roger: Can I go To Lunch Now?

Brian: No, You Can't...

---------------------------------------

Freddie: Oh Shit, All this crap again?!



"If I had to do it all over again, yes why not? why not
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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 14:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Twelve inch turt! ;-)

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 19:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Serry... wrote:

...and two years later Mike Hodges filmed "Body Language" promo video... (though I'd preffer to see what Fellini could do with that stuff)

That could have turned out highly interesting indeed ;)

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 22:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Flash isn't my favourite album, but i do love

The Hero. Especially live, i think Queen took a chance with this, it was very creative musically, but not a huge seller on a Retail level. I would love to hear a 5.1 mix, or is that avail on the DVD i wonder? I have never watched the movie on DVD so if there is anyone who can confirm the 5.1 i would be very happy. :)

PS, Lester, i am enjoying these threads.

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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 22:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

YoungStratMan wrote:

...I would love to hear a 5.1 mix, or is that avail on the DVD i wonder? I have never watched the movie on DVD so if there is anyone who can confirm the 5.1 i would be very happy. :)


I own the new remastered DVD.
I can confirm...

Product details

Format: Anamorphic, PAL
Language English
Region: Region 2 (
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Run Time: 106 minutes
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS 5.1

The problem is that the 5.1 refers to the movie as 'a whole' and not necessarily to the soundtrack.

This is where I find the biggest let-down of the anniversary package, as in the prepublication advertising, we were promised an isolated soundtrack - which unfortunately, did not materialise.

The advantage of the 'Furia' soundtrack, (and to a lesser extent the 'Macbeth Suite'), is that they are genuine collections of contemporary classical music. (Albeit ‘film’ scores - but the latest Classical FM CD set is just that - a collection of contemporary film sores).

My point is that because of ‘sampled’ dialogue, Flash remains too connected to the movie, and as such the music can not be divorced or listened to as well – music!

‘Highlander’ for example spawns many musical pieces which can be divorced from the movie: ‘A Kind Of Magic’, ‘Princess Of The Universe’, and ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, all stand alone as great musical masterpieces, but for ‘Flash’, tracks like ‘In The Space Capsule’, or ‘The Ring’, are not allowed to break free from the shackles of the film – and as such are not allowed lives of their own – which is a shame, as they are great tracks really.
(Wow I think I have just written my longest sentence – ever!)

Perhaps the 5.1 could redress some of that, allowing fan mixers the opportunity to excise dialogue – but would that improve the album – as an album?

My guess is that it would. Just as the ‘Karaoke Greatest Hits’ breathed fresh life into old tunes, I also think it is time ‘Flash’ deserved the promised isolated soundtrack. It may not for some increase the appreciation of the musical content, but it would allow one to hear the music without the ‘idiot boards’, and as such, liberate from such a messy marriage.



"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
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Posted: 04 Aug 06, 23:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

John S Stuart wrote:

YoungStratMan wrote:

...I would love to hear a 5.1 mix, or is that avail on the DVD i wonder? I have never watched the movie on DVD so if there is anyone who can confirm the 5.1 i would be very happy. :)


I own the new remastered DVD.
I can confirm...

Product details

Format: Anamorphic, PAL
Language English
Region: Region 2 (
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Run Time: 106 minutes
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS 5.1

The problem is that the 5.1 refers to the movie as 'a whole' and not necessarily to the soundtrack.

This is where I find the biggest let-down of the anniversary package, as in the prepublication advertising, we were promised an isolated soundtrack - which unfortunately, did not materialise.

The advantage of the 'Furia' soundtrack, (and to a lesser extent the 'Macbeth Suite'), is that they are genuine collections of contemporary classical music. (Albeit ‘film’ scores - but the latest Classical FM CD set is just that - a collection of contemporary film sores).

My point is that because of ‘sampled’ dialogue, Flash remains too connected to the movie, and as such the music can not be divorced or listened to as well – music!

‘Highlander’ for example spawns many musical pieces which can be divorced from the movie: ‘A Kind Of Magic’, ‘Princess Of The Universe’, and ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, all stand alone as great musical masterpieces, but for ‘Flash’, tracks like ‘In The Space Capsule’, or ‘The Ring’, are not allowed to break free from the shackles of the film – and as such are not allowed lives of their own – which is a shame, as they are great tracks really.
(Wow I think I have just written my longest sentence – ever!)

Perhaps the 5.1 could redress some of that, allowing fan mixers the opportunity to excise dialogue – but would that improve the album – as an album?

My guess is that it would. Just as the ‘Karaoke Greatest Hits’ breathed fresh life into old tunes, I also think it is time ‘Flash’ deserved the promised isolated soundtrack. It may not for some increase the appreciation of the musical content, but it would allow one to hear the music without the ‘idiot boards’, and as such, liberate from such a messy marriage.



Thanks JSS, that is a shame that they couldn't have taken the Flash recordings from the original Multi-track recordings and do the 5.1 mix, i think i would appreciate the music ENTIRELY in that form. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

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Posted: 05 Aug 06, 04:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've never been sure quite what to make of the Flash Gordon soundtrack....

I completely agree with Lester's comments of "each song flows in and out of each other, so that it doesn't feel like eighteen different compositions; rather, it feels more like two very lengthy pieces of music, one on each side." - and those being bordered by Flash's Theme & The Hero.

Because of the movie script being included in the songs it is difficult for any of them (apart from the two mentioned above) to be considered stand-alone tracks...The Hero should have been released as a single and would have been a success. Football Fight was the b-side single to Flash and is a nice track, but is somewhat typecast when released as a single due to the dialog included.

It was an experiment, clearly - something Queen had never done before...whether this album influenced any future releases is debatable.



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Posted: 05 Aug 06, 07:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Serry... wrote:

...and two years later Mike Hodges filmed "Body Language" promo video... (though I'd preffer to see what Fellini could do with that stuff)


I don't think even Fellini could have saved that...


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Posted: 05 Aug 06, 07:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've always liked that album, and the title theme is actually quite wonderful imo. I mean, the whole "flash aaaaaaah" bit is silly but that's what's great about those things ("nananananananana batman", which was plagiarised by Lloyd Weber).

The use of synths is all right but the orchestra is hideous. Not the score (priceless), but the way it's recorded.

All in all it was a nice effort, Brian's a very good producer, and of course 'The Kiss' is probably my favourite song off the album.


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: 05 Aug 06, 16:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<b><font color = "crimson"> ThomasQuinn wrote:

Serry... wrote:

...and two years later Mike Hodges filmed "Body Language" promo video... (though I'd preffer to see what Fellini could do with that stuff)


I don't think even Fellini could have saved that...


Maybe, but he couldn't have made it worse, could he? ;)

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Posted: 05 Aug 06, 19:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sebastian wrote:

I've always liked that album, and the title theme is actually quite wonderful imo. I mean, the whole "flash aaaaaaah" bit is silly but that's what's great about those things ("nananananananana batman", which was plagiarised by Lloyd Weber).

The use of synths is all right but the orchestra is hideous. Not the score (priceless), but the way it's recorded.

All in all it was a nice effort, Brian's a very good producer, and of course 'The Kiss' is probably my favourite song off the album.



I agree with you, Brian is great producer and arranger, and i would rather hear "Flash, aaaaa" than the annoying Batman theme anyday. I think that the whole 'Synth' explosion into Queen's music kinda ruined it for me for the most part to be honest.