Saturday, 7 September 2013

Brian May: The Gentleman of the Guitar

Back in the early 80's when I first got seriously into electric guitar it was highly uncool to worship at the feet of certain players, even if you had a secret admiration for them.

Brian May was the skinny tall guy in Queen with the quirky red guitar and the poodle hairdo. As their name suggests, coupled with the grandiose posturings of their front man Freddie Mercury, Queen were camp and over the top in all those ways that annoyed the Punk generation: stadium rockers, high production values, popular with mums and dads, basically they were Prog Rock with all the sharp edges sanded off.

The first 'rock' album that I ever owned was Queen's Jazz album back in '78. Tracks like 'Fat Bottomed Girls' and 'Don't Stop Me Now' were played until the grooves were burned through. It was May's guitar that is basically responsible for getting me into Sabbath, Zeppelin and AC/DC a couple of years further down the line.

The dropped D riffing in Fat Bottomed Girls still sends a tickle down my spine, what a huge guitar tone! Other classic tracks of course are Killer Queen, Seven Seas of Rye, Hammer to Fall, and never forgetting We Will Rock You - definitely 'The correct use of the electric guitar'.

There's absolutely loads of Queen stuff where the genius of Brian May totally shapes and characterizes the band track, not to mention all those great and often unique phaser saturated solos over the decades.

I even forgive Brian for the 'Starfleet' soundtrack (collaboration with Eddie Van Halen??). I also forgive him some of that disco inspired 'Another One Bites the Dust' stuff in the 1980's, and later on The Buckingham Palace rooftop solo .. (but the man's gotta eat.)

Brian May might lack the Marlboro, coke sniffing, model shagging, hard man kudos of Keith Richards, but he more than makes up for all that by just playing his old (and new) Red Specials and being a general all round good egg. Thankfully it seems, as the years have rolled on, Brian is now getting the credit he deserves for his influence on generations of players.

~ H-Allen