Adam Lambert

Engineer and Mixer Ryan Williams on the Saturday LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and John Snow

Saturday July 3 – Episode 74 – Ryan Williams

Have you ever had anything with your name on it nominated for a Grammy award?  Ryan Williams has — for his work on Train’s Drops of Jupiter, Velvet Revolver’s Contraband, and Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger.  And we’ll be talking to him about it on Saturday’s LeBrain Train.

Join John Snow and I for this special Saturday episode with a very in-demand engineer.  How much demand?  Well, besides Stone Temple Pilots, he’s either engineered or mixed for Matt Nathanson, 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Pearl Jam, Outkast, Staind, Michelle Branch, The Panic Channel, Phil Collen’s Delta Deep, Korn, Static-X, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Biffy Clyro, 10 Years, Atreyu, Mastodon, Billy Idol, P!nk, Sugar Ray, Deftones, Adam Lambert, Coheed & Cambria, The Black Dahlia Murder, Bush, Neon Trees, and Beck.  He even has a co-write on a Kelly Clarkson song.  Is that enough demand for ya?

This is going to be a great chance for us to pick the brain of a guy who has literally worked with the biggest names in modern music.  You do not want to miss this one — catch it live so we can ask Ryan your questions!

Saturday July 3, 1:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

REVIEW: Queen + Adam Lambert – “You Are the Champions” (2020)

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT – “You Are the Champions” (2020 iTunes)

Queen were one of the earlier groups out of the gate with new “lockdown” recordings.  From their homes they re-recorded “We Are the Champions”, dedicated to frontline workers, with Adam Lambert to raise money for the World Health Organisation’s “Solidarity Response Fund”.  Whatever the cause may be, we are here to review the music.

The idea here is that Queen are not the champions this time — we are!  Together we have locked down and sacrificed, and we are doing it for each other.  The lyrics don’t really fit but we know what Queen meant.  Lambert doesn’t actually change the words to “You are the champions” until the halfway point.

This track is the familiar Queen arrangement, though shortened by a verse.  Adam Lambert is a fine singer, as he proves in the outro.  Queen didn’t go with the big layered vocals here; perhaps you need a recording studio to do that.  Instead Lambert’s voice takes the spotlight by itself.  Even the instrumentation is sparse — no solos, and only a couple Brian May guitar noodles to savour.

There’s a striking music video with stark footage of empty streets.  I like that Lambert did his hair and makeup to the nines while the other two look casual.  Let’s join Queen and Adam in thanking our frontline healthcare workers — and thank you Queen for recording again.  How about a new album next time?

3.5/5 stars

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: Queen + Adam Lambert 7/13/2014

QUEEN +

GUEST REVIEW by “Boppin”

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT – Live, July 13 2014 at the Air Canada Center, Toronto

I have to start off this review by saying I love Queen. I have listened to more songs by Queen than almost any band ever. I am told when people I know hear Queen, Steve Miller Band, Black Sabbath or 80’s metal, they think of me. So the review you are about to read really pains me to write. But I have to be true to myself and review the band as I saw them last night.

I went to this concert expecting to hate every little bit of Adam Lambert. I hated him on American Idol. Yes, I know. I hate to admit it, but for a while I did watch that show. How, you say, can a died-in-the-wool metal head and 70’s hard rock lover watch American Idol? Well. To answer that question, my family time TV viewing was limited to the type of shows we could watch together. Having a young pre-teen in the house meant only watching family type shows when she was awake. And she loved American Idol. At first I liked Adam Lambert. He was not your typical contestant on that show. But then he started showing off his pipes too much, and it got annoying. All of the viewers knew precisely when he was going to wail, and we got sick of him.

Then I heard the news that he was going to be the next lead singer for Queen.

Queen and American Idol. That is sacrilege. This would be like Gary Cherone in Van Halen. It wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.

However, it did.

I hate to say this, but the three shining spots of the concert last night really had nothing at all to do with the original line up of Queen.

First, Adam Lambert was actually great. If Freddie Mercury was incredible, then Adam Lambert was great. He was spot on. He was campy, in a Freddie kind of way, and his voice was in top shape.

Second, Neil Fairclough, the bass player they hired to replace the retired John Deacon was amazing. His stand up electric bass was the biggest bass I have ever seen. It sounded sweet. And then he let Roger Taylor use drumsticks to play the bass (a first for me).

Third, Rufus Tiger Taylor. He is the son of Roger Taylor. And he has some serious chops. I didn’t realize how good he was until my wife pointed out to me that he was better than his dad. And last night, he was.

The concert was going along great, and then Adam Lambert left the stage, and the show for me mostly fell apart.

Please don’t get me wrong I love Brian May, but he was mostly off last night. His entire night sounded about a half second behind. His finger work was slow. His guitar solo (which was roughly 30 minutes) was about 28 minutes too long. It started out with a few minutes of Pink Floyd , then onto some Zeppelin, back to Floyd. I don’t think he was trying to copy David Gilmour or Jimmy Page, but the elements were there. At least I hope he wasn’t trying to copy them because he was doing a piss poor version if he was. For a guy that has seen many guitar virtuosos over the years, this was like watching a Junior High guitar talent show. The worst part for me was when Brian May screwed up in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a real fingernails on the chalkboard moment for me.

During the song “Love of My Life”, Brian moved down to the front of the stage alone with an acoustic guitar. He admits he is not a singer. Well, Brian we quickly figured out why. Your voice was awful. God awful. And you chose to have the audience sing the other half of the lyrics of the song. You could have heard a pin drop when the 100 or so people in the entire audience of 15,000 that actually knew the lyrics were singing (whispering?). Here’s a hint. Choose a song most of the audience knows if you want them to sing the lyrics for you, or put the lyrics up on a screen.

Coming from the area of the world where Neil Peart is from, and having seen Rush in concert many times (and more recently seeing how good Tommy Clufetos can bang the skins), the drumming of Roger Taylor was another let down. It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t wow me. But in 2014, solos really are passé unless you are really amazing, and Roger Taylor was not. He does not have a great singing voice either, which really showed when he tried to fill in for David Bowie during “Under Pressure”.

His son is a real up and comer though, and I hope he finds his own way in the music industry. It seems especially tough on children of famous musicians.

After the horrible “Love of My Life”, Brian May talked about space travel and how we were all going on a journey and we may never come back, then all of the musicians(other than Lambert) went to the front of the stage and did “’39”. Pardon me while I yawn.

Please Adam, come back and save us from this snooze fest. As the lights go down and the audience sees Adam there is a huge cheer.

However, after a couple of classic Queen songs, they forced him to sing a remix of a little known Freddie Mercury disco song called “Love Kills”. He announced Queen was using this version in an upcoming album. In my opinion, they should do a new album with new material, perhaps throwing in a few B-sides of old material, or do a live album. They could include Freddie, Paul Rodgers, Freddie Tribute Concert songs and Adam. Just my two cents. Also in my opinion, the band had plenty of time to come out with this new album before the tour, but they didn’t. And all they had for sale at the swag booths were $40 T-shirts. I have enough T-shirts thanks. Not one CD or vinyl. Nothing.

The entire show for me was like “backwards day”. I assumed Brian May and Roger Taylor would be the highlight of the show. I told my wife the only reason I am going was to hear Brian May. But the cast of nobodies were better.

I should end the review by stating the whole is better than the sum of its parts for Queen + Adam Lambert. When they are together doing classic Queen songs, they sound great. When they do solos, and off-key singing, it didn’t work.

If they had included 8-10 more songs, and skipped a lot of the solos, I would have rated it higher.

My wife summed up the concert when we got back to the car by stating she liked The Lady Gaga concert a few nights before better (No, thankfully I did not attend that one). I told her “Don’t say that!”

For me, Adam Lambert was 8.5/10, the band without Adam 4/10, so together the show was 7.5/10. Too bad. It could have been much better.

[This works out to 3.75/5 on the five-point LeBrain scale.  Thank you Boppin for this amazing review! — LeBrain]

SETLIST:

  1. Now I’m Here
  2. Stone Cold Crazy
  3. Another One Bites the Dust
  4. Fat Bottomed Girls
  5. In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
  6. Seven Seas of Rhye
  7. Killer Queen
  8. Somebody to Love
  9. I Want It All
  10. Love of My Life
  11. ’39
  12. These Are the Days of Our Lives
  13. Under Pressure
  14. Love Kills
  15. Who Wants to Live Forever
  16. Guitar Solo
  17. Tie Your Mother Down
  18. Radio Ga Ga
  19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  20. The Show Must Go On
  21. Bohemian Rhapsody
  22. Encore: We Will Rock You
  23. Encore: We Are the Champions

More QUEEN at mikeladano.com:
QUEEN – Queen’s First E.P. (1988 EMI, originally 1976)
QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – The Cosmos Rocks (2008, iTunes bonus tracks)
QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – ”Fire and Water” (2008 Amazon.com bonus track)
BRIAN MAY & FRIENDS – Star Fleet Project (1983 Capitol Records)

REVIEW: Queen + Paul Rodgers – The Cosmos Rocks (+ bonus tracks)

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QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – The Cosmos Rocks (2008 Hollywood Records, iTunes + Amazon bonus tracks)

I was surprised as anyone else when, in 1997, Queen continued on as a three-piece (sans the retired John Deacon) with a new track called “Only The Good Die Young” (Queen Rocks). Since then, Queen has continued on with one-offs under the name “Queen +” with the name of the singer.  (Adam Lambert, you can fuck right off.)

When they started touring with Paul Rodgers, I salivated! I loved the live album Return Of The Champions, and I was chomping at the bit to hear some new music. Would I, as a long-time Queen fan, be let down?

Not really.

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There have always been Queen albums, particularly in the 80’s, that I felt had filler on them. Cosmos Rocks is like that. Some songs are awesome, worthy of the Queen legacy and a proud addition to the canon. Others are limp are dull. And, the best song didn’t even make the CD release! Read on….

The CD kicks off with what I consider to be some cheesy sound effects, similar to but not as good as “One Vision”. Then, Brian May’s guitar kicks in, and the first track “Cosmos Rockin'” really starts. This is a great track, a hard and fast rocker with May’s licks as fluid as ever. Paul Rodgers, perpetually young, is in fine voice. What a great start to a comeback album! Rogers and May ably handle all bass duties on this album.

Rodgers sings most leads on his own, with familiar sounding backing vocals by Roger Taylor and Brian May. On some songs, the lead vocal is split three ways, such as “Say It’s Not True” which is actually an older song from 2003. I like this touch, as it keeps the sound a little more rooted in old-school Queen which always had Taylor and May singing lead. When Rodgers sings, however, with his voice in full power, it is a brand new beast.

I have to say I was very happy with the choice of Paul Rodgers as lead singer, as he is simply one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, up there with Daltrey or Plant. He is also a gifted writer, although I’m not sure his writing really gelled with Queen. Still, he is vastly different from Freddie, and nobody could ever replace Freddie, so I think this was definitely the way to go. Certainly much better than picking up some guy who lost American Idol…

Some of the other highlights on this album were the heavy-handed first single “C-lebrity” which seems to disparage the reality TV that Queen would later embrace! I prefer the disparaging sentiment! “Surf’s Up…School’s Out!” is another rocker that blows the doors off most younger bands. “Say It’s Not True” is a highlight, as it is the most Queen-like. Of course, with Freddie gone, his dramatic flourishes and piano was also gone, leaving Queen as a straightforward rock band with May & Taylor firmly in charge. What they once had in unique operatic flourishes has been replaced by hard rocking guitars, for better or for worse.  It is what it is, and nobody can be Freddie.

“Small” is a fantastic ballad, worthy of the Queen back catalogue.  May and Taylor join Rodgers on the lush outro.  I absolutely adore this song.  But then when you think Queen have lightened up, “Wayboys” assaults the speakers, a rare political statement with a military drumbeat.  “Call Me” is another great tune, very vintage Queen in style, sort of an electric campfire singalong.

There is, unfortunately, a lot of filler on this CD, slow-paced plodders that don’t go anywhere or stay in your memory. The thing about the Queen of old is that they were very diverse. You could have a nice jaunty flamenco song like “Who Needs You” on the same album as an epic like “It’s Late”. Queen + Paul Rodgers lacks that diversity. Well, it would have had more diversity if the best song had been included….

That best track I mentioned, that isn’t even on the CD, is available as an iTunes download only. It is a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, and it is worth the purchase, because it is amazing. I love the oldies, and clearly these guys do too. I wish it had been included on the CD. There is no shame in having a cover tune on your CD, especially when you also have over a dozen originals as well! The iTunes download also came with a new live version of “The Show Must Go On”, but I have no idea when or where it was recorded, except it is a different version from the one on Return Of The Champions. Maybe it is from one of the Queen instant live CDs, of which there are plenty, or maybe it is from the Super Live in Japan DVD that comes with some editions?

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There was another bonus track too, one I haven’t heard, because only American residents can get it from the Amazon.com site. Canadians are SOL!  “Fire And Water” (a live version), originally by Paul in Free, is that bonus track. Come on, Amazon! Let Canadians buy it too!

This actually really pisses me off.

(ADDED NOTE:  I have since acquired that bonus track.  Read all about it here.)

The Cosmos Rocks is not a perfect Queen album, but one that stands up in the back catalogue as an interesting and entertaining sideroad.  The big difference is that The Cosmos Rocks has more, and bigger, guitars than many Queen albums of the recent past.

3/5 stars.