Anniversary of Freddie Mercury passing away

Widely considered as one of the greatest vocalists in popular music, The late great Freddie Mercury passed away on November 24th 1991. Best known as the lead singer for the rock band Queen. He is remembered for his powerful vocal abilities and charisma as a live performer.  Mercury’s songs included elements of rockabilly, heavy metal and disco, and he wrote ten out of the seventeen songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album, including Seven Seas Of Rhye, Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To Love, Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy, We Are The Champions, Bicycle Race, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Play The Game

Born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town on the African island of Unguja, Mercury  attended St. Peter’s boarding school near Bombay (Mumbai) where he learned to play piano and joined his first band, The Hectics. He completed his education in India at St. Mary’s High School in Mazagon before returning to Zanzibar. Freddie came to England  in 1964  and earned a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College & later used these skills to design the Queen crest. Freddie Mercury possessed a very distinctive voice. His recorded vocal range spanned nearly four octaves (falsetto included), with his lowest recorded note being the F below the bass clef and his highest recorded note being the D that lies nearly four octaves above. In addition to vocal range, Despite not having any vocal training Mercury often delivered technically difficult songs in a powerful manner and  Compared to many rock songwriters, many of Freddie Mercury’s songs were also musically complex. As a songwriter,Despite the fact that Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies, he claimed that he could barely read music and wrote most of his songs on the piano, often choosing keys that were technically difficult. Mercury also possessed rudimentary skills on the guitar & wrote many lines and riffs for the instrument, including many of those heard in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He also wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” on the guitar.

In addition to his work with Queen, Mercury produced two solo albums, Mr. Bad Guy and Barcelona, The former was a pop-oriented album that emphasized disco and dance  and was heavily synthesizer-driven in a way that was uncharacteristic of previous Queen albums, While “Barcelona” was recorded with the opera singer Montserrat Caballé, whom Mercury had long admired. Sadly “Mr. Bad Guy” was not considered  a commercial success relative to most Queen albums. Although a remix of “Living On My Own”, a single from the album garnered Mercury a posthumous Ivor Novello Award. “Barcelona”, combined elements of popular music and opera. Caballé considered the album to have been one of the great successes of her career and said of Mercury, “He was not only a popular singer, he was a musician, that could sit at the piano and compose.  In September of 2006, a compilation album featuring Mercury’s solo work was released in the UK.

Mercury was diagnosed with HIV in the spring of 1987 but continued to deny that he had the disease. Despite this there were many rumours fueled by Mercury’s increasingly gaunt appearance during the last years of his life, particularly in his last appearance on film, the These Are The Days Of Our Lives promo video, which suggested serious illness. On November 23,  he  issued a statement confirming that he had been tested HIV positive and had AIDS, but I felt it correct to keep this information private to protect the privacy of those around me, and  hoped that people would join in the fight against this terrible disease. A little over 24 hours after issuing the statement, Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury’s funeral was conducted by a Zoroastrian priest and he was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery. the whereabouts of his ashes are unknown, although some believe them to have been dispersed into Lake Geneva, or in his family’s possession. The remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust, and organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

Freddie Mercury has consistently ranked in the number one position on a list of the 100 greatest rock vocalists. In a list of the greatest English language singers of the 20th century, compiled by BBC Radio, he was the highest-ranked hard rock vocalist, . He also came in second in MTV’s list of the 22 greatest singers of the past 25 years. In 2006, Time Asia magazine voted Mercury as one of the most influential Asians in the past 60 years. The 1999 Millennium Poll, in which six hundred thousand Britons participated, he was voted into the number 14 and 15 spots as a popular musician and songwriter, respectively. Mercury ranked at No. 58 in the 2002 list of “100 Greatest Britons”, sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. Two of Mercury’s songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are The Champions” have each been claimed, in separate polls, as the world’s favourite song, another poll of six hundred thousand people in sixty-six different countries found “We Are The Champions” to be the world’s most popular tune. This contradicts another major poll by Guinness World, which had previously found “Bohemian Rhapsody” to be the world’s most popular song of the past 50 years. He was also highly thought of by other people too, including Monserrat Caballe, Rock star David Bowie, with whom he recorded the song “Under Pressure”,  and Comedian Mike Myers, whose movie Wayne’s World introduced “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a new generation of listeners and Annie Lennox said of Mercury: “Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest” said of Mercury, “He had theatricality, he was larger than life, new, fresh, cool. This is a god that walks as man.”

Smashing Pumpkins- Teargarden by Keleidyscope & Oceania

Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is the eighth album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. It contains 44 individual songs, which are being released one track at a time through free MP3 downloads over the course of several years. As of May 2011, ten songs have been made available for free download and two physical, limited-edition EPs, each containing four of the songs, have been released.
 
Announced by the band’s frontman Billy Corgan on September 16, 2009, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is a concept album inspired by the Tarot, and in Corgan’s words, “a new kind of album which you can hear as it’s being made.” It is currently being released over the Internet, from the band’s official website for free, one song at a time. Each time a set of four tracks is made available for download, it is later made available for purchase as an EP box set. Once each of the planned eleven five-song sets have been released, the entire album will reportedly be released as a box set with entirely new packaging and exclusive content.

Volume 1: Songs for a Sailor
A song for a son
Astral Planes
Widow wake my Mind
A Stitch in Time
Teargarden Theme

Volume 2:The Soltice Bare
The Fellowship
The Freak
Tom Tom
Spangled
Cottonwood Symphony

Volume Three
Lightning Strikes
Owata

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Oceania

Oceania is the ninth album and was tentatively scheduled to be released on September 1, 2011, but the release date has since been pushed to early 2012. Oceania is a part of the band’s ongoing 44-song concept album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Here is the Track-listing

  • “Quasar/Stella Polaris and the People Mover” 
  • “Panopticon” 
  • “The Celestials” 
  • “Violet Rays” 
  • “My Love Is Winter” 
  • “One Diamond, One Heart” 
  • “Pinwheels” 
  • “Oceania” 
  • “Pale Horse” 
  • “The Chimera” 
  • “Glissandra” 
  • “Inkless” 

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

The Smashing Pumpkins broke into the musical mainstream with their second album, Siamese Dream in 1993, and now A Remastered Delux Edition of the album, is being Re-Released on 29th November 2011, with the normal version being released a week later on 5th December.

Formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1988 The Smashing Pumpkins are an American alternative rock band who were Formed with Billy Corgan on lead vocals, lead guitar and James Iha playing rhythm guitar, the band has also included Jimmy Chamberlin (drums), D’arcy Wretzky (bass), and currently includes Jeff Schroeder (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) Mike Byrne (drums), and Nicole Fiorentino (bass guitar, backing vocals) amongst its membership.

Frontman Billy Corgan is the group’s primary songwriter—his grand musical ambitions and cathartic lyrics have shaped the band’s albums and songs, which all have a diverse, densely layered and guitar-heavy sound, containing elements of gothic rock, grunge, heavy metal, dream pop, psychedelic rock, progressive rock and shoegazer-style production, as well as full string arrangements and radiant orchestral chimes.

Originally released in 1993 Siamese Dream is Considered by many to be the best album in the Smashing Pumpkins catalogue of Alternative Rock, and was Produced by Butch Vig (who also produced Garbage, Sonic Youth and Nirvana’s Nevermind). It is full of Billy Corgan’s angsty lyrics , which have been variously described as “anguished, bruised reports from Billy Corgan’s nightmare-land” which are delivered in his signature breathy whine. while James Iha’s & Darcy Wretsky’s provide a suitably awesome guitar sound, which is reinforced by Jimmy Chamberlin’s power drumming.

Unfortunately in 2000, internal fighting, drug use, and diminishing record sales led to a break-up of the band. However In 2006, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin reconvened to record a new Smashing Pumpkins album, the splendidly noisy “Zeitgeist” (One of the songs “Doomsday Clock” is also used in the first Transformers Movie).

The band toured with a rotating lineup of between five and nine musicians through much of 2007 and 2008 before Chamberlin left the band in early 2009. New drummer Mike Byrne and bassist/vocalist Nicole Fiorentino solidified a new lineup with Corgan and Schroeder, toured through much of 2010, and are currently recording the albums Teargarden by Kaleidyscope and Oceania.

1. Cherub rock 
2. Quiet 
3. Today 
4. Hummer 
5. Rocket 
6. Disarm 
7. Soma 
8. Geek U.S.A 
9. Mayonaise 
10. Spaceboy 
11. Silverfuck 
12. Sweet sweet 
13. Luna

Gish (Deluxe Edition)- Smashing Pumpkins

In addition to re-releasing Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins classic debut album “Gish”, has also been dusted off, polished, Remastered and and will be Re-released as a 2CD Deluxe Edition on 29th November, it contains lots of extra songs and demos, and Though it is not quite as immediately accessible as Siamese Dream, it is still a great album from start to finish, once you get “into-it”. The album has some slow, beautiful, eerie and intense melodies and quiet, reflective moments, which are interspersed with plenty of lively full-on rock tracks.

  • I Am One (2011 – Remaster)
  • Siva (2011 – Remaster) 
  • Rhinoceros (2011 – Remaster)   
  • Bury Me (2011 – Remaster)    
  • Crush (2011 – Remaster) 
  • Suffer (2011 – Remaster)   
  • Snail (2011 – Remaster)    
  • Tristessa (2011 – Remaster)   
  • Window Paine (2011 – Remaster)   
  • Daydream (2011 – Remaster)       
    ==============================
  • Starla (2011 Mix)    
  • Siva (Peel Session) [2011 – Remaster]    
  • Honeyspider (Reel Time Demos) [2011 Mix]
  • Hippy Trippy (Crush Music Box Demo)
  • Snail (Live Radio Performance)
  • Plume (2011 Mix) 3:34 Not Available   
  • Bury Me (Reel Time Demos) [2011 Mix]
  • Daydream (Old House Demo)
  • Tristessa (Sub Pop Single) [2011 Mix]
  • Girl Named Sandoz (Peel Sessions) [2011 – Remaster]
  • Jesus Is the Sun (Apartment Demo)
  • Blue (Gish Sessions Demo)
  • Smiley (Gish Sessions Demo)
  • I Am One (Reel Time Demos) [2011 Mix]
  • Seam (Suffer/Apartment Demo)
  • La Dolly Vita (2011 Mix)
  • Pulseczar (Gish Sessions Demo)
  • Drown (Alternate Guitar Solo

Toy Story 3

Recently I decided to watch Toy Story 3 again. In the third installment Andy has grown up and is due to leave for college soon, Meanwhile Buzz, Woody, Jessie and all the other toys face an uncertain future as to whether they are stored in the attic or get donated to the nearby Sunnydale nursery.

Unfortunately due to a slight mix-up all the toys apart from Woody end up being donated to Sunnydale instead of being stored in the attic. Once at Sunnydale the toys meet Lots”O”Huggin bear (Ned Beatty) and the wannabe thespian Mr Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) and decide that maybe Sunnydale isn’t so bad after all. However Woody & Buzz discover the disturbing truth about the place and that Lots”o”Huggin may not be as nice as he first makes out.

So they resolve to escape from Sunnydale, which turns out to be much harder than they thought, and they end up having to take extreme measures to escape and nearly end up paying the ultimate price in the attempt.

Stanislaw Lem

Today on www. google.co.uk there is a doodle commemorating Polish Science Fiction author Stanislaw Lem, who has been Described as the most widely read science fiction writer in the world, and 23rd November 2011 is the 60th Anniversary of the publication of his first novel “The Astronauts”.

Stanislaw Lem was born on September 12 1921 in Lwow, Poland (Which is now Ukraine), and was brought up as a Roman Catholic but became Athiest for moral reasons.  During World War II, Lem,  due to being a Polish citizen with Jewish ancestry,  had to survive using fake papers, and worked as a car mechanic and welder.  After the war he relocated to Krakow,  where he studied medicine, but purposely failed so as not to be obliged to become a military doctor.

In 1946, Shortly after the war , a selection of Lem’s  poetry, was first published as well as a series of US popular fiction ‘dime novels’. In that same year, Lem’s first science fiction work, Czlowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars), was also serialised in the magazine Nowy Swiat Przygód (New World of Adventures).

His first novel, Astronauci (The Astronauts) was written in 1951, during the Stalinist era, and he was forced to include many references to the “glorious future of communism” in order for his published work to be approved by the Communist authorites, later in 1961 he published the novel Solaris, which focuses on the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. Since then, this novel has  been made into a feature film three time, most recently in 2002 starring George Clooney.

In 1973, he was made an honorary member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, despite being technically ineligible and openly critical of American science fiction, and in 1974 His novel The Cyberiad was  first published in English. It featured a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe inhabited by robots. Particularly the exploits of two constructor robots named Trurl and Klaupacius, who try to out-invent each other, and travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, which ends up having dire consequences for their employers. The Cyberiad also featured many wierd and wonderful Illustrations by Polish artist Daniel Mroz and led to Lem being internationally recognised for his literary work. A selection of drawings by Daniel Mroz can be seen here: http://english.lem.pl/gallery/mroz-drawings

In 1996, Lem was made a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest decoration award for both civilians and the military. Sadly On March 27, 2006  Lem  passed away due to heart disease, at the age of 84, in Krakow, Poland, .

To this day, Stanislaw Lem has sold over 27 million copies of his popular science fiction books, which have also been translated into 41 different languages, making Use of Lem’s elaborate word formation, puns and alien/robotic language.

Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed

Artwork for one of the most famous album covers – the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed – is expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction next month.Keith Richards commissioned his friend, the graphic designer Robert Brownjohn, to create the sleeve images for the 1969 album.

The front cover features a surreal sculpture created by Brownjohn comprising the Let It Bleed LP apparently being played with an old-style record arm. Stacked above the record on an automatic changer spindle are a dinner plate, a tape or film reel canister, a clock face, a pizza and a tyre. These objects are topped with a cake and models representing the band members. The cake was made by the then little-known chef Delia Smith, who was instructed by Brownjohn to bake the gaudiest cake she could.

The back cover was the same stack, but now in disarray as if in the aftermath of a wild party. Brownjohn’s design was inspired by the working title of the album, Automatic Changer. In the days before CDs and MP3s music fans used to stack up a number of records onan automatic changer spindle ready to drop down and play in sequence. Stephanie Connell, head of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, which is selling the artwork, said it was an “iconic design”. “We expect there to be a lot of interest from Stones fans around the globe,” she said.

The lot includes two felt-tip pen concept sketches on envelopes, together with two colour positives and two colour negatives of the final front and back covers, a US pressing of the album and a photo of Richards and Mick Jagger checking the cover proofs. Bonhams is auctioning the images on 15 December at Knightsbridge, London. Here is the track listing for the album.

  •  “Gimme Shelter”
  • “Love in Vain” (Robert Johnson†)
  • “Country Honk”  
  • “Live with Me”  
  • “Let It Bleed”  
  • “Midnight Ramble
  • “You Got the Silver”  
  • “Monkey Man”  
  • “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”