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Queen – Hot Tracks: Hot Space Sessions (Digital Queen Archives DQA-003)

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Hot Tracks:  Hot Space Sessions (Digital Queen Archives Q-003)

Hot Space Demos:  Staying Power, Action This Day, Back Chat, Life Is Real (Song For Lennon), Las Palabras De Amor, Feel Like (Under Pressure working version), Cool Cat (with David Bowie).  Hot Space Alternatives: Staying Power (12″ version), Back Chat (12″ version), Body Language (Hollywood remix 1991), Staying Power (US promotional extended version), Soul Brother (B-side of Under Pressure non-album track), Under Pressure (KEWB radio version), Under Pressure (US Classic Queen remix)

In common with the other releases from this label, Hot Tracks:  Hot Space Sessions mixes long available outtakes and remixes with brand new, never circulated material to give us the most comprehensive Hot Space era material on the market.  The first half of the disc presents working versions of well known tracks.  “Staying Power” is the basic LP track without the synthesized horn section.  It sounds like a slow version of the live performances from the subsequent tour.  “Action This Day” again sounds like the LP track but with a different synth line in the middle leading to the solo.  “Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)” sounds identical to the LP track.  “Back Chat” includes alternate lyrics and a very rough sounding guitar solo.

The real centerpiece of this release are the demo “Feel Like” and “Cool Cat” with David Bowie in the mix.  “Feel Like” is a very rough cassette recording in the studio not at all like the others.  At this early stage it contains a similar melody to the final version “Under Pressure” but with an ordinary, basic bass line.  It begins with Brian tuning his guitar and going into the familiar melody with Freddie following on piano to set the tempo.  The rest follow and the essential structure is the same.  The lyrics are different; a tale of jealousy, mourning a broken heart and a plea for “a brand new start”.  “Cool Cat” was the second song Bowie recorded with Queen in Montreux.  This version is the album track but with Bowie keeping rhythm and providing a counter melody to Freddie.  Both the band and Bowie decided to cut his contribution to the track and I have to say they made the right decision.  He sounds very out of place and doesn’t add much to the song.

The latter half of the disc collects different versions of these songs that have appeared on official releases in the past twenty years.  Most Queen collectors will already have multiple versions of these songs and nothing is really gained here.  It’s great DQA included “Soul Brother”, one of their most clever tracks to never appear on an LP.  The KEWB radio tape is interesting, with Brian May playing along to “Under Pressure” for the radio audience.  But again there isn’t anything new or unique to the second half of the disc.  The focus is on the newly released demos on the first half of the disc and for that Hot Tracks scores high points.  (GS)

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