Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Q&A with Dr. May

Media Moment: Uncut magazine (April 2011)
Queen-related: Features Q&A with Brian, Queen re-releases review

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was called for a third time as a potential match for a bone marrow recipient somewhere in the world. To determine whether I am enough of a match to go ahead with a stem cell donation, a comprehensive blood test is required that tests for specific DNA markers between my blood and the blood of the recipient so I was scheduled for this procedure last Tuesday morning.

I’ve been to this blood donor clinic many times and know the routine very well. This time, however, I needed to go to a different floor for testing, instead of the donation area on the second level. The security guard at the front desk told me to have a seat on the couch while he notified the nursing associate that handles these tests.

In front of the couch I was sitting on was a table with a selection of magazines. Hey, there’s a music magazine with Paul Simon on the cover. That’s cool. I pick it up and immediately notice that Brian’s name appears on the upper right corner. Once again, what are the chances that I’d stumble across a Queen sighting in a most unusual location. And if that particular issue of Uncut wasn’t on the table at the time I glanced around, I would have picked up the People or Glamour magazine instead.

I asked the security guard if I could do a trade for the magazine . . . I’d run home after the blood test and bring a different magazine back to replace this issue. He was amenable to the idea, so I made a note to myself to snag it on my way back to the car in about half an hour.

The questions levelled at Brian were an eclectic mix. Most were from the general public, from all over the world, and not specific to music, either (i.e., astronomy and vegetarianism). There’s even a question or two from fans that are celebrity musicians themselves.

The good doctor’s answers provide an interesting insight into Brian May, the person, rather than the guitarist from Queen who happened to work with Freddie Mercury for a few years.

A few pages later, there is a review of the recent Queen re-releases . . . the same album collection that the Classic Rock magazine had reviewed. And based on these reviews, I’m not entirely sold on whether I should buy the re-releases or not. I’ve got the originals on vinyl, cassette, and CD, so how much different is the song going to sound on my laptop (which is my portable stereo these days).

I think that instead of tinkering with the music on the albums to introduce something new to the Queen catalogue, why not tinker with the album cover art instead? Personally, I’d rather purchase re-releases with new cover art . . . particularly if they were vinyl re-releases with pull-out posters and finely-crafted inner sleeve art. What about alternate paper or other packaging options? We saw a bit of this marketing with the shiny The Game cover that’s become a bit of a collector’s item.

At the end of the day, Queen’s contribution to pop culture is more than just the music, it’s also the visual design and aesthetics of their album art that has helped bring the music to life.

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