The Lot - the complete collection of his rich back catalogue of work, spanning his solo career and material from The Cross.

The Lot comprises of Roger’s solo albums Fun In Space (1981), Strange Frontier (1984), Happiness? (1994), Electric Fire (1998) and Fun On Earth, as well as the three albums by his band The Cross -Shove It (1988), Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know (1990) and Blue Rock (1991). Alongside these studio albums are four spectacular Single albums, they feature edits and versions that have never been released on any of the albums (excluding the Freddie vocal track of ‘Heaven For Everyone’), and never heard before, previously unreleased rarities.

The Lot BOXSET with 12 CDs and 1 DVD

CONTENTS:

8 original albums and 4 singles CDs and a DVD with videos and bonus content.

  1. Fun In Space
  2. Strange Frontier
  3. Happiness
  4. Electric Fire
  5. Shove It (The Cross)
  6. Mad Bad & Dangerous to Know (The Cross)
  7. Blue Rock (The Cross)
  8. Fun on Earth (new album + 2 new tracks for physical box only)
  9. Roger Taylor Solo Singles 1
  10. Roger Taylor Solo Singles 2
  11. The Cross Singles 1
  12. The Cross Singles 1
  13. DVD with music videos and bonus content.

fun on earth

2013

Roger’s fifth studio album ‘Fun on Earth’ is released on 11th November 2013.

Fun on Earth is one of Taylor’s most exciting, eclectic and accomplished pieces of work to date.  Recorded at Priory Studios, Surrey, the 13 track album is a triumphant display of superior musicianship showcasing Taylor at his vocal best. Opening track ‘One Night Stand‘ and ‘I Am The Drummer (In A Rock n’ Roll Band)’ captures Roger’s reckless, exhilarating side. The smooth refrains of ‘Sunny Day’ and ‘Be With You‘ display Roger’s talent as a lyricist and heartfelt vocalist. ‘Say It’s Not True’ sees Taylor team up with Jeff Beck for the contemporary Queen favourite.

Radio 2‘s Chris Evans was so enamoured with gorgeous lead single ‘Sunny Day’ that he played it twice in a row when he premiered it on the station in September 2013. Fun On Earth is a tour de force of rock music from a master multi-instrumentalist and singer on top of his game.

X
  • 1.
    One Night Stand!
  • 2.
    Fight Club
  • 3.
    Be With You
  • 4.
    Quality Street
  • 5.
    I Don't Care
  • 6.
    Sunny Day
  • 7.
    Be My Gal (My Brightest Spark)
  • 8.
    I Am The Drummer (In A Rock 'n' Roll Band)
  • 9.
    Small
  • 10.
    Say It's Not True
  • 11.
    The Unblinking Eye - Abridged
  • 12.
    Up
  • 13.
    Smile

fun on earth

2013

Roger’s fifth studio album ‘Fun on Earth’ is released on 11th November 2013. Fun on Earth is one of Taylor’s most exciting, eclectic and accomplished pieces of work to date.  Recorded at Priory Studios, Surrey, the 13 track album is a triumphant display of superior musicianship showcasing Taylor at his vocal best. Opening track ‘One Night Stand‘ and ‘I Am The Drummer (In A Rock n’ Roll Band)’ captures Roger’s reckless, exhilarating side. The smooth refrains of ‘Sunny Day’ and ‘Be With You‘ display Roger’s talent as a lyricist and heartfelt vocalist. ‘Say It’s Not True’ sees Taylor team up with Jeff Beck…

Fun In Space

1981

In the summer of 1980, during a break in Queen’s mammoth tour of the USA, Roger began work on a solo project. It would become the first solo album from a Queen band member.

“I’d had these ideas for years, and I just thought the time was right to start putting them into some sort of order. I’d had a go with the Testify single, but I had an album full of songs that I knew couldn’t be done by Queen. I don’t really know why they were not suitable for us as a band, they just weren’t”.

The album was recorded at Mountain Studios in Switzerland, which was then owned by Queen, and featured ten tracks all written, arranged, produced and played by Roger. Additional keyboard parts were played by engineer David Richards.

The album cover was conceived by Roger and designed by Storm Thorgerson at Hipgnosis, the company that also designed artwork for artists such as Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Bad Company.

Roger’s liner notes on the album include the line ”P.P.S. 157 synthesizers“, a light-hearted reference to the early Queen albums which proudly announced, “No synthesisers”.

‘Fun In Space’ was released in the UK in April 1981, and reached number 18 in the charts, with the ‘Future Management’ single released a week earlier. Although no video was made for the single, Roger did appear on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and other TV shows in Europe. An edited version of ‘My Country’ followed in the UK, while in the USA and Japan ‘Let’s Get Crazy’ was the chosen single.

X
  • 1.
    No Violins
  • 2.
    Laugh or Cry
  • 3.
    Future Management
  • 4.
    Let's Get Crazy
  • 5.
    My Country I & II
  • 6.
    Good Times Are Now
  • 7.
    Magic Is Loose
  • 8.
    Interlude in Constantinople
  • 9.
    Airheads
  • 10.
    Fun in Space

Fun In Space

1981

In the summer of 1980, during a break in Queen’s mammoth tour of the USA, Roger began work on a solo project. It would become the first solo album from a Queen band member. “I’d had these ideas for years, and I just thought the time was right to start putting them into some sort of order. I’d had a go with the Testify single, but I had an album full of songs that I knew couldn’t be done by Queen. I don’t really know why they were not suitable for us as a band, they just weren’t”. The album was…

Strange Frontier

1984

‘Strange Frontier’ was recorded during 1983 and into 1984, also at Mountain Studios, Switzerland, and at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, with co-producers David Richards and Mack.

Roger went into the sessions with a good selection of tracks to record, so many in fact that certain songs would never see the light of day – until now. Once again, Roger took on the duties of playing various instruments for this album, with the majority of tracks written, arranged and played on by him. Again, some of the keyboard parts were played by David Richards, who also co-wrote two of the ten songs, namely ‘Abandonfire’ and ‘I Cry For You’.

This project included guest musicians on two of the tracks. Roger’s friend and fellow musician, Rick Parfitt from Status Quo, co-wrote ‘It’s An Illusion’ with Roger, as well as playing guitar, and John Deacon played bass. And a certain Mr Mercury contributed backing vocals on ‘Killing Time’.

Roger also took the opportunity to record a couple of songs by two of his musical influences Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, covering both ‘Racing In The Streets’ and ‘Masters Of War’ respectively.

‘Strange Frontier’ was released in the UK in June 1984, with ‘Man On Fire’ single released three weeks earlier. Roger made a promotional video, with director Tim Pope.

Roger conceived the album cover, with photographs taken by George Hurrell and the Totem Pole illustration by Ian Wright.

The album reached number 30 in the UK charts and was followed by another UK single with the title track, ‘Strange Frontier’. A promotional video based on the James Dean movie ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ accompanied this single too, this time with director George Bloom, and was shot in Malibu, California. A 7″ remix edit of ‘I Cry For You’ by John Deacon and Mack, was included on the ‘B’ side. The 12″ vinyl single contained the non-album track ‘Two Sharp Pencils (Get Bad)’ with Roger taking on the unlikely role of a black rap singer. Also on the 12″ was an extended version of ‘I Cry For You’ also remixed by John Deacon and Mack. In Portugal only, ‘Beautiful Dreams’ was released as a single.

“The nuclear threat seemed real and looming at that time, and as the father of young children I felt it as a terrible threat to the future. Maybe not so much now but real at the time. It seemed as if we were at some kind of awful crossroads. Now I kind of like sort of gardening!”

X
  • 1.
    Strange Frontier
  • 2.
    Beautiful Dreams
  • 3.
    Man On Fire
  • 4.
    Racing in the Street
  • 5.
    Masters of War
  • 6.
    Killing Time
  • 7.
    Abandonfire
  • 8.
    Young Love
  • 9.
    It's An Illusion
  • 10.
    I Cry For You (Love, Hope and Confusion)

Strange Frontier

1984

‘Strange Frontier’ was recorded during 1983 and into 1984, also at Mountain Studios, Switzerland, and at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, with co-producers David Richards and Mack. Roger went into the sessions with a good selection of tracks to record, so many in fact that certain songs would never see the light of day – until now. Once again, Roger took on the duties of playing various instruments for this album, with the majority of tracks written, arranged and played on by him. Again, some of the keyboard parts were played by David Richards, who also co-wrote two of the ten…

Shove It

1987

Work began on new material for Roger’s third solo album, in May 1987, at Mountain Studios in Switzerland. Now, though, it was to be a project as part of a band and while many of the tracks were nearing completion, Roger wanted the new members to play on the album. The songs were re-recorded in Montreux Switzerland and four different studios in England, and co-produced by David Richards, between August and December 1987.

Roger had already secured a recording deal with Virgin Records and the new album, the unambiguously titled ‘Shove It’, was scheduled for release in January 1988. Ahead of the album, the first single ‘Cowboys And Indians’ was released in September 1987, accompanied by a promotional video made by Ralph Zimon. Also in September, the band made their debut TV appearance, in Germany, and the following month came their first UK television show, ‘The Roxy’, performed before a live audience.

A second single, ‘Shove It’, was released in January 1988, with an extended version of the track available on the 12” and CD single formats. It too had an accompanying video and was filmed the previous November at Crazy Larry’s club in Chelsea.

On 25 January 1988 the ‘Shove It’ album was released in the UK and reached number 58 in the charts. All 8 tracks were written by Roger, and so too was an additional track (for the CD version only) ‘The 2nd Shelf Mix’. The album cover design was conceived by Roger and Gary Wathen and features a photograph of the band taken by Sheila Rock.

The ‘Shove It’ title came from a phrase often used at the time by Roger’s personal assistant, but was also Roger’s standard retort to the press during this period, when prying into his personal life.

Two musical guests were featured on the album; fellow Queen band-mate Brian May contributed guitar to ‘Love Lies Bleeding’, and Freddie Mercury sang lead vocals on the track ‘Heaven For Everyone’. This would later be re-recorded by Queen for their final album ‘Made In Heaven’, released in 1995. Freddie’s vocals on that version were taken from this project.

An abbreviated version of the ‘Shove It’ single was released in the USA in January ’88, coupled with the non-album track ‘Feel The Force’ (also written by Roger). Back home in the UK, The Cross began a 16 date tour, kicking off at a Student Union ball in Leeds, and concluding in London at the Town and Country Club on March 10th, where friends and family were in attendance, including Brian May and Robert Plant.

This UK tour was followed in April by 12 concerts in Germany and a one-off appearance in May at the ‘Golden Rose Rock Festival’ in Montreux, Switzerland. Rather than mime, as most artists usually do at this event, The Cross instead performed live versions of ‘Heaven For Everyone’ and a newly written song called ‘Manipulator’ – written by Roger with Spike Edney and Steve Strange.

The third single from the album, the aforementioned ‘Heaven For Everyone’, with lead vocals by Roger (as opposed to the Freddie vocal version) was released on March 28th in the UK, accompanied by a promotional video filmed on a cold night in East Greenwich gas works – now the site of the London 02 arena.

The non-album song ‘Manipulator’ was released as the final single in July, including an extended version, but with no promo video or radio play to help it, did not enter the chart.

1988 ended with a special live performance by The Cross at a Queen Fan Club Christmas party at the Hammersmith Palais in London. The band were joined on stage by John Deacon and Brian May for a few songs, including ‘Dust My Broom’ and ‘Early Morning Blues’ with Brian on vocals, ‘Whole Lotta Shaking Going On’ with guest Chris Thompson on vocals, and Roger singing his Queen classic ‘I’m In Love With My Car’.

With Roger working full time with Queen in 1989, the rest of The Cross took time off during this period, though they did also work on new material in readiness for the next album.

X
  • 1.
    Shove It
  • 2.
    Cowboys and Indians
  • 3.
    Contact
  • 4.
    Heaven for Everyone
  • 5.
    Stand Up for Love
  • 6.
    Love on a Tightrope (Like an Animal)
  • 7.
    Love Lies Bleeding (She Was a Wicked, Wily Waitress)
  • 8.
    Rough Justice
  • 9.
    The 2nd Shelf Mix

Shove It

1987

Work began on new material for Roger’s third solo album, in May 1987, at Mountain Studios in Switzerland. Now, though, it was to be a project as part of a band and while many of the tracks were nearing completion, Roger wanted the new members to play on the album. The songs were re-recorded in Montreux Switzerland and four different studios in England, and co-produced by David Richards, between August and December 1987. Roger had already secured a recording deal with Virgin Records and the new album, the unambiguously titled ‘Shove It’, was scheduled for release in January 1988. Ahead…

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

1990

‘Mad Bad’ (as it’s often referred to) was recorded live at Mountain Studios in Switzerland between September and December 1989, and was produced by The Cross and Justin Shirley-Smith.

The title came from a quote made about Lord Byron, who had been imprisoned nearby at the Chateau de Chillon on Lake Geneva.

The album features 11 songs written individually and collectively by all members of the band, with two songs penned by Roger alone – ‘Old Men (Lay Down)’ and ‘Final Destination’. Lead vocals throughout are sung by Roger, except on the acoustic track ‘Better Things’, where guitarist Clayton Moss sings his own composition.

‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’ was released on March 26th 1990 in the UK on vinyl LP and cassette, with the CD containing an extra track; a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’.

An outrageous promotional video for the forthcoming first single, ‘Power To Love’, was filmed in Vienna in December 1989, but then the band parted company with Virgin Records and signed a new deal with Electrola in Germany, holding up the release of the single which eventually came on January 29th 1990, in that country. The same song was issued in the UK in April, and was a shortened edit. Despite a wickedly unlikely video, ‘Power To Love’ received minimal airplay and reached only No 85.

On April 1st the band played a one-off concert at the ‘Festival For Life’ event in Geneva, Switzerland and this was followed in May/June by a full tour of Germany, where The Cross had sold most records and had acquired a significant following. The tour comprised 14 shows, including dates in Amsterdam, Holland, two at the Ku Klub in Ibiza, and an outdoor gig in Vienna, Austria.

As well as performing all tracks from the new album, some older songs were also added to the set – ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, ‘Shove It’, ‘Strange Frontier’, Heaven For Everyone’, ‘Cowboys And Indians’, ‘Man On Fire’ and the rarely heard ‘It’s An Illusion’.

A second single, ‘Liar’, followed in August and was released in Germany only, and featured a new song, ‘In Charge Of My Heart’, as the B-side. An accompanying promotional video was put together from footage shot at two concerts during the German leg of the tour, in Nuremburg in June.

A third single, ‘Final Destination’, was issued, again only in Germany, in November 1990, with a live version of ‘Man On Fire’ also included.

A special appearance at a Queen Fan Club event held at the Astoria Theatre in London in December was The Cross’ only concert date in the UK in 1990. After playing a full set, the band were joined on stage by Brian May, who played and sang on his own song ‘Let Me Out’ and a familiar Queen ditty entitled ‘Tie Your Mother Down’. Other songs that night, included ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ and a special rendition of ‘Lucille’. This concert was audio recorded and released through the fan club on cassette tape, entitled simply ‘Bootleg’.

X
  • 1.
    Top of the World, Ma
  • 2.
    Liar
  • 3.
    Closer to You
  • 4.
    Breakdown
  • 5.
    Penetration Guru
  • 6.
    Power to Love
  • 7.
    Sister Blue
  • 8.
    Foxy Lady
  • 9.
    Better Things
  • 10.
    Passion for Trash
  • 11.
    Old Men (Lay Down)
  • 12.
    Final Destination

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

1990

‘Mad Bad’ (as it’s often referred to) was recorded live at Mountain Studios in Switzerland between September and December 1989, and was produced by The Cross and Justin Shirley-Smith. The title came from a quote made about Lord Byron, who had been imprisoned nearby at the Chateau de Chillon on Lake Geneva. The album features 11 songs written individually and collectively by all members of the band, with two songs penned by Roger alone – ‘Old Men (Lay Down)’ and ‘Final Destination’. Lead vocals throughout are sung by Roger, except on the acoustic track ‘Better Things’, where guitarist Clayton Moss…

Blue Rock

1991

‘Blue Rock’ was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Box, England, between February and August 1991, and was produced by Mark Wallis.

The album contains ten tracks written by the individual band members, rather than the collaborative efforts of the previous album, and features additional musicians – included Geoffrey Richardson (violin / viola) and Helen Liebman (cello) on the tracks ‘Baby It’s Alright’ and ‘Life Changes’, and Andy and Clare Yates (backing vocals) on ‘Baby It’s Alright’ and ‘The Also Rans’.

The third and final Cross album was released in Germany only on September 9th 1991. It was preceded in August by the only single to be lifted from the album, in Roger’s ‘New Dark Ages’ – this too was a single exclusive to Germany. A promotional video directed by Paul Voss shows Roger playing guitar.

A second single (again for Germany only) was proposed for October 1991, but this was withdrawn due to Freddie Mercury’s illness. The release was to have been an edit of ‘Life Changes’ (on CD only), the album version of ‘Life Changes’, and an unreleased song called ‘Heartland’.

A new tour began in October 1991 and took the band to Finland, Sweden and Switzerland and 16 dates in Germany. Although playing a shorter set on this tour, much of the ‘Blue Rock’ material featured, as well as more familiar songs like ‘Man On Fire’, ‘Power To Love’ and ‘Top Of The World Ma’.

Following the precedent set the previous December, with the Astoria show in December, the concert at Düsseldorf on October 22nd was audio recorded and released on cassette tape as the second official ‘Bootleg’ release via the Queen Fan Club. Both cassettes are now rarity items and much sought after by collectors.

In July 1992 The Cross played a one-off show in England at the Gosport Festival, playing a set comprised of eight cover versions, and featuring guest vocalist Bob Geldof on ‘Honky Tonk Woman’.

To end the year, the band played two special concerts for the Queen Fan Club in December at London’s Marquee Club, with guests including Roger Daltrey, Tim Staffell and Brian May. Again. The shows featured similar material to the show in Gosport in July, but also included a seasonal rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’.

In July 1993, The Cross returned to the Gosport Festival in July to play a one-off gig. It was to be their final concert as The Cross with Roger and the show was titled Final Destination, after the song – which also ended the show. New additions to the set included Queen classics ‘A Kind Of Magic’ and ‘We Will Rock You’, and covers of ‘Kansas City’ and Mott The Hoople’s ‘All The Young Dudes’.

A one-off Cross reunion set, featuring all original band members, was announced in July 2013, and is scheduled to take place in December at the annual SAS Band show in Guildford, Surrey, England. The event will celebrate 20 years since the five musicians met.

X
  • 1.
    Bad Attitude
  • 2.
    New Dark Ages
  • 3.
    Dirty Mind
  • 4.
    Baby It's Alright
  • 5.
    Ain't Put Nothin' Down
  • 6.
    The Also Rans
  • 7.
    Millionaire
  • 8.
    Put it All Down to Love
  • 9.
    Hand of Fools
  • 10.
    Life Changes

Blue Rock

1991

‘Blue Rock’ was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Box, England, between February and August 1991, and was produced by Mark Wallis. The album contains ten tracks written by the individual band members, rather than the collaborative efforts of the previous album, and features additional musicians – included Geoffrey Richardson (violin / viola) and Helen Liebman (cello) on the tracks ‘Baby It’s Alright’ and ‘Life Changes’, and Andy and Clare Yates (backing vocals) on ‘Baby It’s Alright’ and ‘The Also Rans’. The third and final Cross album was released in Germany only on September 9th 1991. It was…

Happiness?

1994

“Happiness… what we all want, what we all need. So simple, so obvious, but so utterly true”

Roger’s third solo album was issued a full ten years after the preceding one. It was recorded and produced at Roger’s home studio in Surrey, England during 1993 going into 1994, and was co-produced with friend and colleague (and former Cross band-mate) Joshua J. Macrae.

Once again, Roger played most of the music himself, particularly drums, percussion and guitar, as well as singing lead and backing vocals. Jason Falloon played guitars on all tracks too. Other friends and former band members also contributed, including Phil Spalding on bass, Mike Crossley on piano and keyboards, and Catherine Porter on backing vocals on two songs. Roger wrote all tracks except the ballad ‘Foreign Sand’ which was a co-write production with Japanese musician Yoshiki. This was recorded at One On One studios in L.A., where Roger wrote and sang the words, and Yoshiki wrote and performed most of the music. Roger played drums and keyboards. Other musicians were also brought in, Phil Chen played bass, and Jim Cregan (both from the Rod Stewart band) provided guitars. Dick Marx took care of the strings arrangement.

For reasons best known to Roger, the Happiness? album was dedicated to ‘the tasmanian tiger – thylacinus cynocephalus, but most especially… for Freddie.’ Initial copies were released on limited edition numbered vinyl LP and CD and regular copies on LP, CD and cassette. The cover design was by Roger and Queen art director Richard Gray, who also took some of the photographs.

Roger: “I liked the primitive little alien statue, which I found on my travels”

‘Happiness?’ was released in the UK in September 1994, preceded by the first single, in Roger’s hard hitting protest song ‘Nazis 1994′ – issued on 7″ red vinyl and 12″ clear vinyl as well as on cassette single and CD, containing various mixes of the track. The ‘Nazis’ single reached number 22 in the UK charts despite being banned by the BBC for its subject matter, and having had its original lyrics changed at the request of the record company. The promotional video, featuring scenes of war and holocaust atrocities, was also banned on some TV music stations.

The second single, an edited version of ‘Foreign Sand’, accompanied by a promotional video released in the UK in September on 7″ blue vinyl, 12″ picture disc, cassette and CD, and reached number 26 in the charts. One of the extra tracks on some formats was a new recording of The Cross’ ‘Final Destination’, performed by Roger and Yoshiki.

Roger: “Yoshiki and I met and got on very well. We decided that we would do an east – west collaboration. This guy’s an amazing concert pianist and also an incredibly able rock drummer. So he sent me the music and I thought it was great and we talked about that a little bit and we changed it a little, and then I sent him some lyrics and the top line and it ended up as a song called Foreign Sand.”

A further single was released in the UK in November ’94, in the title track ‘Happiness’ released on 7″ green vinyl, 12″ picture disc, cassette and CD. Additional live tracks recorded at the Shepherds Bush Empire, on 15th September, were added to various formats. They included the Queen songs ‘Ride The Wild Wind’ and ’I Want To Break Free’ and songs from the new album ’Dear Mr Murdoch’, ‘Everybody Hurts Sometime’ and ‘Old Friends’ (a poignant ballad written by Roger for Freddie). The ‘Happiness’ promo video was made with directors Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher (DoRo).

Roger: “Old Friends is probably the most personal song on the album, it’s just a very quiet laid back song, really a little tribute to Freddie.

On 15th September 1994, Roger and his band played a live concert at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire. This was followed by three live dates in Japan and shows in Germany and Italy. A full UK tour commenced on 19th November, including a further show at the Shepherds Bush Empire, followed by eight more concerts across the country, concluding in Bristol in late November. The live set included songs from the ‘Happiness?’ album and Queen favourites ‘A Kind Of Magic’, ‘Ride The Wild Wind’, ‘Tenement Funster’, ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘The Show Must Go On’. Roger also played some cover versions; Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall’, The Beatles’ ‘Twist And Shout’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’. The band comprised Guitarist Jason Falloon, who also sang vocals on his own composition ‘Soul’, Josh Macrae on drums, Mike Crossley on keyboards and Stuart Bradley on bass.

In December the band performed live on an Italian radio station, and then returned home for three more dates in the UK including a concert at Roger’s hometown of Truro in Cornwall. Two further shows in France, at the Europe 1 Studios, were broadcast on radio there and were also filmed. Later, in January 1995, but also in support of this album, Roger and the band played nine dates in Italy and a one-off show in Malta.

X
  • 1.
    Nazis 1994
  • 2.
    Happiness
  • 3.
    Revelations
  • 4.
    Touch the Sky
  • 5.
    Foreign Sand
  • 6.
    Freedom Train
  • 7.
    You Had to Be Here
  • 8.
    The Key
  • 9.
    Everybody Hurts Sometime
  • 10.
    Loneliness...
  • 11.
    Dear Mr. Murdoch
  • 12.
    Old Friends

Happiness?

1994

“Happiness… what we all want, what we all need. So simple, so obvious, but so utterly true” Roger’s third solo album was issued a full ten years after the preceding one. It was recorded and produced at Roger’s home studio in Surrey, England during 1993 going into 1994, and was co-produced with friend and colleague (and former Cross band-mate) Joshua J. Macrae. Once again, Roger played most of the music himself, particularly drums, percussion and guitar, as well as singing lead and backing vocals. Jason Falloon played guitars on all tracks too. Other friends and former band members also contributed,…

Electric Fire

1998

Roger: “The most underrated of my efforts”

“I think it’s more accessible and it’s probably wider ranging. There’s a lot of different things; some hard rock and roll, some softer more introspective stuff. It’s a good wide ranging album I think.”

“It was an idea I had; a simple word play really. On the one hand the electric fire is a very ordinary domestic appliance, a rather unglamorous one, and on the other hand I suppose it sounds a bit like it’s electric and its on fire. I just liked the concept of the two meanings, and then I came across a painting done by Tim Mara from the Royal College of Art, and it’s just a hyper real electric fire, that’s what it is, a two bar electric fire, and I liked the painting a lot and just thought that fits very well – for me that was the sleeve. Then the record company told me to put my face on there as well, so, sorry about that folks.”

Like ‘Happiness?’ before it, Roger recorded his fourth solo album at his home studio in Surrey. The sessions spanned nearly 18 months; from early in 1997 to the summer of 1998.

Roger sang most of the vocals and played much of the music himself and co-produced the songs with Joshua J Macrae. The rest of the vocals were provided by Wire Daisies singer Treana Morris, who co-sang with Roger on ‘Surrender’, ‘Pressure On’ and ‘London Town – C’mon Down’. Roger wrote most of the songs himself, and recorded a cover by one of his greatest influences John Lennon, in ‘Working Class Hero’. One of the songs, ‘The Whisperers’, is part credited to Nicholas Evans. Evans was the author of the book ‘The Horse Whisperers’, and tells of the ancient art of training wild horses with softly spoken commands as opposed to force, and many quotes from the book were used in Roger’s song lyrics. The book was eventually made into a motion picture film.

As with the previous album ‘Happiness’, Jason Falloon played some guitar here, and Mike Crossley played keyboards on most tracks. Keith Prior was brought in on drums and Steve Barnacle on bass, and Matthew Exelby and Keith Airey also played guitar on some tracks. Jonathan Perkins from the band Miss World also added vocals and keyboards to ‘Surrender’, ‘People On Streets’ and ‘The Whisperers’.

A mysterious character called Arty makes himself known on the track ‘People On Streets’, which turned out to be Roger, using an acronym of his initials RT. Arty would appear again much later, in 2006, on a single credited to Felix and Arty on a download release of ‘Woman You’re So Beautiful (But Still A Pain In The Ass…)’. This was a collaboration between Roger and his oldest son Felix, who sings the song, while Roger plays drums, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals, and also produced the track.

The album cover concept was designed by Roger and Richard Gray. The depiction is that of an electric fire taken from a silkscreen and oil on canvas painting by Tim Hara, called ‘Two Bar Electric Fire No.1′, the original of which still resides inside Roger’s Surrey home. The back cover features a photograph of Roger’s son Rufus Tiger taken by friend Bob Geldof.

On 24th September 1998, a private concert, staged within a large barn in the grounds of Roger’s Surrey garden, was streamed live on the internet for fans worldwide to see and hear Roger perform a short live set. Called simply ‘Cyberbarn’, an invited audience watched Roger perform nine songs, then be interviewed by Virgin DJ Russ Williams, and finally take questions from people all over the world via the internet link up. Roger was also presented with a certificate by the ‘Guinness Book Of Records’, as the unique event drew the largest audience ever for an internet gig – 595,000 hits from around the world.

‘Electric Fire’ was released in the UK in September 1998 – the same day as the first single ‘Pressure On’ – and reached number 53 in the UK album chart. It was released on orange vinyl LP, cassette and CD formats. A single edit was released on limited 7″ orange vinyl and the CD and B-side included ‘People On Streets’ (Mashed) and ‘Tonight’ (dub Sangria), and on ‘The Independent Man UTD Supporters Association’ CD edition (released to stop the media mogul Rupert Murdoch taking over the Manchester United football club) were the tracks ‘Dear Mr Murdoch’ and ‘Keep A Knockin”, a cover version of the song made famous by Little Richard.

A second single, a radio re-mix of ‘Surrender’ (and produced by Chris Thomas) was released in the UK in March 1999 and reached number 38 in the charts. A limited numbered 7″ vinyl picture disc was issued with a single mix of ’London Town – C’mon Down’ as the B-side and on Part 1 of the numbered limited edition CD was a club cut of ‘A Nation Of Haircuts’. Part 2 of the CD was a ‘live and enhanced’ edition featuring live versions of ‘Surrender’, ‘No More Fun’, ‘Tonight’ and ‘Surrender’. All tracks were recorded at the Cyberbarn internet event in September, which was released as a long form home video on VHS in October 1998. Clips of the DoRo directed concert were also included in the promo video. The single was used by the Devon and Cornwall Police to help tackle domestic violence and to raise awareness of the support available to victims of this crime.

In March 1995, Roger and his band took to the road for a 16 date UK tour, starting in Gloucester on the 15th and ending in London on 3rd April. Dubbed the ‘Surrender Tour’, Roger included songs from ‘Electric Fire’ as well as old Queen favourites like ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘A Kind Of Magic’, ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’, ‘Under Pressure’, ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘Tenement Funster’ and ‘Radio Ga Ga’, as well as other material from his previous solo albums.

X
  • 1.
    Pressure On
  • 2.
    A Nation of Haircuts
  • 3.
    Believe in Yourself
  • 4.
    Surrender
  • 5.
    People on Streets
  • 6.
    The Whisperers
  • 7.
    Is It Me?
  • 8.
    No More Fun
  • 9.
    Tonight
  • 10.
    Where Are You Now?
  • 11.
    Working Class Hero
  • 12.
    London Town - C'Mon Down

Electric Fire

1998

Roger: “The most underrated of my efforts” “I think it’s more accessible and it’s probably wider ranging. There’s a lot of different things; some hard rock and roll, some softer more introspective stuff. It’s a good wide ranging album I think.” “It was an idea I had; a simple word play really. On the one hand the electric fire is a very ordinary domestic appliance, a rather unglamorous one, and on the other hand I suppose it sounds a bit like it’s electric and its on fire. I just liked the concept of the two meanings, and then I came…

roger taylor solo singles 1

2013

  • I Wanna Testify. Roger Taylor’s first solo single was a reworking of ‘(I Wanna) Testify’, originally recorded by The Parliaments in 1967. Released: 26/8/1977. This single never featured on an album.
  • Turn On The TV. Non-album B-side of ‘I Wanna Testify’.
  • My Country. This edited version was released as a single on 29/6/1981. The original version appears on the album ‘Fun In Space’.
  • Man On Fire. This extended version featured on the 12″ vinyl single. Released 4/6/1984. The original version appears on the album ‘Strange Frontier’.
  • I Cry For You. B-side of ‘Strange Frontier’. This version, different to the album cut, was remixed by John Deacon and Mack, as was the extended mix featured on the 12″ vinyl single. Released 30/7/1984. The original version appears on the album ‘Strange Frontier’.
  • Strange Frontier. This extended mix featured on the 12″ vinyl single. Released 30/7/1984. The original version appears on the album ‘Strange Frontier’.
  • Two Sharp Pencils (Get Bad). Additional track on the 12″ vinyl ‘Strange Frontier’ single of 30/7/1984. This song never featured on an album. Roger regarded this as an indulgent amusement.
  • Nazis 1994. The original recording – which predates the ‘Happiness?’ album – contained the ‘F’ word within the lyrics, which the record label stipulated could not be present on a single version. Thus, Roger replaced the offending word with ‘Stinking’ for the single and album release. Various remixes of ‘Nazis 1994’ featured on various vinyl and CD single formats (including a red vinyl 7”). Released: 3/5/1994.
  • Foreign Sand. Roger collaborated with Japanese musician Yoshiki for this project. This edited single version was issued on 7″ blue vinyl, 12″ vinyl picture disc and CD single. Released: 19/9/1994. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’
  • Final Destination. This was also a collaboration with Yoshiki. It was an additional track on the UK 12″ vinyl and CD single formats of ‘Foreign Sand’, and included on the Japanese CD version of the ‘Happiness?’ album, as well as a Japanese ‘Foreign Sand’ 3” CD single.
  • Everybody Hurts Sometime. This live version, recorded at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, on Sept 15th 1994, featured on the 12″ picture disc vinyl version of the ‘Happiness?’ single, and a green vinyl 7”. Released: 21/11/1994. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’
  • Old Friends. This live version, recorded at the Shepherds Bush Empire on Sept 15th 1994, was also included on the 12″ picture disc of the ‘Happiness?’ single. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’
X
  • 1.
    I Wanna Testify
  • 2.
    Turn On The TV
  • 3.
    My Country (Single Version)
  • 4.
    Man On Fire (Extended Version)
  • 5.
    I Cry For You (Single Remix)
  • 6.
    Strange Frontier (Extended Remix)
  • 7.
    I Cry For You (Extended Remix)
  • 8.
    Two Sharp Pencils (Get Bad)
  • 9.
    Nazis 1994 (Radio MIx)
  • 10.
    Nazis 1994 (Kick Mix)
  • 11.
    Nazis 1994 (Schindlers Mix)
  • 12.
    Nazis 1994 (Makita Mix Extended)
  • 13.
    Nazis 1994 (Big Science Mix)
  • 14.
    Foreign Sand (With Yoshiki) (Single Version)
  • 15.
    Final Destination (With Yoshiki)
  • 16.
    Everybody Hurts Sometimes (Live at Shepherds Bush Empire 1994)
  • 17.
    Old Friends (Live at Shepherds Bush Empire 1994)

roger taylor solo singles 1

2013

I Wanna Testify. Roger Taylor’s first solo single was a reworking of ‘(I Wanna) Testify’, originally recorded by The Parliaments in 1967. Released: 26/8/1977. This single never featured on an album. Turn On The TV. Non-album B-side of ‘I Wanna Testify’. My Country. This edited version was released as a single on 29/6/1981. The original version appears on the album ‘Fun In Space’. Man On Fire. This extended version featured on the 12″ vinyl single. Released 4/6/1984. The original version appears on the album ‘Strange Frontier’. I Cry For You. B-side of ‘Strange Frontier’. This version, different to the album cut, was remixed…

roger taylor solo singles 2

2013

  • Pressure On. This edited version was released as a single (including limited edition numbered orange vinyl 7”) on 28/9/1998. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’
  • People On Streets. This Mashed version, remixed by Joshua J Macrae, was the B-side of the 7″ and CD formats of the ‘Pressure On’ single, and was also included as a bonus track on the Japanese CD version of the ‘Electric Fire’ album. The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • Tonight. This Dub Sangria version, remixed by Joshua J Macrae, also featured on the B-side of the ‘Pressure On’ 7″ and CD singles. The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • Keep A Knockin’. This cover version was included on the Independent Man Utd Supporters Association edition CD of the ‘Pressure On’ single. This song never featured on an album.
  • Surrender. This radio mix version, produced by Chris Thomas and mixed by him and Joshua J Macrae, was released as a numbered limited edition 7″ vinyl picture disc and CD single, on 29/3/1999. The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • A Nation Of Haircuts. This Club Cut, remixed by Joshua J Macrae, was included on the ‘Surrender’ CD single (Part 1), and was also a bonus track on the Japanese CD version of the ‘Electric Fire’ album. The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • London Town – C’mon Down. This single mix was included on the B-side of the ‘Surrender’ 7″ vinyl picture disc and CD single (Part 1). The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • Surrender / No More Fun / Tonight. These live versions were recorded at the Cyberbarn concert on Sept 24th 1998 and were included on the ‘Surrender’ Live and Enhanced version of the CD single (Part 2). The original versions appear on the album ’Electric Fire’.
  • One Night Stand. A brief (vocal) sample of this track first appeared at the close of the ‘Electric Fire’ CD album in 1998, and was also an internet only download available on Roger’s official website, for the purposes of a competition. It never appeared on any album or single release. Roger has since reworked the track and this is the first time it has seen the light of day.
  • Woman You’re So Beautiful. These mixes were all released as digital downloads and on a 12″ promotional single on 10/8/2006. Credited to Felix and Arty (Arty, as in R.T.) the song features all instruments played by Roger, and vocals supplied by Felix Taylor. This song never featured on an album.
  • The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken). These two mixes were also released as digital downloads, on 23/11/2009, and as a CD single on 4/1/2010. This song never featured on an album.
  • Dear Mr Murdoch. Originally contained on the ‘Electric Fire’ album of 1994, this song was reworked in 2011 with the idea that the sentiments were still just as valid seventeen years later. It features the original vocals and lyrics, though the words are clearer here with most of the instruments having been removed. This new version was released as a digital download on 20/7/2011. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’
X
  • 1.
    Pressure On (Single Version)
  • 2.
    People On Streets (Mashed)
  • 3.
    Tonight (Dub Sangria)
  • 4.
    Keep A Knockin' (Man Utd CD Single)
  • 5.
    Surrender (Radio Mix)
  • 6.
    A Nation Of Haircuts (Club Cut)
  • 7.
    London Town C'mon Down (Single Mix)
  • 8.
    Surrender (Live At Cyber Barn)
  • 9.
    No More Fun (Live At Cyberbarn)
  • 10.
    Tonight (Live At Cyberbarn)
  • 11.
    One Night Stand
  • 12.
    Woman You're So Beautiful Felix & Arty (Main Mix)
  • 13.
    Woman You're So Beautiful Felix & Arty (Mad Mix)
  • 14.
    Woman You're So Beautiful Felix & Arty (Dance Hall Mix)
  • 15.
    The Unblinking Eye - Everything Is Broken (Single Version)
  • 16.
    The Unblinking Eye - Everything Is Broken (Almost Completely Nude Mix)
  • 17.
    Dear Mr Murdoch (2011 Version)

roger taylor solo singles 2

2013

Pressure On. This edited version was released as a single (including limited edition numbered orange vinyl 7”) on 28/9/1998. The original version appears on the album ‘Happiness?’ People On Streets. This Mashed version, remixed by Joshua J Macrae, was the B-side of the 7″ and CD formats of the ‘Pressure On’ single, and was also included as a bonus track on the Japanese CD version of the ‘Electric Fire’ album. The original version appears on the album ’Electric Fire’. Tonight. This Dub Sangria version, remixed by Joshua J Macrae, also featured on the B-side of the ‘Pressure On’ 7″ and CD singles. The original version…

the cross singles 1

2013

  • Cowboys And Indians. This edited version was released on 7” vinyl and CD single formats on 21/9/1987. The 12” vinyl single contains this song billed as Full Length Version. The original version appears on the album ‘Shove It’
  • Love Lies Bleeding (She’s A Wicked, Wily Waitress). This single mix was the B-side of the ’Cowboys And Indians’ 7″ and 12″ singles, and includes Brian May on guitar. The ‘Shove It’ album version (with its subtly different subtitle of ‘She Was A Wicked, Wily Waitress’) also features Brian.
  • Feel The Force. B-side of the USA ‘Shove It’ single released on 26/1/1988, and also a bonus track on the USA ‘Shove It’ album.
  • Shove It. The extended mix was included on both 12″ and CD single formats, while the *Metropolix featured only on the 12″ vinyl single, released on 4/1/1988. The Dag Volle (aka ‘Denniz Pop’ remix) is released here on CD for the first time, having emerged originally in June 1988. *The Dag Volle was a Swedish based remix crew that were all the rage at that time. Denniz Pop was a DJ, remixer, music producer and songwriter who released his work on Remixed Records. The original version appears on the album ‘Shove It’.
  • Shove It (US Single Version). This edited version was only issued on the 7” single (including 7” promo), released January 1988. It is a late edition to this box, hence its position at the end of the CD.
  • Heaven For Everyone. The first version of this song, featuring Freddie Mercury’s vocal, emerged on the ‘Shove It’ album in January 1988. The alternative Roger Taylor vocal version was released as a UK 7″ and 12″ single in March 1988, and was also included on the USA ‘Shove It’ album and on a Japanese only ‘Heaven For Everyone’ CD single. Both versions feature here purely so that they may be heard back to back on CD for the first time, having first appeared together on a 7” single in Germany.
  • Manipulator. This non-album track (co-written with Steve Strange) was released as a 7″ single version, with an extended mix featuring on 12” vinyl, on 4/7/1988.
  • Power To Love. This edited single version was released on 7” vinyl and CD single formats, while the extended version featured on the 12″ vinyl and CD single, on 23/4/1990. The original version appears on the album ‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’.
  • In Charge Of My Heart. This non-album song featured as the B-side to the ‘Liar’ 7” single released in Germany only on 6/8/1990. The extended version was included on the B-side of the ‘Liar’ 12″ and CD singles released in Germany only.
  • Liar. This 12” mix was released as a 12″ vinyl and CD single in Germany only, while the 7” version was issued on the 7″, 12″ and CD single formats, also in Germany only, on 6/8/1990. The original version appears on the album ‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’.
X
  • 1.
    Cowboys & Indians (7" Single Edit)
  • 2.
    Love Lies Bleeding (She's a Wicked Wily Waitress) (Single Remix)
  • 3.
    Feel The Force
  • 4.
    Shove It (Extended Mix)
  • 5.
    Shove It (Metropolix)
  • 6.
    Shove It (Denniz Pop Remix)
  • 7.
    Heaven For Everyone (Roger Taylor Vocal) (7" Version)
  • 8.
    Heaven For Everyone (Freddie Mercury Vocal) (7" Version)
  • 9.
    Manipulator (Extended Version)
  • 10.
    Manipulator (Single Version)
  • 11.
    Power To Love (Extended Version)
  • 12.
    Power To Love (Single Version)
  • 13.
    In Charge Of My Heart (Single Version)
  • 14.
    Liar (12" Mix)
  • 15.
    In Charge Of My Heart (Extended Version)
  • 16.
    Liar (7" Version)

the cross singles 1

2013

Cowboys And Indians. This edited version was released on 7” vinyl and CD single formats on 21/9/1987. The 12” vinyl single contains this song billed as Full Length Version. The original version appears on the album ‘Shove It’ Love Lies Bleeding (She’s A Wicked, Wily Waitress). This single mix was the B-side of the ’Cowboys And Indians’ 7″ and 12″ singles, and includes Brian May on guitar. The ‘Shove It’ album version (with its subtly different subtitle of ‘She Was A Wicked, Wily Waitress’) also features Brian. Feel The Force. B-side of the USA ‘Shove It’ single released on 26/1/1988, and also a bonus…

the cross singles 2

2013

New Dark Ages. This edited single version featured on the 7″ and CD single released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. The original version appears on the album ‘Blue Rock’.

Ain’t Put Nothin’ Down. This Long Version was included on the B-side of the ‘New Dark Ages’ 7″, 12″ and CD singles released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. The original version appears on the album ‘Blue Rock’.

Man On Fire. This live version was included as a bonus track on the ‘New Dark Ages’ 12″ and CD singles released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. It was also included on the ‘Final Destination’ German CD single, and on the French 12″ vinyl. The original version appears on the album ‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’.

Life Changes. This edited single version was issued on a CD single for Germany only on 21/10/1991, and no other formats, but was immediately withdrawn when the band parted company with the record label. The original version appears on the album ‘Blue Rock’.

Heartland. This non-album track featured on the withdrawn ‘Life Changes’ CD single. Lead vocals by Clayton Moss.

Celebration / I Can Take You Higher / I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. These three tracks were recorded during sessions at Jam Studios some time after the release of the ‘Shove It’ album, and prior to beginning of the ‘Mad Bad’ album. All three are previously unreleased and are heard here officially for the first time.

Passion For Trash. This track was also recorded during sessions at Jam Studios, but this would eventually make it onto the ‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’ album, in different form. While the familiar album version features Roger singing, this alternative is instead sung by Josh Macrae.

Top Of The World Ma (Extended Remix). This previously unreleased version was originally intended to be included on a 12” vinyl single, but ultimately the song was never a single and this rarity has remained in the archive ever since. The original version appears on the album ‘Mad: Bad: And Dangerous To Know’.

X
  • 1.
    New Dark Ages (Single Version)
  • 2.
    Ain't Put Nothin' Down (Long Version
  • 3.
    Man On Fire (Live)
  • 4.
    Life Changes (Single Version)
  • 5.
    Heartland
  • 6.
    Celebration (Jam Studios Session)
  • 7.
    I Can Take You Higher (Jam Studios Session)
  • 8.
    I Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Jam Studios Session)
  • 9.
    Passion For Trash (Jam Studios Session)
  • 10.
    Top Of The World, Ma (Extended Remix)
  • 11.
    Shove It (US Single Version)

the cross singles 2

2013

New Dark Ages. This edited single version featured on the 7″ and CD single released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. The original version appears on the album ‘Blue Rock’. Ain’t Put Nothin’ Down. This Long Version was included on the B-side of the ‘New Dark Ages’ 7″, 12″ and CD singles released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. The original version appears on the album ‘Blue Rock’. Man On Fire. This live version was included as a bonus track on the ‘New Dark Ages’ 12″ and CD singles released in Germany only on 9/8/1991. It was also included on the ‘Final Destination’ German CD single, and…

Taylor Unleashed

About thirteen years ago I was in a pub and I overheard a pack of lads playing the ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ quiz game.  Quite a crowd had gathered around as they were one question away from the jackpot prize of a whopping twenty five pounds, but were out of lifelines.  The million pound question (well, twenty five pound question) was:  ‘Who was the first member of Queen to release a solo album?  A) Freddie Mercury,  B) John Deacon, C) Brian May or D) Roger Taylor.’  The man appointed to press the screen was about to select A) Freddie Mercury when I called across the saloon,  ‘STOP!’   It was like something from ‘An American Werewolf In London.’  The place froze. They turned and looked at me,  ‘It’s Roger Taylor.’

 ‘Bollocks!’  Came the reply. ‘It’s Freddie Mercury. He done the one with the big bird about Spain.’

‘Trust me’, I said, ‘it’s Roger Taylor. I’ve got a GCSE in Queen.’  That was my joke, he didn’t get it and guess what?  He pressed ‘A’, Freddie Mercury.

‘Is that your final answer’ asked a pre-recorded Chris Tarrant on the screen. Yes it was.

Oh dear.  As Chris Tarrant offered his commiserations, the man furiously bottled the screen and a fight broke out.  This was a pub in Essex on a Friday night.  Any excuse for a punch up.  This time it was Roger Taylor’s fault and he wasn’t even there.

At first I was glad that he lost the money, serves him right for not listening to me, but then I started to feel pity on him and his friends.  Pity for these pour souls who had clearly been deprived of a wealth of Roger Taylor solo material.  They didn’t know what they were missing!   “Man on Fire”, “Strange Frontier”, “Old Friends” and “Let’s Get Crazy.” I mean, come on.

Roger Taylor’s contribution to Queen was far more than just the drummer.  He wrote massive hit singles; ‘Radio Ga Ga,’ ‘A Kind Of Magic,’ ‘Breakthru’, ‘Invisible Man’, ‘Heaven for Everyone’ and ‘These Are Days of Our Lives.’  Plus fan favourites like ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ and ‘Tenement Funster.’ He had an incredible voice, played all sorts of instruments and remains the sexiest man in drag the world has ever seen (come on, admit it, we were all tempted when we saw that skirt wiggle).

Although RMT is well known for enjoying the rock n’ roll lifestyle and he sure knew how to have fun, he also knew how to work.  And work hard. In the forty years since Queen’s debut album hit the charts,  he has released sixteen Queen albums, five solo albums and three albums with his group The Cross.

Roger’s compositions on Queen records were always surprising and never repetitive.   Songs like ‘Modern Times Rock and Roll’ and ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ crash out of the record and into the room like riot police battering down your door. Where as ‘Drowse’, ‘Heaven For Everyone and ‘Days of Our Lives’ have more of a reflective, nostalgic tone which one wouldn’t necessarily expect from the drummer of the world’s greatest rock band.  Therefore, it isn’t surprising that his solo records are just as unpredictable and experimental with a range of styles and sounds.

By the time ‘Fun in Space’ was released in 1981, Queen had released nine albums and Roger had only been allocated one, perhaps two songs per album so he clearly had a lot to get off his chest. ‘Fun in Space’ has many treats on there. ‘No Violins’, ‘Let’s Get Crazy, ‘Airheads’ are the high octane tracks you’d expect from him, where as  ‘Future Management’ is a sparse, effective slab of new wave meets reggae, ‘My Country’ a two part anti-war song with catchy hook and ‘Fun In Space’ itself is a truly atmospheric piece that haunts as it closes the record.

‘Strange Frontier’ released the same year as Queen’s ‘The Works’ in 1984 contains two epic tracks (and equally epic promos to accompany them), ‘Man On Fire’ and ‘Strange Frontier.’  Had they both been released under the Queen banner, they would have been even bigger hits I am sure.  This was the beginning of Taylor’s golden period where he and John Deacon almost took over as the writers of Queen’s biggest hits.    “Masters of War” is an excellent, almost post-apocalyptic reimagining of Bob Dylan’s classic and as for ‘Racing In The Streets,’ this is different from Springsteen’s original, with lots of energy and an entirely different beat.

‘Happiness,’ released in between “Innuendo” and Queen’s final album, “Made In Heaven” is Roger’s most personal work to date.  A mature record with some very touching material, unleashing emotions which address loss, anger and hope throughout.  One almost feels as if this were an expression of his emotions surrounding Freddie’s death and the ultimate end of Queen as we knew it.

‘Happiness,’ ‘Loneliness,’ ‘Everybody Hurts Sometimes,’ ‘Freedom Train’ and ‘You Had To Be There’ are somber but uplifting pieces.   ‘The Key,’ ‘Foreign Sand’ and the Breakthru-esque ‘Touch The Sky,’ are lighter romantic moments.

At the same time, Taylor uses his music as vehicle to protest about various political issues.  ‘Revelations,’ ‘Dear Mr. Murdoch’ (the scathing attack on Rupert Murdoch dressed up as a nursery rhyme – Murdoch’s papers had hounded Freddie in his final years) and the controversial, hard hitting ‘Nazis 1994’, attacking the uprising of Neo-Nazi holocoust denying groups of the early Nineties.

However, the showstopper is ‘Old Friends.’  Roger’s ode to Freddie, which draws the album to a lump in throat, tear jerking conclusion.

In 1998, Roger returned with ‘Electric Fire.’    An eclectic mix everything Taylor does best; rock with acerbic observations (‘No More Fun,’ ‘Nation of Haircuts,’ ‘Pressure On’), ballads (‘Tonight,’ ‘ Where are You Now’) and powerful protest songs (his attack on domestic violence in ‘Surrender’ and the stunning, version  ‘Working Class Hero’).

And now we have ‘Fun On Earth,’ Roger Taylor’s first solo album in fifteen years. What can we expect? Well, going from his past efforts, we can only expect one thing - the unexpected.

EPILOGUE:

There comes a time when a devout fan of a band as big as Queen completes their collection but still has a desperate need for more.   I was in that position myself in 1992 when I’d finally purchased every Queen album, B-side, bootleg and concert available.  Like any addict, I needed my fix and with no new material out there, the next best option was dipping my toe into the solo work of the individual members.   I started with ‘Fun In Space’ because my cousin had a copy.

I hope people buying this collection are not just fans who are upgrading what they already have. I hope they are Queen fans who, like me twenty years ago, went on a journey into solo land after completing their collection and never looked back because when they buy ‘The Lot, ’ they are in for a real treat.

Rhys Thomas 2013.