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Queen - Smile: Ghost Of A Smile CD (album) cover




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3.10 | 11 ratings

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3 stars Ghost of a Queen

Well, we do have a strange compilation here. Six tracks from the prehistoric-Queen band Smile, recorded in 1969. Two tracks recorded in 1976 when Queen was at the peak of their success, helping out their friend Eddie Howell.
I was very happy back in 1997 when this CD was released. I already knew about the band Smile, but had never had the opportunity to buy or even hear one of their songs.

1) Earth [6/10]
2) Step On Me [5/10]
3) Doin' Alright [7/10]
4) April Lady [5/10]
5) Blag [7/10]
6) Polar Bear [6/10]
7) The Man From Manhattan (original) [bonus track] [6/10]
8) The Man From Manhattan (back again) [bonus track] [5/10]

The six Smile tracks give a good indication where it all started for Queen because some of the features Queen was famous for are already present here. For instance the backing vocals by Brian May and Roger Taylor (Doin' Alright) and the first snippets of guitar extravaganza by Brian May (Blag). A few years later Brian May played it to perfection on the Queen album Live Killers in the song "Brighton Rock".
However there is one topic in which Smile and Queen were very different and that is of course the lead vocals. Tim Staffell wasn't a bad singer at all but he could't come near Freddie Mercury. In the songs "Doin' Alright" and "Blag" his voice sounds very thin and clearly trembles in the higher reaches.
The bonus track "The Man From Manhattan (original)" is a decent song and sounds very much like Queen in their "Sheer Heart Attack" and "Opera" days. Not so strange when you know that it has been produced by Freddie Mercury in 1976 and contains piano and backing vocals by Freddie Mercury and lead guitar by Brian May. The "Back again" version form "The Man From Manhattan" is a remixed and longer version of the original track. Because it doesn't add anything special I consider it an unnecessary bonus to the CD. IMO "Ghost Of A Smile" is a good, but non-essential album. It's a must for Queen fans and people like Cream, early Wishbone Ash and Led Zeppelin should give it a listen.

Album rating: 56% = 3 stars

Draconean | 3/5 |


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