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Brian May – Another World Deluxe LP reissue (UMe)

24 September 2022

Queen guitarist Brian May follows the Gold Series reissue of his debut album Back to the Light with this deluxe reissue of his 1998 sophomore solo LP Another World. The album was recorded following Queen’s Made in Heaven album. May’s original concept for Another World was to record favorite cover songs in tribute to key influences. The project changed course, but a few of those tracks survived, including flamboyant versions of Larry Williams’ immortal rock and roller “Slow Down” and Ian Hunter’s glam-rock classic “All the Way from Memphis.”

There’s plenty here for Queen fans to love. Had frontman Freddie Mercury survived, it’s not hard to imagine him singing the saucy “China Belle” a la Queen’s “Headlong” or adding his cheeky humor to “The Guv’nor” alongside the inimitable sound of May’s colleague and guitar hero Jeff Beck. Tender tracks like the fragile but hopeful “Why Don’t We Try Again” remind listeners how sympatico May and Mercury were as a writing and production team, influencing and writing for each other. There are compositional and melodic lines in several songs where it’s easy to imagine May thinking, “What would Freddie like here?” Through it all, May’s gifts as a stylish guitar soloist are in full effect.

Sadly, there are a couple of other ghosts haunting the album from the drum throne. Happily, they’re well remembered by their fearsome work. Rock legend Cozy Powell died in a car crash before the album’s release. He bashes like a monster throughout the album, putting on one powerhouse display after another. Recently departed Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins plays full-throttle for sci-fi thriller “Cyborg.” If May’s not going to play with Roger Taylor, it’s good to know that he keeps other superheroes on speed dial.

Uplifting, feel-good track “On My Way Up” was written for BBC comedy series Frank Stubbs to describe an underdog who brims with optimism in spite of his shortcomings. Singers Cathy Porter and Shelley Preston join May as the song reaches toward euphoria. The song’s sense of joy seeps into other tracks, making Another World a rejuvenating shot in the arm and worth revisiting in 2022. Loaded with swagger and heavy riffing, chugging anthem “Business” was also developed for Frank Stubbs.

The CD format of Another World is accompanied by Another Disc, which offers another perspective on the album with live versions, newly reimagined arrangements, remixes, and rarities. “On My Way Up” appears in a live version from Paris, recorded in 1998, and a raw re-recording of the song featuring May’s vocal and a single energetic guitar take. “Business (Rock on Cozy Mix)” is included in tribute to drummer Powell. The set also includes a sprawling performance by May’s solo band of Queen’s “Hammer to Fall.”

Another Disc also includes May’s take on Buddy Holly classic “Maybe Baby,” a yearning song that May has cited as a formative influence when he heard it at age 10. The track features vocals by alter-ego T.E. Conway, cast as a relative of May’s from the American south. Other covers include the Shadows’ 1961 instrumental “F.B.I.,” and Conway Twitty’s 1958 country heartbreaker “It’s Only Make Believe.” Bonus material includes a film clip with May describing the album’s cover shoot on the small Canary Island of El Hierro.

On atmospheric title track “Another World,” May sings a love song about escaping to a place where he feels closest to Heaven. The song borrows the concept from Gwyneth Paltrow film Sliding Doors, for which the song was written (but not used). The idea is that small changes can radically alter the course of a life, wondering how things might have played out in a parallel universe.

This reissue has been remastered from the original mix sources. The sound of the vinyl LP features impressive depth and clarity. Certainly, we’re in another world now from the one May imagined in 1998. This album still portrays emotional turmoil that drives a search for the light. 24 years later, Another World still charts a path of imagination toward a better place.