Recovering Queen : The Queen Fan Podcast

Ep 2 : Cool Cat

November 24, 2020 I Am 7 Season 1 Episode 2
Recovering Queen : The Queen Fan Podcast
Ep 2 : Cool Cat
Recovering Queen : The Queen Fan Podcast
Ep 2 : Cool Cat
Nov 24, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
I Am 7

This week, for our second-ever episode, we dive into the overlooked gem that is Cool Cat that rarest of beats a Deacon / Mercury collaboration.  Often cited in the Top Ten worst Queen tracks,  we argue it's time to think again.   
We discuss the instrumentation, the lyrics,  why Queen were making this kind of music.  To finish we reveal Jai and Ian's interpretation, that has made us appreciate the original all over again   

Show Notes Transcript

This week, for our second-ever episode, we dive into the overlooked gem that is Cool Cat that rarest of beats a Deacon / Mercury collaboration.  Often cited in the Top Ten worst Queen tracks,  we argue it's time to think again.   
We discuss the instrumentation, the lyrics,  why Queen were making this kind of music.  To finish we reveal Jai and Ian's interpretation, that has made us appreciate the original all over again   

Matthew Russell  0:28  
Welcome to the recovering Queen podcast where we take a famous and sometimes not so famous Queen song, and do a cover version of it, and then talk about what we've learned the methods and the madness. So let me welcome my other two hosts, Jai and Ian.

Ian Faragher  0:48  
So what track how are we doing tonight?

Matthew Russell  0:53  
We are doing the much loved Cool Cat from much maligned hot cold

Ian Faragher  1:00  
case, the perennial winner, where it's always in the top five isn't the worst ever Queen tracks. And it's always there. Cool. Cat always features. Yeah. Is that fair?

Matthew Russell  1:11  
No. I'm not sure it is.

Jai Stokes  1:14  
Well, that's it. That was supposed to be the ending. Oh, when when we find out that it isn't good. It isn't

Ian Faragher  1:19  
fair. It's not a well loved Queen track. That's, that's for sure.

Matthew Russell  1:24  
So the first things first, Cool Cat is most famous for the fact that it is the song that made Freddie Mercury fall out with David Bowie. Is that a fact? Or is that fiction? And then if you found out with him,

Jai Stokes  1:39  
Barry was a yes, I did fall out in a way because he didn't want to be on it. Did he?

Matthew Russell  1:43  
Yeah, I think they did fall out quite badly about it because it was going to be released as a single. They've pressed it all up and they had to cancel it all because David bow and no, no, actually, I don't like it. I don't want it.

Ian Faragher  1:57  
And quite right to if it is the version that you can hear quite freely on YouTube with David Bowie kind of go and bom bom bom on it. And doing a little bit of a rap is it in the middle of it doesn't really contribute that much to it?

Matthew Russell  2:11  
Well, it's it's seriously lazy. If it was supposed to be a serious, I think it was one of those things where you sort of came in did a little bit of never thought anything more of it until getting an email from or a letter from Freddie going or we're just about to release it is like Hang on a second. best ever listen

Ian Faragher  2:27  
to that.

Jai Stokes  2:28  
I don't know why they would have released that version that what I've heard is it really isn't adding anything to it. You know, I mean, considering what he contributed to under pressure. It seems quite a departure I'll

Matthew Russell  2:40  
give you a clue is that the labour would have been saying, Ah, we'd love it when Bowie joins Queen because the sales go through the roof. So there's got to be some pressure from like the money people are going there. This is what you're saying he was under pressure. They were under pressure to release. Cool, guys. Exactly. Right, Jay.

Ian Faragher  2:59  
So what I know about coolcat is that it's nearly performed in its entirety by john Deacon on drums, bass, and everything except the electric piano, which I believe Freddie played. And obviously Freddie did all the singing.

Jai Stokes  3:17  
Is it true that it was the first song that john did?

Ian Faragher  3:23  
For heartspace?

Unknown Speaker  3:26  
What do you mean that can't be true

Jai Stokes  3:27  
what we're talking about the first no with Freddie with Freddie

Matthew Russell  3:30  
that as a collaboration the Freddie as a collaboration channelization Yes, it is because the second one is off it's a kind of magic isn't it? Which is

Jai Stokes  3:43  
friends around friend

Matthew Russell  3:44  
friends here but Unless Unless you count unless you count things like Stone Cold crazy, which of course is Deacon mercury may Taylor

Ian Faragher  3:55  
and I think throughout the whole Queen calendar, I think Deacon would have probably never written a song if it wasn't for Freddie encouraging to do so. It's so so the story goes it was always very supportive of bringing john out of his shell, so to speak my way I thank God he did. Yeah, yeah, no, totally, and I think Freddie's influence on another one bites the dust for example. That would have been you know, nothing like what we hear had Freddie not got obviously very involved and very excited about it.

Matthew Russell  4:21  
Yeah, that I think that Freddie Mercury, his music taste and john Deakins music tastes are probably, particularly by the ages are the most aligned. And I think that Brian and Roger, were fed up with it, because it is like that, that mercury and Deacon are taking the band in that sort of soul funk direction. And it's clearly Brian May and Roger hated it. And to the point where they refuse to play on Cool Cat so john D connect to play all himself.

Jai Stokes  4:52  
And there's a really nice quote by Roger at the time as well. I saw on one of these EP K's where he was quite open and honest about The fact and this was actually when they were promoting the album. And he was like, yeah, there's some tracks on here. I don't like. And I felt that that was so refreshing to hear that, you know, all you get these days is Oh yeah, we love it, everything's great. And they just for individuals, very strong personalities, they're happy to disagree, they're stronger to have, you know, their own individual opinions. And I love that about and that they can do that.

Matthew Russell  5:27  
But I think that that probably had started already on the game. And that things like another one bites the dust is probably a lot of it is played by john Deacon.

Ian Faragher  5:35  
Well, it does it all of you know, the whole of hot space does go back to another one bites the dust, doesn't it, you know, massive global phenomenal hit biggest band on the planet at the time, getting to number one in the billboard r&b chart. And, and anything Hey, that was good. Let's do some more like that.

Jai Stokes  5:58  
Well, you know, I love the fact that they did do and I know the time I remember being confused when it came out. And it wasn't what I was hoping for. But I do love it. I absolutely love it. I love the the album The body language. Not so much the back chat. But some of those funky songs. I think they're amazing. Absolutely love them. And Cool Cat isn't one of them. However, it's really happy to look at it. And to be honest, I didn't know what to do with that album. Because as with all Queen albums, they're amazing. And it was Ian that sent over the guitar part. And and how did you come up with that in in the first place?

Ian Faragher  6:39  
Well, it was just kind of digging down. It's like it's always been a song that I haven't liked. But I think you've got to have faith in Queen and say, okay, it's the arrangement I don't like I've never liked that really thin and really guitar kind of thing, the drums. I think they played apparently they played. But you know, they do absolutely nothing. And obviously, Freddie's vocal is incredible performance, but it's not my favourite of his style. But just to, you know, have a look at the chords strung along to it and is like, hello. There's actually an amazing song buried in this bizarre arrangement. So it's just a case of, well, let's just strongly strum them out nice, nice and foci. And then hand them over to you and say, Well, here's the here's the framework of what these songs actually how the harmonic content of the song, that's what the harmonic content of the song is. Let's see what the song sounds like in a more acceptable arrangement to my ears, for instance, because obviously, some people will like the original arrangement. I don't personally, but it turns out that it is an absolutely blinding song. It is such a great melody. The chorus is fantastic. Does that really interesting bit in the middle, where it kind of goes into a minor key where Freddie goes super high? And it's just it's a great song full stop.

Jai Stokes  7:59  

Matthew Russell  8:00  
can you name another Queen song where Freddie sings the whole thing in falsetto because he's doesn't sing that absolute the whole thing in falsetto

Jai Stokes  8:08  
Yeah, everything, everything. He goes so high. It's, it's high, right? Which is good, actually, for me, because when I came to sing it, I could actually go an octave lower than it was in my hiring. That was a nice, nice surprise. enough to actually change key on that one, as it was, so I Yeah. Did you know what I noticed as well, when I was doing the vocals on it? Was that the, the dexterity? I mean, we always talk about the quality of Freddie's voice in so many different ways, but the actual, the quality of the singing the I don't know how to describe it, maybe the timing or the dexterity of his voice what he's able to do with it. It was incredibly difficult. It's one of those things where you think oh, well, I can easily sing this. And actually, it was incredibly hard to do. And I had to do many many takes it wasn't just an easy sing along with Freddie. It was difficult and again, I had even more respect for for what he does, I was gonna say,

Ian Faragher  9:11  
is it ever just sing along a Freddie? No song I've encountered so far is anything other than an enormous technical challenge?

Jai Stokes  9:20  
It technical that's the word Thank you. It was it was a technical challenge. But I enjoyed stick in the those those what those little drums called congas.

Ian Faragher  9:30  
bongos guys,

Jai Stokes  9:31  
thank you. I enjoy putting them on. I had to change the baseline as well, because although I'm a massive fan of John's playing, it didn't really work with the new arrangement. And so that had to go to something. I kept stripping it back and back and back until it became pretty much the root notes, which you wouldn't really want to do on a queen song because they never do so. However, I sort of felt that it worked for this and it came out really well and I was you are really really pleased with it

Matthew Russell  10:02  
I think that there's one thing that we should give Queen a bit of respect for on heartspace is the fact that they are going deliberately to do something completely different I mean name a band that could go from Bohemian Rhapsody and and like we will rock you and within four years after we will rock you or what however many is you doing something like coolcat there's no there's no band that sort of does that with their career is there really that sort of goes wrong just I risky on like doing disco funk? You know? It's like it's it's it's pretty crazy isn't it?

Ian Faragher  10:42  
I wish it had been an EP with with the all the electronic tracks all on you know a short what what would that be so you take action they stay off side one and put coolcat on there and just just have that as the as the Queen heartspace Ep and then they follow it up like you know a couple of years later with you know all the more the more rocky stuff I think that would have made a lot more sense

Matthew Russell  11:08  
yeah cuz you always call it a cop out Don't you Really? I mean yeah your thing is like hot space if they just gone with the staying power body language Cool Cat all the way through

Ian Faragher  11:20  
yeah all the way through and not had put out the fire on it calling all girls for low

Unknown Speaker  11:24  
blood pressure

Ian Faragher  11:27  
and under pressure Yeah, I mean obviously under pressure arguably their greatest their greatest track but kind of shouldn't have been on the album anyway should it was it was like the year before wasn't it?

Matthew Russell  11:37  
Yeah, it doesn't it doesn't really represent that album does

Ian Faragher  11:40  
it? No, no, it shouldn't it shouldn't

Jai Stokes  11:43  
great question for you on the coolcat itself when you listen to an A Have you gone back to listen to it? Since since the the recover that we did? Yeah. Have you gone back to listen to it? And do you hear it

Ian Faragher  11:54  
different totally hear it differently? For the first time ever? I hear an absolutely brilliant song. A really well constructed pop song that I'd missed up until this point.

Jai Stokes  12:06  
Yeah, same here it was it was quite literally having to deconstruct the whole song to realise yes this actually fantastic Yeah, now what's weird is it alters the way your brain then works and you're listening to anything Oh yeah, it's really good. Why didn't I see this before?

Ian Faragher  12:20  
Yeah, so seems so obvious now.

Matthew Russell  12:22  
I've been I've been a fool Was that a joke by the way? deconstruct deconstruct

Jai Stokes  12:27  
Yeah, I'm glad you get used to that it's got a really lovely is it syncopation with the lyrics as well with the with the Cool Cat you know tapping on the toe and all that sort of thing it was it sounds lovely is slightly oh no matter Pierre and I don't think that Queen have been always lauded for their lyrical content personally the musical call obviously but I did like the lyrics and coolcat I thought they flowed really well in a really nice way and yeah made sense as a short story quite like that third

Matthew Russell  13:02  
line as well making out like you're the main line that's a great lyric isn't it?

Ian Faragher  13:10  
But it is isn't it ultimately negative about the person they they they're

Unknown Speaker  13:13  
there to show off?

Ian Faragher  13:15  
Yeah, show off and then never gonna really hit the big time.

Matthew Russell  13:18  
I think it's open to interpretation but I certainly get the vibe that it's someone having a go at someone for thinking that they're too cool for school

Jai Stokes  13:26  
yeah hoping to hit the big time isn't it

Matthew Russell  13:28  
yeah there is hanging out and stealing all the limelight

Jai Stokes  13:31  
I wonder who it's about do you know listeners

Ian Faragher  13:35  
do right and let us know when you see the live footage of Queen at the bowl and they do the the songs they're staying power absolutely amazing live version of it. They they didn't play never played Cool Cat live ever. But what other tracks from heartspace never got a live airing.

Matthew Russell  13:56  
Last burlap bliss.

Jai Stokes  13:58  
No that did I saw that.

Matthew Russell  13:59  
What they have. I can't even imagine what that

Jai Stokes  14:02  
was a single wasn't it? It was a single in

Matthew Russell  14:04  
America. In fact, it was number one during the Falkland crisis in Argentina. Which is still

Ian Faragher  14:13  
you're half right with last parabolas demo. It was only played once and then only the introduction at Milton Keynes. But there's another one that never got an outing at all. Which was that listeners do right in dancer. dancer. Well done man. Top Queen knowledge there. Yeah, dancer.

Jai Stokes  14:32  
You were quick enough, right? Well, there

Matthew Russell  14:37  
might be another one. There might be a sub skewer beside that we didn't know about.

Ian Faragher  14:41  
But that that could have been a really good track as if they'd really rock that up. Because that is a you know, it's kind of got more of the rock potential and perhaps Cool Cat dancer.

Jai Stokes  14:52  
Oh, do you know what the other thing I thought about was about opening this whole thing up for other people's covers. Would that be fun? Yeah,

Matthew Russell  14:59  
no Yeah, definitely. That'd be quite funny actually.

Jai Stokes  15:03  
Because even if they were better, it doesn't matter does it is like, it's just, it's just would be the conscious fun, isn't it? And it just, I don't know whether, you know, we say that each week or something like, you know, do send us your covers, and we're playing out on the next one.

Matthew Russell  15:16  
Yeah, no, I like it.

Ian Faragher  15:18  
Or send us a link and we'll

Jai Stokes  15:19  
Yeah, send us a link. It will it will have a listen, we're putting it on. We'll maybe have a chat about it. Yeah. Just all the content in it. Just be interesting to see what other people come up with. I thought, Yeah, well, I'll

Ian Faragher  15:28  
say something about that. And, of course, this is just our interpretation of coolcat. listeners, if, if you've done your own query,

Matthew Russell  15:40  
you can actually ask me and Jake giggling that's

Ian Faragher  15:46  
what I'm trying to say.

Jai Stokes  15:48  
I just love the The Turner Yeah, they've been to professionalism.

Matthew Russell  15:52  
Yeah. The turn into professional. It's like watching a master at work.

Unknown Speaker  15:58  
Yeah, well, the way he's doing that is true.

Ian Faragher  16:03  
So this is just our version of coolcat. If you've done a version of coolcat, or any other Queen songs, why not send us a link? We'll have a listen. And who knows. We could be talking about your interpretation as well because we've learned so so much about Queen their method and their madness in doing this project. It's been absolutely fascinating continues to be fascinating, the more songs we do, so do get in touch. You can find us on the Twitter recovering queen.

Jai Stokes  16:35  
Is there any footage of them in the studio doing cool cat or any you know any from that?

Matthew Russell  16:40  
There is a bit of footage in there of them doing hot space era. And they do all knackered because the studio is hot that the studio is horrible. It's like looks like a sort of tower block in the middle of in the middle of Germany, like in the middle of Munich. It's like this kind of just looks like it's Yeah, it looks like a sort of part of a shopping centre or something.

Jai Stokes  17:04  
And he made the decision to go to Munich. I mean, you know, it's well known about the clubbing and all that. But I mean, would they have made the decision to record the album based on that I

Matthew Russell  17:13  
think Freddie problems

Unknown Speaker  17:15  
when Mac was Oh, yeah,

Matthew Russell  17:16  
it's Mac isn't it? It's probably it's probably Mac studio, or the Mac other studio that Mac worked at is that in fact, as it matters in Montreux as well. It's not max first album, is it the game's max first album, is that right? Yeah, well,

Jai Stokes  17:31  
you know, because it's on dragon. It's

Matthew Russell  17:32  
gotta be Mac.

Jai Stokes  17:33  
It's got to be.

Ian Faragher  17:34  
So the whole space tour, they went out on tour, some 70 dates around the world started in April at to Scandinavia before hot space was released, which is a bit weird. And then that was released in May. And they toured until November ending up in, in Japan.

Matthew Russell  17:52  
Yeah, that live at Milton Keynes is as a stonking video, isn't it?

Ian Faragher  17:56  
Yeah, that was that was the that was the kind of the culmination of the European leg. And then they had a bit of a break before heading off to I think they went off to the US and then and then Japan. The the back end of the year, but yeah, yeah. And the interpretations of the heartspace tracks on on that it's just fantastic. Yeah, staying power is brilliant, isn't it? Kind of john Bonham drums and Freddy with is all the stuff he's saying in between the songs on the on the slight defensive. Yeah, I mean, it's only a bloody record ever get so excited.

Jai Stokes  18:27  
And I was Freddie life is to do that the list. He wasn't it was in northern Freddie.

Matthew Russell  18:39  
This is another collaboration, isn't it? So this is an odd one, again, in the fact that it's a collaboration between Ian and Jay this time, where Ian's done the backing and Jays done the vocal again. And Jays done. All the so Ian just did the guitar. And then that's kind of set the basis for Jay to do is to sort of set the tone didn't

Jai Stokes  19:00  
set set the tone and then and then I didn't really do that much to it. It was it was just Yeah, a little bit of bongos or What did you call them?

Matthew Russell  19:09  

Jai Stokes  19:11  

Matthew Russell  19:12  
What's the difference between a Bongo and small ones. And the congas are the big ones. But often people call them Congos which of course is the name of a river or an area of Africa?

Ian Faragher  19:25  
Or a great track by Genesis.

Jai Stokes  19:27  
But yes, let us know what you think on the on the track. Can we do that

Matthew Russell  19:32  
can Yes, VA interact with us on Twitter? What's our Twitter handle in

Ian Faragher  19:36  
recovering queen? Or is it recovering cue? You'll find us listeners

Jai Stokes  19:45  
be interesting to hear what you think that you know, go easy, we're human. And we love Queen and we're doing our best.

Ian Faragher  19:52  
This is cool cat

Unknown Speaker  20:08  
You know the sun shines cuz you're tapping on the toe and you just cruise Java swing key feeling the beat of my boo can come in on strong with a ginger messin with math so in the beaten that used to be such D the new wishin and no bed and where Dan to really hit the big time

Unknown Speaker  21:29  
but didn't have to fast Slow down, slow down You'd better slow down you really know how to set the mood and you really get inside Cool Cat candy Nana tonewood and you have to just cruise jabbing oh nice swing Feelin Me. Vina feed and my feeling beat up by how do you feel, feel and beat up my feeling beat up beat in the beat The beat

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