Sound: When a little band from out of the United Kingdom first formed back in 1970, no one could ever anticipate the role Queen would take in completely revitalizing the way we would all look at rock and roll. Between Freddie Mercury's captivating lead vocals and frontmanship, Brian May's striking guitar licks, the commanding bass line of John Deacon, and the solid percussion framework provided by Roger Taylor, Queen were an unstoppable tour-de-force. Undoubtedly this is a band whose greatness was achieved not by one sole member, however I should take the time to focus on Roger Taylor. He did much more in Queen than just play the skins; Taylor was also responsible for the high notes within the group's signature vocal melodies, and also played a significant role within Queen's songwriting chemistry.
Roger Taylor's musical ability surpassed percussion playing as Taylor also plays the guitar himself, on top of bass and keyboards. Taylor first showcased these skills on his debut solo album "Fun in Space" back in 1981. Roger Taylor has also had a successful career outside of Queen. Aside from his solo catalog, Taylor has performed alongside such names as Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Genesis and Foo Fighters. He's also collaborated in the studio with artists such as Elton John and Roger Daltrey of the Who. Roger Taylor is now making his return with his first new solo album in fifteen years, "Fun on Earth," whose title takes some clever inspiration from his original solo effort and musically shows the Queen drummer boldly stepping into new musical frontiers.
Songs such as the opening track "One Night Stand" are vastly different from his earlier works, and more closely resemble what you would expect from a wayward David Bowie outtake instead of a new Roger Taylor song. The guitar playing on this album is more heavily comprised of repetitive, simplistic riffs, and don't do much to benefit the entire piece other than provide a foot tapping pace. That's in the few moments when the guitar makes an appearance at all, as most of the album is comprised of slow piano ballads accompanied by a few quiet strums of an acoustic. // 6
Lyrics: Roger's lyrics fall into a similar style of the album's guitar playing, and on such songs as the previously mentioned "One Night Stand" have Roger simply repeating the title over and over for four minutes. His vocals, however, have mostly been untouched by time, and find a comfortable home on songs such as "The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Unbroken)." // 7
Overall Impression: Roger Taylor moves into several new musical frontiers at once and produces varied results on his new solo album, "Fun on Earth." There are moments where Taylor appears to be entirely uninspired lyrically, and others where he draws some intense emotions on the current state of the world economy and governments. After a period of time some of the songs do tend to blur together, and considering "Fun on Earth" is more heavily comprised of slow piano ballads that isn't necessarily a great thing. Even though this album could benefit from a few upbeat, fast paced rockers, in the end we still have a solid new effort from the Queen drummer. // 6
- Lou Vickers (c) 2013