Although as a writer, I know where my strengths lie, I’m also up for a challenge. So I find myself reviewing Queen Guitar Rhapsodies, a collection of Queen songs that have been given a classical makeover by acclaimed guitarist Carlos Bonell. The C.D also features The Lara Symphony Orchestra and Youth Choir. These projects are part of a program in Venezuela that helps deprived children train as classical musicians.
The idea for this C.D came from David Young, who’s worked as a guitarist for the Queen Musical We Will Rock You. His background/influence is evident throughout the C.D, as all the songs have a slight stage/screen feel to them. I could imagine some songs working for dance pieces, others in films. That said, I was expecting some of his interpretations to sound more familiar, more like Queen, so it was a little hard to relate to the ones that didn’t. Although some could argue that it would detract from the albums instrumental aims, it would have been nice to hear more from the choir.
Carlos and the Orchestra have essentially created a calmer, toned down version of a selection of Queen songs. Some sweep by quietly, in a moving, atmospheric way, while others burst out and grab your attention. ‘Who Needs You’ is a good example of this, with it’s catchy, Caribbean feel, while the quirky arrangement of ‘Good Old Fashioned Loverboy’ also grabbed my attention. To a novice like me, the guitar parts seem quite clever/complex, and listening closely I can begin to understand why he’s held in such esteem in the music world. My overall reaction to the C.D is mixed, and I think if there was a bit more power, more from the choir, and more of a build up in the orchestration, it would have held my attention more. That however is personal taste, and doesn’t stop me wondering what pop super group Carlos might pay tribute to next.
Queen Guitar Rhapsodies is available now from carlosbonell.com, also HMV, Amazon, and Play websites.