Queen – Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits

QueenGreatest Hits EMI EMTV 30 (1981)

Great stuff really.  These hits are still ubiquitous.  And they deserve to be.  What struck me listening to this for the n-th time was how the techniques that Queen use are not altogether that different from the ironic, kitschy mash-ups of tropicália, though this is undeniably camp rather than social protest music.  But the underlying musical techniques have similarities.  Susan Sontag famously wrote that camp was characterized by artifice, exaggeration, a conversion of the serious to the frivolous, and naïve unpretentiousness.  Even with the very exaggerated, flamboyant frivolity of something like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or even “Don’t Stop Me Now” there really is hardly a whiff of pretension.  The band never blinks no matter how silly the premise.

One thing I’ll always remember about Queen is that a guy I used to work with (in retail) would stroll along at work and sing “Killer Queen” (or at least a verse or two over and over again) in a kind of stoner drawl.  That kind of sums up Queen for me: a band that is a distraction, an escape, greasing the wheels of daily life, and completely and totally okay with being that and no more than that.  The thing to question about something like that is how it tends to justify the status quo, no matter what that is, but , still, few convey a poignant sense of motion holding distinct concepts in a particular relationship to each other quite like Queen.  As one person put it, “The great thing about Queen was that they could unite both meathead jock-rockers and sexually adventurous drama nerds, whether those two groups wanted to be united or not.”

This collection of hits is all you need from the band.  There are also Vols. II and III, but those get lame quickly.  Sure, there is still room to quibble with a few of the selections here, like the lack of “Under Pressure,” and “Flash” belongs at the very end.  But those are minor concerns.

The Swan Silvertones – Day By Day

Day By Day

The Swan SilvertonesDay By Day Savoy SL-14555 (1981)

Much like The Soul Stirrers and Fairport Convention, The Swan Silvertones were recording long after the original members had left.  The current group was led by lead singer Louis Johnson.  The songs all have a Memphis soul feel.  There are none of the intricate vocal harmonies of years past.  Louis Johnson still has a good voice, though he doesn’t seem to have the range he once did.  The new singers aren’t prominent enough to be memorable here.  Still, the mellow sound of the album has its charms.  This might just be the best offering from the group’s years on Savoy Records.

David Wineberg – The Man With Two Brains

Link to David Wineberg’s review of Chris Knight‘s book Decoding Chomsky: Science and Revolutionary Politics (2016):

“The Man With Two Brains”

Bonus links: “Decoding Chomsky. Science and Revolutionary Politics. Chris Knight. A Review.” (this review usefully relies on Bourdieu), and “Understanding the Labyrinth: Noam Chomsky’s Science and Politics” (“Chomsky’s stance undercuts the responsibility of scientists to speak out as public intellectuals against dishonest invocation of pretended science [o]n behalf of commercial and political interests.”), and Systemic Functional Linguistics, and Denial AKA disavowal (“In Verleugnung, the defense consists in denying something that affects the individual and is a way of affirming what he or she is apparently denying.”) and “Chomsky, Wolfe and Me” and “Noam Chomsky Responds to Chris Knight’s Book, Decoding Chomsky: Science and Revolutionary Politics” and “When Chomsky Worked on Weapons Systems for the Pentagon”  (“In Chomsky’s writings, individualism and genetic determinism are both taken to astonishing extremes.”)


To the extent that Knight (or others) are insisting that Chomsky (or others) assume the position of a Hegelian “beautiful soul” I disagree.  Other other hand, from sort of a Bourdieu (or Bachelard) sort of sociological perspective, it is crucial to understand the institutional field in which a “major” academic like Chomsky operates.  I think Knight is more concerned with how Chomsky is or isn’t a “useful idiot” for military interests like Robert Oppenheimer with the Manhattan Project.