When Brian May finished touring his debut solo album, Back to the Light, he began to throw open his doors to fresh possibilities. “I got all these little kinds of commissions and triggers and inspirations from outside,” said Brian, who took ownership of these “triggers” and molded them into a second solo album in his own image. Now released as the second strike in Brian’s Gold Series reissues campaign, Another World pays rich, raucous and fully felt testimony to the legendary Queen guitarist and songwriter’s roots and reach: between its expansive energies and immersive craft, the album’s world-class quality rings out.
The album receives multi-format release April 22 along with the album’s original single release “On My Way Up”.
Driven by the potent drumming of the much-missed Cozy Powell, who tragically passed away prior to the album’s release, Another World is a superlative successor to Back to the Light. Drawn from many sources of inspiration, the record emerged in June 1998 as an album of roof-raising rock’ n’ roll and scorching guitar and indelible melodies, plus a couple of impassioned covers. The album is full of dangerous unguarded feelings and uplift, with guests including Jeff Beck and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins helping to stoke its fires.
Warmly received by the press on its original release in 1998, the album birthed four electric singles in “The Business (Rock on Cozy Mix)”, “On My Way Up”, “Another World” and “Why Don’t We Try Again”. It also ushered Brian and his band out on a hugely successful 42-date tour covering a large swathe of the world and packing out prestigious venues including London’s Royal Albert Hall.
“Space” is the album’s overture, introducing the idea of opening up spaces in which one can breathe and create safely. The gentleness of this track softens us up in readiness for the bulldozer anthemic crunch and Red Special roar of “Business”, originally commissioned for 1993’s UK TV show Frank Stubbs Promotes. Brian made this tale of “an eternal optimist” his own, with Cozy’s input thrust upfront. “You immediately hear this massive drum track come in and that’s very much him. It’s meant to be as big as it gets – I want Cozy’s life to be marked as big as possible,” said Brian at the time. “It isn’t about somebody hitting something, it’s about the inner energy and strength and optimism of this guy. He’s a crucial part of this album and I don’t know what the Hell I will do without him.”
The album’s fire stays lit for the playful live killer “China Belle”, before “Why Don’t We Try Again” finds Brian digging deep inside for a plaintive ballad. Written years earlier but deemed too personal for Queen, the song finds Brian sublimely assured in his vocal range. A regular feature of Brian’s solo concerts, “On My Way Up” is a deliciously infectious romp, commissioned for Series 2 of Frank Stubbs while work on Queen’s Made in Heaven album proceeded.
Backing singers Cathy Porter and Shelley Preston help the melody reach a high, in tune with the character of Stubbs as a lead figure in the series. “The central character of this song is someone who is basically a loser, but has total belief and a kind of insane optimism, and he’s going somewhere, you know, “man, I’m on my way” kind of thing, so that’s what the song was, and again, it became imbued with different things, once I got going on the track, but it’s basically funny. It’s funny, and it’s optimistic and loud.”
A more sci-fi source inspired “Cyborg”, influenced by Brian’s collaboration on the video games Rise Of The Robots and Rise 2: Resurrection, the song adopts the perspective of a robot longing to escape his skin (a metaphor for humanity’s longings for another world?) and features ballistic drums from Taylor Hawkins. Brian was full of praise for his guest, in the early days of the Foo Fighters: “He’d never really done a studio session for someone else, so he was wired to the hilt – you could imagine. He’s going “this is f_g awesome”. I mean, there is energy spilling out all over Surrey from this guy, incredible! I think he’s well represented on the track – it’s insane, the amount of energy on there.”
For “The Guv’nor”, another contributor steps up. Though at one time intended for a proposed but unmade film about a bare-knuckle boxer, the song pivots on Brian’s reverence for guesting guitarist Jeff Beck. “In our world, Jeff is the guv’nor – the standard by which you judge yourself,” said Brian, who forged this low-slung, blues-rock belter from his admiration for the legendary Yardbirds man.
A stark ballad follows in “Wilderness”, a late entrant for the album with Brian in fine voice once again. And it’s followed by tributes to his influences. After Back to the Light, Brian envisaged making an entire album of covers titled Heroes, to include the original song “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)” as a tribute to the late Freddie Mercury. When Queen adopted Brian’s song for the Queen Rocks compilation in 1997, he moved on from the ‘heroes’ concept but channeled its spirit into Another World’s covers.
“Slow Down” is a classic Larry Williams 12-bar blues romp recorded live with Cozy, bassist Neil Murray, Queen keyboardist Spike Edney and guitarist Jamie Moses. And then follows a unique tribute to Brian’s all-time hero Jimi Hendrix. Powered by liquid guitars, “One Rainy Wish” is a dreamy take on the Hendrix classic, which fits perfectly with Another World’s other-worldly musings. “That song was the description of Jimi’s dream, his exact transposition in words and music,” says Brian. “I always wanted to try my hand at interpreting it my way.”
The final cover version hits close to home for Brian. “All the Way from Memphis” was a 1973 hit for Mott the Hoople, who took the young Queenies on tour as an opening act in the very early days of Queen – formative transatlantic jaunts that inspired Brian’s massive Queen rocker “Now I’m Here”. Describing that touring experience as “blinding”, Brian adds, “I used to watch them do “All the Way from Memphis” every night, and the place would erupt, like an earthquake. They really were a fantastic band live.” Hoople front man Ian Hunter appears on this adrenalized cover by Brian as ‘Special Guest Raconteur’.
The album reaches its close with an original song forged from Brian’s soundtrack work. The years following Back to the Light saw Brian occasionally composing music for films, including The Adventures of Pinocchio and a radio version of The Amazing Spider-Man. Another World emerged when Brian’s film-writer friend Peter Howitt requested a song for his forthcoming movie Sliding Doors, which was to feature Gwyneth Paltrow. Brian’s response was a sublime reverie on secret desires, parallel universes and paths untaken, lovingly tailored to the story of the film. Eventually, due to contractual crossed wires, the song never made it into the movie. Brian reclaimed it for Another World, where it testifies exquisitely to his melodic skills. As a kind of ‘bonus’ the CD reissue closes with “Being on My Own”, a previously ‘hidden’ piano piece now incorporated into the album’s CD formats.
For Brian, Another World upholds the value of the open-door policy he adopted post-Back to the Light. “I travelled a lot of paths to gather all the pieces,” he said. “In order to have something worthwhile for the next Brian May album, I would have to rediscover who I was. I decided to go out and do a lot of playing and open myself up for projects because I didn’t want to make another purely introspective album. I thought I would go out into the world, experience things and rediscover my roots.”
This self-outreach programme assumed many forms. While some of his time in this period was devoted to Queen’s Made in Heaven album, the gradual cessation of Queen’s activities freed Brian up to accept some of the offers he hadn’t the time to accept previously. Some of this work features on Another World’s 15-track rarities set, Another Disc, which opens on a deeply moving note.
Another World was dedicated to two much-loved figures in Brian’s life, his late mother and Cozy, who died in a car crash on 5 April 1998 at the age of 50. “It’s impossible to describe what a terrible gap it’s going to leave in our lives, our mate Cozy not being here,” said Brian on a spoken-word tribute to Cozy in 1998, which opens Another Disc. “He was a fantastic support, a fantastic energy and vibe, he had the most incredible attitude to life which leaked over into everything he did.” That attitude roars out of ‘The Business (Rock on Cozy Mix)’, which emphasizes Powell’s drumming thunderously.
Also on Another Disc are four covers Brian recorded under the alter ego T E Conway for ‘Retro Rock Special’, an EP previously only available to purchasers of Another World in 1998. The songs range joyously from The Rocky Horror Show’s rollicking “Hot Patootie” to Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ stunning “Maybe Baby,” The Shadows’ electric “F.B.I.” (recorded with Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt) and Conway Twitty’s immortal “It’s Only Make Believe”. Also featured on the disc is a transcendent Spanish sung version of “Another World,” “Otro Lugar,” alongside a blistering instrumental attack on “Cyborg” and a hard rocking guitar version of “On My Way Up”.
Fantastic live cuts highlight The Brian May Band’s live form at the time: dedicated by Brian to “absent friends,” “Hammer to Fall” starts tenderly before roaring into rock’n’roll life, while “On My Way Up” brims with pep. Three alternative takes on “Business” reveal Brian’s work on ’stings’ for the TV series. And the disc closes with “My Boy,” a heartfelt piano ballad recorded by Brian in 1980 and until now, almost unknown to the public.
Long unavailable in any format, this timely re-issue in a variety of formats has been personally overseen by Brian himself along with original co-producer Justin Shirley-Smith, Queen and BM Pro Tools expert Kris Fredriksson and longtime Queen art designer Richard Gray.
Meticulously restored with mastering by Bob Ludwig, working from the true original mixes for maximum quality, the album will be reissued in multiple formats, including 1-CD and – on 180g heavyweight black vinyl – 1-LP versions. The 2CD Deluxe set adds Another Disc (mastered by Adam Ayan), while a 2-CD + 1-LP Collector’s Edition includes both CDs and a sky-blue vinyl LP in a 12” lift lid box, complete with 32-page booklet and enamel badge. Queen Online Store exclusives will include picture disc and cassette options.
On all fronts, Another World documents Brian’s personal journey, with ‘A Different Place, way across Time and Space” in mind, and pure emotional honesty at its core. As he explained of the record’s concept, “I hoped that by the time I got to the end of the project, I would have brought about a change in myself. I thought, ‘When the album is finished, I will have made this journey, and I will have got to this other place, and I can tell everyone how I did it’; but to be honest, I didn’t really manage it. The truth of the album is that it’s a journey which is still taking place.”
In his new 2022 liner notes, Brian notes how far we have all travelled since the album’s release in 1998, but also that the exploration feels very appropriate at this time. “It seems perhaps that in 2022 we ARE in Another World,” he writes, “but if it’s not quite the world we asked for, perhaps we can still reach that perfect world… in our dreams. JOIN ME !!!”
Bursting with forceful rock anthems, open-hearted yearning, lush melodies and galvanizing guitar work, Another World sends out a gloriously irresistible invitation to do just that.
Brian May – Another World: 2-CD DELUXE:
Disc 1 – Another World
“Why Don’t We Try Again”
“On My Way Up”
“One Rainy Wish”
“All The Way From Memphis”
“Being On My Own”
Disc 2 – Another Disc:
“The Business” (Rock On Cozy Mix)
“F.B.I. (Original Ruff Mix With Real Bass And Drums)”
“It’s Only Make Believe”
“Cyborg (Solo Instrumental Version)”
“I’ll Be Prayin’”
“On My Way Up (Guitar Version)”
“The Last Great Optimist”
“On My Way Up (Live in Paris, June ’98)”
“Hammer To Fall (Live in Paris, June ’98)”