Brian May

Star Fleet Project

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Brian May's Star Fleet Project is one mysterious album. First off, it's not an album, but a brief EP that contains only three songs. And Brian's "friends" on the album include session bassist Phil Chen, REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer, and none other than Eddie Van Halen on second guitar. The EP was still a relatively new format to Capitol Records at the time, so what better way to kick off this new line than with an obscure near-concept album based on a children's cartoon, written by Brian May? It doesn't take a genius to predict that Star Fleet would be a guitar-heavy album, and it is, with lots of over the top guitar duels and songs based on soloing rather than memorable compositions. Still, the title track rocks like few Queen numbers did in the early '80s, kicking off with Van Halen's signature two-handed tapping technique, and eventually leading into a guitar solo fest. The remaining tracks, "Let Me Out" and "Blues Breaker," are blues-based rather than rooted in heavy metal. "Let Me Out" features some heartfelt vocals courtesy of May and has a liberating quality. "Blues Breaker" (dedicated to Eric Clapton, who was a big influence on both guitarists) is a 12-bar blues stretched to nearly 13 minutes, but it's interesting to hear both Eddie and Brian let down their hair and lay into some blues licks. The only problem with Star Fleet Project is that just when you're getting wrapped up in it, it's finished. A full album (with an emphasis on stronger songwriting) would have been ideal, but fans of both guitarists should definitely hunt down a copy of this forgotten '80s guitar summit, which is currently out of print and has never been issued on CD.

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