09 June 2013

Insanity laughs under pressure

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie's performance of 'Under Pressure', with the music stripped away electronically is an intriguing glimpse at two rival vocalists at the top of their game. The original was released as a single in 1981 and appeared on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space, and numerous Bowie compilations. As a single it topped the charts in the UK, the Netherlands and Argentina - the latter during the Falklands conflict, to the consternation of General Galtieri.

Nicholas Pegg in The Complete David Bowie (2000) thinks that the battle of wills and voices between Mercury and Bowie seesaws back and forth through 'Under Pressure', lending the speedily thrown-together track a rare magic:

Throughout, the pendulum repeatedly swings between Bowie's preening art-rock and Queen's pumped-up glam. This is the track's strength: it sounds like both a duet and a duel. "To have his ego mixed with ours was a very volatile mixture," said Brian May later, recalling that Bowie was "very aloof" during the session; "It made for a very hot time in the studio." An interesting qualification of that memory is provided by Bowie's particular friend in the group, Roger Taylor, who said in 1999 that "We'd never actually collaborated with anybody before, so certain egos were slightly bruised along the way."

[Via Reddit]
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