ROGER TAYLOR – Outsider (2021)
Like his Queen bandmates, ROGER TAYLOR has rarely flourished outside the mothership. While his band The Cross produced very good music and his clutch of solo albums had their moments, he wisely seemed to save his best work for the group.
Now comes his latest solo album, ”Outsider”, and it’s fair to say that expectations could be higher. Perhaps they should have been, for at the age of 72 Taylor has turned in the best solo effort of his life by whatever a country mile is.
As ever on his solo records, Taylor plays almost everything himself – drums, of course, but also guitar and most of the keyboards – but he’s in cahoots with Joshua J Macrae, his long-standing collaborator from The Cross.
Roger Taylor has had plenty of free time recently to reflect on his long, rich, extraordinary journey through life and music. With Queen + Adam Lambert’s blockbuster Rhapsody European tour postponed until 2022 by the Covid-19 pandemic, Roger has made good use of his lengthy lay-off.
Fired up with creative inspiration, he spent much of lockdown writing and recording new material. Before long, he found himself with his first solo album in eight years, ”Outsider”.
Taylor has dipped into his own back catalogue to gently re-jig ”Absolutely Anything” from Terry Jones’s 2015 film of that name. More radically, his rocking 1994 single ”Foreign Sand” is re-cast as a bittersweet ballad, while there’s a brassy trawl through ”The Clapping Song”.
The real surprise is how graceful this lockdown-inspired album is: Taylor prefers the word ‘autumnal’, and he’s spot-on.
The gorgeous ‘Tides’ opens in lugubrious, stately fashion, KT Tunstall brings elegant vocals to the empathetic ‘We’re All Just Trying To Get By’, and the closing ‘Journey’s End’ is the sound of a man who (to the outside world) has done it all, musing on what there might be left to do. Nodding discreetly to Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, it’s moving in a way Roger Taylor has never been moving before.
Elsewhere he gets quietly angry on ‘Gangsters Are Running This World’ (it’s also resurrected on a more aggressive, rocking ‘Purple version’), where the catchy chorus masks a diatribe against the tendency to authoritarianism.
Perhaps it’s the absence of a pressing need to contribute new Queen music, perhaps it’s something as prosaic as lockdown thumb-twiddling, perhaps it’s something else, but, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter why Taylor is blossoming so late in life.
Let’s just be thankful that he is.
01 – Tides
02 – I Know, I Know, I Know
03 – More Kicks (Long Day’s Journey Into Night… Life)
04 – Absolutely Anything
05 – Gangsters Are Running This World
06 – We’re All Just Trying To Get By (feat. KT Tunstall)
07 – Gangsters Are Running This World (Purple Version)
08 – Isolation
09 – The Clapping Song
10 – Outsider
11 – Foreign Sand (English Mix)
12 – Journey’s End