CD Review: Roger Taylor - Best

Queen's legendary drummer gets the best-of treatment
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Queen's Roger Taylor has had a very prolific solo career. Starting with his first single, "I Wanna Testify" in 1977, the drummer has released five solo albums as well as three albums with his band The Cross. Much of this music has not been available in America for some time and some of it not at all. A new best of, appropriately titled Best, attempts to shine new light on the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's underrated solo career.

The CD is arranged in (roughly as "I Wanna Testify" is not the first track) chronological order, with tracks from 1981's Fun In Space opening the proceedings. From those songs, "Let's Get Crazy" is the standout track. Taylor plays all the instruments and gives a killer vocal on this groove-laden, drum-heavy track. While not all of Taylor's solo work sounds like Queen, this song could easily fit in on The Game.

It's nice to get Taylor's first solo single, a cover of The Parliaments "I Wanna Testify," on CD. Taylor offers an updated take on this soul classic and gives a great, gritty vocal. Sadly, the song's B-side, "Turn On The TV," is not included. "Man On Fire," from 1984's Strange Frontier, answers the question of what if Born In The USA-era Springsteen sang with The Works-era Queen, with another fine vocal from Taylor.

1994's Happiness? is represented by some of its mellower tracks, including the strong ballads "Foreign Sand" and the title track. Five songs from 1998's Electric Fire -- perhaps Taylor's strongest record -- are included here, with heavy rockers "A Nation Of Haircuts" and "No More Fun" balanced out by great pop songs such as "Where Are You Now?" and "Tonight," the latter of which sounds like a descendant of "These Are The Days Of Our Lives." Taylor's newest album, Fun On Earth, is represented by two songs, including the excellent protest song, "The Unblinking Eye (Everything Is Broken.)."

When one is in a band with Freddie Mercury, it is often easy to be overshadowed. Still, Roger Taylor has managed a long and varied solo career that shows his depth as a songwriter. For fans new to Taylor's material, Best is an excellent introduction.