Another World, Another Reissue: Brian May’s Another World Reviewed –
Life must be a rollercoaster when you’re Brian May. Guitarist to one of the biggest rock bands of all time, married to an actress, holder of a doctorate in astrophysics, saviour of badgers – the man’s got it all going on. And if that wasn’t enough, over the past two years he’s been remastering and reissuing his long-abandoned solo output. 2021 gave us the heralded re-release of his 1992 solo debut, Back to the Light.
Now, in the next of his ‘Gold Series’, we’re treated to a delectable re-offering of Another World, his second album, released in 1998. Like much of his solo content, it’s not been the easiest record to obtain in the years that have passed. But at last, it’s out once more – polished, expanded, and in all formats (yes, that includes cassette, for the impractical ones among you).
Another World is an interesting album. Sonically, it’s less consistent than ‘92’s Back to the Light which, for the most part, saw May at his least merciful, battering his iconic Red Special around in a barrage of heavier rock numbers; ‘Back to the Light’, ‘Love Token’, ‘Resurrection’ and ‘I’m Scared’. The most glaring exception to that, however, was ‘Too Much Love Will Kill You’, the heart-wrenching ballad that gave him a number five spot on the UK charts.
Another World certainly has its share of rock numbers, but it’s also an album that, tonally, reflects the increasing fracture within May’s mind. In the original liner notes of the album, May talks about how he’d love to say he found ‘the secret’ after all these years, his passage to nirvana, the meaning of it all – but in truth, he’s as lost as he’s ever been. It’s odd to think of a man who has everything, feeling uneasy with the world. But it’s a stark reminder that money guarantees no happiness.
Another World opens with ‘Space’ – a piece similar to ‘The Dark’ which opened Back to the Light. ‘Space’ even carries the previous opening’s sense of melancholia, and sorrow, as May murmurs, ‘I’m going to make a space around me/ A very special place around me/ No one can come in’. He gives the image of a vulnerable, even broken man, but as the opening bars of ‘Business’ ring from the speakers, there’s no denying he still holds a righteous anger. A determination to see it through. After all, he’s the thunderous spark that gave Queen its edge. ‘Business’ packs a mean, chugging rhythm that rivals anything from the man’s debut.
‘China Belle’, meanwhile, has an opening straight out of Ritchie Blackmore’s back catalogue, before we steamroll into a more classic rock anthem. ‘Why Don’t We Try Again’ feels like an attempt to reach the balladic highs of ‘Too Much Love…’ but falling rather short. It’s a worthy shot, though, and shows the softer side of Queen’s heavier half.
‘On My Way Up’ was the lead single from the album’s reissue, and rightly so, proving perhaps the record’s pinnacle. It’s one hell of a feelgood track, with May asserting himself as doing just fine. This piece of jangly power pop isn’t anything amazing, but incredibly infectious, nonetheless. What a shame, though, that it’s backed against the album’s most dated moment. ‘Cyborg’ is almost laughable with its electronically masked vocals and homage to the technological hysteria of the late 90s. It’s a fun number, and allows May to really go off the rails, but it reminds me of Billy Idol’s less-than-stellar Cyberpunk album.
Side two of Another World opens with another hard rock piece, in ‘The Guv’nor’. The titular figure demands respect and packs riffs-a-plenty, in a song that’s one of the doctor’s best works since his time with Queen. ‘Wilderness’, meanwhile, is a dreamlike ballad that takes you from the hard rock highs to the bluesy abyss of May’s fractious mind – ‘Love is an open secret/ healing and hiding/ and wondering and weeping…’
Then the train pulls into its next stop, ploughing into the crashing cymbals of ‘Slow Down’, a cover of the Larry Williams, rock ‘n roll classic (and later covered by the Beatles). It’s one hell of a powerhouse, and more than worthy of a place on Another World, with the covers continuing in ‘One Rainy Wish’ – original by Jimi Hendrix of all legends. It’s one of the more forgettable numbers from Another World, admittedly, but nonetheless a homage from one six-string icon to another.
Mott the Hoople’s ‘All the Way From Memphis’ is up now, stylized as a live performance from Brian and the band. Another World began life as a covers album, hence the number of renditions that found their way onto the finished recording. Featuring guest vocals from Ian Hunter, ‘…Memphis’ is one of the soaring highlights of this album, really amplified by the backing vocals of Shelley Preston, Nikki Love and Becci Glover.
Another World closes with the titular track, a Disney-esque ballad that crushes any and all doubt that May is not one hell of a vocal talent; with staggering soft tones detailing his wish for another world where he can freely love the person he wants and be with them always. As Back to the Light closed with the rocking ‘Rollin’ Over’, defiant and brash, Another World closes with one last, poetic firework; a man who has just one thing more to say before he fades out.
Brian May’s second release is worthy of all commendation – once again he proves that every moving part to Queen’s machine was polished and honed separately, capable of their own achievements and their own explorations into the world of music. Another World is a remarkable body of work, even if it doesn’t reach the zenith of his previous release.
And with this incredible reissue comes a whole extra disc of bonus content; from live performances (initially only available on a tour promo EP at the time) to a Spanish version of ‘Another World’, a tribute to legendary drummer Cozy Powell (who featured on this album and tragically passed during its production) and a slew of covers from the album’s conception. Never in a million years did I think I’d heard Queen’s guitarist try his hand at ‘Hot Patootie’, but I was proved wrong – and, might I add, by someone who plays a damn good Meat Loaf substitute.
In the age of Bohemian Rhapsody and ‘80s nostalgia, there’s never been a better time to be a Queen fan; to celebrate in the communion of all four members, and the simply groundbreaking music they went on to create. But don’t forget those four individuals in the first place. Take a look at what they created, free from the commercial chains of the Queen brand, away from the studio. In their own homes, with their own instruments, and their own minds. You’d be surprised at what they could come up with by themselves.
Another World certainly has its Queen-esque moments; it packs no shortage of layering and overdubs. Tracks like ‘China Belle’ and ‘Cyborg’ have riffs and licks straight out of the band’s Innuendo days, channeling ‘Bijou’ or ‘The Hitman’. But it’s still proof of the idea that Queen wasn’t three great musicians and Freddie Mercury. Mercury was truly one a kind, a legend, a star among mortals. But that doesn’t mean May, Taylor and Deacon weren’t demigods, too – astral heroes with instruments forged in the fires of Mount Olympus. Their own solo output is a mixed bag, true, but some of it is better than even the loftiest heights of regal rock ‘n roll’s collective.
Another World is a testament to that.