More than likely, if you weren’t living around Seattle or its suburbs in the ’80s you haven’t heard the music of The Queen Annes. But if there is such a thing as nostalgic pleasure from music you’ve never heard, the Green Monkey re-release of the band’s 1986 (and previously cassette-only) compilation, Something Quick: 1980-1985, may well provide it for listeners of the right age. The Queen Annes are one of those bands that rock locally but never really make it big. They’re fun to listen to; their songs and their playing are no better, no worse than many that manage to get national airplay. The band doesn’t tour the big name venues. They play for a while, and then their playing becomes more sporadic, and eventually they seem to vanish.
And that’s a shame, because they and many of their tunes on Something Quick deserve better. Sure, some are silly and derivative, but when have silly and derivative been problems for pop success? And if their music brings pleasant back memories of a time when the world seemed like a simpler place—after all there were always times when the world seemed simpler—why complain? That said, if you’re fond of BG (Before Grunge) rock of the kind perpetrated by The Who and Led Zeppelin, you might well find Queen Annes a band to your taste.
Something Quick, with 20 tunes, 14 remastered/restored, and six bonus tracks weighing in at an hour and 15 minutes, gives you plenty to pick from. The only cover on the set is a previously unreleased version of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” and if they don’t quite make you forget Mr. Penniman, they don’t embarrass themselves. And if, in some tunes, you hear familiar guitar riffs in unfamiliar places, they often work, humorously perhaps, as in “Secret Agent Kid,” or seriously as in “Give ‘Em the Right Look.” Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt.
Vocals are mostly handled by Tom O’Connell, who has a voice that many a rock idol might covet. Kip Phillips is on guitar and James Gascoigne works the drums; they seem to have written most of the band’s material. John Carey plays bass on the first seven tracks, with Toby Keil on the rest. Joe Meyering plays harmonica on two songs.
The band has recorded a couple of albums, The Mire (1997) and Revenge (1999), and they still play once in a while under their own name and as Last of the Steam Powered Trains, a blues outfit, but by and large the group has moved on to other pursuits. Listen to them rock on “You Will Cry” and some of the other tracks and you might wish them back on stage.Powered by Sidelines