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EDITIONS
Monday, 24 June, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Gatecrashers cannot spoil Palace party
Will Young and Brian May
Two generations of stars: Will Young and Brian May

The live album of the Golden Jubilee's Party at the Palace album captures a fantastic event well but is marred by iffy moments.

It is easy for metropolitan music snobs to turn their nose up at an unashamedly populist event, but even the most churlish republican has to admit the British Monarchy knows how to put on a show.

In terms of persuading rock stars to give up their time for minimum recompense, The Party at the Palace was Live Aid all over again.

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne flies the flag for the monarchy
But there are some awful songs on this album.

Phil Collins whiny rendition of You Can't Hurry Love makes you glad he followed through with his vow to leave the country when Labour took power.

It is just a shame he came back to visit.

And when you hear Brian May's start to proceedings with the opening chords of God Save the Queen off the Palace roof, it is easy to feel yourself transported to the set of rock parody This Is Spinal Tap.

Wedding reception favourite Bryan Adams' Everything I Do (I Do It For You) sounds excessively sincere, while Queen's irritating Radio Ga Ga fails to impress.

Ozzy Osbourne and fellow Black Sabbath member Tony Lommi's apathetic run through Paranoid is notable only for the Brummy bad boy's sudden conversion to royalism.

The band also sang a rendition of Beatles' track The Long and Winding Road
The Corrs duetted with Brian Wilson
But these selections from the first half of the album are outweighed by plenty of gems.

Annie Lennox's Why and the much criticised Brian Wilson performances sound fine.

And while Cliff Richard performing Move It with S Club 7 and Brian May hardly sounds like a recipe for rock heaven, it is a surprisingly pleasant slice of 1950s nostalgia.

A bill heavy with stadium rock numbers is suitable when you are in the world's most exclusive arena.

Two of the Queen numbers - We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions - work surprisingly well.

But the live album really shows its rock credentials in the build-up to the finale of the gig.

Eric Clapton's enthusiastic Layla is the ideal stadium barnstormer, riff heaven with the sumptuous piano break that has become synonymous with Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney
Cliff Richard joined Paul McCartney for the finale
It is followed on the album by Steve Winwood's Gimme Some Lovin', which he gives the same high-tempo urgency as he did with the Spencer Davis Group in 1966.

And there is irony in Joe Cocker's gutsy performance of With a Little Help From My Friends with Winwood and May.

But it sounded as well received by well-behaved Palace guests as by the frazzled hippies who heard its most famous outing at Woodstock.

The finale of two Beatles numbers seems only appropriate in a country where they are as much of a national institution as the Queen.

All You Need Is Love with Rod Stewart, Cocker and Sir Paul McCartney contributing, hits the right note with the jubilant Jubilee audience.

But Hey Jude's call/response sees Sir Paul's performance wander dangerously close to the overblown.

The technical standard of the recording and production is not perfect, a slightly distant sound quality persisting on some numbers.

But the mark of a good album is capturing the event - which in this case was magical - more than the fine details of the performances.

Party at the Palace is released on Monday 24 June on Virgin.

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Brian Wilson
Hear a clip from God Only Knows
See also:

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