Brian May Marks 40th Anniversary of Star Fleet, Featuring Eddie Van Halen, with Box Set

After the release of Queen‘s tenth album, Hot Spades, in 1982, the band took a brief hiatus the following year to explore individual solo projects. On April 21 and 22 of 1983, guitarist Brian May went to the Record Plant studio in Los Angeles with Eddie Van Halen. At first, May wasn’t expecting to record anything, much less release an album, but he and Van Halen, along with several other guest musicians rounding out the “band,” crafted a three-track mini album called Star Fleet Project.

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In commemoration of the 40th-anniversary of their project, May is releasing the Brian May + Friends: Star Fleet Sessions deluxe box set, featuring two CDs, one vinyl LP, a vinyl single, and other collector’s items on July 14.

First conceived by May in early 1983, the Star Fleet band also featured Queen drummer Roger Taylor, who provided backing vocals, along with bassist Phil Chen (Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart), Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper keyboardist Fred Mandel, and drummer Alan Gratzer (REO Speedwagon).

The three-track album features the title track, inspired by the Japanese kid’s science fiction series of the same name, which May was watching at the time with his 4-year-old son Jimmy. The theme song of the show, renamed “Star Fleet” in the United Kingdom from a Japanese version called “X Bomber,” was originally written by British songwriter and composer Paul Bliss, who also performed as a backing musician for The Hollies and The Moody Blues from 1989 through 2009.

“If Paul hadn’t written a very catchy song as the theme tune for that kid’s TV science fiction drama series, things would have been different,” said May in a statement. “The signature tune began to stick in my head, and I could hear my own arrangement of the tune developing in my mind. But how to record it?”

The Star Fleet Project also features May’s solo composition, “Let Me Out,” along with a 13-minute “Blues Breaker Jam,” which is dedicated to Eric Clapton. The lengthier track features a fiery guitar interplay between Van Halen and May. 

The box set features remixed versions of the three songs, along with live recordings, alternate takes, interviews, and additional jams from the two-day sessions.

“We are going to give you everything—every take of every song, the things that went wrong, the laughing, the finding new things to do,” said May. “But it won’t be just a remaster. We’ve rescued everything from the original multi-tracks, every detail magnificently remixed, and more. You’ll hear every take from the historic 1983 sessions plus fragments of conversations, outtakes, and musical experimentation.”

The album features eight different guitar solos from Van Halen, alone. The recordings are particularly poignant for May following Van Halen’s death on Oct. 6, 2020, at the age of 65.

“It’s been very exciting to open up the vault to find these tapes where, in the blink of an eye, I’m trading licks with my friends, including the fantastic Ed Van Halen,” said May. “It’s highly emotional, especially since Ed is sadly no longer around. We have since also lost Phil, so the rest of us cherish these fleeting moments together.”

May continued, “Ed was a wonderful soul. Listening to him and me, I feel completely outclassed by him in the studio, but in a very pleasant way. What a joy for me to be around a guy who could do all that—such a privilege.”

Brian May + Friends, ‘Star Fleet Project’ 40th Anniversary Edition Track Listing:

CD1: Star Fleet Project + Beyond
“Star Fleet” (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
“Let Me Out” (2023 Mix)
“Blues Breaker” (2023 Mix)
Cynthia Fox Release Day Interview 1983
Bob Coburn Rockline Interview 1984
“Let Me Out” (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
“We Will Rock You” (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
“We Will Rock You – Fast” (Live at The Palace Theater, LA / 1993)
“Star Fleet” (Complete Version / 2023 Mix)

CD2: Star Fleet – The Complete Sessions
“Star Fleet” (Take 1)
“Star Fleet” (Take 2)
“Star Fleet” (Take 3)
“Star Fleet” (Take 4)
“Star Fleet” (Take 5)
“Solo Jam”
“Star Fleet” (Take 7)
“Star Fleet” (Take 8)
“Star Fleet” (Take 10)
“Star Fleet” (Take 11)
“Star Fleet” (Alternative Overdub EVH Solo)
“Let Me Out” (Rehearsal 1)
“Let Me Out” (Rehearsal 2)
“Boogie Woogie Jam”
“Let Me Out” (Take 1)
“Jazz Police”
“Let Me Out” (Take 3)
“Let Me Out” (Take 4)
“Jam” (Let’s Do The Show Right Here)
“Let Me Out” (Take 6)
“Funky Jam”
“Let Me Out” (Take 7 False Start)

LP: Star Fleet Project (180g Red Vinyl)
“Star Fleet” (2023 Mix)
“Let Me Out” (2023 Mix)
“Blues Breaker” (2023 Mix)

7″ Single “Star Fleet”
Star Fleet (Edited Single Version / 2023 Mix)
Son Of Star Fleet (2023 Mix) – Exclusive to the box set 7″

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen

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