Brian May and Eddie Van Halen's Star Fleet Project to be reissued as massively expanded box set

Brian May + Friends in the studio
(Image credit: James “Motor” Merritt)

A long-awaited reissue for Brian May + Friends' Star Fleet Project mini-album has been confirmed. Originally released as a three song collection in 1983, the 40th anniversary edition will arrive on July 14, and will include every track recorded during the original sessions.

“We are going to give you everything," says Brian May. "Every take of every song. The things that went wrong, the laughing, the finding new things to do. But it won’t be just a remaster – we’ve rescued everything from the original multitracks, every detail magnificently remixed, and more! You’ll hear every take from the historic 1983 sessions plus fragments of conversations, out-takes and musical experimentation."

The original project saw May joined by guitar legend Eddie Van Halen alongside Alan Gratzer (drums), Phil Chen (bass) and Fred Mandel (keyboards), and came about after May became enamoured by the music that played over the end credits of Star Fleet, a Japanese TV series shown in The UK in 1980-81. The theme was written by Moody Blues and Hollies back-up musician Paul Bliss, who would go on to write songs for Olivia-Newton John, Janet Jackson, Celine Dione and Graham Nash.

“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," says May. "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?”

“So, one morning, I woke up in Los Angeles, on a break from activities with Queen, and made some phone calls. I’ve told the story of what happened next in the material you will find in this box. The outcome was something I will forever treasure.” 

“We did a little preparation, on the phone and at home with tiny Rockman amps and earphones. Then we went in. The tapes rolled. My LA neighbour Alan Gratzer beat the Hell out of his kit with the fattest, heaviest drum sticks I had ever seen. Phil Chen, a friend I had met when he played with Rod Stewart, brought his unusual style of funk-orientated rock playing to the party, along with his sunny Caribbean energy and humour. And Fred Mandel, one of the classiest keyboard players I have ever met, tickled both the ivories and some very technical synth patches to bring the spacey riffs to life. 

"Ed (I can still never call him 'Eddie Van Halen' because he more than once told me he found it annoying!) played the guitar as if it were a piano… tapping and snapping, and sliding and skipping around the fingerboard like an electric sprite - always with a cheeky smile. If anything he did was difficult for him, he never showed it.  A total original. Pure joy. What an everlasting privilege to play with him."   

“Ed was a wonderful soul," adds May. "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.

The expanded Star Fleet Project set will be available as a box set featuring the original EP on red vinyl, two CDs – the first features an expanded version of the album that includes various Project-related interviews and live tracks, while the second (exclusive to the box) includes 23 previously unreleased session tracks – and a 7" Star Fleet single backed by Son Of Star Fleet. Full tracklist below.

The expanded CD is available separately, as is a black vinyl version of the EP and a second 7" single that matches Star Fleet with a new mix of Let Me Out.

Star Fleet Project is available to pre-order now

Brian May + Friends: Star Fleet Sessions Box Set 

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)
1. Star Fleet (2023 Mix)
2. Let Me Out (2023 Mix)
3. 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”

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.