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Queen

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(89 Reviews)

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  • The boys had officially decided to call themselves Queen (under the forceful persuasion of Freddie Mercury) by 1971, after finally choosing the bassist they wanted (John Deacon), and come 1972, they had completed and recorded most of the tracks to this album (though the album wouldn’t initially be released until 1973.) Musically speaking, the unique characteristics of (70s) Queen (a/k/a “The Queen sound”) that many came to know (e.g. the opera-rock, the outlandish whimsy, the strange juxtapositions of gender-bending/vaudeville/opera/metal) CAN be heard here, just in rawer, unpolished and underdeveloped terms. But other than that, the album is mostly a smorgasbord of classic heavy metal, psychedelia and progressive rock. But, despite it being a work in progress (for Queen, anyway), the album is strong and solid on it’s own. That’s probably one of the most [standard] statements ever made, but for the first time, I’m tempted to apply it here. I really think if Queen were not to evolve or make another album after this, they still would have been recognized as having sophisticated musical talent – whether by critics (puh!) or by other musicians. Ironically, that’s one of the few ‘gifts’ I noticed Queen to possess: not totally reaching their peak in a certain setting, yet what they come up with, seems to be strong in character and golden on it’s own. “Keep Yourself Alive” was the ’somewhat’ popular track on here, as Brian May in particular is playing some crunchy, yet sophisticated licks on his self-made guitar. I agree with some of the reviewers below who said that after listening to this (as well as the rest of the album), one gets a sense that Queen possessed a certain overwhelming, indescribable intensity and talent that was WAY ahead of it’s time – and this was only their debut – an album that only gave hints of what would blossom on later efforts. Freddie Mercury (unsurprisingly) gave a wonderfully forceful vocal performance on here. “Doing All Right” was originally co-written by then vocalist Tim Staffel (Note: during that time, the band was called Smile, not Queen.) Anyway, the song progresses nicely from soft, wistful guitar passage-filled verses, which feature ethereal and angelic falsettos from Freddie Mercury, leading into the chorus’ featuring summery vocal harmonies, which are then later followed by unexpected guitar blasts from Brian May.Elsewhere, “Great King Rat” opens up with Brian May’s trademark snaky guitar overdubs. The track features some pretty bold and daring lyrics (which were not uncommon with Queen) revolving around [explicit] metaphors, while “My Fairy King” gives subtle glimpses of the bizarreness that would be found in progressive rock tracks such as “The March Of The Black Queen,” and later “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Features some pretty bizarre, and arty lyrics, which feature many references to astrology and mythology, and delivered in Freddie Mercury’s trademark seductive, gender-bending, Divaesque vocals. “Liar” seems to get much praise by many of the reviewers here, and it’s hard for me to disagree. A theatrical, almost operatic track, it manages to combine convincing, thought-provoking lyrics, intelligent dynamics and shifting in musical atmospherics, and Freddie Mercury in particular is raving it up on his vocals – shifting effortlessly from plaintive stylings, to genre-bending, oversexed moans, to forceful, passionate pleading and everything else, which I found highly impressive. There’s also a section in the middle which features some exotic percussion, vocal chants and other atmospherics which seem utterly spiritual. Moving along to “Modern Times Rock N’ Roll.” This to me reminds me not of Led Zeppelin, but of some of the music that was labeled as proto-punk back in the 70s. In fact, to bring some attention to the former, I really don’t think Queen has much in common with Led Zeppelin as many others seem to claim (I was particularly offended and infuriated by comments made by some of those half-witted critics for the Rolling Stone regarding Queen.) The many years I’ve been listening to Queen, I was never once reminded of Zeppelin. I would encourage many other reviewers not to buy too much into those comparisons, as to compare one band to the other is like comparing apples and oranges. “Son & Daughter” has a sinister glam-metal feel to it, especially in the slow, seductive heavy blasts from Brian’s guitar, fronted by Freddie’s venomous vocals. “Jesus” is the religious-infused closer to the album, which features some clomping chords from Brian (mostly minor chords), while Freddie gives a passionate vocal performance full of conviction. The track also sounds like it could have come from a Broadway musical. “Seven Seas Of Rhye” is a short, instrumental and somewhat alternate version of the full track found on the following album _Queen II_. The bonus cut called “Mad The Swine” is a keeper. I’m surprised this didn’t make the original cut. A percussion-heavy track which also features some religious lyrics.An excellent, prestigious and often overlooked debut. It’s probably not best recommended for the uninitiated Queen fan to start out with, but for the Queen fan who owns a few of their albums (especially their more essential ones), and has interest in experiencing the roots of the band. Conversely, it’s also recommended for the listener who appreciates quality rock music, added with some bizarre and sophisticated elements.

    Posted on November 29, 2009