I've been sitting on this draft since 2013... Whoops!
Anyway! The Queen album has been described by the band as random picks of tracks thrown together in no particular order. Maybe it's because I'm so used to the track order, but I don't see it as a disorganized mess. I mean, I know most of the them were technically dated by the time the album got released, but I think they're a great demonstration that Queen does not stick to a particular sound or formula. The entire album doesn't sound like one continuous noise, to paraphrase Roger. Yes, there are signature sounds throughout their entire catalog, but I look at Queen as sort of making up for lost time, since so many record companies rejected them at the time.
According to Freddie on Live At The Rainbow '74, Brian wrote Keep Yourself Alive as a teenager (he specifically said, "young boy," which is amusing because they were all in their early-mid twenties at the time). It's unusual in that it doesn't have that "shitty poetry" feel that a lot of teenaged writing tends to have on a universal level. When I had just started seriously getting into Queen, my uncle would constantly say that this track is one of the most metal songs he's ever heard. That's kind of weird, as he's very much into all sorts of metal bands that definitely have a consistently heavier sound (Megadeth, and the like). But he would also later introduce me to Simon & Garfunkel and No Doubt. That throw-away line is just to ensure readers that my uncle's tastes in music are hardly strictly light or conservative. Keep Yourself Alive doesn't rank especially high as a heavy track for me, but the guitar riff is probably one of Brian's catchiest and infectious. Also, this song is super fun to sing, and I often turn to the Live Killers version when I really want to pretend I'm on stage rocking out.
I fucking love Doing Alright! The whole sound of it is perfection to me. Brian and Roger would later say that they weren't happy with the drums being on the quieter end, but I think it works especially well on this track (it did not, however, work so well on Innuendo, in my opinion. Who made that decision, and why wasn't it vetoed?!). I find myself torn on this version and the one on At The BBC, even if Roger's voice is out of place (Nice! But out of place).
I think Great King Rat is the first track where Freddie seems to be battling it out with his religious upbringing. I'm not at all an expert in Zoroastrianism, nor any sort of religious scholar, but I do know that Zoroastrianism considers homosexuality "unclean." I firmly believe that Freddie's always known that he was gay (yes, even though he has slept with women. He identified as gay, so let's respect that). And considering queer rights were nowhere near where they are today (still a TON of work to do!), it makes all the sense in the world to me that he didn't always have the "fuck you, I am who I am" attitude he'd adopted later. I think the drum sound works on this track as well, and compliment Freddie's vocals (maybe my favorite on this album). This is also one of many great reminders of Freddie's songwriting ability. I didn't love the Biblical references when I first heard it as a kid, but have since come to appreciate them, but I further sincerely appreciate that he was able to move past the messages that he got in his life that said that he was bad for being gay.
The intricate layers in My Fairy King defy words for me. All I can coherently say is that I love this song.
The intro to Liar is one of my favorites of all time! It's a real pity that the drum mix turned out so quiet, because it was clear that this whole song's loud parts are supposed to be LOUD. I love hearing the Rainbow '74 version (Sheer Heart Attack tour) and the audience demanding this, probably assuming that this was Queen's absolute peak of perfection. Oh, how the world would learn...
I love The Night Comes Down, and would really love to seriously ask Brian what it was about, because sometimes not knowing keeps me up at all hours!
Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll is such a great song, and it makes me wish I could track down this one person on the old forums who used to be really pissed about Freddie not singing lead on some of Brian and Roger's songs, and point this track to him. I'm really sorry, but Freddie's voice was not made for this song. I get why he sang it live, but I very much prefer Roger's voice on this.
Like The Night Comes Down, I'd love to pick Brian's brain about Son & Daughter, but this time because I feel like it falls devastatingly short. The riff is catchy, guitar effects are amazing, the lyrics are really fun and raw, and then it feels like it loses its momentum just as the words start to REALLY get interesting! I think John's bass playing really shines here, as well.
My friend Tony (hi, Tony!) really pushed for this review because Jesus is one of his favorite tracks. It makes sense since he's Ordained and all (:-P), but it's not one of my favorites. I don't hate it, but I can't help but wonder how this song would pan out if Queen had been in a good recording contract and had been able to record during reasonable hours at the time? Maybe this was a demo they'd added at the last second as an album filler? Maybe I'm just being a jerk about it?
My favorite thing about the mini sample of Seven Seas Of Rhye is that people at the time probably thought it was an accurate taste of things to come on Queen II, but then IT TURNS OUT QUEEN II IS A BILLION TIMES BETTER THAN ANYONE COULD HAVE ANTICIPATED (but I'm super biased, as that's my favorite album)!