. issue III : v .

by barathron

. artist : queen .
. album : queen .
. year : 1973 .
. label : emi/electra .
. grade : b .


Queen’s eponymous debut album sets the stage for their long and successful career. It also rocks harder than much of their later music, drawing many comparisons to Led Zeppelin.

The album begins with the Brian May composition “Keep Yourself Alive.” Easily the most memorable track from Queen, it features May’s powerful guitar playing prominently over Freddie Mercury’s vocals. The song also includes an impressive solo by drummer Roger Taylor. “Doing All Right,” a leftover from May’s previous band, Smile, follows “Keep Yourself Alive.” “Doing All Right” alternates between heartfelt ballad and a fast-paced rocker, and is an early example of the vocal harmonies that Queen would later become known for. In “Great King Rat,” Taylor’s drums punctuate over Mercury’s vocals. “My Fairy King” showcases the vocal prowess of both Mercury and Taylor. It also holds the distinction of inspiring Freddie Bulsara to adopt the name Mercury, from the lines “Mother Mercury / Look what they’ve done to me.” “Liar” is one of the heavier songs on the album, peppered with shouts of “Liar” and May’s guitar. “The Night Comes Down,” written by May, is one of the softer, slower songs on the album. “Modern Times Rock ‘N’ Roll” is Taylor’s sole contribution to the album and the only track not sung by Mercury. “Son and Daughter” showcases bassist John Deacon’s playing. “Jesus,” written by Mercury, a Zoroastrian, relays the story of Christ. The closing track (“Seven Seas of Rhye…”) seems like more of an afterthought than anything. Compared to the completed version that would be released on the next album, the less developed version on this album has a slower tempo and is completely instrumental and much shorter — but the distinctive piano melody is still there.

Queen’s first album had a much rawer sound than their later music. They had been playing many of the tracks (such as “Great King Rat” and “Liar”) live for years, and they transferred that live feeling into the album. Queen has many more solos than later Queen albums would. Although the album didn’t do very well in the charts — reaching #24 in the UK and #83 in the US, and neither of the singles (“Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar”) managed to even make it to the charts — looking back today, it stands as a great debut album from one of the greatest bands of the era. Queen sets the stage for their long and successful career.

by Johnny Knapp