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3.66 | 572 ratings

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5 stars "Unique progressive hardrock!"

The year 1973 delivered a cascade of legendary rock albums, from SEBTP by Genesis, Brain Salad Surgery by ELP and DSOTM by Pink Floyd to A Passion Play by Jethro Tull, Quadrophenia by The Who, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath and Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, to name a few. Also released in 1973 was Queen its eponymous debut album, Rolling Stone reviewer Gordon Fletcher wrote these memorable words: 'There's no doubt that this funky, energetic English quartet has all the tools they'll need to lay claim to the Zep's abdicated heavy-metal throne, and beyond that to become a truly influential force in the rock world. Their debut album is superb.' Well, how excellent that Gordon Fletcher acknowledged Queen its unique sound and huge potential in such an embryonal state!

My first musical encounter with Queen was in the first part of The Seventies, during the heydays of the pirate radio broadcasting when I listened to especially Radio Northsea International, along Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. One day in early 1974 I heard a catchy and energetic rock song featuring sparkling piano runs and unique vocals and guitar, that was Seven Seas Of Rhye (from the Queen II LP). I was blown away, to me it sounded as Rock Extra, what a very special and exciting music I concluded. It took a few years before I could buy Queen music, gradually I bought all their Seventies albums but stopped buying Queen records since The Game from 1980, I only consider Innuendo an interesting post Seventies album. If I take a look at all the Queen albums, their first has become my favourite one, because four smart, well educated, creative, self confident and determined musicians put all their musical ideas, emotion, energy and writing skills in that first album. For me it's an unique, very powerful and fascinating rock album with lots of shifting moods and musical contrasts, great vocals, inventive piano work and innovative rock guitar play. This is backed by a dynamic and powerful rhtyhm-section. It's hard to pigeonhole the Queen sound, I suggest somewhere between progressive hardrock and Art rock.

1. Keep Yourself Alive (3:47) : The album starts with an exciting, phaser driven guitar riff, then turns into a catchy rock song featuring perfectly timed, powerful drumming and Freddy his distinctive voice and vocal harmonies. Halfway a surprising break with propulsive drum beats (a kind of 'Neil Peart avant-la-lettre'), followed by echo guitar and raw vocals by Roger Taylor, and even Brian May does a nice vocal job. The final part turns back into the catchy rock song with the phaser driven guitar riff and Freddy his excellent vocals, here reigns a fresh, young and promising Queen, from the UK.

2. Doing All Right (4:09) : First tender piano work, fragile electric guitar and bluesy vocals, topped by the trademark Queen vocal harmonies. Then acoustic rhythm guitar and high piched vocals, followed by a sudden outburst with heavy rock guitar and a furious rhythm-section, finally the mellow climate returns, what a wonderful blend of folk, rock and blues, reminding me of Babe I'm Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin.

3. Great King Rat (5:43) : Brian May shines with a raw and agressive guitar sound (with wah-wan and overdubs), fuelled by powerful drums. Then lots of shifting moods, culminating in a heavy wall of sound with awesome rock guitar, drums, bass and vocals. Queen has delivered a very varied and dynamic compisition, in the realm of progressive hardrock.

4. My Fairy King (4:08) : Another captivating and exciting progressive hardrock composition with lots of tension and dynamics: from a slow rhythm with crystal clear high piched vocals to bombastic with sparkling piano and powerful guitar and a bluesy final part. Freddy showcases his wide vocal range and adds an extra dimension to the unique Queen sound.

5. Liar (6:25) : Emotional vocals in a compelling rock song, featuring elements of Led Zeppelin and The Who, but topped with the trademark Queen vocals and guitar. Remarkable is the subtle use of Hammond organ in the first part. Halfway a break with vocal harmonies, percussion and rock guitar, another example of Queen their delicate writing skills. In the end John Deacon impresses with propulsive bass work, in combination with fiery and howling guitar, very compelling and exciting!

6. The Night Comes Down (4:23) : This is a bluesy ballad with some experimental work on guitar and drums, pretty hypnotizing with beautiful acoustic rhythm guitar and Freddy showing his tender side.

7. Modern Times Rock & Roll (1:48) : Wow, this is heavy, an explosion of up-tempo rock with heavy guitar and Roger his raw and powerful voice, to me it sounds between AC/DC and punk, yet another surprising musical idea by Queen, after the dreamy previous song, variety rules!

8. Son & Daughter (3:20) : A kind of heavy and bombastic bluesrock, the dark and compelling atmosphere reminds me of early Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath but topped with the very distinctive Queen vocals and vocal harmonies.

9. Jesus (3:44) : A gospel-like climate, from slow and mellow to heavy up-tempo, Brian May shines again with excellent rock guitar.

10. Seven Seas Of Rhye (1:15) : This is the short instrumental version (the vocal version is on Queen II) featuring sparkling piano and propulsive guitar, in the end fading away.

One of the best debut rock albums, fascinating, exciting, varied and dynamic, and mindblowing on stage, as I witnessed in 1978, during the Sheer Heart Attack tour, Queen at its artisitic pinnacle!

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |


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