Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Queen - Queen CD (album) cover




Prog Related

3.64 | 481 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kings of all Rock genres

What a debut - I mean, what a debut!!

Considering that Queen only got studio "downtime" in which to record this album, and the production is not the most amazing ever (loads of little glitches creep through after repeated listens), the end results more than justify Queen's place among the prog greats - ignoring, for the time being, the rest of their output.

Storming straight in with "Keep Yourself Alive", a killer of a rocker, replete with modulations and that famous layered guitar intro, a series of unexpected chord changes drives forwards in overdrive. The second verse changes the pattern, progressing the song onwards, Mercury varying the melody subtly, and Taylor squeezing in a drum solo before May's guitar orchestra kicks in and drives it to the bridge. The third verse modulates crazily - all this dense clustering of progressive elements in the 3:47 of a hit single! I've heard less prog elements in some 20-minute epics. I'd guess it's only the familiarity and surface rock song sound that prevents most people from hearing the blur of progressive ideas as they steam past at full tilt.

After such a devastating opening, there's only one way to go to preserve a symphonic dramatic structure - most symphonies go to the slow movement next. Queen uphold this tradition, and mellow things out with "Doing All Right". Mercury provides a beautiful piano introduction that he varies dynamically, before May begins to weave his guitar lines around the vocal melody. The sumptuous Queen harmonies provide a layer wash on what might be seen as a chorus - but then Queen do something entirely unexpected, and change the time signature, riff, key and overall feel of the piece. Some wierd chord progressions and a fabulous build up follows, but when the monster riff kicks in we are still unprepared and Mays solo takes us on a flight of ecstasy into more of the magical Queen choir. The song drops back into the main verse melody plus guitar variations, and BAM! The monster solo riff returns in fine fettle... to finish full circle with a gentle piano outro.

Having set the stage, the time is right for "Great King Rat". Feedback paves the way for some distorted guitar mayhem, then Mercury dives into the tale, using some very inventive vocal layering. All the while May layers up the guitar licks, and Taylor adds vocal highlights and driving drums. Check out the wah-wah layered solo - crazy! Another massive time change follows to pre-empt the lyrics "Now listen all you people...". Queen maintain the tension for another round, before another time change into an acoustic guitar section, which changes again, and again... an extended guitar solo section flits through several driving styles before the chorus finshes the piece.

"My Fairy King" - now there's a prog title if ever I saw one - begins unpredictably and races through several devices within the first minute with some incredible vocal harmonies - this piece swirls around before the now familiar Queen swoop drives the piece through key change, time change, style change - everything change, man, this piece is crazy! Download and listen ;0) A moment's respite and some back-tracked guitar layering provide an eerie texture and a sublime build-up to the reprise.

On the vinyl LP, that is the end of side 1 - and what a trip! Only 18 minutes, but with more ideas, inventiveness, key and time changes than the average Yes triple album - just condensed into mini tornados of sound. They don't make music like this anymore... Sadly, neither did Queen on this album. Side 2 starts well, but is not as consistently progressive as side 1.

"Liar" opens side 2. We might expect to find more of the same in here, and Queen do not disappoint with the intro. A pounding drum ricochets into powerful, rocking, swirling riffola from May, with accented prog-like drumming from Taylor, feeding into a song awash with time changes, drama and dynamic extremes - is this the first prog metal song? The piece develops the thematic material right through the solo, picking up ideas, removing textures and revealing depths to the music, whilst maintaining the surface of a "pure" rock song. Utter genius!

Next, "The Night Comes Down" begins with bass and guitar with cymbal washes, which feed into a drum pattern I'm sure I've heard the Ozric Tentacles using. Wonderful, progressive textures, that feed into the May guitar orchestra taking a whirlwind tour of wierd chord progressions, before Mercury picks up the song - a slightly hard to follow piece, with some very odd chord changes. The chorus brings a shade of accessibility at last - with a strangely soft rock feel. But this is nothing like your standard soft rock - although maybe some Beatles influence is detectable. That's no bad thing, though, and the May guitar orchestra again brings about a swirling climax of sound that changes abruptly into "Modern Times Rock'n'Roll".

Probably the second weakest track on the album, progressively, it's still a stomper, with full Queen choir - and pure "Modern Times Rock'nRoll".

This segues into "Son and Daughter", driven by a Led-Zep style riff, with possibly the wierdest chorus construction ever, and an inspired coda sequence, with lyrics about a man attempting to be both son and daughter... don't miss this!

"Jesus" is possibly the weakest track on the entire album, May putting in a surprisingly lacklustre performance, despite the crunching riffs that kick off the solo, and the multiplicity of layers only make the whole thing sound a bit of an unco-ordinated mess.

"Seven Seas Of Rhye" is just a taster of what's to come on later albums, prog-pickers - and it's a goodie!

In conclusion, if I was considering side 1 alone, this would be a bona fide masterpiece of prog rock alright - a stupendous effort.

Side 2 lets the whole thing down a bit, but still, this remains an excellent addition to any prog rock collection based on side 1 alone. If you've only got a CD player, then set "Jesus" to skip, and repeat "My Fairy King" instead :0)

This is an album that will add the ROCK to your prog rock collection. Play LOUD!!!

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this QUEEN review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives