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Queen - Queen CD (album) cover




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3.65 | 484 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Now I'm no 'rock historian', and in 1973 I probably wasn't really listening consciously to music (any more than any other one year old), but it seems to me that this debut album must have impressed the pants off of anyone who listened. Sure, the Mighty Zeppelin and many other bands had scouted the heavy rock fringes, and prog and proto-prog bands had been weaving classical inspirations into their compositions, but Queen had a unique sound and style, even at this early date. Heavier than most, surely, and with a flexibility of expression that many "true prog" bands failed to articulate.

Much, possibly too much, has been said already about Freddie's vocal prodigy and compositional sophistication, and May's tone and approach is the stuff guitar fetishists adore. Neither of these had been fully developed on the first record, though the seeds had already started to sprout, if not bloom. The tight, rapid-fire transitions between musical passages and styles is nothing new to progressive rock, though few if any heavier bands displayed such variety; in contrast, Zeppelin could seem rather plodding and Rush lacking in cohesive flow (in the early years, that is).

One major thing that separates this first album from later works is the youthful anger and darkness that fills the lyrics and colors the tones. Every song on "Queen I" demonstrates a facet of rage or despair; in songs such as the exorcismal "Liar" and "Great King Rat", Freddie is wringing his soul for authentic portrayals of intense personal exile and discordance. Revolutions and confrontations fill songs such as "My Fairy King" and "Son and Daughter" Even the relatively placid "Doing All Right" implicitly acknowledges a (temporary?) escape from despair and the helplessness of floating in fate's wake- thus bookended perfectly by "The NIght Comes Down", which belays soothing-seeming verses with lyrical and musical descents. Coping is a matter of adopting a protectively practical tone such as the determined worldy realism of "Keep Yourself Alive" or the cyncical view of rockstardom in "Modern Times" (and how naive must they have thought even this condemnation in later years?).

For better or worse, Queen would seldom be this 'serious' (for lack of a better word) again; a greater amount of whimsy and emotional diversity creeps in with every successive release- almost as if Freddie & company had touched upon a too-powerful nerve and protectively, intentionally backed off from such direct contact.

James Lee | 4/5 |


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