I have sinned dear father, father I have sinned....
Released July 1973
Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, London
Running time 38.52
This, Queen's debut album, went under the radar somewhat in 1973, overshadowed by "Aladdin Sane", "Goats Head Soup", "Band On The Run", "Mott", "House Of The Holy", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Heartbreaker", even Cockney Rebel's "Human Menagerie". I was "into" all those albums at the time. This one passed me by. I didn't latch on to Queen until the follow up, "Queen II", the following year.
1. Keep Yourself Alive
2. Doing All Right
3. Great King Rat
4. My Fairy King
6. The Night Comes Down
7. Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll
8. Son And Daughter
10. Seven Seas Of Rhye
Queen did not seem to fit into any pigeonhole - long haired, but with a singer in black nail varnish, flowing blouses who carried a strangely laddish "chutzpah" for one so effete. This would carry him a long way. His "lads" audience stayed with him to the realms of super stardom.
The lyrics were all about fairies, kings, queens and rats, sort of Tolkeinesque with a nod to madcap artist Richard Dadd. Throw in a bit of quasi-religious stuff in there in tracks like Jesus and the rocking Liar, a bit of 70s misogyny in Son And Daughter and you had a strange hotch-potch. Musically influenced by Zeppelin, Free and Hendrix at the outset, but with a bit of acoustic delicacy appearing too, Queen were certainly interesting.
Their heavy fondness is there in the monumental "Liar", "Son And Daughter", Great King Rat and the frenetic Roger Taylor-penned Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll. The lighter, poetic lilt can be found in The Night Comes Down, the beautiful Doing All Right (which does have an excellent "heavy" bit in it) and the ethereal My Fairy King.
Maybe I have heard "A Night At The Opera" just too many times, but, to be honest, I play this one more than I do that one these days. There is more than just curiosity in listening to this, there is some good material there.
I came across this interesting appraisal of the album from the three remaining members of the band, so here it is -
"....We like some of the stuff on it, but we sometimes fell into the trap of over-arrangement. You know, the songs changed over the years and some of them probably evolved too much. You can get so far into something that you forget what the song originally was. On a personal level, it was frustrating for me to take so long to get to this point. I wanted to record things with, for instance, tape echoes and multiple guitars five years ago. Now I've finally done it, but in the meantime so have other people! Which is a bit disappointing. But you have to get away from the idea that playing music is a competition. You should just keep on doing what you think is an interesting thing to do...."
— Brian May
"....There are a lot of things on the first album I don't like, though, for example the drum sound. There are parts of it which may sound contrived but it is very varied and it has lots of energy ... but then I think one of the best albums last year was the “Mott” album from Mott The Hoople and that had loads of inconsistencies and rough bits...."
— Roger Taylor
"....And quite a lot of the songs on that first album were songs that we had had for a long while, and songs that we just used to play together, songs like “Keep Yourself Alive”, “Liar”, “Great King Rat”, and other numbers. They're songs that we just used to play. And we just went in and recorded them. And there were one or two numbers on that first album which were more sort of that first sort of sign of getting interested in doing things in the studio. “My Fairy King” was a number Freddie wrote when we only wrote while we were in the studio and it was built up in the studio. Whereas, you know as I said, there's other numbers where essentially live songs, basically just the track and then just a few ... backing vocals and guitar solos over the top and that was it...."