The Albums > Queen

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The Albums > Queen

Postby Sir Didymus » Sun Feb 19, 2006 7:45 pm

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Released 13th July 1973 on LP, cassette and 8-track. Later reissued on cd in 1986, and again in the UK in 1994. Reissued on cd in the USA in 1991 by Hollywood Records with bonus tracks. Reissued in Japan in card sleeve in 1998. Reissued in Japan once again in 2001 and again in 2004 in 'mini-vinyl' replica sleeve and vastly improved sound quality.

QUEEN are FREDDIE MERCURY (vocals, piano), BRIAN MAY (guitars, piano, vocals), DEACON JOHN (bass guitar), ROGER MEDDOWS-TAYLOR (percussion, vocals). Representing at last something of what Queen music has been over the last three years, this album was produced by John Anthony, Roy Baker and Queen at Trident Studios, London, for Neptune Productions, and engineered by Roy Baker, Mike Stone, Ted Sharpe, Dave Hentschel. (The Night Comes Down recorded by Louie Austin at De Lane Lea Studios.) All titles published by Feldman/Trident Music. (Our warmest thanks to Mary Lewis, Terry Yeadon, Dave Siddell, Louie Austin, Ronnie Beck, Jack Nelson, Maureen Scully, Norman and Barry Sheffield and all at the Trident People.) Queen's equipment supervised by John Harris. Queen's photographer Douglas Puddifoot; cover design Douglas, Freddie and Brian... and nobody played synthesizer.

Side A
Keep Yourself Alive (May)
Doing All Right (May/Staffell)
Great King Rat (Mercury)
My Fairy King (Mercury)

Side B
Liar (Mercury)
The Night Comes Down (May)
Modern Times Rock 'N' Roll (Taylor)
Son And Daughter (May)
Jesus (Mercury)
Seven Seas Of Rhye... (Mercury)

Who Sings What!

Lead vocals on all tracks: Freddie Mercury
EXCEPT Modern Times Rock 'N' Roll - lead vocals: Roger Taylor
AND Seven Seas Of Rhye... - instrumental
In Keep Yourself Alive, the line "Do you think you're better every day?" and the follow up line "No, I just think I'm two steps nearer my grave!" are sung by Roger Taylor.

Holywood Records 1991 Bonus Tracks
Mad The Swine (Mercury)
Keep Yourself Alive [Long Lost Retake] (May)
Liar [1991 Remix by John Luongo & Gary Hellman]

Singles

KEEP YOURSELF ALIVE
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A: Keep Yourself Alive (May)
B: Son And Daughter (May)

Released 6th July 1973 in the UK. Failed to chart. Released in generic die-cut EMI paper sleeve. Generic EMI record labels.

Also released in most other territories. Released with a picture sleeve in Japan, Portugal and Japan.

LIAR
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A: Liar [Single Edit] (May)
B: Doing All Right (May/Staffell)

Released in 1974 in the USA and New Zealand. Failed to chart. Released in generic die-cut Elektra paper sleeve. Generic Elektra record labels.

The single edit was not made with the band's consent, and they were so appalled by it that they elected to maintain control over ALL future edits of their songs for single and radio release in the future, which they continue to do to this day.

The Making Of 'Queen'

The release of Queen’s debut album in 1973 went by virtually unnoticed. It would take until their last minute appearance on Top Of The Pops the following year with ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’ before the world at large would start to pay attention to this bold new band who sounded like nothing else on earth. Retrospect has allowed us to reassess this unloved debut as a masterful start to a powerful body of work, but upon release it failed to ignite public interest.

The album was a long time coming. After hooking up with Trident Audio Productions in May 1972, though they wouldn’t pay the band until September, and Queen wouldn’t officially sign a deal with the company until November, Trident nevertheless threw them headlong into its own 24 track studios - the plan being for them to make an album the company could physically sell.

The problem with this arrangement was that the studios were, naturally, a very busy place, with the likes of David Bowie and Elton John currently in occupancy. Queen often found themselves waiting around until the early hours of the morning, diving into the studio the moment the superstars had packed up for the night, furiously recording whatever they could. Despite this, the band’s previous session work for De Lane Lea Studios, and their live ability afforded them the time to experiment and expand their techniques in ways most other ‘new’ bands can only dream of.

Understandably, and as most first albums seem to go, the music on ‘Queen’ was written over a period of several years. One track, ‘Doing All Right’, was previously recorded by pre-Queen band Smile - hence the writing credit being shared by Brian May and former band-mate Tim Staffell. Another song, ‘Liar’, originated as a song called ‘Lover’, by Freddie’s old band Ibex - though little more than the guitar riff found its way into the finished article.

However, when the album was completed in November 1972, it was felt that the mixing had been rushed, and the band would need more time to sort out the mistakes, which pushed the production period into January 1973. One track, the Brian May penned ‘The Night Comes Down’, was replaced completely with a version the band recorded at De Lane Lea Studios way back in September 1971, as it was felt the new version was no match for the previous recording. Another track, 'Mad The Swine', was left off the album, as Queen and producer Roy Thomas Baker couldn't agree on a final mix, and the lack of available space on the album also assisted the decision to drop the track. It was forgotten about until 1991, when research into the Queen Archives [sparked by Hollywood Records buying the American rights to the back catalogue], unearthed the track, and, subtly remixed by David Richards, it became a bonus track on the USA cd reissue, and a b-side on the 'Headlong' single that year.

Yet at this point, the band still had no record label to press and distribute the album. The band were uncertain of their future - Roger and John had both recently finished their degrees, and Brian was giving private tutorials at Imperial College, just in case. But when Trident publisher Ronnie Beck, took a tape of the new album to the annual MIDEM Festival in Cannes, France, it fell into the hands of EMI executive Roy Featherstone, who was blown away, and sent an urgent telegram to the band, asking them to hold off signing any record deals until he had the chance to talk to them.

Queen were just about to record a special session for BBC Radio One, which was broadcast on 15th February. The session prompted enough public interest for EMI to start working on signing the band. At this point, however, Trident wanted to package Queen with two other acts, neither of whom showed any real promise, and several renegotiations followed, until finally EMI relented and took on all three acts in order to snare Queen.

Work on the album’s finer details progressed rapidly, with Queen involved in every aspect - making regular visits to the EMI offices to ensure it all ran smoothly. The album artwork was entirely the work of the band and close friend Douglas Puddifoot, with the back cover first on the agenda - a patchwork collage of various photographs of the band, chosen by themselves and various friends. The front cover art was originally intended to be a sepia tinted band shot, encased in an oval on a maroon background, designed to look like an old Victorian photograph. But Brian May had other ideas - and found a photograph of Freddie on stage, backed by two powerful spotlights, and using coloured plastic and some careful reworking, Doug managed to produce the final artwork.

The album name could have been anything from ‘Top Fax, Pix And Info’ (Roger’s preferred choice), to ‘Deary, Me’ - a phrase used by produced Roy Thomas Baker. In the end, the band decided to go for the self titled approach, as it was bold and to the point enough to be instantly memorable. There was one final band imposed suggestion to be made - Freddie and Roger decided that John’s name would sound better if it was reversed. Even though he disliked the idea, John relented, and became Deacon John on the album sleeve.

The album was preceded into the shops by debut single ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, which itself was preceded by a track Freddie, Brian and Roger recorded to help out a Trident producer called Robin Cable. Released under the name Larry Lurex, the single - ‘I Can Hear Music’ [a Beach Boys cover, with the old Dusty Springfield hit ‘Goin’ Back’ sung by Freddie on the b-side], failed to chart, but has since become a major collectors item.

‘Keep Yourself Alive’, the first Queen release proper, was issued on 6th July 1973, backed by album track ‘Son And Daughter’. Sounds magazine complained that “it never really gets going”, but the NME were more appreciative, suggesting “if these guys look half as good as they sound they could be huge”, and Record Mirror called it “a raucous, well built single”. Championed by John Peel, featuring on Sounds Of The Seventies, and even Keep Yourself Alive featuring on The Old Grey Whistle Test [fitted to stock footage], the single still couldn’t work its way onto the Radio One play list, and was actually rejected five times, and as a result failed to chart.

Understandably, with no single to promote it, the album, released on 13th July 1973, had limited sales, though on the back of Queen II it would later reach number 24 on the national album charts. Much of the press felt that the album lacked any sense of fresh identity, but for an album featuring three years worth of song writing, that was hardly surprising. Brian reflected on this years later: “[we] felt that the record was old fashioned by the time it came out. Lots of stuff happened in the meantime, particularly David Bowie and Roxy Music, who were our generation but who had already made it, and we felt that it would look like we were jumping on the bandwagon whereas we’d actually had all that stuff in the can from a very long time before, and it was extremely frustrating.”

Time, however, has been kind to ‘Queen’. Free of the period in which it crept into record stores, the album’s generic early 70s feel holds a certain nostalgic appeal equal to much of the more successful albums of the period, and its sheer inventiveness cannot be ignored. The complexity of ‘My Fairy King’ and ‘Great King Rat’, the power of ‘Liar’ and ‘Modern Times Rock N Roll’, the ignored commercial possibilities for ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, the beauty of ‘Doing All Right’ and ‘The Night Comes Down’ - this is hardly Queen’s finest work, yet for a debut album, its nevertheless a compelling start to a legendary career.

For more information on the recordings made for this album, and during the period which led up to its release - including songs which ultimately failed to make it onto the album - click here.

For more information on the promotional videos made for this album - click here.

If there are any errors or omissions in this post that you would like to see ammended, please click here to PM me. Please entitled your PM - 'Changes to The Albums > Queen' - Thank you.
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