Queen - Queen (Island Records)
Wayne Madden | Thursday, 10 March 2011
Queen begins with a rather majestic, and grand, rock track in 'Keep Yourself Alive' (a song that would prove strong enough to be the band's first single) and this is probably the most well known song in the collection. It's an uplifting tale about being happy with your lot and not to be constantly wishing away your life in unrealised dreams. Keeping in form, the entire album follows suit, every track like a recital in the third person with the storyteller giving his best rendition.
'Doin Alright' (the only track which survives from guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor's pre Queen band Smile) is almost bordering on heavy metal at times with Mercury singing about overcoming a depression. Although he would have been hired just a few months shy of the album's recording, bassist John Deacon (or Deacon John as he was referred to on this release) makes his presence felt musically and contributes to the sudden tempo changes and heavy percussion notable in early Queen releases.
With five tracks written solo on this album, Freddie Mercury is the commanding musical force and image behind this record - although the other members play their parts outstandingly - it's hard to compete against a man who would become arguably the greatest living frontman in rock.
Another interesting track is 'Liar', written by Mercury before John Deacon had joined the group, and is one of the heaviest songs the band would ever perform. It still creates controversy to this day with many believing Deacon sang uncredited backing vocals (as he did live) on the studio version. This would make it the only song John Deacon has ever contributed to, vocally of course, in Queen's 40 year career.
Having catered for Glam, Metal and Prog, the band now dips into Phychedelic towards the close of the album with 'Jesus' - a rather unusual song about the Christian Messiah - and one which discusses the people who went to see Jesus perform his seven miracles among the crowds. Remastered and digitally enhanced, the sound has been improved, but only the most keen eared listener will care to challenge this. What's more important is the bonus discs of rare demos Island have promised to provide with each release.
It's likely there will never be another frontman like Freddie Mercury and there will never be another entertainer like him either. As more and more modern artists claim influence and vision from Mercury (and Katie Price attempts to win a British talent show dressed like him) it's great the band can now market their first collection of studio albums to a new generation, those who need to look beyond the 'Greatest Hits' and discover what this band was all about.