Deep Cuts Volume One 1973-1976 by Rhys Thomas
Queen: Deep Cuts Volume One 1973-1976 by Rhys Thomas
Queen never set out to be a singles band - which is strange considering that their Greatest Hits compilation is the biggest selling album of all time in the UK. Queen were an albums band. It was only after an album was complete that they would cherry-pick three or four songs they thought represented the album best, and might attract radio play – i.e. the most commercial – for use as singles. As a result, there are so many fantastic Queen songs which never managed to reach the audience they deserved.
This ‘Deep Cuts’ album is long overdue. It’s a chance for the casual listener to hear some of the very best of Queen – and some of these songs really are among the finest songs Queen ever recorded. So forget the radio-friendly Queen - put that to one side - open your mind, and listen to REAL
Queen. You won’t look back.
‘Ogre Battle’ from Queen II is a thumping blast of what would later be called ‘thrash metal’. The song features a blistering riff played by Brian, but the song was in fact conceived by Freddie on guitar as early as 1970.
‘Stone Cold Crazy’ from ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, contains lyrics that Freddie performed in his band Wreckage in the late Sixties, but, reshaped with a new riff from Brian, the song finally appeared on record with all four members of Queen sharing writing credits for the first time. The result is quite phenomenal - two minutes of frenetic, unstoppable rock that simply doesn’t let you up for air - Queen’s heaviest rock song of all? It later became a Grammy Award-winning hit for Metallica in 1992 as a Double A-Side with ‘Enter Sandman’.
‘My Fairy King’ by Freddie Mercury, from ‘Queen I’, is so poetic and so beautiful that you can almost smell the fallow deer, and taste the rivers flowing, full of wine so clear. An amazing song, and one of Freddie’s most imaginative. Freddie also took his new surname ‘Mercury’ from the line “Oh Mother Mercury, what have you done to me?”. ‘Freddie Bulsara’ simply wasn’t rock-and-roll enough. The track also features the debut of Roger Taylor’s famous screams.
‘I’m In Love With My Car’, written and sung by Roger Taylor, is probably Queen’s most unconventional love song, as it’s about a car. It was inspired by the band’s roadie John Harris, who really was in love with his car. The song, from ‘A Night At the Opera’ was also the B-Side to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which, as we all know, stayed at No.1 in the UK for 9 weeks.
‘Keep Yourself Alive’, by Brian May, again from Queen’s first album, was the first song written specifically for Queen, and the first single Queen ever released back in 1973. It failed to chart, mainly because Radio One rejected it, claiming it took too long to get going!
‘Long Away’, taken from ‘A Day At The Races’, was written by Brian May on his 12-string Burns guitar, somewhat in the style of The Byrds. “It’s a pop song really – the closest to a pop song I have ever written probably - and a song of escape”, said Brian.
‘The Millionaire Waltz’ is one of Freddie Mercury’s outrageous epics taken from ‘A Day At The Races’, and something never attempted by Queen or any other rock band before, or since: a Johan Strauss-style waltz.
‘’39’ from ‘A Night At The Opera,’ is a unique science-fiction space folk song, written by Brian May. It’s the tale of man going off to search for new worlds in space. Due to the General Relativity time dilation effect, while he is travelling around almost at the speed of light, his perception of time is different from that of the folks at home. So he arrives back on Earth after what he thinks is a year, but to the people on Earth, one hundred years have passed. Or have they? Phew!
‘Tenement Funster’ is another excellent but little-known song, written by Roger Taylor for the ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ album. It is perhaps semi-biographical. Roger’s hair could be considered a disgrace, he liked cars, and up until recently he and Freddie had been sharing a flat; maybe their rock-and-roll 45s enraged the neighbours next door! Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters cites this as his favourite song of all time.
‘Flick of the Wrist’ from ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ is Freddie’s first pop at Queen’s then-managers, the Sheffeld Brothers. Tensions were mounting at the time of recording between the band and their management. Queen were only getting paid sixty pounds per week (split four ways) despite the fact they were selling out concerts and had a hit single across the world. “It’s a rip-off’ - baby you’ve been had - sacrifice your leisure days, let me squeeze you til you’ve dried” – scream Freddie’s pithy and pained lyrics.
‘Lily of the Valley,’ written by Freddie Mercury, takes us back to Rhye, and the worlds created on Queen and Queen II. As the King of Rhye loses his throne, never-ending war spreads across the land. This is the closing chapter of the story and a farewell to Mercury’s fantasy-influenced lyrics, as Sheer Heart Attack and subsequent albums became more anchored to reality.
‘Good Company’ - from ‘A Night At The Opera.’ - was written by Brian May. To the naked ear, ‘Good Company’ might sound like a simple little ditty - a ukulele, a trumpet, a trombone, a clarinet - a mini jazz band caught jamming. Surely it must have been one of the easiest songs to record. Right? WRONG! Every single trumpet, clarinet and trombone note is in fact played by Brian on his self-built Red Special guitar. It took weeks and weeks – a labour of love.
‘The March of the Black Queen’ is one of the most complex songs Queen ever recorded. Written by Freddie Mercury for ‘Queen I’, in many ways this song was the root of much that happened thereafter. The textured, intricate vocal and guitar harmonies, even the structure, were all precursors to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. A masterpiece in itself.
‘In The Lap Of The God’s … Revisited’ is perhaps Queen’s first bona fide anthem. Taken from ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, it’s a very personal song written by Freddie, and would close every Queen show until ‘We Are The Champions’ took its place a few years later. A ?tting end to an amazing new compilation of lesser-known classic Queen tracks.
Click here for the full Deep Cuts Volume One 1973-1976 press release.