Standing Up For Queen by Michael Benton (Melody Maker 28th July 1973)
Freddie Mercury is liquid heaviness. His friend Brian is an absolute dear. They're a pair of Queens. But let me explain.Freddie and Brian have an amazing band. With two of their friends Roger and Deacon they're busily putting glam-rock on a new level by simply adding guts. To look at, the boys are divine - especially young Freddie who looks every inch a star. But a word of warning, don't try anything on with any of these Queens: They are hard and tough and their music is expressed in a very masculine manner. Their stage act is busy and they flash about in two colours - black and white. Not outstandingly gay, I think you'll agree.
"The idea of Queen was conceived by me whilst I was studying in college," says Freddie "Brian who was also at college liked the idea and we joined forces. The very earliest traces of the band go back to a group called Smile who made a single which was released in the States. The group was plagued by bad luck and eventually split up. Queen has been going for about three years now, but until recently we've not had a suitable outlet for our music. Trident took us on and our first album, which has been in the can for almost a year is being released through EMI." recalls Freddie.
Adds Queen Brian: "From the beginning the group has kept it's original concept. This album is a way of getting all our frustrations out of our system which we have built up over the years. We were into glam-rock before groups like The Sweet and Bowie and we're worried now, because we might have come too late."
Besides vocalist Freddie and guitarist Brian May, Queen's other two members Roger Taylor whose drumming pumps power into the band's songs and Deacon John who blasts away at his growling bass.
Brian May's guitar is made from wood plundered from a hundred-year-old fireplace. It sounds remarkable and allows Brian to form an excitingly solid foundation to Freddie's voice. Two perfect partners - but more rapiers than partners. They are Britain's very own New York Dolls - but better.
The group's first break came when producers John Anthony and Roy Thomas Baker invited them to make some demos. They hawked their product around innumerable London record companies eventually ending up with EMI.
As a live band they work hard to entertain in true showbiz fashion. At the moment they're not particularly well-known but they're already attracting screamers. Until recently the band have had to divide their attentions between studies and Queen but as Freddie explained "We've always wanted to be pop stars and the group used to come first. Now we're all qualified we can concentrate more on the band. We're confident people will take to us, because although the camp image has already been established by people like Bowie and Bolan we are taking it to another level. The concept of Queen is to be regal and majestic. Glamour is part of us and we want to be dandy. We want to shock and be outrageous instantly. We don't want people to have to think of they like us or not, but to formulate an opinion the moment they see us."
Brian and Freddie are the main songwriters, but they write individually, Mercury has a tendency to fantasise melodic and is more down to earth. Their first album, "Queen" is a series of amazingly different songs, from faster than fast rockers to soft ballads. Traces of Yes and Black Sabbath can also be found but structurally it seems to sound original.
A single 'Keep Yourself Alive' has been released in hopes of giving the band some early chart success. Like the album, it's commercial in a progressive kind of way. Spaced between the chunky verses, the group have incorporated a drum solo (with effects) and a tasty guitar solo which has an interesting synthesizer effect, Brian insists he doesn't use one though.
"Singles are important to is and to have a hit now would help the band, We've more to offer than bands like The Sweet, we're not just pop, because our music covers a wide area." Says Freddie.
The group are currently preparing to start recording their next album which they say will have a theme if 'good verses evil' They say it'll be much fresher than the first, because early frustrations have been expelled via the first album.
"We're worried that the name Queen will give people the wrong impression. We want to be a good British regal rock band and we'll stick to that way of thinking. Our music should override the image, because we'll concentrate on putting out a good product the whole time. Teenyboppers will probably like us and we might get a bit of a 'pop' tag but it won't last. At the moment we're just interested in creating a reaction amongst those who come to see us.