Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Queen I

The only way that Queen’s oeuvre makes sense is when read through the lens of Post-Colonialist thought.

NO! No grand proclamations, especially ones that are so wrong.

But Franz Fanon has such a good take on the Sheer Heart Attack album.

He doesn’t. Stop this.

Fine. I’ll do better.

You can’t do worse.

Queen’s music was, essentially, fascistic.

Nope, you did worse.

What!? Dave Marsh thought Queen were fascists.

No one cares what Dave Marsh thinks.

Christgau?

Christ, no. And don’t bring up Lester Bangs. No one cares about that dead snotbag, either. No one cared, cares, or will ever care about what Important Rock Critics think about Queen. If it were up to the IRC’s, then we’d all be force-fed Captain Beefheart until out-of-tune saxophones dripped from our nipples, and the only words we’d be able to say are “authentic” and “authentic.”

You said “authentic” twice.

Authenticity was very important to the Important. Still is: google “Cheef Keef + VICE” if you don’t believe me.

Where’d you go?

I was looking through the Rolling Stone archives at some of Dave Marsh’s other contemporaneous reviews

And?

He gave Cheap Trick’s Dream Police 0 stars.

And?

Fuck Dave Marsh.

Dunno why you doubt me. Now talk about Queen.

Well, they’re not Post-Colonial fascists, I can tell you that!

You got nothing, do you? Just started typing with the hopes that something would come?

In my defense, that almost always works.

Start from the beginning.

Farrokh Bulsara was born September 5th, 1946, in Tanzania Zanzibar.

Not that early.

Freddie Mercury died on November 24th, 1991, in London.

Not that late. Some time in between Freddie being born and dying.

Well, I could just post the whole first album.

Oh, that would be great. WAIT, NO.

What!?

Can’t skip over the Origin Stories. You must recite the liturgy when writing about Great Bands. We need the Origin Stories.

I’d rather throw myself off the moon.

How about we do Lightning Round?

OOH! YES! Let’s do Lightning Round!

Okay. Johnny, put 30 seconds on the timer. TotD, this is for the Chevy Cruze with California Emissions, the all-inclusive trip to Puerto Vallarta, and the duffel bag of furious raccoons.

I don’t want the last thing.

Have to take the raccoons if you want the car.

I kinda also don’t want that car.

You wanna play the fucking Lightning Round, or what?

Sorry.

Johnny? 30 seconds, please.

Thank you, Johnny. All right, TotD: 30 seconds on the clock, and the category is “Queen’s Origin Stories.” GO!

Okay, okay: uh, Brian built his own guitar out of a fireplace; Freddie went to boarding school, and then moved to London and worked at a clothes shop; Smile; astronomy; note on the college bulletin board looking for a drummer; John Deacon arrived at his audition at the scheduled time, and then played well.

That’s it?

As far as Origin Stories, there’s very little destiny or myth about it. They were all upper-middle-class students in London.

No books leaping off the shelves, glowing with esoteric fundibundulosity and IMPORT, man?

Nah.

Boo. Just post the album.

Do I win the raccoons?

No. No one wins this one. Freddie dies at the end. Van Halen and KISS just dissolved into hilarious and shitty old men yelling at one another, but Queen has a genuinely tragic ending.

Dude, spoilers.

Just post the album.

This is the first one–came out in ’73–and if you only know Queen from the dozen songs they still play on the radio, then check this out; it’s nothing like their later albums, missing the essential trademark harmonies. (They recorded the whole thing in six days or something.) Goofy and clumsy, the record’s like a puppy with enormous paws: soon, it’ll be a behemoth, but right now it can’t walk stairs all that well.

Brian May–already sounding like himself on their debut–would forever call this mode of Queen “Heavy Rock,” and I think Brian nailed it: this is certainly not metal, and–though it teeters on the brink on occasion–not prog. It’s good time rock and roll, is what it is.

(WARNING: many of these songs are about fairies and dragons and Jesus. Queen’s lyrics could be a crapshoot–sometimes you got Bicycle Race and sometimes you got Don’t Try Sucide–and while these lines aren’t clunky or particularly egregious, they are about fairies and dragons and Jesus; some people are just allergic to that kind of bullshit, and I wanted to warn you upfront.)

4 Comments

  1. Say what you want about Dream Police in 2016, but evaluating anything Rock in 1979 was a tough call. Everything was so transitional. Besides Budokan set a high bar.

    My 16 year old self thought Dream Police was lame, and I never looked back. Was I wrong somehow?

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      December 11, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Oh, no. HUGE drop-off from the first three albums and Budokan. Production was thin and shitty, and the songs weren’t there.

      But it wasn’t a fucking Zero Star record. Title track alone is worth two stars.

  2. Who was the JC fan in the band and when did they realize they had a gay name and gay front man? Not that there was anything wrong with that.

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