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Sebastian: Reviews That Criticise Queen - Part II06 Oct 2003 23:21
again, as my usual habit of bringing old threads back. This is more about this theme:

> A recurrent problem in the reviews is how they approach Queen as an imitation of
another band.

In fact it is a problem, but I find it much more general than "Queen" and "reviews". About a month ago I was looking for a drummer, a bassist and perhaps a keyboard player for a band, and all they asked me was "what are we going to play? neo-punk, black..." shit like that.

It's like an obsession for classifying everything. Same thing happens when I introduce some 70s band to my friends "what do they play?". And in some cases I don't know what to answer. Take David Bowie's album Honky Dory for example. Apparently it's glam, but glam music doesn't have the kind of string arrangement of 'Life On Mars', although 'Oh You Pretty Things' can be fixed into that cathegory.

I remember Mr. Bettencourt complaining about that ("we don't have to be an acoustic band, we don't have to be a metal band, we just play the music we like. That's what Extreme is about"), and I agree with that.

But that's a common sense of organising everything into genres, styles and "(put a band's name here) imitations". Following quotes are from AMG:

"drummer Debbi Peterson' fabulous, Cass Elliot-inspired lead vocal" - about Bangles' version of 'Going Down To Liverpool.

"Building on the Rolling Stones' dirty rock & roll, Mick Jagger's androgyny, girl group pop, the glam rock of David Bowie and T. Rex, and the Stooges' anarchic noise" - about The New York Dolls

"the rhythm section maintains a thumping, fast-paced backbeat while Freddie Mercury piles on plenty of rollicking Elton John styled piano lines" - about 'You And I'

That's a vicious circle, no cause or effect, they're both connected. People are used to that kinds of reviews, in which something is expressed in terms of "similar to" something else. Also, people expect that kind of reviews, so people still give them.


Another important point is the singles issue. I think that a clear mistake they made was try to sell a public image of Freddie as "the singer". I think they already did that with the concerts, so it wasn't needed to sacrifice some great songs and don't let them be released just because they were sung by someone else. Someday One Day, Action, Rock It, Sail Away Sweet Sister or even I'm In Love With My Car could have been probably more succesful than for example 'Who Wants To Live Forever'

So, following with some AMG reviews:

> "Queen's 1973 self-titled debut is one of the most underrated hard rock debuts of all time. Chances are that many will only be familiar with one song (the classic rock radio staple "Keep Yourself Alive"), but it is a very consistent and solid album; even the more uncommon compositions are impressive and memorable. Unlike other notable hard rock debuts of the '60s/'70s (Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Kiss, etc.), Queen's first album was not recorded quickly, but over the course of a year or two, since the band had to record during the studio's off-hours to minimize costs. At the time, many critics dismissed the band and the debut (unfairly classifying Queen as "disposable glam"), but in hindsight, Queen laid down the groundwork for this legendary band's future triumphs"

I too agree that it's a very underrated album. Brian was somehow trying to be a Hendrix, as it's shown in his fast solos in 'Modern Times' and some fills in 'Jesus' and 'Liar' for example. The three Mercury songs next to the beginning are really great, although I do agree 'Doin' All Right', in the recording, is still primitive. 'Night Comes Down' on the other hand, although I don't like the song so much, I think the production is really great. And then there's 'Keep Yourself'...
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