Sunday, August 19, 2012

Queen: Seven Seas of Rhye

Success can be bad for some bands - in particular the need to have music that sounds good when played in stadiums. Even REM suffered from that after Automatic for the People.

This was certainly true of Queen. When they first appeared they looked as they came from the heavy metal scene (at least to this innocent 14-year-old), but they had a wit and a musicality that made them stand out from the glam dross around them. For me, that period lasted up to and including the massive success of "Bohemian Rhapsody".

After that, I liked them far less. There was a bombast about them and it was expertly skewered by the Slovenian band Laibach when they turned "One Vision" into a totalitarian anthem - "Geburt Einer Nation" - with worrying ease.

"Seven Seas of Rhye" is the first Queen track I ever heard. It was played on a Friday evening programme on Radio 1 that reviewed the week's new releases - was it "Rosko's Round Table"? The general view was that it was a good single, but that their first release ("Keep Yourself Alive") had been better.

And thanks to Sound Destruction Device for telling me that it had already appeared on Queen's first LP as an instrumental track.

1 comment:

Liberal Neil said...

It's more of an outro than a track on the first album, but works well as a promise of more to come.

I also think they were at their creative best on the first few albums, borrowing from Led Zep, prog rock and glam in equal measure but making a sound of their own.

Saying that there are a lot of very strong tracks on later albums and a lot of innovation too. I'm less certain that this was because of wanting to sound good in stadiums, I suspect more to do with age and success. They were still playing early tracks like Keep Yourself Alive, Seven Seas of Rhye, Tie Your Mother Down and even In The Lap of the Gods on their final tour in 1986 - still the best gig I've ever seen.

Later tracks like Innuendo and These Are The Days of Our Lives were excellent and not 'stadium' songs at all.

The BBC recently reshowed their Christmas Eve concert from 1975 - how I wish I could have been at that one!