Queen

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 14, 1976

This is a really good article about Queen, but at the end of it there seems to be some “filler” when we get an update on what Ian Hunter and Bernie Taupin is doing. But all that is fine when the rest of this is so good.
Enjoy!

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`I conquered New York in a maroon velour bath robe`

Actually it took a little more than that – like a satin jump suit slit two feet below the navel and four impressive Queen shows at The Beacon Theatre. Here`s the full story.

By Lisa Robinson

Things seem different this time around for Queen. No one has to ask who they are, there are even girl fans standing outside the entrance of the posh Sherry Netherland hotel where the band have a penthouse suite.
High-powered publicity people are taking care of the press, and an expensive party in their honour follows the first of four sell-out shows at New York`s Beacon Theatre.
And yet, once again, when Freddie Mercury and I sit down to do an interview, we both have the `flu. Even John Reid, manager of Queen and Elton John, can`t do anything about that…
“But last year, with our previous management, I couldn`t even talk to you in person,” Mercury laughed. “This year, I can at least sit up, and talk face-to-face… So that`s the difference.”
He coughed, seated on a couch, dressed in pink Biba (circa 1973) pyjamas and a maroon velour bathrobe.
Brian May also seemed a bit under the weather – but was fully dressed in a black velvet suit, having done an interview previously in the hotel dining room.
“There`s just so much to take in in New York,” said Freddie, explaining his touch of the `flu. Pressing further, I ask how much they feel their new management has had to do with their continuing rise: “Absolutely nothing!” laughed Freddie, then adds, “he`ll kill me…”
“I think it`s very hard to pin down, really,” says Brian. “We feel better. Some of the things that have come about because of John Reid have helped us settle down and finish the album.”

“It`s a whole new outlook,” said Freddie, “and certainly the new management has helped a great deal. It`s given us a release, and opened up whole new areas of thinking. We`ve done things that we wanted to do for a long time.
“And it`s just shown in our music in a way, and in the way we`ve come up with this new album… and subsequently it`s led to better chart places and sales… Things trigger off…”
What about the rumours of Brian leaving the band? “Oh, that,” May shrugged. “No, that was really blown out of… that happened a year before, it was never a serious thing. I got friendly with Russell and Ron Mael, live quite near them and we sort of got on well, and we talked of doing something together at some point. That was really as far as it went.
“It was at a time when Queen weren`t doing very much and they probably thought that I wasn`t doing very much but in fact it was when I was recovering from being ill. It was no big deal, you know; it was just a friendly talk. There was never any danger of my leaving Queen.”
“The only reason he`d leave Queen is to become an astronomer,” Mercury added, “not to join another band. My god” – he sneers.

“It`d be silly,” said Brian, “because we`re so fortunate in having this combination… and especially at this point when we`re just beginning to find ourselves. It`s all rubbish about that…”
Mercury: “Especially when it`s just starting to be fun.”
What do you mean, starting to be fun?
“Well, you know… we`re riding on the crest of a wave, and things have finally opened up for us. The rewards are finally beginning to show in the sense that we`re now being respected as musicians, and our songs are hitting the right kind of people. And that`s very rewarding.”
I wondered if, with the astonishing success of the single, as well as a worldwide prominence, they felt “respectable” in a way that had previously eluded them.
“We`d always had confidence in what we were doing,” Freddie answered, “and little things – like the press – didn`t really get us down. If it`s a bad review I tear it up.”
Brian: “It always hurts. I mean, even if there`s an audience of ten thousand and there`s one guy saying `rubbish`, it hurts.”

Queen performed at the Beacon Theatre here – four shows with about 3000 audience each night. Why not a larger hall?
“Well, all the places we`re playing are small halls that work well with the act at the moment,” said Brian.
“Instead of doing one big show we`re doing four small shows,” said Freddie.
How would the visuals change if there was one big show?
Mercury: “I`d just have to project further – grins, hand poised on his chest, which brings me to… ahhhh… his nails.
What shade of black is that? Black is really hard. You have to be careful… it can rot your nails.
“I know. I used to use Biba, but now I use Miners… do you know them? Do they have that here?”
No. How many coats to get it that dark?
“Only one,” he said, “and it goes on really smooth. Reminds me, I have to do them for tonight…”
We look over a photo of the group on stage… Who did your blouse, Brian?
“Zandra… I`d used some other things, but went back to her this time. I`m really pleased.”
“What about you, Freddie, are you changing clothes mid-show this time?
“I change after every number now,” he cracks. “You`re coming to a fashion show, not a concert…
We touch on the length of time the single`s been number one in Britain.
Freddie: “Slim Whitman in 1955 was Number One for 11 weeks… couple of others that have been eight weeks, nine weeks, but we`ve reached that, which in this day and age, I think is rather nice.”

Brian: “Once it got up there, and really caught fire, it just sold more and more. We couldn`t believe that people were still going out there and buying it.”
Freddie: “It sold over a million and a quarter in Britain… just outrageous. Imagine all the grandmothers groovin` to it.
“I think our music is becoming even more versatile, so we can please a pretty wide range of people. And the people who have come to see us, even in the few concerts we`ve done at home, have spanned a wide age group.”
Talking about “Night At The Opera” (record not film) Freddie explains: “Every molecule on that album is us, just the four of us, every iota. No session men, not for strings, not for anything… and we don`t try to reproduce that onstage, we present the music in a different way for stage.
“Sometimes we think about performing with more musicians, or a set… but at the moment, there`s just so much going within the four of us, that it would be a shame to latch onto something else. Because we haven`t quite burnt up our energies doing what we want to do now.”
“Maybe at some stage,” says Brian, “but at the moment the stage act`s evolved in its own right. It`s separate from the album. The songs are the same, but the treatment is so different, and that`s just what we do onstage. But for the moment it is what it is, this is not the time to do it otherwise.”

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David Johansen (New York Dolls) and Freddie Mercury

I`ll say Queen`s management is classy. I arrive (with a mild flu in the midst of a snowstorm) at the Beacon Theatre and, predictably enough, find two people in my seats.
No ushers to be found anywhere, and the huge men guarding the doors refuse to help. In the midst of my plight – for I am blind as a bat unless I sit up front – manager John Reid comes to my rescue. He manages to con the 7` 4″ black man at the door (after various red tape and approval) to help me get to my seat, accompanies me down the aisle, stands there while everyone in the row is checked out, and at last manages to evict the two who have obviously trespassed.
So… sometime after “Flick Of The Wrist” and before “Killer Queen” I sit down. Well, I thought, no matter how the concert goes, John Reid gets a rave review for his performance.
“HE`S THE SEXIEST THING I EVER SAW!!”, shrieked Linda Stein sitting right in front of me. “Oh my god…” I whisper to my associate, look at his… errr… “Socks?”, he asks, not hearing me properly because of the volume.
The object of these observations was, of course, Freddie Mercury, who had the audience in the palm of his hand. Dressed in white satin, chest exposed… a flash of Flash Gordon at the wrists, he was all over the stage, down the ramp (very showbiz), at the piano, and his voice was in total control in a theatre that has had its share of sound problems.
The crowd was completely hysterical with every number; “Prophet” featured a digital delay system that was dramatically effective for Freddie`s voice… technology is wonderful when it doesn`t enslave you…
At the end of that number a cone-like silver object with flashing red lights was lowered to the stage over the drums as the band went off… and when they returned Freddie was dressed in… a black version of the satin jumpsuit, slit all the way down to there.
They went straight into “Stone Cold Crazy”. Girls were literally screaming all around.

It`s easy to see why Queen have made it here; they combine a sense of the theatrical (without the outrageous gimmicks) of the biggest American band – Kiss; have a legitimate hard rock appeal – like Aerosmith; and above all, have the added aura of being a Big British Band with the respectability of musical complexity.
While some critics here find Queen pretentious, I thought this was a stunning concert; they have a keen sense of showbiz humour that saves their songs from being too heavy, and what they do is so extreme that it defines its own terms, sort of a baroque stage show.
Meanwhile, it was freezing in the theatre. Freddie sat down at the piano for “Lap Of The Gods”, and it was time for the smoke machine… This year it worked. I`m not a big dry ice fan, but this stuff certainly is a crowd pleaser…
The lights were lavish and spectacular. The audience, who`d been on their feet for the last few numbers, went beserk for an encore…
Billie Jean King (yes, the tennis player) was standing in the back of the theatre wearing a maroon sweater and skirt and a backstage pass… (I can already see the photos… Billie Jean and Freddie… King and Queen…)
Freddie came back for the encore in the flowing white satin Zandra Rhodes top… and then “Big Spender” with the strip tease… no doubt about it, next time Queen`s here, they`ll be in Madison Square Garden if they choose to.
(I later found out that the band were annoyed because the flashpots didn`t go off: “It looks like the whole stage explodes,” Reid said, and Freddie laughed. “Every time you come and see us something goes wrong technically. Last year, the smoke machine, this year, the flashpots. Come and see us tomorrow night, it`ll be so much better…”)

At Le Pouilailler, an elegant restaurant near Lincoln centre, a magnificent buffet is set. Bottles of red and white wine are on the tables, and the bar is open and well-manned.
The party for Queen is being held in this welcome contrast to the blizzard raging outside; and everyone is here.
Bernie Taupin, Ian Hunter, Todd Rundgren, David Johansen, Ahmet Ertegun, David Nutter, John Reid, Clive Davis, Mel Posner, Steve Ross, (all the WEA brass), press – including Punk Magazine! – Paul Drew (important radio programmer who was recently slapped by Bette Midler when he told her he didn`t like her record…), Ron & Ellen Delsener – celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary, Renee Wexler, Connie Pappas, Billie Jean King, Frankie Rudge, Joe Armstrong, more, more, more.
Freddie, Roger and John arrived late, seemed tired. Brian didn`t come, he obviously was hit with a serious sore throat.
Freddie, after having a thousand photos taken (with Billie Jean King, etc. etc.) finally sits down, eats some food, throws some food at – I think – David Nutter who is wearing a Stevie Wonder backstage Madison Square Garden button on his lapel, chats with David Johansen.
We all talk about Bowie (“Send him my love,” Freddie instructed), Robert Plant (“I know he`s said nice things about me but you know, it`s really true – he always was my favourite singer,” said Fred), everyone called everyone darling and it was one of those very successful New York parties.

Ian Hunter talked about his new album: “It`s called `All American Alien Boy`, I think, and it`s amazing. I thought it would take two months to do and it only took 24 days, mixing and everything… Chris Stainton played on it with me, but he didn`t produce it. People think that, but I arranged it, wrote everything and produced it.
“I think it`s gonna surprise a lot of people, and I know that some people will think it`s a heap of shit because it`s very heavy. There are cuts on it called `Apathy`… `Religion`… no rock and roll. I had too many cuts for it so I eliminated the rock and roll ones… But I`m really writing well, and the musicians on it are incredible – David Sanborn, Cornell Dupree, this great guitarist from Reno who used to be with Edgar called Jerry Williams…
How`d you get them all together?
“Money.” He laughs.
As for missing England, Ian`s American wife Trudy says she misses it more than he does. “I had to come here to write,” claims Hunter. “I was just fresh out of words there; I needed to come some place where I would have new inspiration for lyrics.”

At another table Bernie Taupin talks of his solo album: “Oh, it`s really a good laugh,” Bernie smiled, “it`s like Bernie Taupin at the bar. The name? Well… I think it might be `Bernie And The Jets`… I`d really like to use that. And I do all these versions of other people`s songs – `Let It Be Me` with Phil Everly singing on it with me. It`s really corny, they`ll love it in England. And `Cryin Time`, Ringo sings on that with me.”
As the party ends, Freddie and I discuss a story that ran here about him. An amazing Hit Parader writer named Josephine Mori had written a piece on him that was, to put it mildly, euphoric.
Speaking of sphinxes… he was a Creature to me… a 70`s minotaur, half pop artist half Arabian Knight/Night (K or N optional with reader) – an impossible combination, like singles charts and scimitars, that somehow he could make work, the way he made another impossible combination the ether of Faerie and the heavy metal of rock music, somehow work. In a sense he was no more “real” to me than Scheherezade or the Big Bad Wolf… though in my fancy at least, he might well have been a bit of both.”
Hmmmmm… the Creature that Captured New York…

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Led Zeppelin, Tony Iommi, The Fania All-Stars, David Bowie, Sailor, Gay and Terry Woods.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 3, 1976

This is not a very flattering concert review. It seems to me that the reviewer hated the band before he was ordered to a do a review of this concert. The result is here for all to see. So read this with a large pinch of salt.
Enjoy?

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Workrate Astounding

But Queen lack midfield schemer…

By Chris Salewicz
Queen
Hammersmith

It`s difficult, you know, keeping up with all the fickle shifts in credibility and acceptability.
It is, for instance, apparently no longer accurate to view Queen as merely the last band to pick up the fag-end of androgyny rock in this country.
The other day (indeed) a friend of mine – a man of no small taste in these matters – was speaking of Freddie and his cohorts as being “The new Led Zeppelin”.
Heavy, ehh?
Well, you most probably saw the show yourself on the box on Christmas Eve.
What you maybe didn`t know was that the audience had been sat there in the Hammersmith Odeon since eight o`clock with only the Mr Big set to keep them occupied until ten o`clock. Last year, when the Old Grey Whistle Test had Elton occupying the same slot, the programme came in halfway through the set. Not for Queen, however. There was a definite sense that the audience were of secondary importance to the viewers.

Anyway, round about ten in the evening – after interminable amounts of piano tinkling and paradiddling from behind the safety curtain, and round about the same time that we suss that the spotlights putting black flashes in front of our eyes aren`t part of some particularly seasonal stage set but are your actual Beeb TV floodlights – the OGWT theme music starts up and Bob appears in silver grey top hat and tails and the show begins.
And they work so very hard.
If any band epitomises Calvinism in rock it must be Queen.
Freddie seems to quite positively adore the work ethic. In fact, he works so hard onstage that he overdoes it and ODs on his own efforts at times.
He moves about the stage so deliberately, so studiously, waving around and leaning into that absurb stunted mike he uses that every muscle in his body seems rigid with nervous tension.
Freddie doesn`t relax for one moment. He seems completely devoid of any natural rhythmic sense and plays his part with the assumption that if he works hard enough at it it won`t show.

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I caught the show a couple of weeks ago in Birmingham and couldn`t figure out what was wrong. Great show, I`d thought at the time. Even told Freddie that. But it was only when I saw Queen at Hammersmith that I figured out what was amiss.
But at least at Hammersmith he didn`t look quite so close to breaking into mid-tour tears on stage.
Now all this obvious effort works to the band`s disadvantage. Although his singing voice is impressively clear and powerful, Freddie doesn`t possess a good speaking voice. His onstage tone is unnatural and almost paternalistic. The stress factor appears to spread itself throughout the whole band.
Brian May, for example, appears totally unnatural when he takes off with some mildmannered brain chordings on “Brighton Rock” with the drum-kit spot behind him – the most impressive stage number, notwithstanding the fact that he`s utilizing a bastardised “Whole Lotta Love” riffs.
Of course, if I walked around wearing the kind of stage clothes Queen wear – they really do have the worst taste of any of the flash-rock bands – I`d be tense and nervous too.

Queen`s main problem, though, is that without their binding the whole caboodle together with musical effect after musical effect and visual effect after visual effect there just wouldn`t be anything left.
TINKLE. TINKLE. Smoke bombs. THUD THUD. Solo. Shift lighting. New number. Dry ice. Change costumes. Put Freddie on piano. Form a little intimate cluster by the drumkit.
But you forgot the soul, lads. You forgot the feeling. You`re the coldest band I`ve ever seen. You got great harmonies and arrangements and reasonable playing but in five years time do you just want to be remembered as a band that had a great stage act?
Oh yeah. And that ultimate contrived encore.
Well, first of all I can go to the Nashville and see any band on any night encoring with a rock`n`roll medley. Secondly, I object when you can`t even infuse it with any fire whatsoever.
Yes, of course they all get up on their feet but come now: most of the audience had been there for three and a bit hours already. Don`t kid yourselves.
And all that prancing about in your kimono to “The Stripper”, Freddie. Knock it on the head. You want credibility and you still come across like an old tart.
Led Zeppelin? You must be kidding. Queen are quite irrevocably Lightweight City.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart, The Who.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, December 6, 1975

I like Queen. There was a rumour going around that their lead vocalist was gay. It doesn`t matter at all. I like gay people – some of them even more than a lot of straight people. There was a time not too long ago when you had to hide your sexual preferences, and a lot of gay people in the music business did just that. I am glad that those times seem to be over. Be who you are and be proud. No-one should be able to tell you how to live based on their own prejudices. Live and let live.
Enjoy this concert review of one of the best bands in history!

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Weather `tis nobler to hang loose…
… Or to take dry-ice and firebombs and strut your stuff

Hammersmith

By Tony Stewart
Pic: Joe Stevens

Maybe Queen`s act is just the dry-ice run for America.
It certainly seems a little elaborate for the British stage alone, especially at the end of the set when you swear the whole stage has exploded, as the mixture of smoke and dry-ice clots your throat and waters your eyes.
Even the opening is one of those majestic affairs.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to a night at the opera.”
The hall darkens. The orchestra tunes in a tape. And on the same recording Queen`s music starts. Straight in on the first line of the fourth verse to “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
“I see a little silhouetto of a man.”
Lo! We see, turning our eyes to the left of the stage, a screen reflecting the silhouetto of Freddie Mercury. Then the tape goes into the operatic section of “Rhapsody”, cuts, and suddenly the stage is alive with colour as the band hit the rock section live.

Mercury, in tight white with his private particulars bulging, sprints up the catwalk into the audience. May, another White Queen in a flowing cape, does the same on another `walk. Then Mercury rushes back on to the stage, throwing over his arm like a fast bowler. Once, twice, thrice and then four times. On each occasion a flash bomb explodes.
What you`d call an unforgettable entrance. Supreme.
And that`s how the show continues.
Silver Fred costume-changes three times, from tight white to hugging black, to kimono, which discarded reveals silk shirt and shorts. Always with The Bulge.
May, his cape fluttering behind him like a hurried bride, staggers around on spindly legs, punishing his guitar with savage arm swoops, always keeping an eye on Freddie so they can try the movements in unison.
John Deacon, the bassist, stares blankly at the balcony, moving his ass not one iota, while pretty Roger Taylor strains and lunges his fragile body at his kit, both trying to keep time.

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The act is as overt as possible, combining Freddie`s sexual stance (the bottom wriggling, crotch stroking, mouth licking poses) with the raw excitement of May`s guitar. Somehow, his solos fall into each piece as a showcase, and all the while Deacon and Taylor flog and thunder out the rhythms.
There`s a substantial amount of contrast in the set, although the persistent tempo never really varies. For instance the medley of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Black Queen” then returning to “Rhapsody” is effective. Similarly they turn on considerable aggression and sinister undercurrent with a piece like “Flick Of The Wrist”, or they can
suddenly skip to the vaudevillian “Bad Boy Leroy Brown”.
Mercury moves from his acrobatic gyrations stage centre to play some excellent piano during a lull, and May concentrates on forming some beautifully melodic lines, aware that he could crush most skulls with a sudden burst of uncontrolled guitar excess during, say, “Brighton Rock”.

While Mercury and May control the dynamics of the show, both in a visual and musical sense, Deacon and Taylor eventually crack under the strain of maintaining the persistently high energy level. Both of them resort to using their instruments as massively amplified vibrators, which, during the softer elements of the set such as “Killer Queen”, become irritatingly unsympathetic to the mood. Neither has a distinctive enough style to be anything other than just The Rhythm Section.
Lasting almost two hours the act is one of the best I`ve seen – though Queen are, to be honest, more concerned with getting the audience off than indulging every intricacy of their very worthwhile recorded music.
Even if it is an elaborate dress rehearsal for the States, it still works.
Superbly.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Gregg Allman, David Bowie, Sadista Sisters, Yvonne Fair, Little Feat, Kokomo, Average White Band, Lee Konitz, Paul Simon.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, March 1, 1975

Here is an report from the time when Queen was starting to get big, but before they were absolutely MEGA-big. Always fun to read these early interviews – hope you think so too.

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Freddie the M plumps for Puerto Rican rough trade

Those nasty queenies are back and proud in New York City

By Lisa Robinson

“QUEEN…oh the English Queen, well that single of theirs is really good, fantastic production. You know I thought they were quite something. They must have had quite a bit of potential apart from the immediate…they were immediately sort of acclaimed by the younger kids, so therefore there was some stigma about them. But then they put this record out and they gained so much respect. I think they`re going to turn out to be really good. I mean they`ve only been going about a year or whatever it is…”
Robert Plant, February 1975

WHAT`S THIS? The entire Avery Fisher Hall (formerly the Philharmonic) has been transformed into a high school auditorium. The scene resembles something out of “Rock Around The Clock” as thousands of Queen fans are throwing paper airplanes, jeering, stomping, lighting mini-flares and waiting for the concert to begin.
Mahogany Rush was to have opened the first of the two shows Queen were doing in New York, but they couldn`t get to the gig on time so some folk singer had to fill in, poor guy. Anyway, it was obvious that this crowd was impatient, also that they had no respect whatsoever for the Philharmonic Orchestra`s home. I wouldn`t be surprised if, after all the debris left behind, rock didn`t ever get in the hall again.
As I said, the fans were impatient. Last year Queen had been in New York at the Uris Theater with Mott; they only managed to do a month of that tour due to Brian`s hepatitis, but apparently “Sheer Heart Attack” and memories of that gig were enough to sell out a first New York show and require a second. “The nasty Queenies are back!” shouted Freddie Mercury as the band stormed onstage; Freddie in his Zandra Rhodes white satin, stalking and promenading around the stage. A fan handed him a bouquet of white flowers, kids were on their feet cheering.

Smoke is coming out at the audience and I turn to Lee Childers to ask what the name of this song is. “What`s the name of this? Are you kidding? `Smoke Gets In Your Eyes`, darling.”
Oh. It actually sounds like “Flick Of The Wrist” or “Tenement Funster” – one of those from “Sheer Heart Attack” that remind me of Bowie – but I could be wrong. Anyway, the sound is good – the entire stage production looked dramatically effective (even though the band was to complain later that there were lots of little things wrong and they couldn`t take the same kind of effects with them that they do in England…), and Freddie Mercury`s stage presence is simply overwhelming.
“Stone Cold Crazy” in particular, brings kids down to the front of the stage so that the ushers had to keep moving them back. Queen do a medley of four songs from “Sheer Heart Attack”; in addition to “Killer Queen” they perform “In The Lap Of The Gods” (with Freddie at piano) which sounds disturbingly like “Something Wonderful” from “The King & I”…All of a sudden it is apparent that the dry ice/smoke machine is not working properly. A mixture of smoke and dry ice comes rolling over the stage and nearly asphyxiates the front three rows, the rows I might add, in which all journalists have been placed. I think it is a riot, a boy in front of me puts up an umbrella. I also notice that a boy on the aisle to my left is totally nodded out…head slumped over the arm of the chair.

Freddie, by the way, has long since changed from the white Eagle top to a white satin jumpsuit split down the middle, with white cinch belt with rhinestones. About halfway through the concert he changes again (during one of Brian`s solos) into the exact same ensemble in black, with the addition of one black satin glove, the tips of the fingernails adorned with silver.
The audience is completely enthusiastic, it`s a good reception for a British band who`ve only been to the U.S. twice actually and not had a huge hit here. They came back for two encores. The first is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the evening – Cy Coleman`s “Hey Big Spender” from “Sweet Charity” – fabulous: The second is “Jailhouse Rock” – I guess Queen had to end the night on a rock note…

TWO DAYS later, I spoke with Freddie Mercury in his hotel. He had been asleep most of the day, feeling a bit taken with the `flu, and after a long bath he said he felt “as if I`d come back to life.
“I was very pleased about the concerts, the second show was even better. We did about four in a row, you see; two the night before in Boston, and I was worried where I would get the energy, to be honest. I thought the crowd was pretty amazing, much better than the last time. They were so…you know, chuffed.” (He has to explain what that means to me…).
“You know we had to come over here and do it the way we wanted to do it. Last time was a breaking-the-ice tour, but there were a few set-backs. Yet we still managed to do a month and we got a taste of America, so I think we knew what was needed this time. There`s no way you can show the public what you can do unless you headline. When you support there are so many restrictions… you don`t get your light show, your playing time, your effects. We`re not using the lights we use back home, but they`re similar things. Ideally we would take everything on the road with us, but it`s too expensive. It`s very expensive as it is, the entourage is pretty huge.”

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I ask him about his clothes, but his make-up – who takes care of it?
“Well,” he smiled, “here I`ve been doing it myself. Sometimes when it`s hectic, like at the Rainbow in England, we had a special make-up lady, and that`s nice when you`re sort of doing interviews at the same time. Just to lean back and have someone else do it.”
What kind of makeup do you wear? (I thought you`d never ask Lisa…Ed.) “Oh,” he laughs, “well, what I put on is just sort of… Revlon…`Touch And Glow`…it`s very, very basic.” What colour. “It`s toasted beige, actually. Trust you to ask me!
What about the, errr…smoke machine?
“Oh, don`t talk about that! It`s a dry ice and smoke thing and you know sometimes with dry ice the heat from the lights doesn`t allow it to rise…See, this is one of the things that I`m sort of annoyed about, that we couldn`t bring over the sort of finishing touches we have at home. The light board we have at home is better, and the smoke machine, and the flares that go off at the end…I`m making excuses aren`t I?” Well…yeah, but it`s understandable. Anyway, I thought it looked dramatic, just funny that the writers were all choking in the front few rows…”Well how do you think I feel every day? I`ve got to sing through that fog!

“Another thing is, I`m having voice trouble, you must have detected that. It`s just the hazards of being on the road. My voice can only take so much, especially on the double evenings. But we only add the second ones when we sell out, and you don`t complain if you sell out.
“I heard Planty (sic: Robert) had voice trouble on their tour as well. I know what it`s like…it`s so frustrating because you want to make those high notes, and you want to tell the people that you know you can make those, but you`re singing an octave lower because you don`t want to chance it and croak. Last night there were a few phrases where I opened my mouth and nothing came out…But what can you do? You can`t hide it. And I`m taking all the pills, honey and lemon every half hour…” (So you`re not having much fun on this tour?) “Well…you know…I`m making the best of it.
“This is only the second time we`ve been here, and we`ve never been to the West Coast before.” Uh-oh. “I`m looking forward to it, I`m saving myself for that. I`ve never been to Miami either, but I`ve been told that there are all these sort of old age pensioners there, is that true? Sort of macabre, isn`t it? To imagine that they all go there to die…all of them dropping off in the sun like that…”

And so the inevitable question of How Do You Feel About The British Press, and the mumbled comparisons with Led Zeppelin?
“Well I think the press in England have come through, but I think they`re very fickle, and I tell them that to their faces. Our fans are such a wide cross-section you wouldn`t believe it. Last tour we had from the little ones, the fourteen and fifteen year olds, to the mums and dads. I think we proved our versatility with `Sheer Heart Attack`…and now daughters are sort of bringing their mums to the shows with them.
“As for Zeppelin, in the early days we were definitely compared to them…maybe the press disliked us in the earlier days because they couldn`t put their finger on us and that happened to Led Zeppelin as well. Also people say that the same sort of buzz is happening with us here in the States that happened with them their first time around. But I think now, especially at home, that we`ve been accepted as having a sound of our own, and in the press there are a lot of new bands that they say sound like us…”
Whose decision was it to do that marvellous “Big Spender” onstage? “Oh,” Freddie laughs, “it was my idea actually. I like that approach to entertainment, I like that cabaret-ish sort of thing. I adore Liza Minnelli, I think she`s a wow.

“It does appeal to me to think of doing more lavish, stage-production type things,” he says in response to my question, “but I would somehow like to combine it with the group, not divorce it from it…and that`s a difficult thing. Because I`ve got to approach the others and convince them that it`s going to work. My god, you have no idea how long it took me to convince them to do `Big Spender`…
Finally we talk about where the band is going to go that night in New York, their rare night off. I say my role as tour guide has been limited somewhat by the closing of Max`s and the generally depressing aura of the Club 82…there`s really only Lady Astor`s, Le Jardin, and – oh, I know…The Gilded Grape, I suggest. It`s fabulous, all Puerto Rican drag queens and rough trade…sailors…
“Oh, it`s definitely the Gilded Grape, then,” Freddie laughed.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Elton John, NME`s Soul Spectacular, Adrian Gurvitz, Budgie, Leo Sayer.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 18, 1975

It is always a pleasure to print an old interview with Brian May and Queen. In 1974 they released two albums, one in March and the other in November of that year. I like them both, even though they are sort of different from each other. They are both up for discussion in this interview.
Have fun!

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Helpful Boy Scout transforms into Werewolf

Well, perhaps that`s putting it a little strongly…let`s just say he transforms into a demon who pushes old ladies under oil tankers. But WHO IS this extraordinary mutant? Brian May of Queen, that`s who – a quite pleasant person who only sprouts fangs and facial hair when talking to the likes of Tony Stewart about musical integrity.

Although on the face of it Brian May seems the most amenable person you`re likely to meet – going to excessive and well -reasoned lengths when describing the musical concepts of Queen – one suspects that underneath there lurks an arrogant man who`s prone to become indignant should one dare to disparage the band`s achievements.
This aspect of his personality is revealed quite early in our interview when we`re discussing the generally sceptical attitude most critics displayed towards Mercury and Co before the release of “Sheer Heart Attack”. For my part, I`m trying to discover whether this caused the group to strive towards an album of such artistic accomplishment it would be universally accepted. Or, if not, whether they were at all bothered by such heated animosity.
“It concerned us,” May admits, “but I don`t think it had that kind of result.
“We`re basically very big-headed people, in the sense that we`re convinced of what we`re doing. IF somebody tells us it`s rubbish, then our attitude is that the person`s misguided rather than that we are rubbish.” He laughs self-consciously… “Rightly, or wrongly.”

“In the days when everybody seemed against us we did ask ourselves, `Well, are they right? Maybe we don`t know what we`re talking about`. But…we decided we were doing something worthwhile, and from that moment we didn`t really think about it.
“There was no feeling of trying to prove anything either. We just went ahead with what we thought we ought to be doing, believing that people would catch up eventually.”
And at frequent intervals during our rap this overt confidence is expressed.
Indeed, it seems strange that May should at one moment be as pleasant as a Boy Scout helping an old lady across the road, and then suddenly transform himself into a demon (to continue the analogy) and push her under an oil tanker should she have the audacity to question how he attained his First Class badge.
One can only assume we`re on sensitive territory when examining Queen.

May is certainly aware of the various aspects of his character.
“I think I strike a lot of people as being shy and introverted,” he explains. Then adds ominously: “But a lot of people are the biggest big-heads in the world underneath that exterior.
“At some level in everybody there`s an enormous belief that they`re the Most Important People In The World. Don`t you agree? It`s there somewhere. Whether it`s at the top or at the bottom depends on their environment, their experiences and their general philosophy of life.
“I`m sure there`s a part of me that thinks that. There`s also a part of me that thinks I`m one of the most useless people in the world.
“Somebody`s asked me recently, `Do you consider yourself a good guitarist?` And that`s impossible to answer, because on one level you think that, no matter what your shortcomings, you have more to offer than anyone else. And on another level you`re looking round at everybody else and thinking, `Oh my God, I don`t stand a chance.`
“So on different levels it`s all there.

“With us in our present situation, one of the things I consider most important is to try and keep these perspectives and realise where all these feelings are – and to be able to step outside it and make some sense of it.
“I sort of give myself a good look at every now and then and wonder how I`m taking it. And I look at people`s faces to see if they`re reacting differently to me, to see if I`m changing.
“But I feel in control of myself.”

We`re in the bare, ground floor room of Queen`s publicist`s office in Victoria, London, with May sitting on one side of a large, ugly dining table and your writer on the other – and only a plant and a tape-machine betwixt the two.
The purpose of our encounter, curtailed by the arrival of another journalist who is next on this unfortunate conveyor belt interview system, is to discuss the substance which lies below the band`s previously well-reported image of peacock glamour.
As guitarist and sometimes musical lieutenant of Queen, May is the obvious choice to discuss such matters. And while doing so he speaks slowly, often cautiously, with long pauses in mid-sentence to allow himself to collate his thoughts.
It almost goes without saying that May puts the band`s achievements down to musical ability rather than their promotion, financial backing or image. He denies that Queen ever surveyed the market searching for a niche they could slide into and which would guarantee them the rock musician`s dream of fame and prominence.

“I`m not a person,” he says, “who`s very much aware of what`s going on, I admit. I don`t sit down and go through the papers and look at the charts and see what`s going up and what`s going down. What gets to me filters through by the normal channels – if I just happen to hear the radio or meet somebody.
“Roger (Taylor) is pretty much in touch with what goes on. He`s aware of trends and things like that. But there was no question of us looking for a hole and trying to fill it in the early days. Absolutely not.
“If I could play you tapes of us playing long before Queen was even formed, you`d see that most of the germs of what we do now were in existence then. Even going back a long way – to Smile, the group Roger and I were in – a lot of the stuff was there.
“It was hard rock, but there were lots of harmonies and attempts at production in the songs.”
Even so, the group has been accused of being one of the last to ride in on the glam-rock bandwagon, as though it was a preconceived idea.

“Yes, we were,” he agrees, “but it`s not true.
“It`s very unfortunate really, because – and I don`t know whether you believe me or not – the name and the musical concept was there for a long time before it got to the public, which was because of a series of accidents really.”
These accidents involved the band taking their time making their debut album because of previous unsavoury dealings with the Music Biz, and a delay in release due to contractual difficulties, causing two years to pass between their initial conception and their eventual airing.
“In that time,” he adds, “Bowie and Roxy Music had come to prominence and so had a few other people who`re associated with glitter as such. And because of our name people thought we were the tail end of that. Which is a bit sad really.
“But we thought,” he continues, allowing his arrogance to slowly creep to the surface, “people would listen to the music and perhaps realise the obvious comment that we were the end of the glam-rock thing wasn`t true.

“We feel we over-estimated people`s intelligence in a way…” Again he laughs self-consciously,”…without meaning to be nasty about it. We just feel if people had really listened and looked they wouldn`t have got that impression.”
Really now? Well, I looked and listened and honestly believed that with their aura and the spectacularly colourful stage show, they were deliberately attempting to be as glamorously splendid as a Zsa Zsa Gabor gown.
Even very recently Freddie Mercury has been revealing his androgynous traits when interviewed, which seems to be the obvious choice of subject much favoured by the glam-rock extroverts.
These observations, however, only prompt a flat denial and put May on the defensive.
“Maybe you don`t agree,” he begins suspiciously, “but we feel that everything in the show, the lights, the costumes, any of our movements etc., are a reinforcement to the music.
“It`s dramatic music we play, so we feel that everything we can use to give it that much more effect and get the meaning across to the audience is justified.”

Whether calculated or not (and I still believe “Queen II” is over-loaded, pretentious and a calculated stab at that market, even though May counter-argues fairly convincingly later on) Queen`s roots, as aired on their debut album, were rather more mundane.
The track “Son And Daughter”, for example, seems to me to be totally derivative of Heavy Metal, with a vocal harmony effect similar to one often used by Uriah Heep exercised in the introduction, and a structure which, to put it mildly, owes more than a little to the music of Led Zeppelin.
“It does belong to the Zeppelin-Purple era,” May admits, “Because that`s where it came from. We were doing it at the time when Zeppelin were a new force.
“It comes from the time when we were frustrated because we were doing all sorts of things which we thought people ought to hear, but we had no means of getting people to hear them. So by the time that came out it was something like four years old and everybody thought, `Ah! They`re jumping on Zeppelin`s bandwagon`. Which was unfortunate.

“We could have chucked it out to avoid that criticism, but I still think we did better to put it in. Although it has got the flavour of that time it`s still got the beginnings of our trademark.
“You`ll notice there`s a multi-tracked guitar thing at the end…well, that`s one of the things we were experimenting with at that time. And it grew on the second album, where there`s a lot of that kind of thing.
But was Queen a completely new musical concept, or did they, at that stage, owe a lot to Smile`s music?
“Yeah, I suppose we did,” he replies hesitantly.
“We were still quite near what Smile was doing but it was a lot more disciplined, `cause Smile was very, errr, free-form.
“This is Freddie`s influence. He likes it to be disciplined, with a lot of things going on…to affect the audience. I think he was the one who was first aware of playing to an audience rather than playing to yourself. Smile was, as was the fashion in those days, fairly self-indulgent.

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“We`d go on stage and we would play to the audience, but primarily we were feeling out what we could do, and if we felt like jamming for half an hour we`d do it.”
He pauses, his attention attracted by photographer Joe Stevens who has just arrived and is about to shoot some photographs.
“Errr, are you going to take pictures or something?” he asks. Receiving an affirmative answer, he shifts uneasily in his chair.
“Yes…all right…” he says nervously. “I just wasn`t prepared for it, that`s all.” But with a short laugh he`s back into the interview.
“So it was a development of Smile`s music, but becoming different. `Liar` was one of the numbers we sat down and worked on – which we`d never done with Smile. We just didn`t have the self-discipline to do it.
“Mmmmmm. I`ve lost the thread now I`m afraid,” he adds, obviously put off his stride. “I`ve forgotten what the question was.”
Well, the thread of the questioning was intended to lead up to the point that Smile bombed commercially – and because May admits there`s a conceptual link between that group and Queen, why should Queen`s future have been anymore auspicious?

It`s a quite important point, this, considering that each member of the group had studied quite extensively and then chosen to become a musician rather than follow an academic career. Superficially this would seem to indicate they all had enormous faith in their music.
May, however, reveals he was hesitant to forsake astronomy before he was certain of the outcome of Queen.
Apparently, though, this was not because of lack of confidence in what they were doing, but because of how it was received.
“Having believed in Smile`s music,” he explains, “and seen it get nowhere for various reasons, I was quite at home with the idea Queen could be the best group in the world and still never get anywhere.
“There are a lot of groups who were very good and had every possibility of becoming one of the world`s best bands, but who somehow got lost on the way because of bad publicity or bad management or any number of things. I think there`s a lot of luck in it.

“We`ve worked very hard at it and we`ve approached it very intelligently, I think, but there`s still a certain amount of luck. If certain things hadn`t happened at a certain time we would have made it.
“It`s a question of having confidence in the music, but not having confidence in the ways of the world, if you like.”
Without confidence in the ways of the world, and with a reticence to give up astronomy, how did he react when “Queen II” was released and received a critical hammering? After all, as Mercury has remarked, 75 per cent of the reviews were downers.
“I was very surprised, I really was,” he answers quickly.
“We`d spent a long time in the studios and for the first time we felt most of the things we wanted to go on it actually went on – because we had the budget, due to having good people behind us.
“And we had more experience; we had the experience of a tour. We were better players. We felt the songs were better. We felt the album as a whole made sense.

“We felt it was a significant achievement for us to make an album which, rather than just being a representative thing like the first one, was An Album and A Good Album. We were all very pleased with it, and thought nobody could ignore it, even if they ignored the first one.
“And as it happened,” he sighs sadly. “They didn`t ignore it. They all slated it.” He laughs.
“We expected every one to turn round and say, `Oh well, sorry, we were wrong about the first album. Maybe we should have paid some attention to it, because this is something worthwhile`.
“But in fact, human nature being what it is, it`s very difficult for anyone to do that. People would much rather say, `We ignored the first one and here`s the second one and we must say we were damn right to ignore the first one, because this one`s terrible`.
“Journalists are human, and I think there was that element. They didn`t like to admit they were wrong. And in order to sustain what they`d said before they had to go a bit further with the second one.

“We also think that the image had a lot to do with it. There was a lot of cynicism over people thinking we were fitting into the old glam-rock mould, which had already been played out. And because we had pretty faces and we dressed in nice clothes it was fashionable to think that if it looked good it couldn`t be good.
“I think it`s just an unfortunate set of accidents.
“I know you don`t like the album very much and you`ve explained to me your reasons. That`s fair enough. But to us it was totally misunderstood. I think it went completely over most people`s heads. If that sounds big-headed it`s because we think it`s a good album.”
May continues to justify the lavish use of multi-guitar tracks and harmonies, and successfully explains the progression between it and the first, which saw, he says, their ideas in an embryonic state. And he eventually concludes his analysis of the set on a pertinent point.

“Some people have accused us of trying to pretend the second album was more than it was by packaging or something. Somebody suggested that was part of the reason why it didn`t go down well.
“Maybe,” he adds, his eyes narrowing accusingly, “it was you.”
Well no, not exactly. The point I made was similar, but involved the music. I`d arrived at the conclusion that the band tried to disguise the hard-rock feel, a la Who, and make the set self-laudatory and pretentious.
“Why should we disguise it?” May asked incredulously. “It`s one of the best features of the group…that it has some power and guts. There`s no reason why we should want to disguise it. It`s just a more subtle approach.
“Some of our fans came up at the time and said, `Haven`t you lost some of the heaviness?` But as time went on the same people came back and said, `Look, I`ve been listening to it and I can see what it`s all about now. I can really see it`s a progression and it`s still got the power there`.
“And `Queen II` is the most consistent-selling album we`ve made – so far. We can`t say that about `Sheer Heart Attack`. But `Queen II` keeps coming back and back. Every time we do a tour anywhere, of any country, `Queen II` starts to sell again, because people realise what it`s about.

“I think the mistake we made – if we did make a mistake – was, again, to overestimate people`s powers of deduction about the album. This is not being rude at all, and I`ll give you an example why…”
The example concerns May himself hearing, while on holiday recently, a double album by a group called Los Canarios which was as ambitious and as lavish as “Queen II” – and which he reacted to in a similar way as I did to Queen`s set. It wasn`t until he read the booklet that accompanied the Canarios work that he fully appreciated it.
“I thought, `What would have happened if I`d bought Queen II?”, he continues, “I`d have heard all this stuff and had very much the same reaction, and then I`d have seen the cover – which has nothing on it to indicate anything special has been done.
“If we`d put a booklet in with it I think people would have realised what it was all about.”
Surely an album should stand on its own merit, rather than need an explanatory booklet?
“It does, eventually,” he responds, “but it just takes so long. The average person listens to it in the record shop, or hears a couple of tracks on the radio and never gets the chance to get into it.

“They might think, as I did with this album by Los Canarios, that it`s got something, but it can`t be anything because they haven`t heard about it. If there`s not a big fuss made about something you tend to think it can`t be worth anything. It takes a big effort of mind to get solidly behind something on your own.”
But the result of that argument, if it were true, would be that I, for example, would have been totally against “Sheer Heart Attack” when I reviewed it, purely because of what I thought about its predecessor, and secondly because there was no fuss being made at the time. But I wasn`t.
May disagrees.
“It`s not a contradiction, because after `Queen II` we were much more aware of how people received things. So in `Sheer Heart Attack` we were aware of trying to be a little more accessible. We wanted more people to get into what we were doing.
“On `SHA` there`s all the stuff that was on `Queen II`, but instead of it being vertically layered it`s spread out horizontally. Very many of the musical ideas, or the musical treatments if you like, are the same on the two albums.

But on `SHA` they come at you one at a time, and it`s an easy album to assimilate. You can listen to it and you can get a lot out of it the first time, simply because there`s one thing at a time happening. If you go back to `II` in the course of one number you can hear it all going on at once – in some cases.
“A lot of people have interpreted `II` better for having heard `SHA`. It`s all very accessible, and that was partly a conscious thing when we were doing the album, and partly unconscious.”
Ah! If it was done partly consciously isn`t that another way of admitting “Queen II” was over ambitious?
“No,” argues May, “because the two albums are completely different.
“`SHA` is an immediate album, but `Queen II` is an album you`ll listen to for years and years and years.
“We have enormous faith in `Queen II`. Maybe more than for `SHA`, I don`t know. I see them as different, but both are interesting. I think though there`s more on `II`.”

If you`ll excuse the cliche, was “Queen II” before it`s time?
“I think it was in a way,” he answers. “But I don`t regret putting it out at that time. Maybe we`d have sold more copies if we`d released `SHA` first, but that`s not really a criterion to judge your music on.”
Finally, what about Queen`s future?
Well, May believes, “It`s hard to see further than the end of your nose.” But – and please pardon the unkindness – Brian has rather a long nose, so he`s able to forsee an American tour lasting just over two months, visits to Japan and Australia and then a return to England when they might record a fourth album. It hasn`t been decided yet.

An ad from one of my favourite labels from way back - Vertigo! Loved the sci-fi theme and the rock bands on the label.

An ad from one of my favourite labels from way back – Vertigo! Loved the sci-fi theme and the rock bands on the label.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Average White Band, Stuart Henry, Kiki Dee, Dr. Feelgood, Kokomo, Chilli Willi, Doobie Brothers, King Crimson, Dave Cartwright, The Platters.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.