On this day
  • 1968: The Art live at Raven Youth Club, Thurnby Lodge, UK.
  • 1974: Queen released the first record in Japan - Keep Yourself Alive single.

Read all 8 events for 25 March at diary.QueenSongs.info

Queen

Overview

Queen was released on Friday the 13th July 1973. It was chiefly recorded between April and November 1972 and produced by John Anthony and engineered by a handful of people, most notably Mike Stone, who'd remain the band's right-hand employée until 1977. Freddie Mercury was the chief composer, lyricist and arranger on this album. It was recorded chiefly on 3M 16-track tape recorders and mixed on a Sound Techniques console. The original 1973 vinyl contains ten tracks and was preceded by the single Keep Yourself Alive / Son and Daughter, released on the 6th of July.

All ten tracks feature a power trio of bass, drums and electric guitar. Other instruments featured are acoustic guitar (7 tracks), acoustic grand piano (5 tracks), tambourine (2 tracks), electric organ, maracas and timbales (1 track). Several of the songs had long instrumental sections, and long intros were common (half of the tracks), resulting in a more 'progressive'- or 'hard-rock'-sounding record than most of the Queen catalogue. There are still loads of vocals, but not nearly as many as on future releases.

When the lead single was released, some reviews praised it for the alleged use of Moog synthesisers, so the band specified on the liner notes that they hadn't used that particular instrument. Effects came instead from soundboard equipment, such as varispeeding guitars or reversing signals and so on. For the next four albums, they'd make a point out of not playing synths, in an era where they were so popular.

Queen is one of the few albums where all tracks feature all four band members; it is also the only album where all non-instrumental songs feature backing vocals by all three founding members. There's only one credited additional performer: producer John Anthony shouted 'look out' near the end of Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll.

There's a lot of guitar on the album, with all but two songs featuring guitar solos, and all but three songs featuring both acoustic and electric guitars. Brian May played all the parts, chiefly using the original home-made BHM he'd built with his father in his early adolescence and either a Martin D-18 or an old Hairfred he'd got since he was a teenager. Acoustic guitars were mic'd via AKG C12-A, electric guitars were played through Vox AC-30 amps and then the sound was captured by Neumann U-87s. A small amp made by John Deacon was also used for two songs (Keep Yourself Alive and My Fairy King).

John Deacon played bass, mostly on a Fender Precision which had been given to him by the record company in 1972. Two signals were recorded simultaneously: one from a bespoke DI, one from a Neumann U-67 mic placed in front of the HH amp. The Night Comes Down was played on a Rickenbacker 4001 and DI'd. He was only present for backing-track sessions, which were done live. As he didn't play any other instruments and didn't sing any lead or backing vocals, he didn't participate any further, instead focusing on his studies.

Roger had a bespoke Ludwig drum set, which he played whenever there was enough time for him to set it up. When sessions were rushed (they were recording in downtime), he played the studios' Hayman set, which can be heard on My Fairy King, Son and Daughter, Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll and the rejected song Mad the Swine (released in 1991 as a B-side). Drums were recorded by placing an AKG D-20 in front of the bass-drum, a Sony C-38 near the snare and some Neumann U-87s placed panoramically to get the full kit from different angles. Besides drums, Roger also played tambourine, timbales and maracas.

Keyboards used were the studios' own: a 5' 9" Bechstein V piano (the same one Paul McCartney'd played on Hey Jude half a decade earlier) and a Hammond C-3 organ. Freddie played piano on four tracks, Brian played on Doing All Right, where a delay effect was added to it. Mics used for the piano were both Neumann: KM-56 for treble and U-67 for bass.