Modern Times Rock'n'roll

Composer: Roger Taylor
Key: very bluesy E-major, and G major
Meter: 4/4
Form:

Intro | Verse || Verse | Chorus || Solo | Verse | Outro |
|| = Spacer (Intro`)

This song is Roger Taylor's first contribution to Queen both as songwriter and as lead vocalist. This is not his first self-penned song, yet one of his first efforts. The lead vocal line shows a strong talking blues influence, thus do not expect beautiful tunes here. In modal and tonal point of view the song is mixed. One of the two rhythm guitars adds blues-scale-based fills rooted on the actual chord's tonic and featuring both major and minor thirds. The lead vocal also blues scale oriented with a center seemingly shifting with the chord progression. The chords are mostly power chords, only the last Verse features the full chords played on piano. The key is transcribed as being in E-major with Dorian inflection (flat 3rd plus flat 7th), which creates a minor flavor. Major tonic would be also possible, though.
Later on Roger would write some more complex and better songs (never faster, though). In an interview, he considered his first songs - probably this one and "Blag" (Smile song from 1969) - being no masterpieces. It's a bit surprising that this song still features modulation, or at least something like that. Like probably all Roger songs from the Seventies, it was composed on guitar. The remarkably fast tempo and the inter-beat hits on the snare drum create a proto-punk flavor.
The arrangement features two semi-symmetric rhythm guitar parts. Later on Queen/Brian May preferred the symmetric rhythm guitars, but on this debut album we can hear more or less asymmetric ones.
The song shows some influence of Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll": the title, bluesy flavor, the piano appearing for only the last Verse, (the 3+3+3+3+4 rhythm figure), while the lyrics borrow lines from Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven".

Intro
It is three measures long. The first measure features the end of the guitar riff that becomes the leitmotif of the song and evokes comparisons with the guitar riffs in "Tenement Funster" (1974) and "I'm In Love With My Car" (1975). The riff keeps playing during the first measures of the Verse.

Verse
Length: twenty measures. The lead melody is pentatonic and features many "blue" flat thirds of the actual chord. Many times the melody is oscillating between only two or three notes. The built-in blue notes make the chords sound major rather than minor. In the third verse piano chords are added, playing the third degrees, too. The tonic E turns to be a minor chord.

E/e:
|Em(E5)| -  | -  | -  |
| i... | -  | -  | -  |

|Em(E5)| -  | -  | -  |
| i... | -  | -  | -  |

| A   | -  | -  | -  |
| IV  | -  | -  | -  |

| B   | -  | -  | -  |
| IV  | -  | -  | -  |

| D   | -  | -  | -  |
|bVII | -  | -  | -  |

The lead vocal's last syllable usually falls on the middle downbeat of the phrases. The IV > V > bVII progression will reappear in a Queen (Roger) work - "A Kind Of Magic" (1986, D > E > G). The first verse ends with a short pause. The second verse is also introduced with the guitar riff, this time played in two measures. The second verse also ends with a pause, which is overlapped by the upbeat of the Bridge. Note that the verse is not duplicated toward the end of the song in order to avoid redundancy. Also note the 3+3+3+3+4 rhythmic pattern in the piano part in the last Verse.

Chorus
This section is preceded by a five measures long instrumental pause filled by Roger singing solo. He uses the pentatonic scale (rooted on A), featuring "blue" degrees of flat-3 and flat-5. The "body" of the Chorus is very simple iteration of four measures with the title phrase, which is backed with three-part harmony (G-chord). In the fourth measure the power chords don't require Roman numbers because those function more like single notes than triads.

  /---------- 2x -----------\\
  | G  | -  | A5 C5 | D5 C5 |
G:| I  | -  |   (IV)|   (IV)|

During this section the lead vocal gets heavy reverb. The chorus is closed with an extra two measures with the familiar guitar riff, now rooted on A instead of E.

Solo
We have two solo guitar tracks. The second imitates the first one; it almost sounds like a delay-machine was applied, but you can hear some differences. There's no close harmonic relation between the two. The length is square 16 measures and the chord progression is very simple:

G/g:
|G5(m)| -   | -   | -   | -   | -   | -   | -   |
|  i  | -   | -   | -   | -   | -   | -   | -   |

| C5  | -   | -   | -   | D5  | -   | -   | -   |
| IV  | -   | -   | -   | V   | -   | -   | -   |

The solo is mostly pentatonic and the "pentatonic root" moves parallel with the power chords similarly as, say, the lead vocal in the song "You Real Got Me" (Kinks). The tonic is Gm, but the last harmony is G-major chord.

Outro
That last harmony enters still in tempo. John Anthony (second producer) shouts, "Look out!" towards the end. This is one of the rare guest appearances on a Queen record in the Seventies.