I’ve got hundreds of posts on here now and one band who meant a great deal to me as a kid are conspicuous by their absence. When I was little. I mean before I even really knew that bands were bands and records were going to become an obsession in my life. When I was just a kid who wanted to be Evel Kinevel on a second hand chopper bike. I loved Queen. I mean of course I still do. But I loved them back then even though I had no idea that the band who did the Highlander soundtrack were the same guys who did Radio Gaga and We Are The Champions and Fat Bottom Girls, etc etc.
The fact all this stuff joined up was completely lost on me. Queen were just omnipresent like Madness, The Jam, The Beatles and The Police. They all just were. Everywhere you went. Those five bands made 90% of the music on the radio, on the TV and where ever you went. Dad threw the Stones into the mix but he seemed to be the only person who listened to them. Everything else was by the big five.
It was a revelation to me when I bought my first Queen album that I didn’t know all the songs. It was only 50p but looking at the sleeve there was Now I’m Here and Killer Queen and then a bunch of other song names that meant nothing to me. Up to this point, I thought the radio had taught me everything there was to know about Queen. These other tracks must just be their next few hit singles (It didn’t occur to me that the album was released ten years prior and that Queen had newer records out there in the world).
When I put the needle down on Sheer Heart Attack side one I had something of a epiphany. As the wildtrack of seaside sounds faded into the blistering Brian May guitar riff that pulls the listener onto the promenade of Brighton in 1910 it hit me. Bands didn’t just play for the radio. Bands can make songs for just their records, for their fans, for themselves. I knew instantly that not everyone was supposed to like Brighton Rock. It was too loud to play nice. And Freddie was being very silly with his high pitched girlie voices as he role played both parties in a seafront seduction over the heaviest metal I’d heard to date.
Queen were playing for fun. They were pushing the envelope. Brian was going nuts on a guitar solo the likes of which I had never encountered before. It lasted longer than the rest of the song. Was that allowed? It didn’t just fill that gap between second chorus and third verse. It stole the song from the rest of the band. There’s a point in Brighton Rock when every one else stops playing and it’s just mad guitar noises for the longest time. It was amazing.
Queen were THE band to open my eyes and ears to the potential of rock and roll music. I still have my 50p copy of Sheer Heart Attack. It’s scratched to all hell and the sleeve is totally beaten up. Listening to the glory of Brighton Rock even now still puts me in a great mood. It opens up the possibilities in the world and it reminds of the day I decided I was going to be a Rock Fan Forever.
And yes. I have seen Baby Driver. They did great things with Brighton Rock, but I had some serious problems with some other parts of the movie.