While they’d develop their ideas more fully with the help of studio technology over subsequent albums, Queen’s basic stylistic elements are already place on their 1973 debut. Mercury’s theatrics, May’s distinctive guitar sound, and multi-part song structures are all present and accounted for, at least on the stronger tracks.
It’s Mercury who’s writing the most interesting songs here; May’s ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ is a competent rocker that’s a worthy addition to the group’s compilations and ‘Doing All Right’ (originally recorded by Smile) and ‘The Night Comes Down’ are pretty, but they could have potentially been written by plenty of other generic seventies rock bands. On the other hand, Mercury’s work points the way forward for the band; the dramatic and dynamic ‘Liar’, the campy ‘Jesus’ and the mini-epics ‘Great King Rat’ and ‘My Fairy King’ all foreshadow what was to come for the group.
It’s somewhat unfair, however, to talk about this debut as a transition to greater things, as it’s a very solid record in its own right. Queen is an impressive debut, and it’s interesting to see how Queen made their idiosyncrasies even more extreme after this promising start.