“We’re the Cecil B. DeMille of rock and roll, always wanting to do things bigger and better.” - Freddie Mercury
Sometimes a song will happen along that is such a confection of vocal and instrumental sound that all you can think is what it would have been like to play a part - any part - in the making of it. One such song is the mondo-exhilarating Somebody to Love by Queen.
The multi-tracked chorale motif was Freddy Mercury's homage to the gospel stylings of Aretha Franklin, which is probably why it is my favorite Queen song. Watching the YouTube video, I just want to say, hey guys, can I sing too? Such fun.
Queen rose to stardom working not as most groups did paying dues on the club circuit but rather in private, building out the theatrical spectacles for which they were famous. The first time they performed publicly, it was for a small invited London college crowd, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The campy-glam presentation that evolved didn't change the fact that Mercury, with a recorded vocal range of nearly four octaves, and his fellow members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon were all accomplished songwriters and musicians who created some of the most complex songs the rock world has ever seen.
As an aside, and completely unrelated to the time period relevant to this blog, Queen and David Bowie wrote and recorded one of the few songs that I considered worthy in the 80s, Under Pressure. Check it out.