Queen – BBC Sessions 1973-1977 (Wardour-087)

BBC Sessions 1973-1977(Wardour-087)

(62:16):  See What A Fool I’ve Been, Liar, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive (Langham 1 studio London – July 25th, 1973).  Modern Times Rock And Roll, Nevermore, White Queen (Langham 1 studio London – April 3rd, 1974).  Bob Harris MD, Now I’m Here, Bob Harris MD, Stone Cold Crazy, Bob Harris MC, Flick Of The Wrist, Bob Harris MD, Tenement Funster, Bob Harris MC (Maida Vale 4 studio London – October 16th, 1974).  Spread Your Wings, It’s Late, My Melancholy Blues, We Will Rock You (slow), explosion and reading of Siddartha (by Hermann Hesse), We Will Rock You (fast) (Maida Vale 4 studio London – October 16th, 1977)

The BBC sessions for Queen provide the best sounding recordings of their early years and, for the sessions in 1977 for News Of The World, one where they experimented with their newer songs in different arrangements.  Besides the inferior official release in 1989 on At The Beeb  (re-released in 1995 as Queen At The BBC), the best collections are Complete BBC Sessions 1973-1977 (Digital Queen Archives Q-001AB) and As It Began:  The BBC Archives (Godfather GR 225/226).

Wardour have pressed four of the BBC sessions (the second, fourth, fifth and sixth) in upgraded sound quality, claiming these are from the master tapes.  The sound quality is slightly more clear and fatter sounding than before, but the improvemente isn’t significant.  These probably were leaked from the vaults because of the re-releases of Queen’s catalogue with extra tracks for each album. 

Queen’s second visit to the BBC was on July 25th in Langham Studio, broadcast on Radio 1 on September 24th, 1973.  The first song in this session is “See What A Fool I’ve Been” which would be released as the b-side to “Seven Seas Of Rhye” in February 1974, several months after.  The studio version is about a dog, but this version’s lyrics are much different, singing about a train and the highway.  (Live versions would include lyrics from both versions).  

“Liar” is very similar to the take on Queen, but “Son And Daughter” is expanded greatly past the studio version.  Freddie comes closer to singing the obscenity, singing, “buckle down and shovel sh…….”  Where the studio version ends, this version continues with a long guitar solo and a new closing verse. 

Taylor has some spoken dialogue in the silence before the final verse, saying:  “Steal yourself, this is valid…”  The final track is “Keep Yourself Alive” that is again very similar to the studio version.

The fourth BBC session occured right about the time Queen II was released in the spring of 1974.  This session was taped on April 3rd and broadcast on April 15th, 1974.  None of these songs has been released officially.  The first song is “Modern Times Rock And Roll” from the first album.  This rendition is slower, heavier and longer than either the studio version of that which was taped in the third session.  It has a longer instrumental ending and Freddie even joins in shouting “rock and roll” at the end with Roger.

“Nevermore” is similar to the studio recording except for a guitar added at the end and “White Queen” is essentially the same as the studio track and

Queen’s fifth BBC session, and second one for 1974, was recorded on October 16th and broadcast on November 4th just days before the release of their third album Sheer Heart Attack.  These four songs have never been officially released but three songs are found on He Made It On His Own (Gypsy Eye GE-144).

The tape Wardour uses is more complete than the others because it includes the Bob Harris song introductions. 

“Now I’m Here” is almost identical to the studio version.  The biggest difference is a shorter fade at the end.  “Stone Cold Crazy” is also almost identical to the studio version except there is an echo effect on Freddie’s vocals.  “Tenament Funster” has a different vocal performance than the studio version and has a proper ending.  “Flick Of The Wrist” has a different guitar solo and the final “baby you’ve been had” is sung acapella.

The sixth session was recorded for John Peel on October 28th, 1977 at Maida Vale Studio, London and broadcast on November 14th, right about the time News Of The World was released.  This has never been issued but can be found on the vinyl Freddie’s Boys At The Beeb (JOK 4 Bulsara Records 001) and previously on silver disc on We Will Rock You (On Stage CD 12018).  It starts off with “Spread Your Wings.”  The performance is similar to the studio version except that the tempo speeds up by the ending in an arrangement not found anywhere else.  

“It’s Late” strangely includes the “orgasm” section of “Get Down, Make Love” in an arrangement never duplicated anywhere else.  “My Melancholy Blues” is similar to the studio version except that Brian accompanies the melody on guitar. 

“We Will Rock You” is unique.  The slow version starts off, and after one verse and the guitar solo there is an explosion and a female voice reading from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha“…believed in a creator God, Brachma. The Buddha rejected Brahmism and mocked at its rituals. As for Brachma, the Buddha didn’t deny his existence, but regarded him as a deluded spirit, who imagined he had created the universe.”  The track then proceeds with the fast version used to open their shows between 1977 to 1982.

Some copies of this session have audience cheering, but this lack the noise.  The entire session is fascinating because it appears as if Queen wanted to squeeze as much of News Of The World into a short radio program in order to promote the new album.

Wardour is a slight improvement in sound quality over the other silver pressed versions.  For historic perspetive, it’s worth having for the new Sheer Heart Attack session with Harris’ commentary between songs.  Otherwise, BBC Sessions 1973-1977 is not an important release. 

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  1. perhaps this Wardour release coupled with the newly announced “Complete Live At The Rainbow (FFMS-02A/B)” will supercede the older Godfather “As it began • The BBC Archives” title?


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