Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Certain Songs #1683: Queen – “Modern Times Rock ‘N’ Roll” | Medialoper

Album: Queen
Year: 1973

. . .

Hi, my name is Jim, and I have a terrible confession to make: I’m not really much of a Queen fan.

I’m not sure why, but for some reason all of things that everybody loves about them — the bombast, Brian May’s utterly unique guitar tone, Freddy Mercury’s equally unique howl, the stacked vocals — never did it for me.

Obviously, they were omnipresent on the radio for a decade, starting with “Killer Queen” — which teenage Jim enjoyed that a band called Queen had a song called “Killer Queen” on an album that had “Queen” in the title — all the way through “Under Pressure,” and while I enjoyed many of those singles, I never truly fell in love with them. Except, of course, for the all-time all-time I’ll be writing about tomorrow which led me to a revelation about popular culture 15 years after it cracked the top ten.

That said, if I never ever ever never hear fucking “We Will Rock You” and/or fucking “We Are The Champions” again for the rest of my life, it will still be too soon.

So I heard all of the records they made from their debut through Jazz — Joseph had some, Craig from across the street had some, and the zeitgeist had the rest — and was even persuaded to purchase their 1973 debut at some point.

And naturally, my favorite song on their debut was the most ferocious rocker — a lightspeed proto punk throwback called “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll — and wasn’t even sung by Freddy Mercury, but drummer Roger Taylor, who could barely keep up with the strumming of Brian Ramone and John Ramone on a song that he wrote. Sorry, I mean Brian May and John Deacon, of course. But I’m pretty sure I heard “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll” around the same time I heard Rocket to Russia, and there were definitely some similarities.

Had to make do with the worn out rock and roll scene
The old bop is getting tired, need a rest
Well, you know what I mean
’58 that was great but it’s over now and that’s all
Somethin’ harder’s coming up
Gonna really knock a hole in the wall
Gonna hit ya, grab ya hard, make you feel ten feet tall

It was a blast, saying everything it needed to say in less than two minutes, with producer Roy Thomas Baker only amping up the harmonies on the chorus, always coming after the band came to a full stop.

(Modern tiiiiiiiiimes!!!)
Rock ‘n’ roll!!!
(Modern tiiiiiiiiimes!!!)
Rock ‘n’ roll!!!

Freddy Mercury joins in on the fun, as well as contributing Little Richard piano in the back half of the song, after Brian May does a cascading guitar solo that starts off with a single note cascading over itself and ends up tumbling right out of your speaker. Like the rest of “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll,” May’s solo gets it done with speed and economy.

“Modern Times Rock ‘N’ Roll”

“Modern Times Rock ‘N’ Roll” live (Freddy Mercury singing)

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