Queen in concert at The Hippodrome, Golders Green, recorded on October 20, 1973 by BBC Radio 1 for their weekly In-Concert series. Queen came along at a time when seemingly everything in Rock was up for grabs – changes were all over the place. The 70s were the decade of Prog, Hard Rock, Country-Rock, Glam, 50s Revival, Disco, Punk and New Wave (and probably several more that flew by).
A lot of musical changes were crammed into the space of 10 years, and the business itself was changing considerably during those ten years. Rock had grown up – was now a huge business; it was something that entertained corporate stature. And even though it was still a bunch of kids getting together in a garage and working on music and struggling to make it, it was now big business – very big business.
Queen came along, following in the footsteps of David Bowie, Mott The Hoople and Glam in general. However, they represented a different approach as to how music and bands were looking at business and their careers. In the 1970s many bands were setting up their own production companies and in some cases their own labels. It was a way of maintaining artistic vision and retaining control over what they were putting out. Quickly fading were the days when an artist or band would be signed to a label and have three songs cut; one for the a-side of a single, one for the b-side and one extra in case neither worked out. Based on sales and how that single did, they would go on to the next step and record an albums worth of material (sometimes quickly, which meant a lot of “filler” was involved). It was pretty much to the dictates of the label – and some labels were unscrupulous (and still are, according to quite a few). The business was now evolving into an atmosphere where Managers and Production companies were beginning to call the shots.
In the case of Queen, they were aligned with producer Roy Thomas Baker and Trident Studios; a relationship which was the catalyst and model for many other artists to follow later on. Baker and Trident negotiated what at the time was barely heard of – especially for a new act – leasing masters and negotiating with labels in other territories to release their albums. Baker, Trident and Queen were in a position, not only to call the shots, but to preserve their artistic direction and vision – something previously known in the world of Music as a crapshoot.
But the fact that Queen were high-energy and coupled with excellent production, made them an instantly accessible band. I remember when their debut album was issued in the U.S. via Elektra (they were on EMI in the UK), it succeeded in dropping jaws and creating a lot of excitement. This concert comes just about two months after that debut album was issued and you get the unmistakable feeling something is starting to happen.
By 1975 however, Queen had become major. And thanks to their 3rd album Sheer Heart Attack, they were became international successes. Remember, this is all before A Night At The Opera, the pivotal album which turned them into superstars and filled arenas to overflow. This concert finds them heading in that direction. Propelled by the soaring vocals of Freddie Mercury and the virtuosic efforts of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
The story of Queen is not unknown to fans – the story of Freddie Mercury and his battle with AIDS took a ravaging disease and brought it closer to home.
But that’s all in the future – here we are, and it’s 1973. The Hippodrame is playing host to Queen and BBC Radio 1 are preserving it all. You get to listen to it now and be reminded or become introduced to one of the extraordinary bands of the 1970s and hear why they became household names.