This morning’s earworm was Brighton Rock, by Queen the opening track on their Sheer Heart Attack album.
Guitar World celebrates the guitar solo, of course:
“Brighton Rock” (Brian May) – Queen Sheer Heart Attack, 1974
Universally venerated for his lavish guitar orchestrations and tasteful British restraint, Brian May kicked over the traces on this high energy rocker that leads off Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack. One of May’s most blues-based excursions ever, the song’s extended solo section grew out of the guitarist’s experiments with an Echoplex tape delay unit. His original goal was to reproduce his multi-part guitar harmonies live on stage with Queen, back in the days before harmonizers were invented.
“I started messing around with the Echoplex, the delay that was available at the time,” May recalls. “I turned up the regeneration until it was giving me multiple repeats. I discovered you could do a lot with this—you could set up rhythms and play against them, or you could play a line and then play a harmony to it. But I decided that the delay [times] I wanted weren’t available on the Echoplex. So I modified it and made a new rail, which meant I could slide the head along and make the delay any length I wanted, because the physical distance between the two heads is what gave you the delay. Eventually, I had two home-adapted Echoplexes. And I discovered that if you put each echo through its own amp, you wouldn’t have any nasty interference between the two signals. Each amp would be like a full-blown, sustaining, overdriven guitar which didn’t have anything to do with the other one.
“So, ‘Brighton Rock’ was the first time that got onto a record. I’d already been trying it live on stage in the middle of ‘Son and Daughter’ [from Queen’s self-titled ’73 debut album], when Queen first toured with Mott the Hoople. It was rather crude at first. But I certainly had a lot of fun with it.”
(click here to continue reading 50 Greatest Guitar Solos | Guitar World.)
But for me, the loop playing in my head was this, from the bridge:
O Rock of Ages, do not crumble, love is breathing still
O Lady Moon, shine down a little people magic if you will
Listen here if you inexplicably don’t have this LP already in your music library
(click here to continue reading Queen – Brighton Rock Lyrics | Genius Lyrics.)
And an extended live version from 1975…
This is quite a long (long enough for Freddie’s White-to-Black Costume change) and slightly exotic guitar solo (Three Blind Mice?) sandwiched between ‘Brighton Rock’ and a short burst of ‘Son & Daughter’ that seemed to sit as the centrepiece of the gig; which is of course the ‘legendary’ BBC broadcast from Christmas Eve 1975, filmed at London’s Hammersmith Odeon taken from the recently released Blu-Ray ‘A Night At The Odeon’.
Donald A. Guarisco, Allmusic:
This breathtaking combination of theatrical pomp and grinding power chords is a stellar example of what made Queen such a unique group in the world of hard rock. The lyrics portray the giddy rush of joy that young lovers feel as they present a determined young man pursuing an elusive upper-crust girl: “Oh, rock of ages do not crumble/Love is breathing still/Oh, Lady Moon shine down/A little people magic, if you will.” The music captures the euphoric feel of the lyrics with a fast-paced melody that pairs breathless, staccato verse melodies crammed with notes a la Gilbert & Sullivan with a smoother but no less rousing chorus that has a sing-along feel. On paper, “Brighton Rock” is the stuff of pure pop but Queen transforms into a hard-rocking juggernaut on their recording thanks to an arrangement that places Brian May’s guitar chops front and center: it starts with carnival sound effects that quickly give way to a wave of dazzling, percolating (but very heavy) guitar riffs that fuel an arrangement anchored by a stomping but no less intricate beat from the rhythm section. It also includes a solo break where May trots out a jaw-dropping guitar solo that weaves a series of Hendrix-style riffs into a mini-symphony of power chords. The final piece of the puzzle is the typically complex vocals that were a trademark for Queen: Freddie Mercury contributes a cheeky lead that uses different ‘voices’ for the two characters (a helium falsetto for the girl, a lusty baritone for the boy) and May and Roger Taylor join Mercury to create a symphonically-dense set of backing vocals that pump the chorus up to grandiose heights. It all added up to a multi-layered feast of sound that was balanced pop sweetness and hard rock muscle with skill and a totally personalized sense of style. “Brighton Rock” went on to become a favorite with Queen fans, many of whom consider it May’s definitive guitar performance on record. It also became a mainstay of Queen’s live show, where May utilized tape-delay units to recreate the ornate instrumental section (an epic 12-minute live version of “Brighton Rock” can be found on Live Killers).
(click here to continue reading Brighton Rock – Queen | Song Info | AllMusic.)