Today is Brian May’s 71st birthday and we’re celebrating by sharing this stunning recording from Maida Vale Studios on October 28, 1977 (and broadcast on BBC Radio 1 two weeks later). It’s become one of the most bootlegged Queen recordings ever. The idea to capture the band live in a state-of-the-art broadcast recording studio was indeed a smart one, since Queen’s success came from a combination of high-end, tech-driven guitar wizardry and passionate musical performances.
Recorded right as their popular News of the World album was being released, Queen during this time sounded as if Led Zeppelin had run smack dab into Ziggy-era David Bowie while he was shopping for mascara in the mall. The Zep influence is most apparent on the track, “It’s Late,” whose dreamy center is a direct rip-off of the Zeppelin interlude in the center of “Whole Lotta Love.” Of course, Freddie Mercury’s over-the-top showmanship was certainly influenced by the thin white duke, but Queen was certainly an amazing band in its own right.
Queen wrote strong, melodramatic rock ‘n’ roll songs; just take a listen to “Spread Your Wings.” Tragically, most people know that Queen’s amazing career essentially came to an end when Freddie Mercury became the first public rock star to die of AIDS. The band did re-group with guitarist Brian May and ex-Free/Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers as more of a tribute act, and they have had a successful run as a touring group since 2004.
To celebrate May and get ready for the upcoming Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, listen to “We Will Rock You,” “It’s Late,” “Spread Your Wings” and “My Melancholy Blues” below.