And we’re back in the Seven Seas.
This time in full. This time the one we all know.
Those piano arpeggios ring, the guitar sings out and the drums hail the launch.
Into the Seven Seas of Rhye.
It’s the first hit. Reaching number 10 in the UK charts. Starting as a sketch on the first album, it was worked up and when they got a chance to go on Top of the Pops, this was what they played. It was rushed to single, and the album came later.
And it stuck.
It’s an interesting coda to the album, it feels simpler than a lot of what’s going on here, but it is very much it’s own thing. A self contained journey to Rhye, with dramatic and intense lyrics, and so much energy.
For me, it’s a track made up of stitched together glorious moments. It hangs well, not feeling like different pieces sewn together, but it still seems like it occasionally glows brighter, for tiny moments.
That intro, for a start, the keening guitars over the heralding piano. Mirrored in the pitching up scream as the band sings ‘forever’.
The way Freddie promises his smile at the end. The way the guitar hangs off that smile, beckoning you in.
The middle eight (May’s composition) features these gorgeous harmonies, preparing for May’s solo.
It’s all thunder-fire, titans, unbelievers, privy counsellors, troubadors and smiles.
And then the sing song at the end. To end the whole album, something of a rock opus with a crowd of strangers singing ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ over a stylophone?
Actually, it’s been noted that Roy Thomas Baker, the producer here, playing that stylophone is a critical breach of the no synth credo. I don’t care, I just love the ridiculousness of it.
The song does feel like nostalgia. It’s hard for me to separate that from it’s position on the greatest hits, and how deep it is buried within every crevice of my mind. Am I being seeing performative nostalgia or just being nostalgic?
The seaside likers are a clue. For all the song’s bombastic cast and blustering egotism, I think this really is a song about visiting beaches. The seas are a promise, somewhere you’ll be taken. Freddie is clearing a path for you, getting rid of distraction so he can take you to his seven seas.
Like at the Ogre Battle, we’re being promised a show.
You are mine I possess you
I belong to you forever
On the other hand, looking down at the lyrics, I can imagine them being thrown down in any rap battle. Aggression and self aggrandisement are the order of the day. It’s a wonderful heap of ridiculous boasts and audience disdain. A courtroom defence, or an unlikely gangfight.
I love the posturing, the preening, the glam violence of the thing.
But I still come back to that smile.
And it’s all done for love.
I don’t know how much we know about Rhye, but I’ll tell you one thing for certain.
I’d let Freddie take me there.
I often do.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.