In probably the most supremely Queenly contrast ever, Brian jumps from folksy to rocksy, and from wistful to kinky.
And from the sublime to the ridiculous, but still some kind of wonderful.
For a start, one of my favourite lines ever:
You call me sweet like I’m some kind of cheese
A Roger Taylor quote hoiked from wikipedia sums something up beautifully*:
There’s an old song called “Sweet Lady”, which Brian wrote, on A Night At The Opera, and he was saying, ‘I want it to go like this,’ and he wanted it to do three different things at once and that was a bit hard to understand.
So here we have Queen’s only really punchy hard rock song on the album…and it’s in waltz time.
I love these guys.
Semantically, it’s Brian exploring relationships, and it feels a bit more switch, although possibly this is just the second verse being the Sweet Lady, talking back to the narrator.
I want to read it as deeply submissive, a dommed relationship to accompany the stormtrooper. But really, I think we’re just hearing people talking past each other. It’s not about Brian wanting someone to sweet to put him on a lead, it’s just a straightforward argument.
The narrator gets the call, complains about the implied jealousy, and gets sarky. The response is just as irate, possibly missing the irony.
And the bridge leaves us with a pretty banal sentiment, that doesn’t really approach the incident.
So despite sounding like a pretty sexy rock song, it’s actually just a banal fight, pretty damning in its pointlessness.
But, well, at least it sounds pretty sexy.
Brian does do something really clever with the riff, which sounds more urgent and pulsing than you’d expect from anything in 3/4 time. It’s catchy and exciting. The intro isn’t as thrilling as we like from a Queen track, but it’s solid, and ropes you in.
And of course, Freddie sings the hell out of it. Actually managing to get genuine venom into the cheese line.
There’s also something nice in the banal bridge also being the only bit in 4/4, just to undermine itself.
I’m going to give this one to the guitars, basically. The album needed a traditional rocker, and it got one, with a heck of a riff (and actually, I almost prefer the way the walking up return from the riff used in the verse).
The song surges on into all of these little weird variations on itself, pulling in different energies and ideas, but still keeping that pulse going through clever manipulation of guitar effects.
The chorus has such a weird underpinning guitar part, bursting into these weird little knots of guitar, losing the laid back groove for something more urgent, but less aggressive.
And then there’s guitar solo finale, various repeating motifs playing over each other, lots of delay and echo, lots of Brian, basically.
It’s not the best thing here, but it’s still got it going on.
I wants a groove, and so it nails one.
Can’t complain, realistically.
Sweeter than some cheeses, but with a bite of bitterness.
Definitely worth a taste.
*That something may simply be that he had little idea what was going on in the band, and that’s why I love him.
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.