Fight from the inside


It’s been really hard to get back into writing these.

Prince, the other royalty in my personal fandom, apparently meant more to me than I knew. Trying to catch myself up on his actual music (I’ve been trawling the entire back catalogue, rather than just settling for the greatest hits I already knew, because that’s apparently the sort of thing I do, I don’t know if you noticed) has been a fascinating experiment, but it’s really hard to jump from that particular brand of precise, abrasive, oversexed funk back into Queen.

So I’m struggling here.

I guess you could say I’ve been having to… fight from the inside.

Yeah. I’m definitely reaching here.

Hey you boy, think that you know what you’re doing

You think you’re going to set things to rights

You’re just another picture on a teenage wall

You’re just another sucker ready for a fall

It’s really odd switching from one type of arrogance to another. The assured, sexy certainty of Prince is very different from the hostile, needy anger of Roger Taylor.

Again, I can’t believe I’m trying to maintain comparisons here. It’s ridiculous. This song has nothing to do with Prince, but I can’t get him out of my head, so here we are.

Prince to me was always an icon, a symbol (appropriately), more than something I really grew up understanding. I don’t know the music that well, his sex, sass and obvious perfectionism were just another colour I could add to my DJ sets. A certain kind of androgynous queer sexuality (at least how I read it, I’ve since read criticisms of his latter attitudes to sexuality that clash with my previous readings) that I could dip into, and be fed by.

Plus Sexy MF is a song he wrote about me, so I’ve got a lot of affection there.

So it’s very different deep diving into his back catalogue than it has been diving into Queen’s. It’s a different experience, albeit a quicker one (not writing about it does make it simpler).

Prince has a consistency that Queen don’t manage. So far the only totally duff set I’ve discovered is ‘Kamastura’, a New Power Generation Orchestra second bonus disc on an already three disc album (the Crystal Ball boxset). It sounds like the soundtrack to an incredible 90s adventure game detective story, but was actually written for Prince’s wedding…fuck only knows how that happened. But anyway, Prince covers a more narrow range of tones. The funk is always there. The beats always follow a pattern, even when he pulls jazzier or rockier, it’s still fundamentally Prince. This is fine. The sound is incredible, and within it there is a diversity, richness and joyful experimentalism that is utterly engaging.

Now Queen, they have a sound, and it ties everything together, but the songs themselves are outrageously diverse, pulling in entirely different genres, and mashing them into weird shapes, then pasting the Queen structure over the top.

I’m not saying that one is better than the other. Prince’s attention to detail is incredible, and his song writing is second to none. Not to mention his constant and obvious desire to explore, nourish and nurture not just his own creativity, but whole scenes. His creativity radiates outwards, infecting everything it touches with the colour purple. His impact is immense.

But it’s fascinating how iconic acts approach the notion of a sound differently.

You gotta, fight from the inside

Attack from the rear

Fight from the inside

You can’t win with your hands tied

Roger Taylor phones in this standard angry rock number. It sounds like his earlier teenage stuff, and not his excitingly odd stuff.

I don’t gel with it. It’s got some nice guitar crunches in it, and apparently Slash’s favourite guitar riff, but who the hell wants to have that on their tombstone?

Sorry Roger, I’d rather be with Prince Rogers Nelson.

At least right now.

Still love you, hun.


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.

One thought on “Fight from the inside

  1. In case anyone thinks I’m really cheating here. The things to look out for in this song are swagger, expressed through multiple means. The guitar is swaggering, the vocal is swaggering, the drums are swaggering. The whole piece is an exercise in swaggering. If we get to the point where we end up with audio dictionaries, then if you looked up the word swagger, this song would start playing, alongside Top Cat looking reaaaal sassy.

    But still, for me, that image is so much better than the actual song, which just sounds like Roger repeating himself a lot, and thinking he’ll get away with it if he swaggers.

    Which, to be fair, is a pretty strong example of exactly what swaggering is for, so perhaps, on the meta level, there is something to appreciate here.

    But by god am I just sad and lost about Prince.

    It’s weird how powerful music is, and how one thing can pull you away from another thing. The difference in tone is just too jarring, and it’s causing me to struggle. I even felt it on Spread your wings, and I adore that song.

    Music is weird and powerful and we relate to it in ways I just can’t comprehend.

    Which is why when you try and push it through words on a forced basis, you get strange beasts like that above.

    I think it is relevant enough, despite it’s sheer irrelevance, so I’m letting it stand, with this extra bite.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s