Stripping the sound down to nothing again, we have something slightly less minimalist to open the second side. Specifically, we have innuendo and weird noises.
It’s obviously brilliant.
On most levels, it lacks subtlety, although for Queen, it’s surprisingly sparse, oddly broken up. That the bridge is made of actual rock is the most out of place thing here, everything else is reassuringly off-kilter.
First the filth.
You take my body –
I give you heat
You say you’re hungry
I give you meat
I suck your mind
You blow my head
Make love, –
Inside your bed
Like I say, subtlety isn’t the strong point here. In fact, the absence of innuendo is what makes it stand out. There is only one way of understanding it, and it’s oddly surprising to hear the often sexual band push it right out there.
Freddie is horny, is what we’re saying here. And he wants everyone else to be horny too.
The fact that he decides to do this with such an oddly structured song, all tense bass thunks, and tiny interjections from drums and vocal and all sorts.
There’s one point where a break is played first on piano, then a moment later repeated on drums. That’s an odd moment, but it works perfectly.
There’s an agonising tension to the bulk of the song. A deeply suggestive abruptness, only briefly is movement actually permitted, for those brief bridges, which are actually when the vocals start pulling against each other. The tension is maintained, even as it is released
Every time I get hot
You wanna cool down
Everytime I get high
You say you wanna come down
You say it’s enough
In fact it’s too much,
Actually, reading that back, it’s creepy as fuck.
And so is the solo.
An unsettling mass of harmoniser guitar effects and vocal moans and loops. Definitively one of those times when they would’ve been accused of using synths. This is why we get those statements, it’s because people don’t believe quite how they make this sort of mass of noise.
It’s a Bosch painting of a solo, something to get lost and scared in. The vivid sexuality of the song apparently becomes much too much, and Freddie descends into a psychedelic hellscape.
It’s too much even for Nine Inch Nails to do more than imply.
Cackling terror overwhelms, and as we fall back, it pulls back to chorus.
It’s just another expression of bombastic strangeness, the weirdest part of this relatively restrained album. It almost feels like a satire of the overwhelmingly raw sexual undertone to much rock of the era. It pulls it to the surface, and then lifts it up a bit, making it absurd and weird and stupid and real.
Which feels right. In some ways it’s tame, in others it’s extreme, but it certainly feels honest, despite the over the topness of it all.
It’s obviously marvellous, just for being simultaneously so damn Queen, and so unlike anything else they’ve produced. I imagine many would be baffled by it’s existence, while also instantly recognising Freddie’s direct kind of coyness.
And yeah. The Nine Inch Nails one sounds roughly as you’d expect. Mostly interesting for Trent Reznor attempting to make the phrase ‘make love’ sound angry.
Which I guess is the core of this. Even at Freddie’s most sexually forward, it’s all about the love.
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.