Seven Seas of Rhye
Vinyl single - France - 1st edition.
Seven Seas of Rhye is a progressive rock song by Queen. It was first released as only an instrumental as track B6 on Queen's debut album on 1973-07-13, then a single on 1974-02-23, and finally as track B6 on Queen II on 1974-03-08. The song was written primarily by Freddie Mercury, with help from Brian May. The song was produced by Queen and Roy Thomas Baker.
In 1972, when the first Queen album was being recorded, the song was still unfinished, but the early instrumental worked as a nice album closer. Freddie went on to write lyrics, and Brian increased the complexity of the music and the band recorded the track. Queen performed the song live on Top of the Pops in February 1974, and the single was rushed to production to capitalize on the popularity.
For the recording, Freddie sings the lead and backing vocals and plays piano, Brian plays guitar and sings backing vocals, Roger Taylor plays all the percussion, and John Deacon plays bass. The songs ends by transitioning into the 1907 British music hall song, I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside. To create a sense of continuity between Queen II, and the follow-up album, Sheer Heart Attack, a similar fair background noise and whistling can be heard at the end of Seven Seas of Rhye, the last track of Queen II, and the beginning of Brighton Rock, the first track of Sheer Heart Attack.
Freddie explained that the song is meant to take place in his fairy-tale world he called Rhye, and the song seems to describe a space ship descending on the land and punishing the people of Rhye. I've heard it speculated that this was Freddie making a political statement against the strong anti-gay sentiments of the UK at the time, though Freddie never explicitly said as much.
Many different releases of the single were made, but they all featured the same audio. The B-side was primarily See What a Fool I've Been, however the Japanese single uses The Loser In The End, and the re-issue adds a third track, Funny How Love Is. The album Queen II album, and most compilations use the single recording, but there is an extremely rare promo with the wrong backing track and several remixes. There were also several different videos made for the song, each with various edits to the audio.
I first heard this song from the Queen's Greatest Hits (Hollywood Records) compilation around 1996. I'm pretty sure I loved it right away. The piano intro is wonderful, Freddie's vocals are amazing, and Brian's guitar work in this song is fantastic, especially in the intro and after the bridge. As a boy who was frequently bullied, I adored songs about epic power, and this song has it both in the lyrics and the sound.
Fear me you lord and lady preachers I descend upon your earth from the skies I command your very souls you unbelievers Bring before me what is mine The seven seas of Rhye Can you hear me you peers and privy councilors? I stand before you naked to the eyes I will destroy any man who dares abuse my trust I swear that you'll be mine At the seven seas of Rhye Sister, I live and lie for you Mister, do and I'll die You are mine, I possess you, Belong to you forever, ever, ever, ever... Storm the master marathon I'll fly through By flash and thunder fire and I'll survive (I'll survive, I'll survive, I'll survive, I'll survive, I'll survive, I'll survive...) Then I'll defy the laws of nature And come out alive (then I'll get you) Begone with you you shod and shady senators Give out the good, leave out the bad evil cries I challenge the mighty titan and his troubadours And with a smile I'll take you to the seven seas of Rhye