I Can Hear Music

uDiscoverMusic.com brings you exclusive editorial for each single included in the Messenger Of The Gods:

‘I Can Hear Music’/‘Going Back’ (1973)

Queen formed in 1970, but by 1972, they were still holding out for that perfect record deal. Many labels were sniffing around, but the band, wary of sharks, stayed patient.

Eventually, they agreed to a unique partnership with the owners of Trident Studios: the band would have access to their world-class facilities free of charge; the studio owners would then broker a deal with a major label on the band’s behalf. The inevitable snag was that they could only use the studios on “down time”. As Brian May later recalled: “They would call us up and say David Bowie had finished a few hours early, so we had from 3am until 7am, when the cleaners came in.”

While the band were hanging around Trident, they were propositioned by producer Robin Cable, who was looking for a singer to record a cover of ‘I Can Hear Music’. Freddie Mercury duly stepped forward, roping in Brian and Roger on harmonies. The recording paid tribute to Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound, which was then enjoying a resurgence thanks to glam rock’s excesses. Mercury’s androgynous vocal is well-suited to the song (bringing to mind Ronnie Spector’s 1966 delivery more than it does The Beach Boys’ 1969 version), while Brian’s unmistakable guitar lifts the record beyond simple homage.

EMI released the single in 1973 (with another 60s pop classic, ‘Going Back’, on the B-side), under the pseudonym Larry Lurex, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Gary Glitter. Though it failed to chart on initial release, it has since become legendary in Queen-lore and is now seen as a lost classic. In the early 90s, builders renovating a house in Liverpool stumbled across a job lot of pirate copies, at first using them as Frisbees, as they didn’t know what they’d found. Today, original copies fetch over £200.

Paul McGuinness