A Rolling Stone Reviewer Called Queen ‘the 1st Truly Fascist Rock Band’ in 1979

by Jeremy Spirogis
A Rolling Stone Reviewer Called Queen ‘the 1st Truly Fascist Rock Band’ in 1979

Whenever you suppose a rock band is — and at all times has been — universally adored, return and take a look at critiques of their data after they first got here out. Start with those that appeared in Rolling Stone journal.

If you probably did that with the primary Led Zeppelin album, you’d discover a curious evaluation of a landmark report. Writing his first evaluation for the fledgling publication in March 1969, a 21-year-old UCLA pupil named John Mendelsohn described Robert Plant as “nowhere near as exciting” as Rod Stewart.

But Mendelsohn didn’t cease there. While calling the music on Led Zeppelin “weak” and “unimaginative,” the sensible younger man mentioned British blues acts just like the Zep merely adopted the “formula” that concerned getting a singer “who can do a good spade imitation.”

Rolling Stone readers would see a lot extra the place that got here from within the following decade. By 1979, when Dave Marsh sized up Jazz, the brand new album by Queen, he took issues to a different degree by calling Freddie Mercury and his bandmates fascists.

Rolling Stone’s Dave Marsh went off on Queen in his evaluation of ‘Jazz’

Brian May (backside) and Freddie Mercury of Queen carry out on stage at The National Bowl on June fifth, 1982 within the UK. | Pete Still/Redferns

Marsh didn’t waste any time attending to the purpose in his February ’79 evaluation of Jazz. “There’s no Jazz on Queen’s new record, in case fans of either were worried about the defilement of an icon,” Marsh wrote. “Queen hasn’t the imagination to play jazz — Queen hasn’t the imagination, for that matter, to play rock & roll.”

If Queen followers hadn’t taken offense by then, the next traces took care of that drawback. After referring to the band’s music as “a dull pastiche,” Marsh referred to as the band members “arrogant brats” whose degree of self-regard is so disconcerting as a result of it’s “so unfounded.”

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While you mightn’t suppose it doable, the evaluation truly goes downhill from there. A number of paragraphs later, Marsh says Mercury “too much of a boor to feel stupid about” his “shamelessness.” (That comes as a reference to “Let Me Entertain You.”)

But the kicker is de facto one thing. After declaring “We Will Rock You” the group’s “marching order,” Marsh writes that “Queen may be the first truly fascist rock band.” Then he indicators off calling Mercury and firm “creeps” with “polluting ideas.”

Another RS reviewer slipped ‘Nazi’ into the subsequent Queen album evaluation

QUEEN in 1978: Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deason | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

With that Jazz evaluation on the books, Rolling Stone handed off the subsequent Queen album (1980’s The Game) to Steve Pond. This time round, the evaluation featured a extra constructive tone, if solely by comparability. “The Game is much less obnoxious than Queen’s previous few outings,” Pond wrote.

But he couldn’t end writing that sentence with out one other reference to reactionary politics. “It’s harder to get annoyed with a group that’s plugging away at bad rockabilly than with one blasting out crypto-Nazi marching tunes,” Pond wrote.

Meanwhile, in case you’re questioning what occurred when Led Zeppelin II hit report shops later in ’69, we’ll supply up a clip from Mendelsohn’s evaluation of that masterwork. “Who can deny that Jimmy Page is absolutely the number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5’4″ and 5’8″ on the planet?”

Indeed, if Mendelsohn’s collegiate sarcasm didn’t knock you out, his estimation of the peak of Jimmy Page (who stands someplace round 5’11”) should have.

And in case you suppose the story ends there, we’ll level your consideration to a terrific web site that’s taken to compiling the worst Rolling Stone critiques in historical past. So far, the rely has topped 500. They don’t appear completed.

Also see: David Bowie Recalled Smoking Pot for the first Time With the Pre-Zeppelin John Paul Jones

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