Queen Now I’m Here
Brian May penned some of the greatest Queen songs and this one is no exception, being chock full of satisfying riffs, interesting chord progressions and rock’n’roll style soloing, says Steve Allsworth .
Now I’m Here was largely recounting the rigours of extensive touring that the band carried out during the early 70s. This relentless gigging was the foundation of the band’s eventual success in America, and was by no means easy. They have since recounted their battle against the common ‘east Coast’ style rock of The eagles and Steely Dan which was very much the sound of American rock radio around that time. This was obviously at odds with Queen’s flamboyant style and classically-influenced brand of rock. Now I’m Here is more of a straight-ahead rock tune, however, much in the tradition of many of may’s other rock classics such as Hammer To Fall, we will rock You, Fat Bottomed Girls and Tie Your mother Down. It was one of the first songs May wrote after recovering from a severe bout of hepatitis, which severely affected the Sheer Heart Attack sessions (1974). may has since admitted that he was nervous the band would find a replacement guitarist while he was recovering in hospital, and he was determined to return to work to stop that from happening. Clearly the band never even considered replacing may, and even left space in the songs they were already working on for him to add his parts when he was healthy enough. even for a rock’n’roll track, it has Queen’s typical musical complexity, containing four distinct sections and three tonal centres. As such, the form is also non-standard with the big rock riff almost sounding like a chorus in itself. Simpler Chuck Berry style elements can be heard throughout the verses and solos, however, with typical double-stop licks and even a nod to the great man with the lyric “Go, go, go little Queenie” towards the end of the song. Prior to the album, Queen also supported the band mott The Hoople in America, which provided further inspiration for this song, referenced in the lyrics “Down in the city, just Hoople and me”. There’s also an arguable musical reference to their famous hit All The Young Dudes (written by David Bowie), with its rising wholetone/chromatic figure at the end of the chorus not sounding dissimilar to the end of the verses in the Queen track (see the Technique Focus boxout). The original track was typical of most songs of that era, in that it wasn’t played to click. Although the tempo moves around quite a lot, the non linear nature of the tempo provides added excitement during the big drum interludes and elsewhere. I’ve obviously tried to stay reasonably faithful to this, in order to retain much of the excitement and energy of the original. This track was evidently one of the band’s favourites, since it was played at virtually every gig from 1974-1986. There are therefore a number of excellent early live performances online (which show off the skills of drummer roger Taylor in particular), so it’s worth checking out some of these breakneck versions.
That was a Brian May thing. We released it after Killer Queen and it’s a total contrast, just a total contrast. It was just to show people we can still do rock’n’roll - we haven’t forgotten our rock’n’roll roots. Freddie Mercury