15 July 1975 – Queen’s single, “Keep Yourself Alive” was re-released in America and Australia by Elektra Records with B-side “Lily of the Valley”

This happened after the the success of “Killer Queen” (and after Elektra became part of WEA). The single is taken from Queen’s eponymous debut album released in 1973

In the summer of 1975, Elektra Records approached Queen with the idea of re-releasing ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ as a single. By that point, the band had become more popular in the United States, and, with sessions planned to commence on their fourth album shortly, this was met with a surprising amount of positivity.

On 2 July, the band entered Trident Studios to record a completely revamped recording of the song, with a fresh, new arrangement more akin to its live renditions than the original. Unfortunately, shortly after the sessions ended, issues that had been building with Trident Productions and Norman and Barry Sheffield came to a head, and, a moratorium was placed on all new recordings while the legal squabbles were worked out.

‘Keep Yourself Alive’ was lost in the mire of litigation, and, with Elektra at a loss, the original 1972 recording was released instead, albeit edited slightly.

This re-recording would remain unreleased until 1991, when it was unearthed by Hollywood Records’ archivists and included as a bonus track on the CD reissue of ‘Queen’ twenty Years Later. The song once again appeared as part of a comprehensive archival release, this time being released – chronologically correctly – as a bonus track on the deluxe editions of ‘A Night At The Opera.’

  • Queen – The Complete Works by Georg Purvis

Brian May originally wrote “Keep Yourself Alive” on acoustic guitars during Queen’s practice sessions at Imperial College and the garden at Ferry Road in 1970. The band were still on the hunt for a bass player.

The first version of “Keep Yourself Alive” was recorded in summer 1971 at De Lane Lea Studios. It was produced by Louie Austin and includes the intro played on Brian May’s Hallfredh acoustic guitar. Which remains Brian’s favourite version. Then in 1972, the song was properly recorded at Trident Studios

Roger Taylor said In a radio in 1977, Brian had penned the lyrics thinking of them as ironic and tongue-in-cheek, but their sense was completely changed when Freddie sang them.

“The first recording of it ever was in De Lane Lea when we did it ourselves and I’ve still got that recording and I think it’s very good and has something which the single never had.

But THEY pressurised us very strongly to redo all the tracks and we redid ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ with Roy and it was pretty awful, actually. I thought it was terrible and I was very unhappy about it and I thought the De Lane Lea one was better and I eventually managed to persuade Roy that it was better as well. So, we went back in and did it again in a way that was a bit more true to the original. But there is no way that you can ever really repeat something. I have this great belief that the magic of the moment can never be recaptured and, although we ended up with something that was technically in the playing and perhaps even in the recording a bit better than the De Lane Lea thing.

I still think that the De Lane Lea one had that certain sort of magic, so I was never really happy. As it turned out no one else was ever really happy either and we kept remixing it. We thought that it’s the mix that’s wrong, we kept remixing and there must have been, at least, seven or eight different mixes by different groups of people. Eventually we went in and did a mix with Mike Stone, our engineer, and that’s the one that we were in the end happiest with. That’s the one we put out. But, to my mind ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ was never really satisfactory. Never had that magic that it should have had.”

Brian May 1983 BBC Radio One

“Keep Yourself Alive” is cited as the highlight of Queen’s debut album. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote that while Queen “too often . . . plays like a succession of ideas instead of succinct songs”, “there is an exception to that rule — the wild, rampaging opener ‘Keep Yourself Alive,’ one of their very best songs!”

The beautiful picture of Freddie Mercury and Brian May was taken during Queen’s concert at The Marquee Club, December 1973. It was also used for the insert in the final Queen album, ‘Made In Heaven.’

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