Why Queen Should Not Have Printed “No Synthesizers” On Liner Notes

Queen No Synthesizers

Photo: Helge Øverås [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

The issues as to why Queen placed the “No Synthesizers!” statement on their albums has been written about multiple times in the past. This article will attempt to place an argument as to why the band should have never placed that notice on their albums. In case, you have never read the reason why Queen placed the No Synthesisers tag on their albums, we will quickly cover that reason first.

It was initially thought by many fans that Queen were placing the “No Synthesizers!” line in response to the popular backlash against the use of Synthesizers in rock music. In the mid nineteen seventies there was a resentment against the use of Synthesizers because many people felt that was cheating. Some thoughts were that if a band was going to add strings to a recording, they should hire string players. If the groups wanted a horn section, the thought by some fans and critics were to go out and hire a horn section. Many people hated the sound of strings or horns duplicated on a synthesizer. These people clearly were not knowledgeable about the cost of hiring additional studio musicians or taking extra players on the road with aba band. Theses critics were extremist in their critic of bands. This backlash was considered one of the reasons why Queen placed the “No Synthesizers!” statement on their records. However it was not the main reason.

The main reason Queen placed the “No Synthesizers!” on their albums was in response to a music critic who had praised the synthesiser work on the band’s debut album entitled Queen. The comment had been made by Chris Wels in the British magazine Melody Maker. In the video documentary to the making of A Night At The Opera, Queen drummer Roger Taylor explained that the quote infuriated the band, especially Brian May who had worked so hard in creating an original sound on guitar.

Our argument as to why Queen should have never placed that No Synthesizers!” tag on their albums is that they let the words of a critic influence their work. This is nothing against Queen as we are not the ones standing in their shoes and have nothing but the highest praise for the band. We are just arguing that the band should have never let that critic get to them like he did according to Roger Taylor.

Musical artists or for that matter any artist, struggle against criticism their entire careers. Artists learn to ignore criticism both positive and negative. Queen’s response to Chris Welsh’s comment not only fueled the band to place that No Synthesizers!” line on their albums, it may have also influenced the band to not use Synthesizers in certain recording situations in which the band might have reaped the benefits of that technology. Eventually the band dropped the tag and did utilize synthesizers in a limited capacity, but that signature statement was never forgotten.

In the end, the band let the words of a critic alter the physical product that the band released on the albums Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, and A Night At The Opera. Did it have an impact on the musical arrangements is a question only the band Queen can answer, but it did alter the liner notes for three very famous albums.

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