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The little-known Queen song about the Gospels: “Jesus”

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The tune draws inspiration from "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Queen was not always the iconic rock band they are known as today. When they put together their first self-titled album they had to practically beg for studio time and when the work was done, Trident Studios, the label they initially signed with, delayed the release for eight months.

Besides “Seven Seas of Rhye…,” which appears on several of their ‘best-of” albums, most of their first album has been overlooked. “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar” got some radio play, but there is a hidden Christian gem on the B-side simply named, “Jesus”.

“Jesus” was one of five tracks that Queen recorded in the demo they used to get picked up by Trident Studios, in 1972. The tune sounds heavily influenced by “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which was originally recorded in 1970. The hard-rock arrangement and extended guitar section, along with mixed with choruses of “All going down to see the Lord, Jesus,” seem very theatrical.

The style and length of the guitar solo was one of the factors that led to the band’s initially being labeled as “Psychedelic Rock.” Early reviews of the album criticized the band for adding too much complexity, or over-arranging their songs.

It is a bit of a mystery why Freddie Mercury, a non-Christian, wrote this song. Mercury was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and raised in the Parsi Zoroastrian faith.

The lyrics follow two stories from the Gospel: Jesus healing the leper, and the Nativity. This strange combination of stories could be evidence of Mercury’s lack of Christian education, but perhaps these two stories had special meaning to this late-great front-man. Sadly, we will never know.

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