Smile & Larry Lurex (pre-Queen)
Smile were a London-based blues rock band best known as the predecessor to renowned rock band Queen. The band was formed in 1968 by Brian May, who was to become Queen’s guitarist. The group included Tim Staffell as singer and bassist, and, later, drummer Roger Taylor, who also went on to play for Queen. They only recorded six songs. The group disbanded in 1970.
Larry Lurex was an artist name used by Freddie Mercury for a musical project by Trident Studios’ house engineer Robin Geoffrey Cable, in 1972.
The name is a pun on the stage name of glam rock star Gary Glitter and the metallic yarn Lurex.
Cable was experimenting with re-creating the “Wall of Sound” style favoured by Phil Spector. He recorded cover versions of the following two songs:
- “I Can Hear Music” (written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, which had been a hit for The Ronettes and The Beach Boys)
- “Goin’ Back” (written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, which had been a hit for Dusty Springfield and The Byrds )
Cable enlisted singer Freddie Mercury from the band Queen to perform lead vocals on these tracks (Queen were recording their debut album in Trident Studios at the time). Mercury in turn suggested bringing his band-mates Roger Taylor and Brian May to add percussion, guitar and backing vocals to the recordings.
The tracks were released as a 7″ vinyl single on EMI in 1973 (catalogue number EMI 2030); it did not chart in the UK, but it did manage to hit #115 on the US Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart. This pre-dated the release of the first Queen album. They have subsequently been included on the 1995 Italian bootleg Queen In Nuce and the Freddie Mercury solo compilation albums The Solo Collection and Lover of Life, Singer of Songs.
Earth / Step On Me – MERCURY 72977 USA (1969) ~ Promotional copy – No PS. White label with hand written matrix numbers and “MR” at 180 degrees
I Can Hear Music / Goin’ Back – EMI 1C 006-94 677 GERMANY (1973) ~ First pressing with misspelling on label (“Her” instead of “Hear”)
I Can Hear Music / Going back – ANTHEM AN-204 USA (1973) ~ No PS
I Can Hear Music / Goin’ Back – EMI 2030 UK (1992) ~ 2nd pressing – No PS