Tie Your Mother Down

Song Review by

The opening track from Queen's fifth album, 1976's A Day at the Races (which complemented its predecessor, A Night at the Opera's, Marx Brothers theme), "Tie Your Mother Down" would go on to become the most frequent opening number for the remainder of the band's long career. Though, on the album, it was preceded by a short, multi-tracked guitar instrumental which also served as a coda for closing track "Teo Torriatte," "Tie Your Mother Down" is actually kicked off by a storming, ultra-heavy, and utterly stripped-down (no orchestrations here) Brian May guitar riff. And fitting this was too, since, though it quickly became a fan favorite at their concerts, the track's racy lyrics (delivered by Freddie Mercury in a similarly caustic tone to the previous year's "Death on Two Legs") seemingly made it inadequate for release as a single. That is, if it wasn't for the historical circumstances of the day, which found England in the throes of the Sex Pistols and punk rock in general, by whose new standards "Tie Your Mother Down" was positively tame. Hence, it was eventually chosen as the album's second single (backed with "Drowse") and released in England on March 4 -- just as the band was concluding a now legendary U.S. tour with Thin Lizzy in support, which saw them headline New York's Madison Square Garden for the first time. As they'd done with "Bohemian Rhapsody" a year earlier, Queen remedied their inability to curtail the tour in order to appear live at Top of the Pops by filming another pioneering music video to be shown instead. None of this did the song much good, however, and it peaked at a rather disappointing number 31 in the U.K. charts, prompting Queen to focus their energies away from England's musically hostile environment and proceed to conquer America.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
A Day at the Races 1976 Hollywood 4:49