Queen, like Kiss, Aerosmith and a few others, embodied the pure excess of the '70s like few others could. They created their brand of arena rock mixing the British pomp of progressive rock and heavy metal while creating a huge, operatic sound with layers of thick, unique guitars and overdubbed vocals. For years, their albums boasted the motto "no synthesizers were used on this record," signaling their allegiance with the legions of post-Led Zeppelin hard rock bands. It was Freddie Mercury's unique voice along with the phenomenal guitar sounds of Brian May all brought together by Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Freddie Mercury was a bisexual, despite the fact that most people suspected it, he managed to keep his sexuality in the closet until his death from AIDS in 1991.
Queen (Hollywood) 1973
Of the Hollywood reissues, this album is probably the best one due to the fact that it includes two prime bonus songs, the acoustic track "Mad the Swine" and the "Keep Yourself Alive" outtake. The majority of the reissues just include annoying remixes. Even the "Liar" remix on this one isn't bad. Queen's self titled debut is a glam, heavy metal classic. I know, by today's standards, Queen would not be considered heavy metal. However, being a fan of the band during the 70's they were then considered heavy metal. Some of the music is a bit trippy, but what I actually want to say is that Queen, the album, is an artistic rock 'n roll masterpiece. Can't believe it took me so many years to finally secure a CD copy.
Queen's second album is their heaviest and probably their most progressive, dark, and bizarre record ever. Queen II produced a hit in the single "Seven Seas of Rhye". Musically, however, this is not a disc full of radio hits. The sounds and styles range dramatically from song to song. They give us pop rock ("Some Day One Day"), heavy metal ("Ogre Battle," "Seven Seas of Rhye"), prog rock ("The March of the Black Queen," "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke") and even some striking ballads ("White Queen," "Nevermore"). In retrospect I wouldn't list this CD among my personal favorite Queen discs, as those would be the next few they released, but it does rank among one of the finest records to come out of the 1970's.
Queen - Sheer Heart Attack (Hollywood) 1974
I have always been amazed at the sheer number of guitar sounds that Brian May acheived on this disc. I mean, he must have used a different amp, guitar and mic on every song. 'Sheer Heart Attack' is another in a long line of classic Queen albums. "Brighton Rock" is an awesome song with tons of experimentation and is without a doubt one of the band's finest. I do find the version on 'Live Killers' to be a bit better though as it has a more raw, heavy sound. "Killer Queen" was a big hit for the band, as was "Stone Cold Crazy," a song capably covered by Metallica. Besides having a bunch of hits, "Sheer Heart Attack" also has interesting lyrics, a killer production for 1974, and some of Queen's finest songwriting. Only Zeppelin or perhaps, Deep Purple, were truly giving Queen a run for their money in '74.
Queen - A Night at the Opera (Hollywood) 1975
on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" (3:44)
Besides containing Queen's magnum opus "Bohemium Rhapsody," this disc contains some of Queen's best 70's experimental material. While their earlier discs were much more straight ahead hard rock, "A Night At the Opera" has a wide variety of sounds and styles. My copy is the Hollywood re-issue with the bonus track remixes. I personally don't care about the remixes but the mastering on these new discs are superior to the first CD pressings.
Heathen recorded a cover of "Death on Two Legs" on their Recovered CD.
Queen - A Day at the Races (Parlophone) 1976
1. "Tie Your Mother
How do you follow up one of the greatest albums of your career? You record a companion piece. "A Day At the Races" is not nearly as brilliant, but still has plenty of killer material. "Tie Your Mother Down" is a monster rock anthem and a fan favorite. The album's big seller, however, was "Somebody to Love". This track has it's roots in traditional gospel music and features some very cool gospel-choir type vocals that were all done by the band members. "A Day At the Races" also includes is the a beautiful ballad called "Teo Torriatte," that includes both English and Japanese lyrics. "White Man", another good track, iis a grungy track that details the plight of the American Indian. I never really cared for Taylor's "Drowse". Overall, a stellar album. Read somewhere that the title of this album, as well as "Night At The Opera" was taken from Grouch Marx films. My particular copy is Australian and is a recent remastered release. Excellent sound quality, nice booklet with photos of the band from this time period and no cheesy remixes.
Queen - News of the World (EMI) 1977
You gotta love these idiotic chain stores that sell a bonified classics like "Jazz" for $3.99 in the used bins while sitting right next to it they have a gigantic pile of Britney Spears cds for $9.99. No complaints here. Anyhow, as I said, this is a classic. The two best-known tracks are undoubtedly the fun riff-rocker "Fat Bottomed Girls" and the carefree "Bicycle Race." I have read that "Fat Bottomed Girls" caused a bit of a stir amoung certain woman's groups. Man, can't anybody take a joke? The album received some other attention because the band staged an all-nude female bicycle race at London's Wimbledon Stadium, with a poster of the event being included in vinyl copies of Jazz. The Hollywood cd reissue has the poster printed on the inside of the cd insert. "Don't Stop Me Now" was also a huge U.K. Top Ten single. It didn't do as well in the U.S., probably due to the lyrical references to Freddie's favorite past time. 'Nuff said. The thunderous heavy metal tune "Dead On Time" is also worthy of mention.
Queen - Live Killers (Hollywood) 1979
Simply one of the finest live albums ever released. "Live Killer" contains some of Queen's finest material. Somehow in the live setting, the songs become even more alive than they sometimes are in the studio setting. This was the first Queen album I looked for after selling all my vinyl. One annoyance is during the intro to "Death on Two Legs" the record company felt it necessary to bleep out whatever Freddy Mercury was saying.
Queen - Flash Gordon (Original Soundtrack) (Hollywood) 1980
1. Flash's Theme"
Queen's tenth album was the soundtrack to Flash Gordon released at the end of 1980 and is quite the oddity in their catalogue. While titled a 'soundtrack', Flash Gordon is actually more like a movie score. The disc is kicked off with a short dialog before breaking into one of only two actual songs with lyrics on this album. "Flash's Theme" was a hit for Queen and helped move copies of this movie score in 1981. The only other track with vocals is the closing rocker "The Hero", which is essential Queen as well. Overall, however, Flash Gordon is pretty ethereal for Queen. Filled with dialogue snippets from the movie, odd instrumentals and such, "Flash Gordon" essentially works as on 50-minute track. Honestly, I find it a bit hard to listen to in one sitting, making this Queen album more of a filler in my collection than something essential. A useless remix of "Flash's Theme" has been added to the 1999 CD reissue as a bonus track. Personally I would have preferred they included the single version "Flash" as it was released on the "Greatest Hits" album instead of this.
Queen - The Game (Hollywood) 1980
the Game" (3:32)
As with many of the great 70's bands, the 1980's ruined them as they fought to stay afloat in a fickle U.S. market that was no longer accepting of your average hard rock band. Several bands, including Kiss, Angel, and Queen explored with a sound that was closer to disco than the heavy metal/hard rock they had become known for. It didn't work for Kiss and Angel as their fan base dwindled even further. For Queen however, their popularity exploded. "The Game" was one of Queen's biggest selling U.S. studio albums due to the funky, infectious single "Another One Bites the Dust," and the Elvis Presley inspired "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." ("Play the Game" and "Save Me" were also huge hits in Europe.) Unfortunately, it was also their last popular album in the U.S. Overall, this is a good experimental album for the band showcasing their talents in funk, disco, rockabilly, and even new wave ("Rock It (Prime Jive)"), but there is little in the way of good old hard rock and heavy metal with the possible exception of "Need Your Loving Tonight." While Brian May is still present, his unique guitar tone and stellar lead work is not as evident. Even the layered vocals are tamed down quite a bit. I lost interest in Queen after this one. It's sort of funny though, that I have seen several cd collector's pages similar to mine who slag bands like Aerosmith for "changing styles," and "moving away from heavy metal" but they held onto Queen as if they never changed.
Testament recorded a killer cover of "Dragon Attack".
Queen - Hot Space (Hollywood) 1982
Queen - The Works (Hollywood) 1984
Queen - A Kind of Magic (Hollywood) 1986
Queen - The Miracle (Hollywood) 1989
Queen - Innuendo (Hollywood) 1991
I must confess, I completely lost interest in Queen after "The Game" and "Flash Gordon" because frankly I just didn't hear much on albus like "Hot Space" and the like to hold my interest. Queen had gone from being a leader in rock 'n roll to a follower of the 80's dance craze. As such, I never even gave "Innuendo" a proper listen until several years later, a friend of mine who is a big metalhead clued me in that Queen had returned to playing rock n roll. "Innuendo" was the band's final album with vocalist Freddie Mercury and was indeed a return to the mixture of classical, folk, prog, and hard rock that Queen made famous in the 1970's. The title track is a almost epic track that includes some sweet guitar work from Brian May. "I'm Going Slightly Mad" brings out that delightful sense of humor that the band has always had. "Headlong" is a great rock single. "I Can't Live Without You" most certainly recalls the glory days of the band bringing back that signature Queen sound that none have been able to duplicate. "These Are the Days" is a decent ballad, although far from my favorite song on this CD. "Delilah" is an odd song that is a bizzare love song written to Freddie's pet cat. How odd to write a song with lyrics like "You make me so very happy when you cuddle up and go to sleep beside me, and they you make me slightly mad when you pee all over my Chippendale Suite." Hmmm... "The Hitman" is one of the hardest rocking songs Queen had done in over a decade. "Bijou" is a great guitar showcase. "The Show Must Go On" is not only a great way to finish off the album, but quite possibly one of the best songs on the disc.
Divinefire recorded a cover of "The Show Must Go On".
Queen - Live at Wembley '86 (Hollywood) 1992
Clever album title don't ya think? Bet ya can't guess where and when this one was released. Anyhow, the music on this disc is suberb! Apparently this was Queen's last show before Freddie Mercury died. Originally, this show was released as a single record called "Live Magic" in 86, with only half the songs. Finally in 1993 this double cd was released containing the full show on Hollywood Records. The performance of the band is the tightest they ever were and Freddy Mercury absolutely knows how to work a crowd up. Not sure I would put this one above 'Live Killers,' but a nice disc nonetheless. Contains a few rare jems in a blaze of past glory "Seven Seas of Rhye" and the fun radio hit "Under Pressure."
1. It's a Beautiful Day (2:32)
2. Made in Heaven (5:26)
3. Let Me Live (4:46)
4. Mother Love (4:49)
5. My Life Has Been Saved (3:15)
6. I Was Born to Love You (4:50)
7. Heaven for Everyone (5:36)
8. Too Much Love Will Kill You (4:20)
9. You Don't Fool Me (5:25)
10. A Winter's Tale (3:49)
11. It's a Beautiful Day (reprise) (3:06)
12. Yeah (:04)
13. untitled (22:33)
"Made in Heaven" was the fourteenth and final studio album for Freddie Mercury and Queen. The albums was released four years following Freddie's death in 1991. The songs are comprised of unfinished studio tracks that Mercury recorded shortly before his death. As such, the band went back and finished the songs, releasing them as a sort of tribute to their fallen front man. Mercury obviously knew of his impending death when he penned these songs which all seem to have a very somber theme, even though his theatrical nature still bleeds through. Oddly enough, despite him being sick, Freddie sounds very strong on each and every track. The lyrics are full of life-and-death issues. Perhaps his health issues and knowing his end was near was the fuel that added to the emotional performance that he laid down on these tracks.
"It's A Beautiful Day" is the lead-off track and starts things off in a very somber, melancholy mood. The title track is the first single from the album. Queen had experienced a big drop in popularity in the U.S. through the 80's and into the 90's, but in Europe they continued to enjoy huge popularity, even following Mercury's death. The song "Heaven for Everyone" reached the Top Ten on the British charts and fueled the album's sales, pushing it to four times platinum. In the U.S. the album barely even registered, though the album eventually achieved gold status. Two songs that were recorded on Mercury's solo album we reworked and rerecorded for this CD, "Made In Heaven" and "I Was Born To Love You". The later is really the only upbeat song on the album. "Heaven For Everyone", was written by Mercury and May but originally recorded by The Cross with Freddie on vocals. The song was reworked and re-recorded here. The song was originally penned in the mid-80's. "A Winter's Tale" is said to be the very last song that Mercury composed. From what I have read, he played the piano on the song and finished the last verse of the song only a couple weeks before his passing. The album last listed track is an upbeat, reprise of the lead of track. "Yeah" is simply Freddy loudly saying "Yeah!" There is also a lengthy, unlisted, atmospheric, ambient track hidden at the end of the CD. The song is said to have some meaning to the history of Queen. The 22 minute length of Track 13 echoes the 22 year gap between the release of "Made in Heaven" and the band's self-titled first album. There are key moments in the piece, such as as the eerie section around the eighteen minute mark that are said to make Freddie's death in 1991.
For the most part, the overall sound is reminiscent of the band's classic 70's sound with strong melodies, those big choir effects and May's signature guitar playing. Some of the band's 80's sound creeps in as well, but there is no pop songs here. The overall mood of the album is quite somber and reverent, making the album quite unique in the Queen catalog. While I doubt any Queen fan would pretend that this album rivals those classic albums, it is still a heartfelt, fitting tribute to one of rock's most animated vocalists and frontmen.
Queen - Pre Ordained (MPRecords) 2002
1. "I Can Hear the
"Pre Ordained" is a bootleg but I thought this might be a cool disc nonetheless, hearing the roots of a band as influential as Queen. However, "Pre-Ordained" is a horrible CD! This disc may be of mild interest to Queen die-hards, but the quality of this material is hardly worth a second listen. Even the packaging reeks of a bad bootleg. OK, I suppose if you take into consideration that most of this stuff is demo material circa 1969-73, the poor production is forgivable, but what's up with the poor bitmapped cover art? Why are the songs listed in the incorrect order on the insert? (The song listing above is the correct order and times.) Why do some of these songs sound like they were recorded off warped cassette tapes? Why didn't they master the disc so that the songs were at least a consistent volume and level from song to song, even if the production values are vastly different. Talk about using a band's good name to bilk money out of fans. This CD is pure crap. To make matters worse, I found out that half the songs on this recording have very, very little to do with Queen. These songs are from Peter Straker who was a friend of Freddie Mercury, although Freddy himself didn't sing on these tracks. Bascially this is a collection of Peter Straker, Larry Lurex, Smile & Queen recordings although "Mad the Swine" is actually the only song recorded as Queen and was a b-side track for the "Headlong" single. The other tracks feature a member of Queen or at most a couple members of Queen. Pass unless you must own everything with the band's name on it. Fortunately I only paid $5.99 for this disc at a local used CD shop or I would have been already on my way back to the store to return it.
Queen + Paul Rogers - Return of the Champions (Hollywood) 2005
"Return of the Champions" documents Queen's reunion concert with Paul Rogers on vocals at the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield on May 9, 2005. When I first heard that Queen was going to be doing a reunion with Paul Rodgers, I was a bit shocked. I mean, honestly, when I think of Queen the first thing that comes to mind is that glammy, flamboyant, eccentric frontman Freddie Mercury. Paul Rodgers just seems to be the polar opposite of Freddie; bluesy, gruff, macho, hard rocker. Frankly, I was curious to hear what would transpire with the new band. Paul doesn't even attempt to sound like Freddy, and rightly so. As such, I think that Paul does an admirable job. However, it just doesn't sound like Queen without Mercury. Instead what we have here is a very polished Queen tribute band. This is especially true since John Deacon also decided not to take part in this reunion. Actually, the Free & Bad Company songs sound more genuine than most of the Queen songs do. Songs like "I'm In Love With My Car" and "Say It's Not True" sound a bit more genuine because original Queen members are singing them. Despite my stubborness to accept anyone other than Freddie behind the mic, I don't want anyone to think that this double live CD disc isn't a good listen. Actually, I think it's very enjoyable and a good tribute to Queen and to Freddie Mercury. Brian May sounds as good as he ever did. He has always had such a unique sound and a killer guitar tone. That charisma is still very much present on this CD. Also, Rogers hasn't lost anything over the years. He still has a great voice. Perhaps these guys should just get together and release something new under a name other than Queen.
Also see the Queen tribute "Dragon Attack."