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My Queen Greatest Hits Album
Recently, the Biography Channel has been showing a documentary called "Queen Days of Our Lives", a tribute to the supergroup led by the late Freddie Mercury. It has plenty of footage I had never seen before, and is a nice little tribute to the band.
Queen has put out two different Greatest Hits Albums, one in 1981 at the peak of its career, and one in 1992, after Freddie's death. But does either one have the best grouping of songs to deserve that title as "Greatest"?
If I were to put together a Greatest Hits' album for Queen, these are the songs I would put on it,...(Roger, drumroll please,...)
Tie Your Mother Down: My favorite kick-butt Queen song has a killer guitar riff from Brian May that just jumpstarts this puppy into an over-the-top set-the-house-on-fire-just to-watch-it burn classic that basically is what the song is about.
Death on Two Legs: At the time this was written, the band was being ripped off by the management team who guided them early in its career. After finding new management, Freddie wrote this scathing diatribe against them, Brian May a little taken aback at how vicious it was. I love it. (Really, since the first four songs of A Night at the Opera are connected, they should go on here together.)
Fat Bottomed Girls: Ah, yes. When Freddie was "just a skinny lad", he was left alone with big fat Sally, she was such a naughty Nellie,...we know Freddie loved both sexes, but this song tells of his love for the biggin's,...this song just has so much joy to it, that I love to listen to it.
Play the Game: 1980's "The Game" was just as good as "A Night at the Opera" or "News of the World". This wonderful opener shows the complete Queen. Freddie's operatic voice, the wonderful lyrics, Brian May's killer guitar, and every other Queen cliche you can think of. Full of bombast and brilliance. I loved it.
Bohemian Rhapsody: Yeah, the video was played to death until I got sick of it, but when it comes on the radio, it memsmerizes you. The song is a parody of opera, but it also showcases the great harmonies of everyone in the band, and what great musicians they were. You love this song, admit it.
Another One Bites the Dust: It was released as a single despite the band protests, thinking it wouldn't do anything on the charts. Boy, were the boys wrong! Bassist John Deacon wrote the song, and Queen suddenly crossed over to every chart known to man. Soul and R and B stations played it, not knowing who it was on the record, supposedly, but how could you not look at the record and read QUEEN on it? The thing exploded into a worldwide hit, until everybody got sick of it. Sports teams started to use it, and even Junkyard Dog back in the old Mid-South Wrestling used it as his theme song for years. It still sounds current today.
Need Your Loving Tonight: From the "The Game" album, this was the first single and I like this straight-forward no-nonsense rocker.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love: Again, from "The Game" album, this was a throwback, an ode to the 1950's, and damned if they didn't pull it off. It became a monster hit, and it is sort of an anamoly in that it was sort of an anti-Queen song, in that was a bare-bones, uncomplicated, minimalistic piece. Sort of a contrast to some of their earlier stuff. (And let us please NEVER hear the awful Dwight Yoakam version EVER AGAIN!!!)
I Want it All: Released in 1989, it was the last great Queen song. It features a great dueling vocal on the chorus between May and Mercury, and has the Queen bombast rising during the rest of the song. It was an anthem to South Africans fighting the scourge of apartheid and is a great protest song. Plus, it rocks.
We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions: In England, these two songs were released separately, but in America, they are always put together. You talk about anthems, this was it! And every fan of a championship sports team has sung the second part of this at some time or another.
Flash: Okay, it's goofy, and was part of a soundtrack to a rotten movie, But it's a fun listen. And it's pure camp. It should put a smile on your face.
Somebody to Love: This song has a gospel quality to it with the beautiful harmonies of Freddie, Brian, and Roger Taylor singing together as a chorus. And if you doubt Freddie's voice, listen to this song. Then go listen to George Michael's performance at the Tribute Concert in 1992. You'll see how Michael's version was good. But Freddie's is 200 times better because the heart and soul and the campiness are all in his vocal. You can almost hear Freddie laughing with glee during the whole thing.
'39: From "A Night at the Opera", Brian May wrote this wonderful song about some astronauts who leave on a one-year trip only to come home 100 years later, their whole lives irreperrably changed.forever. Brian is actually the lead vocalist on this track, and he does a fine job. I like the band's old-timey sing-along chorus that puts me in the mind of singing in a pub. I love this simplicity of the melody and the folky feel of the song.
Stone Cold Crazy: No, it's not an ode to Steve Austin, but one of the hardest rocking songs you will ever hear. Metallica tried to cover it, but couldn't quite get it right, because while they got the guitars and the heaviness of it correct, they couldn't get the contrast of the instrumental part with the almost angelic quality of Freddie's vocals.
These Are the Days of Our Lives: It is hearbreaking to hear Freddie's vocals on this song, as it was the last single the band would release before his death. The video is joyful, but sad, as Freddie says goodbye to the world. The song itself is a fitting tribute to the band.
Well, that's it. What do you think?