Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Alternative Queen - A Tribute

There have been competitions recently to find which is the greatest musical band of all-time. You could easily make the case for the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Westlife (just kidding there folks) but for me, it'll always be Queen.

Pioneers in their own unique way, they spanned two decades with a music that will echo down the ages.

I'm unfortunately too young to have seen them at their prime but at least had the pleasure of seeing them in their modern incarnatrion with Paul Rodgers a few years ago in Cardiff. They rocked then so I could only imagine how absolutely phenomenal they would've been to see live when the immortal Freddie Mercury was alive at the helm.

Having rocked their way through the 70s, they made their mark on the musical industry indelible and permanent when they stole the show at Live Aid in 1985. Like all the top artistes, they have successfully managed to adapt their image over time to stay in-sync with the musical vogue of the time.

All along this journey throughout the 70s and 80s, they have made hit after hit after hit.

But I want to concentrate on some maybe, lesser known hits. Those that may not be known as widely beyond the scrum of Queen fans.

The song that launched then into the stratosphere came from their second album, aptly named Queen II - The Seven Sea of Rhye.

The A Night at the Opera album from 1975 of course gave us Bohemian Rhapsody. But save this, it's a sweetie bag of joys. To begin, Freddie's fabulous 68 second ditty, Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon.

Continuing from the same album and on the same theatrical Freddie theme, it's the irrepressible Seaside Rendezvous.

Next is a Brian May track from again, the same album (it really is that good an album folks!). I heard him play this in Cardiff when I saw him live with Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers and it absolutely blew me away. It's the beautiful '39.

Can I pick another from the same album? Please?! Thanks! Love of My Life says it all in the title.

Moving on finally, to the News of The World album from 1977 which have the world We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, check this out, written by the 'quiet one' John Deacon, it's Spread Your Wings.

Queen enjoyed courting controversy and they enjoyed making visually striking videos to promote their singles. Well they did both in good store on the 1980 Jazz album with Bicycle Race. Beware, the following shows naked women riding bikes. Typical Queen then!

I'm a big fan of The Works album from 1984 which gave us Hammer to Fall, I Want to Break Free, Radio Ga Ga & It's a Hard Life. It also gave us the poigniant 'Is Thus the World we Created'

Moving on to their final years. The Miracle album from 1989 is another big favourite of mine. The corresponding single The Miracle had yet another wonderful video with young fans playing out the roles of the four band members with the main men making a late cameo at the end. But more important are the wonderful and moving lyrics.

Next, from the same album, a real hidden gem. Rain Must Fall.

Freddie's final album before he passed away in 1991 was Innuendo. From it, again with a wonderful video is the eccentic greatness that is 'I'm Going Slightly Mad'.

The final Queen album to include Freddie's voice came 5 years after his death in 1995 - Made in Heaven. Let Me Live is one of the best songs they ever wrote with a gospel choir thrown in. Here it is with the official dramatised video.

I conclude with a final 2 songs from Queen's 14th and final studio album. In appreciation of Queen but with special thanks to Freddie himself, for giving us this music, Heaven For Everyone.

Finally, this song was the last song that Freddie solely composed in its entirety before he died at the prime of his time, at the age of just 45 in November 1991.

Fitting for the season in which we're in, it's A Winter's Tale.

RIP Freddie


  1. I can remember them from the time Queen II came out and Seven Seas of Rhye was in the charts. They were something special, even then.

    I remember having hospital radio play Bohemian Rhapsody for me when I was in for an op when I was 16 or 17 and it was number One in the charts at the time for the nth week.

    I followed Queen and Freddie all those years and one single you dont include is Barcelona with Monserrat Caballe, which shows that if Freddie was still living now, he might have moved into opera as he was able to change his style as he developed.

    I remember Ann and I cried our eyes out when the news came through to report his death as we loved Queen and Freddie.

    It was a huge loss to the music world, but his music will live on and sounds as fresh today as it did in the 70's and 80's..... and 90's.

    Freddie WAS the greatest in my eyes.

  2. Spot on Andrew.

    But I'm ahead of you on the Barcelona front - I included it in my Desert Island Choice of 8 in this following blog post a few months back

    Also, being a pedant, Barcelona wasn't technically a Queen song - it was a Freddie & Montserrat duet!

  3. i agrre with you they are the best!!!!!