The Best of Queen
Hard to believe that it’s been more than twenty years since the rock universe lost the iconic Freddie Mercury. Unfortunately, I never saw Queen perform live, but I did have a goose bump moment with the band that I’ll never forget. I was one of the 100,000 sun soaked, alcohol-fueled animals on the infield at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia for Live Aid. Queen was playing the Wembley Stadium venue for the same event and were being broadcast live on the big screen to those of us rocking in Philly. Queen came on, and Freddie stole the show from 3,600 miles away. I’ll never forget it, particularly the amazing performance of “Radio Gaga,” a song I never really appreciated before.
So, maybe I was a little late to the party, but I really grew to love the band and their earlier music (which was clearly better than the stuff late in their career).
To prepare for this review, we asked for suggestions on our Facebook page and got a bunch; some locks for our Top Dozen; others not quite so good.
Luc in Florida and Ed in Pennsylvania: “We Are the Champions” – not a great song in the literal sense, but has to be one of the best as it has stood the test of time… the one song always used to honor the winning team. No other song by any other artist is used as often to celebrate such ceremonies… (MG: Popular for sure, but is it really great?)
Steve in California: Is it too cliche to say “Bohemian Rhapsody”? The vocals on it are amazing. And how many of us have sang this in the shower or in the car and wanted to be a rock star like Freddie Mercury? (MG: Yup, this guy did…)
Julie from New Jersey: Love, love, LOVE Queen! 1. Bohemian Rhapsody, 2. We Will Rock You, 3. We are the Champions & 4. Another One Bites the Dust (MG: she should have stopped after three – Another One Bites the Dust just bites.)
Brian in New Jersey: Here’s a few that top the list for me, Somebody to Love. Keep Yourself Alive and Don’t Stop Me Now. Sheer Heart Attack is one for the purists… shows how good Brian May really was. (MG: Can’t argue with any of these)
Luc and Brian also both loved Fat Bottomed Girls, not sure they make the world go ’round, but damn they made for one hell of a song.
So, with no further ado, here’s the RARA’s Farmer’s Dozen for Best Queen songs ever. (If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are actually two dozen – just way too many great songs to leave off this list)
Each song title is linked to iTunes if you’d like to sample or purchase the song.
Bonus Track: Under Pressure – Hot Space – Freddie sharing vocals with the uber-talented vocal stylings of David Bowie. They pull off the duet masterfully.
24. Seven Seas of Rhye – Queen II – love the piano and guitar interplay on this one which actually appeared on both of the band’s first two albums, albeit in different versions.
23. Now I’m Here – Sheer Heart Attack – this one is written by May and features an addictive guitar riff and great harmonies. Good song, but even better live where the call and answer is phenomenal.
22. I’m In Love With My Car – A Night At the Opera – One of the rare times we hear Roger Taylor on lead vocals and he nails it. Nice guitars from May which surprisingly were also originally written by Taylor.
21. Hammer to Fall – The Works – A Brian May song with a nice little guitar solo in the middle, catchy keys on this one, too. This was one of the few the band played during their amazing Live Aid set.
20. Bicycle Race – Jazz – My favorite song of all-time that features a bicycle bell solo. The highlight of this song is really the harmonies, but it’s just an all-around fun ride.
19. Radio Ga Ga – The Works – This version was a huge hit penned by Taylor, and featuring Deacon’s bass. The original version was decent, but as mentioned above the live version was absolutely amazing, and the highlight of the entire Live Aid concert.
18. Stone Cold Crazy – Sheer Heart Attack – Freddie brought this to Queen from a previous band and it features fast-paced vocals and guitar. Almost thrash-like, and so far before its time.
17. Death On Two Legs – A Night At the Opera – Mercury’s hate letter to the band’s original manager. He just seethes with venom, and this hate letter is a masterpiece.
16. The Prophet’s Song – A Night At the Opera – The band’s progressive rock opus. Mercury at his operatic best in this May-written track. Some cool guitar effects, as well.
15. ’39 – A Night At the Opera – Brian May dominates this one; lead vocals, and acoustic guitar. A fun little addictive ditty that nicely shows off his excellent voice.
14. Tie Your Mother Down – A Day At the Races – Guitar-driven rocker with a few killer solos and great vocals from Mercury. This one is best played at extremely high volumes.
13. Keep Yourself Alive – Queen – Love the guitar that kicks off the song, and how the song steadily builds. Vocals are excellent, but this one is all about May’s guitar.
And, now the official RARA’s Dozen:
12. You’re My Best Friend – A Night At the Opera – John Deacon’s biggest hit and one he wrote for the band on piano. It’s a timeless classic, with a catchy hook, smooth music and great lyrics.
11. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) – A Day At the Races – This song is under-appreciated and too seldom played. It features Brian May on keys, piano and harmonium, and Freddie in a totally different range, as well as a different language (Japanese).
10. Love of My Life – A Night At the Opera – a beautiful ballad that spotlights Mercury’s tender vocals in a love song he wrote for his then current girlfriend. A beautiful song that stands the test of time, and an almost perfect live selection.
9. Don’t Stop Me Now – Jazz – A showpiece for Mercury, he wrote the song and his piano dominates it. He’s accompanied by Taylor on drums and a little bit of Deacon. Again, the harmonies are superb. In an unusual twist, May’s guitar is absent other than a quick solo towards the end.
8. Spread Your Wings – News of the World – This song starts subtly and quickly grows into a fantastic rock classic. It’s a great rock story, sort of the British rock version of “Piano Man.”
7. Sheer Heart Attack – News of the World – Breakneck guitar from May coupled with rapid-fire vocals from Mercury. It’s a fun fast-paced song, and interestingly not found on the album of the same name.
6. We Are the Champions – News of the World – Yup, overplayed to death, but it doesn’t change the fact that is is a fantastic song. Personally, not as crazy about “We Will Rock You,” but can’t disagree with folks wanting to combine them.
5. Killer Queen – Sheer Heart Attack – The band exploded onto mainstream rock with this, their first hit single. It was like nothing we heard before with the intricate harmonies and layered guitars. An amazing breakthrough song.
4. The Show Must Go On – Innuendo – The last song they recorded, EVER! Brian May wrote this for Freddie, and the latter nailed the vocals literally on the door of death. When you think about the back story, it’s an absolutely amazing and touching performance.
3. Fat Bottomed Girls – Jazz – From the cold harmonies that kick off the song, to May’s killer guitar riff and Taylor’s kick ass drums, this one is a pure rock and roll party.
2. Somebody to Love – A Day At the Races – The harmonies on this track are pure perfection, just magnificent vocals. Love the piano, too. Pop this one on and it’s a guaranteed singalong moment.
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – A Night At the Opera – Another one that is played an awful lot, but this classic deserves the airplay. Simply put, it is an amazing song, and one of the greatest rock songs ever. The production is pristine, the layered vocals and harmonies perfect, and the musicianship superb.
So, there you have it, the RARA’s Farm Top Dozen (or two) Queen songs. What did we leave out? Where did we go wrong? Let us know in the comments field below.
(And Like Us on Facebook while you’re at it, by clicking the widget on the right margin)