Here at 2 Loud 2 Old Music, we went through and reviewed all the Studio Albums for the band Queen. And to do this, we are used the 40th Anniversary 2011 Remastered CDs as our source as I picked up the 3 Volume Box Set for Christmas 2020. And with any good series, we will start with their debut album and work our way through all the studio albums in chronological order. There were 15 albums and all with the same band members of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. How many bands can say that? Not many.
What was great about going through them all in order is that you see how the band evolved over time and how much they experimented whether it was successful or not. You see the highs and the lows, where the band hit its groove and where they were wandering around lost. They did move soundtracks, the rocked out, they had fantasy songs, rockabilly, disco and even metal. They did it all. Now let’s go through and see where they ranked worst to first.
THE WORST – ‘MADE IN HEAVEN’ (1995):
The album did not have a cohesive feel and it shouldn’t since it wasn’t really written as an album. It was a last ditch effort to pull as many Freddie songs together as they could for one final release. And I don’t think it is one they should’ve done mainly because all these songs aren’t really up to the Queen Standard in my book. There were way too many ballads, they used two songs that were already released as Freddie solo songs and I don’t think the material was all that great to begin with. I feel they should’ve left well enough alone as I think ‘Innuendo’ was a great way to go out, but what do I know. My Overall Score is a 2.0 Out of 5.0 Stars. There were a few tracks worth having, but overall not enough to make this a must have album.
#14 – ‘FLASH GORDON’ (1980):
Overall, the album isn’t a good Queen album, but its not a bad soundtrack as it fits the campiness of the Flash movie. The two work together in being so bad they are kind of good. I did miss Freddie’s vocals though. This is way out of left field for the band and a valiant effort even if not totally hitting the mark. My overall score is a 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars. It had its moments, but missed the mark quite a bit. If it didn’t have the dialogue, I think the score would’ve been much lower as that helped explain what was going on a lot more. The little ( ) after the song titles helped tell the story as well. Maybe someday I will like this a little more, but for now, it is just so-so.
#13 – ‘HOT SPACE’ (1982):
The album is not the band’s best, but ain’t their worst either. Yes, they completely changed things up and went funked up disco with a twist of R&B and New Wave but at least they keep trying new things. I would’ve hated this album when it came out, but now some decades later, there are some fine elements here. There is no denying the talent and the vocals, but they still crafted some great songs albeit very different from prior albums. Overall, I think I will be generous and give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars mainly for “Under Pressure” because not many bands can write a song as good.
#12 – ‘A DAY AT THE RACES’ (1976):
I think not having a producer hurt on this one and the album felt a little disjointed and all over the place. I think more work needed to be done on a few songs and as a result it felt like a lot of filler. However, the songs I liked, I really liked and are some great classic Queen songs and some cool deep cuts. Overall, the score is a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars mainly due to the songs that were good were so good. Those were “Tie Your Mother Down”, “Somebody To Love”, “You Take My Breath Away” and “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”.
#11 – ‘THE WORKS’ (1984):
I think they are mostly good songs, but only a couple are great. It still feels like a band that has lost its way and is struggling to find the path they want to take. They seem uninspired and no one is on the same page. There is still too much synth and less Brian May magic and I miss the fact there are no Roger sung songs or even May’s. It felt less like Queen at times. For all that I am only scoring it as 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars. It could’ve been more, but was missing a little something extra. I know this sounds harsh, but it really wasn’t that bad. I did love “Hammer to Fall”, “Tear It Up”, “I Want To Break Free” and of course, the great “Radio Ga Ga”!!!
#10 – ‘QUEEN II’ (1974):
I will say that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the debut which I think is a result of the band trying to do too much with what they had. I know that is what they do, but I think this was them trying to find that balance of over-the-top with not being actually over-the-top. It is a valiant effort and I do still like it, but lower on the scale. I will give this album a score of 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. I was glad they finally finished “Seven Seas of Rhye” which was great and even some of Freddie’s fantasy themed songs were on the great side including “The Ogre” and “The March of the Black Queen”. I also have a soft spot for “The Loser in the End”.
#9 – ‘INNUENDO’ (1991):
I found this album to be a wonderful representation of everything that was great about Queen and a beautiful stamp on Freddie’s talent. They captured all the great Queen styles and even created a few new ones. It wasn’t all perfect, but what they got right, was outstanding. When I listen to this album, it has so much more meaning knowing how sick Freddie was and the struggles he went through to complete this album. Is it their best album, no, not really. But it is the one with the most heart I feel. Freddie and the band proved that the show must go on and they delivered us an album that was Queen to the very end. No compromising, no apologies, just Queen. For that, I am giving the album an Overall Score of 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars because the songs that are good on here, are that good and it lifts the album to another level. I will always cherish this album for what it is and what it represents and that is go out fighting to the very end! My favorites are “Innuendo”, “The Show Must Go On”, “I’m Going Slightly Mad”, “Headlong” and “The Hitman”.
#8 – ‘THE MIRACLE’ (1989):
I feel this album is extremely underrated and for me there is so much to like here. Is it as great as some of the band’s 70’s classics, no, but it holds its own and finds a band that knows who they are and are celebrating it. I think at this time, they know the end is near and they aren’t going down quietly. Although the album took a year to make, the band seem to be enjoying themselves at least while they are in the studio. The songs are at times fun and at times introspective as they look back at their long career with no concern if it is about to come to an end. If it does, they are fine with it and ready to face whatever comes their way. I will give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as for me I do love this album. Some of my favorites were “The Miracle”, “I Want It All”, “The Invisible Man” and “Breakthru”. The best was the song “Scandal”.
#7 – ‘JAZZ’ (1978):
I think the album is better than that score. The songs that are really good on here are some of the best the band has done. Some truly classic Queen songs. I do think they tried to do too many styles and experimented a little too much, but in the end it is still a fantastic album. When four of my favorite tracks are on one album, that speaks volumes. Overall, the score is 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. I think the band might have had a few swings and misses, but in the end it is a solid in the park homerun at the very least with the rest. I can see why the critics might have been apprehensive at first but now with time to digest over the last 40+ years, it does sparkle a little brighter in the end. What were my four favorite songs? “Fat Bottomed Girls, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Let Me Entertain You”.
#6 – ‘QUEEN’ (1973):
The more I listened to this album, the better it kept getting. What a great starting point for the band and what a bunch of talented musicians and singer. Right out of the gate you could feel something special was brewing. I have to say the more I dive in to Queen the better I realize they are, not that I didn’t know that already. The album was so much more than their hits and this one hands down has deeper cuts that are better than the singles. For that this easily gets a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars and what a great start to the series. One of the deep cuts I wasn’t that familiar with and am now blown away by it is “Great King Rat”. The other great songs are “Keep Yourself Alive”, “Liar” and “Modern Times Rock & Roll”.
#5 – ‘A KIND OF MAGIC’ (1986):
I think this is s solid effort from Queen and more than a step up after the last few releases. But this album holds a special place in my heart so the score might be surprising to some. As I said earlier, this was my gateway in to the band. I knew the hits from the past, but this was the first album of theirs I bought and have bought many times. I love the fact they went back to being a pure rock band with this one and the connection to a cult classic movie I loved (well two movies actually), I simply never tire of this album. It isn’t perfect, but for me it is pretty darn close. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as the songs that are good on here are actually great and the misses are only slight blemishes. This for me was the start of it all and so, that is how it is. It was a kind of a magical moment for me. There were so many songs that were outstanding including “One Vision” and ” A Kind of Magic”. And two of my favorites are “Princes of the Universe” as well as the incredibly powerful ballad, “Who Wants to Live Forever” which is one of my all time favorite tracks by Freddie.
#4 – ‘A NIGHT AT THE OPERA’ (1975):
I have seen this album listed as their best album and I think they do that because of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which is not a bad reason. I think it is the most daring album they had done up to this point and I see it as a band that is reaching for the stars and reaching them. The album is full of experimentation and a band discovering there is nothing they can’t do so they should listen to what their guts say about the music and the songs and go with it. For that, this could be the most important album in their catalog, It showed that you can make the album you want to make and succeed. I thoroughly enjoyed the album and for all these reasons I will give it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars. It is not a perfect album, but is damn near close to it. What are the best songs other than Rhapsody? Easy, “Death On Two Legs”, “I’m in Love With My Car”, “39”, “You’re My Best Friend” and “Love of My Life” to name a few. Not many missteps here.
#3 – ‘SHEER HEART ATTACK’ (1974):
this is one of my favorite albums by the band. If you’d take the 3 songs off that I don’t like and keep this at 10 songs it is easily a 5.0 out of 5.0 for me, but it can’t get a perfect score since all the songs weren’t perfect. It will be a small ding as I will give the album a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars. This was more of what I like from the band. Less fantasy and more straight ahead rock and roll. They keep the experimentation and flamboyance, but they were able to reel in the creativity to a more manageable level and no over-the-top like ‘Queen II’. The band had found themselves and were ready to explode on to the world. I am not sure where to begin on the great songs so I will list a few including “Brighton Rock”, “Killer Queen”, ‘Tenement Funster”, “Now I’m Here” and “Stone Cold Crazy”. Ok, that is more than a few.
#2 – ‘THE GAME’ (1980):
This album doesn’t normally rank high on most people’s favorite Queen albums, but I don’t care. I love this album and always have and I think it gets better and better still with each listen. Say what you will about the new electronic element they added, but for me it worked and added some new dynamics to their sound. The album didn’t venture in to many strange Queen dimensions that they tend to venture down and I really loved a lot of the Power Pop elements of the album. For all of that, I give this a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars!! You can disagree with me, but it won’t change my mind. I am sure this won’t be the last time. How can you argue with songs like “Play the Game”, “Dragon Attack”, “Rock It”, “Save Me” and two of the most popular songs like “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. It doesn’t get much better than this for except one album.
#1 – ‘NEWS OF THE WORLD’ (1977):
The album is as close to perfect as you can get without actually being perfect. The band gave us a straight ahead rock record without too much of the flamboyant, over-the-top craziness we know and love and it still works. Maybe even more so. As much as I do love the Queen theatrics, Queen giving us a full on rock album also has its merits. This album, even with one song that I don’t like, is still a full on 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. The band found the right mix of including everyone and giving us solid songs, short and sweet. A true rock album. A band that can do it all, showed that they really shine when they a simply a rock & roll band. I mean this album has “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” are two of their most famous songs ever and what sport stadium doesn’t play them at a game. You also get “Sheer Heart Attack”, “Fight From the Inside” and “Get Down, Make Love” are only a handful of what makes this thing great.
And there you have it, the Queen studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same artist and that is all that matters really. And if as a result, you find something new, then my job is done!!!
Now, I hope you enjoyed the Queen Studio Album Series and all the reviews. I can’t wait to get on to the next series which will be coming soon.