Welcome to the new series on 2 Loud 2 Old Music. We are going to go through all the Studio Albums for the band Queen. And to do this, we are using the 40th Anniversary 2011 Remastered CDs as our source as I picked up the 3 Volume Box Set for Christmas. And with any good series, we will start with their debut album and work our way through all the studio albums in chronological order. I hope you enjoy this new series and note, they won’t be coming weekly like the Kiss Series is doing, these will come as I can get to them and my goal is to be done by the end of the year. With only 15 reviews, I think I can meet that goal.
We aren’t going to go through a detail history lesson of the band as this series focus is the studio albums only. But we will give you a quick rundown of their beginnings. Brian May and Roger Taylor were in a band called Smile in the late 60’s. Freddie Bulsara was a big fan of the band and asked to join the band as lead singer. May of course didn’t think their current lead singer, Tim Staffell would give up that role. Well, eventually he did as he wanted to go in a different direction than what Smile was doing. Freddie joined the band and they changed their name to Queen and Freddie changed his name to Freddie Mercury due to a line in their song “My Fairy King”. This was around 1970. Then in Feburary 1971, bass player John Deacon joined the band and Queen was ready to go.
For My Sunday Song #230, we are ending the Queen 10 song set with “Who Wants to Live Forever” off the 1986 album, ‘A Kind of Magic’. The song was from the movie ‘Highlander’ which I love that movie, but it doesn’t really hold up well when I watched it a few months back but I am getting off topic. The song only charted in the UK and sold well over 400,000 copies and is still a fan favorite as Queen still plays it in their shows today. It is one of my favorite Queen songs and so that it is why it is ending this set.
The song was written by Brian May and he wrote it in only 20 short minutes after watching a clip of the movie where Connor MacLeod’s wife, Heather, dies. You see Connor is immortal and he can’t die (unless he loses his head). The song is the backdrop to that scene in the final cut of the movie. Now in the film version, Freddy sings the whole song, but I am going off the album version where Brian actually sings the first verse and then Freddie takes over.
Musically, the song is a ballad, full of orchestration by Michael Kamen. The song is so haunting, the lyrics even more so and when you add the strings and the full orchestra it is a really moving song and can send chills up and down your spine. It does pick up a tempo as the song builds and the heavy drum beats come in. It keeps building until Freddie lays down that final massive vocal on the chorus. His theatrical talents bode well for getting the emotions across in the song. The song is so grand and so Queen.
For My Sunday Song #229, we are tackling on of the band’s biggest hits, “Another One Bites the Dust” off the Queen album “The Game” from 1980. The song was a departure for Queen as it was more funk and disco but it seems everything they do is a departure as they don’t follow anyone’s rules. The song went to #1 in the US and several other countries and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
The song was written by bass player, John Deacon, and let me tell you there is some bass in it. The song was inspired by the song “Good Times” by the Chic and resulted from John hanging out a lot with that band as he was a big fan. Now, Roger Taylor wasn’t a big fan of the song, but Freddie loved it and worked hard to get everyone’s buy-in on the song and thanks to Freddie it was put on the album and the rest is history.
The song has so many effects on it, but none are with a synthesizer. It is all bass, guitar, piano and drums. Deacon played all the instruments except Roger’s drum loop. Brian May was on it as he added numerous sound effects using his guitar and a harmonizer. Some of the effects were the tape played backwards at different speeds. As a result of this effect, Christian groups protested the band saying the band was using backmasking to hide messages. They thought the band was promoting the use of marijuana.
For My Sunday Song #228, we are going to discuss the song “The Invisible Man” by Queen from the band’s 1989 album ‘The Miracle’. The song was the third single on the album and reached #12 on the UK Charts. It did not chart in the U.S. In fact, the album didn’t do all that well in the U.S. despite reaching #24 on Billboard. But the song is still one of my favorites on the album and I wanted to have something from ‘The Miracle’ in my 10 song set.
The song was written by Roger Taylor and was inspired by a book he was reading in which the bass line came to him immediately while reading. He titled the song after a book by H.G. Wells called “The Invisible Man”. I am sure you’ve heard of it. Roger doesn’t sing much on the song. He opens the song with saying “I’m the Invisible Man”, but Freddie does all the heavy lifting in the song. And one interesting fact about the song is that is the only Queen song to actually feature every band member’s name in the song. When they say Freddie Mercury, he starts singing. When they John Deacon, there is a heavy bass line going. When they say Brian May, they say it twice and he goes in to a solo. When they say Roger Taylor, he has a quick drum fill. It is all pretty cool.
The song is about a guy he becomes invisible after being rejected by a woman. Now, he actually isn’t invisible physically, only in the fact he is ignored by people and only feels invisible. He can now see right through her and her hidden emotions and the woman suddenly can’t stop thinking of him. He becomes her meanest thought and her darkest fear as the lyrics say. It is an interesting take on invisibility.
For My Sunday Song #227, we are focusing our attention to the song “Killer Queen” by Queen. The song is off their 1974 album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’. The song was released as a single and went to #2 in their home country of the UK and #12 in the U.S. of A. It is song that is quintessential Queen and this was actually the band’s first hit in the US.
The song was written by Freddie Mercury and in an interview from 1974 in the queenarchives.com, Freddie had this to say about the song…
It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation upon it – to read into it what they like.
I would have to agree with what Freddie says because the lyrics are pretty clear. This high class beauty has been passed around from country to country by all sorts of men…very high-level and powerful men. I love the lyrics as they are all so playful and well-crafted to flow well together and piece together a funny, yet clever little tale.
Musically, the song starts off with some snazzy finger snaps from Mr. Mercury. Then a piano joins in and Freddie’s miracle pipes chime in. The chorus is full of four part harmonies and there are so many different effects on the vocals as well. The music is as playful as the lyrics and Freddie’s performance is as flamboyant and theatrical as it comes which is a trademark Queen style. Brian May’s guitar work is also top-notched and layered with so many different tracks. It is an all around fun, good time song and one of the reasons Queen is so amazing. They pretty much can do anything and make it sound great.
For My Sunday Song #226, we are going to discuss the opening track to ‘Sheer Heart Attack’, “Brighton Rock” by Queen. The song was not a single and being the first song on the album, I guess you couldn’t call it a deep cut as it isn’t very deep on the album. But there is something in this song that makes it so incredible and we will get to that piece in a minute.
The song was written by Brian May and the vocals were done by Freddie and Brian. Brian wrote the song during the Queen II sessions, but they didn’t feel like it fit that album so they worked it some more and it actually kicks off this album. The song is about 2 “Mod” kids in love, Jenny and Jimmy, who travel off to Brighton on Holiday. I don’t think the holiday goes great as Jenny is afraid she will get in trouble. There is more, but the story isn’t the best part of the song as it is really secondary. It isn’t even Freddie’s singing that is best part even though his vocals are always stellar.
What is incredible about this song is simply, Brian May. The guitar solo is probably one of the best he has ever done, hands down. It is the centerpiece of the song. There is an entire interlude in the song that is only Brian and that guitar. His use of delay for the harmony that sets the song apart. Brian was tinkering extensively with an Echoplex (a tape delay machine) to get the effects he wanted. The song contains one normal guitar sound and then one with the delayed effect and it must be heard to believe as I don’t know how to describe it in words. It is true audio experience.
For My Sunday Song #225, we are going to dive in to the Queen classic, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” off the band’s 1980 album, ‘The Game’. The song went all the way to #1 on the US Billboard Charts and sold over a million copies making it a platinum selling single. Not too shabby.
The song was written by Freddie Mercury and was a tribute to none other than Elvis Presley. Freddie wrote the song in only about 10 minutes and he wrote it playing a guitar. Freddie also plays rhythm guitar on the song as well which if I’m not mistaken is the first time he had ever done that for one of the band’s songs. In a Melody Maker interview back in 1980, Freddie had this to say about the song…
‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ took me five or ten minutes. I did that on the guitar, which I can’t play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords. It’s a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn’t work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think. (Freddie Mercury)
I would say he did. The song is so simple, yet it is amazingly catchy and bores into your brain where it lives like a welcomed memory. It is almost magical. Once you here those first few notes, you know you are in for a good time as it has that old school rockabilly rhythm that you can’t wait to get to the sock hop and dance your ass off.
For My Sunday Song #224, we are going to discuss one of Queen’s fun songs, “I’m in Love With My Car”. The song is off the album, “A Night at the Opera” which was released in 1975. The song was written by Roger Taylor and is one of his more famous songs mainly because it was the B-Side to a little known Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you may have heard of that one. There is a whole story to that which we will get to shortly.
The song was actually inspired by one of the band’s roadies, Johnathan Harris. Johnathan loved his car to death which was a Triumph TR4. Roger wrote it and played all the instruments for the demo and the band kind of thought of it as a joke, but Roger wasn’t joking. They recorded the song and Roger pitched a royal tantrum to get on the B-Side of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which the band finally caved after Roger had locked himself in a closet (or cupboard) until Freddie finally agreed. This ended up causing a lot of tension between him and Freddie because Freddie was pissed he got as much in royalties for that “Bohemian Rhapsody” single he didn’t write-it. But because his song was on the B-Side he got a big piece of the pie as well. Turned out that whole tantrum trick worked out quite nicely in Roger’s favor.
The song is actually pretty great. What guy hasn’t fallen in love with his car. I had a friend that spent so many long hours fixing up their 69 Firebird and they loved their car so much. It was also fun to do burnouts with. And I love my car now as it is fun to drive and just hugs the road. So I get it. Musically, Brain May’s guitar work is great as he recorded it with his own Red Special guitar. Freddy is on the piano playing away and Roger’s vocals sound great. The song ends with a motor revving and that was Roger’s own car which was an Alfa Romeo.
For My Sunday Song #222, we are focusing on the song “Tenement Funster” off the Queen 1974 album, ‘Sheer Heart Attacks’. The song was written by Roger Taylor and sung by Roger Taylor. It was not a single and was actually part of a 3 song medley on the album with “Flick of the Wrist” and “Lily of the Valley”. Since the songs are only tied together somewhat musically, they are all 3 different songs lyrically and don’t really go together in any kind of story. For that reason, I want to focus only on the first track, “Tenement Funster”. What a song name. I love saying it…”Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”…you try it now…see lots of fun and hard to say it 3 times fast.
As I said, the song was written by Roger and seems to be about youth and rebellion which is a typical rock & roll theme. Lyrically, it seems a little out there as I know idea what is so special about his “new purple shoes”, but his “rock-and-roll 45s, been enraging the folks on the lower floor” makes total sense as I can imagine if I was living in an apartment complex my music would enrage many a neighbors. I am still not sure what a “Tenement Funster” is except maybe it is as simple as a guy who lives in a tenement (apartment) and loves to have fun and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Good enough for me.
Musically, it is a solid rock track and Roger sounds really great on it. There are elements of the Beatles and yet there is still the Brian May guitar sound, the theatrical feel to it and the Queen backing vocals and if you listen close someone goes really, really high singing “Young and we’re crazy”, it is actually quite funny. You have John Deacon doing the bass and opening the track on the acoustic guitar while Brian still handles the lead. Freddie Mercury doesn’t do any vocals, but he does contribute on the piano. Roger’s drumming is great and it is an all around fantastic Roger sung song and one of my favorites of his.
For My Sunday Song #221, we are starting the next set of 10 songs with the band Queen and first up is “Innuendo”. The song is the title track to their 1991 album ‘Innuendo’ which was their 14th studio album and for me their last proper studio album as Freddy died a short time later after its release. The song was the first single off the album and went to #1 in the UK and #17 in the US. I bought this album the day it came out and loved this song instantly.
The song was written by Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor and actually developed from a jam session that was going on by Brian May, John Deacon and Roger. It was very “Bohemian Rhapsody” with all the style changes and is actually longer than that song. It was pieced together from many different pieces, but when joined together it is a kind of magic. The lyrics are part tribute to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ (Roger’s part) and part shout out to the stories on Freddie’s health (Freddie’s part).
But it is the music that blows me away with it’s drum roll opening and eerie tones building until we get to Freddie’s voice. It is dark and haunting and then goes “Bolero style” with its flamenco guitars with help from Steve Howe of Yes and Brian May. Steve actually handles the solo part. There is full on orchestration which harkens back to ‘Bohemian” and then it rocks out. The orchestration was done all on keyboards by Freddie and David Richards the producer. It is progressive rock, 1991. It is one of those songs that has so much going on that you find little nuggets that you missed in the prior listens. It is a song that keeps on giving. Queen does excess well and this song screams excess and over-the-top and it works on so many levels. What an opening track to an album.