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Queen


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Pop-rock of various sorts

Status:

Disbanded for 14 years after singer Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, but apparently are touring again with new lead singer Paul Rogers.

See also:

The Official Queen Site

Wikipedia's entry for Queen

Covers/own material:

All members wrote songs/lyrics for the band, and all album material is self-written (except for a version of "God Save the Queen"). Performed covers live.

General comments:

Queen went though so many different stages during her over 20-year reign that it's very much possible to love a part of her output and dislike the rest. It also seems possible to cherish every single bit of it. The two constants in Queen's music are Freddie's amazing singing and charisma, and Brian's distinctive guitar playing, without which you wouldn't have any idea the young, just-crowned Queen was the same as the venerable Queen of the '90s.
   The early material consists of Queen's special mixture of glam rock, progressive rock, and pop tunes, with touches of just about everything from opera music to heavy metal, from punk to classic rock'n'roll. After a brief dalliance with disco-pop the Queen of the '80s emerged, which played straightforward pop-rock and established herself as a killer live band (though I only have the recordings to testify to this :-( ). As seems to happen with most bands with long careers, Queen's later material shows increasing mainstream pop influence (the music never was exactly un-poppy, though).
   I don't much care for most of Queen's post-'75 stuff (with exceptions), but I love the older, more layered material. The early releases are also the only ones that really work as complete albums. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

I was only exposed to classical music when I was a kid, and it was Queen that opened up the doors for me to a whole different world of music...I'm still very much "tied" by my classical background, but at least I've opened up for new influences....
     I might not be the fanatic fan I used to be a few years ago, but I still greatly appreciate Queen as a wonderfully talented and very professional pop group...no, this is not the reason I'm a fan...what keeps me hooked, quite simply, is Freddie's voice. My personal favourites of Queen records are Queen I & II, and some others from the '70s, but I listen to ANYTHING by Freddie and it's heaven!
     I also love choral/singing ensemble music (especially a cappella) and textured harmonies on pop songs (another reason for my love of Queen).
     It's funny, but only a long time after I became a fan I actually started thinking about just why I like their music, and why I like certain songs more than others...yes I know there are so many factors to this, but it's mostly this "layering" that gives me the thrills...I believe it's partly the production, and partly the unique blend of Freddie's, Roger's & Brian's voices that makes it possible, because on their solo albums there's nothing comparable to this sound! (yes, even after all that praise for Freddie's voice I must admit the harmonies sound best with all of them contributing). (tonttupix@hotmail.com)

Queen were a very unique band. Freddie Mercury has an incredible voice. Very strong, dramatic and emotive. Brian May has always had a very distinctive guitar style. What made it even more unique was the tone that he got from his guitar. He built his guitar himself from some wood that he found at a site were a home was being torn down (if I remember correctly). I believe it was wood from an old fireplace mantel. He also wired the guitar and wrapped the pickups himself. The unique tonal quality that he gets is from that guitar. Plus he used multi-track layering of his guitar in a very interesting way. Of course they did the same thing with Freddie's vocals (and of course the rest of the boys' voices). Roger and John were wonderful musicians too. A very powerful musical force. (wpm@value.net)

Recommended first album:

Depends a lot on your personal preferences. A Night at the Opera would probably be the best place to start exploring the early albums, but Queen II wouldn't be a bad one either. Of the later releases, my pick is Innuendo. Don't start with Flash Gordon. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Recordings:


Queen I

Release info:

1973—EMI Records—CDP 7 46205 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61064-2 (re-released in the U.S. with an unreleased track and remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar
Brian May—guitars, piano, vocals
Roger Meddows-Taylor—percussion, vocals
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano
...and nobody played synthesizer

Guest artists:

John Anthony—backing vocals

Produced by:

John Anthony, Roy Baker and Queen

Comments:

At times pop, at times heavy, at times progressive. Funny and flamboyant, but still not stupid. Introduces the early, highly theatrical Queen sound which consists of plenty of piano and really shrill, scream-like backing vocals in addition to the standard rock instrumentation. Admittedly, it's got its weak points, but this is still a wonderful album. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Queen II

Release info:

1974—EMI Records—CDP 7 46205 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61232-2 (re-released in the U.S. with remixes and a b-side track)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, acoustic guitar
Brian May—guitars, piano, vocals, bells
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano, harpsichord
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals
...and nobody played synthesizer...again

Produced by:

Roy Thomas Baker, Robin G. Cable, and Queen

Comments:

This is my favorite Queen album. Queen II is done in the same style as the debut album: original, imaginative, and this time the songs are even richer in composition and sound. It's not an easy choice, but the masterful "The March of the Black Queen" is at least a prime candidate for my favorite Queen song. It might be camp, but I love it! (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Sheer Heart Attack

Release info:

1974—EMI Records—CDP 7 46206 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61036-2 (re-released in the U.S. with a bonus remix)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, double bass, acoustic guitar
Brian May—guitars, vocals, piano, genuine
George Formby ukulele-banjo, orchestrations
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano, jangle piano
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals, percussion, screams
No synthesizers

Produced by:

Roy Thomas Baker and Queen

Comments:

This one makes a slight change the style of the first two albums. There are no epics like "Liar" or "The March of the Black Queen" to be found here, but instead a bunch of three-minute pop-rock songs and strange "ballads", done with that distinctive royal touch. Good, but not as brilliant as the previous album, or the next one. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

A Night at the Opera

Release info:

1975—EMI Records—CDP 7 46207 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61065-2 (re-released in the U.S. with remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Medium

Group members:

John Deacon—electric bass, double bass, electric piano
Brian May—guitars, orchestral backdrops, vocals, harp, toy koto, Genuine Aloha Ukulele (made in Japan)
Freddie Mercury—vocals
Roger Taylor—percussion, vocals
No synthesisers!

Produced by:

Roy Thomas Baker and Queen

Comments:

Well, this is the album that has "Bohemian Rhapsody" on it. Some other "pretty good" songs, too. The high points of A Night at the Opera are definitely the long, multipartite tracks, and—in my opinion—most of the other songs don't even compare to those, even though there are a couple of good, poppier songs. "The Prophet's Song" is a particular favorite (and I can't help mentioning that I love the sound of the lyric: "and two by two, my human zoo", sung one syllable at a time). (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

A Day at the Races

Release info:

1976—EMI Records—CDP 7 46208 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61035-2 (re-released in the U.S. with remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, acoustic guitar
Brian May—guitars, vocals, orchestration, harmonium piano, plastic piano
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals, percussion
No Synths!

Guest artists:

Mike Stone—backing vocals

Produced by:

Queen and Mike Stone

Comments:

The album that supposedly pairs with A Night at the Opera. Unfortunately, this one doesn't contain such gems as the previous one. The few tracks written by Brian May partially save this album for me, especially "White Man" is a good track with a guitar sound reminiscent of Black Sabbath. Still, there's most definitely something missing here, most of the songs don't sound very inspired. The weakest point in Queen's old material, and the beginning of their slide towards musical mediocrity (in my opinion). (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

News of the World

Release info:

1977—EMI Records—CDP 7 46209 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61037-2 (re-released in the U.S. with bonus remix)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar
Brian May—guitars, vocals
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals

Produced by:

Queen and Mike Stone

Comments:

The standout tracks here are the crowd-pleasers: "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". That's five minutes of music. The rest is pretty much routinely pop-rock, with few highlights. The fascinating theatrics and camp feel of the first few albums are completely missing, which is a change for the worse. Oh, well. Some of the songs are nice, and it's got the Voice and the Guitar, so it can't be all bad. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Jazz

Release info:

1978—EMI Records—CDP 746210 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61062-2 (re-released in the U.S. with remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Produced by:

Queen and Roy Thomas Baker

Comments:

An uneven album, like most of Queen's work of this period. I really like some of the songs, but others leave me completely cold. There are some horribly boring pop songs here, but also a few funny and strange compositions like the Arabian-influenced "Mustapha" and the silly, chaotic "Bicycle Race". And no, this isn't a jazz album. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Live Killers

Release info:

1979—EMI Records—CDS 7 46211 8; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61066-2 (re-released in the U.S.)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

For Queen fans only

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Produced by:

Queen

Comments:

A live double album from 1979. Excellent quality, but only recommended for serious fans. If you think you'd care to hear a twelve-minute version of "Brighton Rock" with lots of guitar soloing, this is for you. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

The Game

Release info:

1980—EMI Records—CDP 7 46213 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61063-2 (re-released in the U.S. with a bonus remix)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Produced by:

Queen and MACK

Comments:

When I was 15 or so, I used to play this one over and over again. Seems that I overplayed it, because ever since I've been barely able to listen to it. Basically, the music is skillful, catchy pop rock with few surprises except for a couple of really cool bass riffs. Proven to be far from being timeless. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Flash Gordon

Release info:

1980—EMI Records—CDP 7 46214 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61203-2 (re-released in the U.S. with a bonus remix)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Very low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, guitar, synth
Brian May—guitar, vocals, synth
Freddie Mercury—vocals, synth
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals, synth

Produced by:

Brian May and MACK

Comments:

Well, it's a soundtrack to a bad superhero movie. Lots of synths, samples, and "Flash! Aa-aaaaaa!" type of lyrics. Not exactly an essential Queen album. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Greatest Hits

Release info:

1981—EMI Records—CDP 7 46033 2 (UK)
(the exact track listing varies from country to country)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Comments:

A greatest hits compilation. Doesn't have "the best of Queen". (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Hot Space

Release info:

1982—EMI Records—CDP 7 46215 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61038-2 (re-released in the U.S. with a bonus remix)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Very low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Guest artists:

David Bowie co-wrote, co-produced and co-performed the song "Under Pressure"

Produced by:

Queen and MACK

Comments:

This is Queen's excursion into the realm of disco music. I'm no fan of the genre, so I'm biased, but I have to say I don't like this one in the least. In fact, I find it quite unlistenable. The song done with David Bowie, "Under Pressure", is far superior to everything else on the disc, and even that one isn't that great. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

The Works

Release info:

1984—EMI Records—CDP 7 46016 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61233 (re-released in the U.S. with bonus tracks and remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Guest artists:

Fred Mendel—piano, synthesizers, candy-floss

Produced by:

Queen and MACK

Comments:

A couple of catchy, radio-friendly (errm...) pop hits is what this album has to offer: "Radio Ga Ga" and "I Want to Break Free". Otherwise, the album is standard eighties Queen, hardly very interesting. I'm especially disappointed in the songs written by Freddie Mercury for this album, which aren't nearly what you'd hope for from the man who penned "Bohemian Rhapsody". (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

A Kind of Magic

Release info:

1986—EMI Records—CDP 7 46267 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61152-2 (re-released in the U.S. with remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitars, keyboards, guitar
Brian May—guitars, vocals, keyboards
Freddie Mercury—vocals, keyboards
Roger Taylor—drums, vocals, keyboards

Guest artists:

Spike Edney—keyboards
Steve Gregory—saxophone
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Joan Armatrading—vocals

Produced by:

Queen, MACK and David Richards

Comments:

No real surprises to be found here. A number of pop songs and a few heavier tracks written for the movie Highlander. It might be because I've listened to this one so little that I've not yet grown bored, but I can actually enjoy A Kind of Magic for a short spell. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Live Magic

Release info:

1986—EMI Records—CDP 7 46413 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61267-2 (re-released in the U.S.)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

For Queen fans only

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Guest artists:

Spike Edney—keyboards

Produced by:

Queen and Trip Khalaf

Comments:

Live album from the A Kind of Magic tour. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

The Miracle

Release info:

1989—EMI Records—CDP 79 2357 2; 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61234-2 (re-released in the U.S. with bonus remixes)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Produced by:

Queen and David Richards

Comments:

Pretty nice pop songs, including a couple of smash hits. There's not really much else to say about this one. On the same level with A Kind of Magic. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

At the Beeb

Release info:

1989—Band of Joy—BOJCDO01 (UK);1989—Teichiku Records—TECP-25525 (Japan); 1995—Hollywood Records—HR-62005-2 (USA) (with the title "Queen at the BBC")

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

For Queen fans only

Group members:

John Deacon—bass
Brian May—guitar
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano
Roger Taylor—drums

Produced by:

Bernie Andrews

Comments:

Excellent quality radio session recordings from 1973. 8 songs from Queen I and Queen II. For completists only. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Innuendo

Release info:

1991—EMI Records—CDP 79 5887 2 (UK); 1991—Hollywood Records—HR-61020-2 (USA)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, keyboards
Brian May—guitars, keyboards, harmonies, vocals
Freddie Mercury—vocals, keyboards
Roger Taylor—drums, percussion, keyboards, harmonies, vocals

Guest artists:

Mike Moran—keyboards
Steve Howe—Wandering Minstrel Spanish guitar

Produced by:

Queen and David Richards

Comments:

Of the later Queen albums, this is maybe the one with the most staying power. The title track is an epic rock song not without merit, and there are some other nice tunes here as well, including, of course, the massive anthem "Show Must Go On". Clinically polished, glossy. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Greatest Hits II

Release info:

1991—EMI Records—CDP 7 97971 2 (UK) (not released in the U.S.)

Availability:

Wide in the countries where it was released

Ecto priority:

Low

Comments:

The second part of the greatest hits compilation. If you prefer the early, seventies Queen, this is not a good buy. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Classic Queen

Release info:

1992—Hollywood Records—HR-61311-2 (USA only)

Availability:

Wide in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Low

Comments:

I wanted to have a best-of-Queen CD for a long time. Unfortunately, I think that of the 2-part-Best-Of-Queen collection I don't like half of the stuff. Unfortunately, this is distributed evenly over the 2 CDs. They should've done only one. But with CD prices in the US being that much cheaper, this did cost me as much as about 1/2 of a CD, so it was ok.... (uli@zoodle.robin.de)

Live at Wembley '86

Release info:

1992—EMI Records—CDP 7 99594 2 (UK); 1992—Hollywood Records—HR-61104-2 (USA)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

For Queen fans only

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Guest artists:

Spike Edney—keyboards, guitar, vocals

Produced by:

Queen

Comments:

A very good two-CD recording of Queen's stadium concert in 1986. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Made in Heaven

Release info:

1995—EMI Records—CDP 8 36088 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon—bass guitar, keyboards
Brian May—guitars, keyboards, vocals
Freddie Mercury—vocals, piano, keyboards
Roger Taylor—drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Rebecca Leigh-White, Gary Martin, Catherine Porter, Miriam Stockley (Praise)—backing vocals

Produced by:

Queen, David Richards, Justin Shirley Smith, and Joshua J. MacRae

Comments:

0n first listen, I give it a favorable review—at first because I miss Freddie Mercury terribly :-( what has it been now—3 yrs since his passing? Listening to the quality of his singing—the man had not lost "it", though his body was failing, though he was dying—that voice! that shining voice! especially on the opening song "It's a Beautiful Day"...it sent chills up my spine! Other highlights—eerie highlights especially—would be "Mother Love" (Brian's guitar is beautiful on this track as well!)—double triple chills up my spine at the end of that tune!!! The only disappointment at first "glance" would be—I hate to say—would be "Let Me Live".... Mostly because I don't think Roger's singing on it is all that great...and the backing choir didn't do anything for me. Another disappointment—though it isn't a major one—maybe is just my silly little stubborn brain—but "Too Much Love Will Kill You" doesn't sound the same with Freddie on vocals (sorry 'luv)...My image of that song is Brian's gut-wrenching rendition (I've always had a fondness for Brian May :-) ) I saw in a performance video for his "Back to the Light" tour. The whole CD has a sort of "lite rok" feel to it, but I am oh so very very glad that Brian (and Roger & John) had the courage, strength, etc. to put this stuff out.. One would think Freddie would have wanted it to be released..."the show must go on!" (groovy@his.com)

The show did have to go on after Freddie's death, it seems. Well, I suppose releasing Made in Heaven was a nice thing to do to get some of the unreleased material out to the fans, but it doesn't change the fact that I can't name a single song on this album that I like. I guess this kind of album had to come along sooner or later, having seen the musical path Queen's work had been descending for the last fifteen years. Bland, uninteresting pop with banal lyrics to match. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)


Queen Rocks

Release info:

1997—EMI Records—CDP 8 23091 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Low

Group members:

John Deacon
Brian May
Freddie Mercury
Roger Taylor

Comments:

Hmm, another Queen compilation. This one has got the songs that rock. Yeah. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Further info:

Various versions of Queen's "Greatest Hits" have been released, as well as all sorts of boxed sets.


Thanks to Juha Sorva for work on this entry.

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