Whilst Queen and Queen 2 rely on potential, Sheer Heart Attack is the bands first classic record. The band left the Led Zeppelin influenced sound behind and developed their own style, this is none more evident than the pretentious, eccentric yet brilliant ‘Killer Queen’ a song that reached #2 in the UK Charts. Other songs that became popular are ‘Now I’m Here’, the Brian May penned ‘Brighton Rock’ and ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ a song that massively influenced Trash Metal. Queen had arrived!
It was expensive, it was ambitious, it was different and it was risky. Queen’s fourth album named after The Marx Brothers Film was meant to showcase Queen’s influence and eclecticism. From Roger Taylor’s Rocking ‘I’m in Love with my Car’,Brian May’s folky ‘39’ to John Deacon’s Pop-tastic ‘You’re My Best Friend’ it’s certainly a musical journey. And there is more apt musical journey than Freddie Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Queen’s Opus and arguably the finest song ever put to tape. A Night at The Opera shouldn’t be the album to start you’re Queen collection with, but it will be the album that sets the standards.
Sticking with the Led Zeppelin influence that dominated their first album, but whereas Zeppelin focused on the works of Tolkien, Mercury and co, focused on the world of Fairy Tales and Mythology. Queen 2 is not a perfect album but it showed the band had potential, from the bands first hit in ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’ to ‘The March of the Black Queen’ [a song which is seen as a precursor to Bohemian Rhapsody] Queen 2 is an album that relies on ambition and potential rather than instant results, however the band you loved would not be as popular and as good as they became without this underrated masterpiece.
By 1977 the British Public’s Musical tastes had changed considerably, gone was Glam and Hard Rock as British Youngsters were finding a working class voice in Punk Rock. The likes of Joe Strummer, Paul Weller and Johnny Rotten were the new faces of British Music and Queen had to act. The likes of Led Zeppelin, Sabbath and Elton John were seen as outdated by the late 70s and Queen knew that a new sound was needed to stay relevant. Thankfully Queen knew that change was coming and News of the World the band leave their Glam roots firmly behind them and go for a more Anthemic Sound, this is typified by the albums 2 opening tracks.
The Game is a fine record, but it’s also the one record to buy if you want Queen at their most commercial and popular. By 1980 Queen’s contemporaries in Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople & The Who had either split up or were in danger of internally imploding, Queen decided to leave their Rock roots behind them and venture the underground club scene, the result was ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ a song that was so popular it went in at #1 in America as did ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’. The album is great to listen to if you want to hear Queen in the middle of their distinguished career.
Where as The Game was Queen assault on Disco, Hot Space just murdered it. Unfortunately by now Disco had died and Queen who fashioned themselves on starting trends found themselves so out of fashion they were in danger of being in the bargain bin. The only shining light is the Bowie duet ‘Under Pressure’ however the inclusion of a song released a year before only typifies the bands lack of confidence with the rest of the album.
I could have included 1995’s ‘Heaven for Everyone’ but I’m not included posthumous albums here. 1991’s Innuendo saw Mercury go out in style with their best album in over 10 years. The title track, The Show Must Go On and ‘These are The Days of Our Lives’ were as good as any track the band had released in the 80s and album tracks like ‘Don’t Try so Hard’ and ‘I Can’t Live with you’ showcased the bands maturity as song writers in testing times.