Sunday, January 3, 2010

Queen : A Retrospective

Queen was a British band with Freddie Mercury on vocals and piano. He wrote a majority of the lyrics. Brian May was on 'the red special guitar' that he and his dad made from a 500 yr old fireplace's wood. Brian also wrote songs and sang lead on a few tracks. John Deacon played bass and wrote some songs. Roger Taylor played drums, wrote some songs and actually had a similar high pitch to Freddie's. They all sang on the beautiful harmonies, most especially on the 70's albums. In the middle 80's the song credits were changed to Queen instead of mentioning individuals like they had previously. The whole song making process was influenced by all of the band members. They made 15 studio albums with the original line-up from 1973-1995.

I became a Queen fan when Hollywood Records re-released their catalog in 1991. Before that I had the greatest hits and could name you 4 or 5 songs. I guess it was a combination of things that led me buy all of their albums. I had the good fortune of buying Sheer Heart Attack first which is still my favorite Queen album. After devouring that album I bought them 4 at a time, the way they were re-released. Over time, as your tastes in music change, your interest in a specific group's albums will change. This is what happened to me with Queen. Originally I enjoyed the albums through 1980's The Game. I found it hard to listen to the albums after, as the synth influenced Queen's sound. It took me a while to come around to the change in their sound, but now one of my favorite albums by them is The Miracle, which is synth heavy.

Unfortunately, I never got to see Queen live. I watch the videos of the hundreds of thousands of people in their outdoor concerts in England and am in awe of the spectacle and the rabid fan base that they had. I did get to see Brian May at the Vic in Chicago off his Back To The Light album tour. The fans knew every word of every song and sung along with Brian. He played a handful of Queen songs and a moving 'a cappella' version of "Love Of My Life" that he dedicated to Freddie and sang with the crowd.

When making the mix of songs for this post my goal was to stay away from the songs you've heard on the radio or in movies or at sporting events. We all know those songs. I chose some of my favorite tracks by them that you may not have heard. "Sail Away Sweet Sister" is sung by Brian. To catch their incredible live vibe, "One Vision" is from Live At Wembley '86. Also, there is the Royal Philharmonic version of "Under Pressure" to showcase the composition of Queen songs.


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