10 of the Best: Queen Alternative Greatest hits
You might have noticed that Queen’s “Greatest Hits” album was just named biggest selling UK album of all time. With the hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, We Will Rock You, Another One Bites the Dust and Somebody to Love it's pretty easy to see why. One of the most striking things about Freddie 'n the boys is the way they have manage to bang out some incredibly complex music, yet still keep it accessible enough to sing on your way to work. Think about Bohemian Rhapsody! One of the biggest selling single of all the time doesn’t even have a chorus! And even someone completely trashed can sing it in its entirety! You might wanna check out this video as a proof: I’m sure Mr. Mercury would find it funny.
So what else? Bicycle Race? How is a bike race even close to being a theme for a hit song ?! What’s more 18 seconds of its three-minutes are only the ringing of bicycle bells!!! Who else could do this? Or who else could sing songs like You’re My Best Friend or Radio Ga Ga and being taken seriously? Could you name any other band were all members had numerous number one hits throughout their career? Including drummers? Yeah thats right, INCLUDING DRUMMERS. Not even the Beatles have nailed that one.
Although Queen went through a lot of phases, from Progressive Metal to Disco, they always managed to master the genre and dominate it completely. Think Another One Bites the Dust: Their biggest selling single- loads of American underground radio stations spinning the tune didn’t realize that Queen weren't a black band! And what about Stone Cold Crazy? The song that all metal fans know the lyrics to? I think you get my point.
So even though everyone knows their biggest hits, there are (as one would expect) other songs that didn’t make it to the “Greatest Hits” but nevertheless they remain masterpieces. To introduce you more to this amazing band, this is our chronological top ten list for the Queen’s alternative “Greatest hits” Listen!
Keep yourself alive
The song that got Trident’s (Queens first recording and publishing company) attention. You get sucked into the song within a second by Brian’s May mesmerizing guitar sound and riffs. And the chorus will ring in your head every Monday morning on your way to work. So keep yourself alive…Oh yeah, and don’t be fooled, he only plays with a sixpence coin instead of a regular plectrum! Beat that!
This four and a half minute epic is taken from their second album, which introduces “side two” (otherwise known as the Black side) written in its entirety by Mercury. This song sounds heavy even by today’s standards and it is proper Modern Progressive Metal before it even existed! I bet Dream Theater must be jealous. There is more variation, time signature changes, instrumental layering and reverse playback than most bands can fit in their entire discography, let alone one track! Queen did it in one song and you don’t even realise that it’s all there even when you know it back to front! Even today, this song is ahead of its time.
Stone Cold Crazy
The only reason why this song has not been put on the Greatest Hits album is that it’s too heavy! Imagine listening to You’re My Best Friend followed by “Sleeping very soundly on a Saturday morning, I was dreaming I was Al Capone”. There would be deaths! Bloodshed! Coronaries! When you buy Sheer Heart Attack and hear this track it feels like you’ve just bought a tank from Al quaeda. Countless metal bands have listed this track as a “major influence”, which makes me think where would be Metal today if there was no Queen? NO.
The Prophet’s song
This is possibly the most epic Queen song. It’s also the longest ,and more complicated than Bohemian Rhapsody, which was overdubbed so many times that the tape became almost transparent! Based on a dream that Brian May had about a Prophet and the end of the human race. It has the longest A Cappella section and a tape delay usage you’ll ever likely to hear. And also the jolliest! Also it’s one of the first pop songs to be recorded in drop D tuning (a common practice by metal bands nowadays), which gave it its dark edge. This is true raping of the technology that Queen pushed beyond its limits. A work of Art. Must be heard in its entirety every time you put it on!
Queen had a good sense of humour and, like Lazing On the Sunday Afternoon, Bring Back That Leroy Brown or Seaside Rendez-Vous, this song falls into their “Vaudeville” category. The tracks main corpus comes from an instrument called Ukulele-Banjo, which is (as you might have guessed) half ukulele, half Banjo that May’s father carried with him all through the Second World War. It contains a whole section inspired by “The Temperance Seven who played a mixture of Dixie Land and very arranged pseudo twenties music” as May remembers, except that it’s all played on May’s guitar. You want to know what it sounds like? Wait until the end of the song! You won’t be disappointed! This is yet another song that proves that Queen could breach into any genre, take the best out of it, and make it still sound like a Queen song without it being superficial or unnatural. There are not many bands able to do that and still sell. Usually it is the end of their careers.
The Millionaire Waltz
This track summarizes well what Queen were about: Grandiose, pompous, charismatic and hypnotizing with a lot of emotion and a certain feeling of nostalgia! As the song title suggests there is a strong waltz element present in this song and although it sounds very simple (mainly the middle section) it is a very elaborate song rife with twists and changes, and it gives the listener a good insight into the musicianship that these four had. Listen to the bass arrangement – it’s second to none.
Sail away sweet sister
Hey little babe you’re changing
Babe, are you feeling sore?
Ain’t no use in pretending
You don’t wanna play no more
It’s plain that you ain’t no baby
What would your mother say
You’re all dressed up like a lady
How come you behave this way
Sail away sweet sister
Sail across the sea
Maybe you find somebody
Who loves you half as much as me
My heart is always with you
No matter what you do
Sail away sweet sister
Always be in love with you
The only person who could not LOVE this is probably Magda Goebbels. Could any one write more heartwarming lyrics than Queen? You Take My Breath Away, Mother Love, Need Your Loving Tonight, Nevermore, I could go on... It seems insane that this track from Brain May’s didn’t become a mega hit.... Every time you hear the chorus you gotta have goose bumps!
From the album Hot Space, this track has SEX written all over it. The sound of the bass is beyond beautiful and it gets under your skin deeper than a needle. Listen to it once and you’ll be addicted sooner than you’ll know it. If this song was played on the radio the population growth would become critical in no time and civilisation would soon turn into a seething Brave New World style promiscuous shagathon. So don’t search for it on the radio. Instead light some candles up, hit the lights and check the video below. The perfect song to make love to your old lady to…
Man on the prowl
If Mercury hadn’t taken a bath on one day in early 1980 and written Crazy Little Thing Called Love, this would have been the song to become such a big international hit. Elvis probably pevlic thrusts to this in his Graceland grave. It's rockabilly at its best! Bring back the good old times…
You don’t fool me
The song finished after Mercury’s death was to become another classic- this time on a dance floor. Again, a very sexy track with a suitably sexy clip to accompany it. This song is apparently the track that strippers pick the most for their performances (at least from the Queen catalogue)!!! We're guessing that second must be She Makes Me. It's definitely not Bring Back That Leroy Brown...