Deep Album Cuts Vol. 14: Queen

It was recently announced that Queen's Greatest Hits had become the first album to sell 6 million copies in the United Kingdom (accounting for roughly 10 percent of the population). I was kind of happy to hear that, both because I love Queen, and because I grew up with the American edition of that compilation, which I consider the greatest "greatest hits" album of all time. 14 songs, all of which are five star classics (maybe a couple that you could say are merely four stars), including "Under Pressure," which appeared there before Hot Space, making it probably the best "new at the time of the compilation" greatest hits track ever.

Of course, I've always wanted to love the whole Queen catalog as much as the hits, and I have to admit it's sometimes hard to muster the same excitement for the albums. I remember as a teenager, I began trying buy bands' catalogs in chronological order, but those efforts often only lasted for a couple albums. When I got Queen's 1973 self-titled debut, I fell in love with "Liar," a lesser known single not featured on the hits compilations, but the actual deep cuts didn't wow me to the extent that I felt driven to buy the other albums, although I enjoyed my family's vinyl copy of A Night At The Opera a few times.

Queen Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Let Me Entertain You
2. Stone Cold Crazy
3. You And I
4. Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To...)
5. Don't Try Suicide
6. Get Down, Make Love
7. Modern Times Rock 'N' Roll
8. Misfire
9. Sheer Heart Attack
10. Funny How Love Is
11. Dancer
12. In Only Seven Days
13. '39
14. All Dead, All Dead
15. Leaving Home Ain't Easy
16. Dragon Attack
17. Fight From The Inside
18. If You Can't Beat Them
19. Tear It Up
20. One Year Of Love
21. My Baby Does Me
22. The Hitman
23. Made In Heaven

Track 7 from Queen (1973)
Track 10 from Queen II (1974)
Tracks 2 and 8 from Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
Tracks 4 and 13 from A Night At The Opera (1975)
Track 3 from A Day At The Races (1976)
Tracks 6, 9, 14 and 17 from News Of The World (1977)
Tracks 1, 12, 15 and 18 from Jazz (1978)
Tracks 5 and 16 from The Game (1980)
Track 11 from Hot Space (1982)
Track 19 from The Works (1984)
Track 20 from A Kind Of Magic (1986)
Track 21 from The Miracle (1989)
Track 22 from Innuendo (1991)
Track 23 from Made In Heaven (1995)

One of the reasons I consider Queen one of the greatest singles acts of all time is that there was never any sense that they were holding back on the songs they released as singles, which ran the gamut from outrageously ambitious 6-minute epics to rockers and ballads to chameleonic genre pastiches in which they remade a wide range of sounds in their own image (as one of my favorite tracks here says, "funny how love is every song in every key"). Every member of the band wrote songs, every member wrote hits, and given that Roger Taylor's contributions were more significant than Ringo's ever were, it's arguable that Queen was as impressive a collection of songwriting talents as the Beatles. Of course, only Freddie Mercury sang lead on the hits, but Roger Taylor has a couple of entertaining lead vocals in the band's catalog, and in making this playlist I found myself becoming a fan of Brian May's voice, and put a little block of songs with May on lead vocals on tracks 13-15 (are his solo projects worth checking out?).

A good number of these songs were live staples despite never being released as singles, and some were heard by the most people on the multi-platinum Live Killers and other concert recordings. The only aspect of the band that was arguably downplayed on the singles was their heavier side, and Queen were an amazing, fearless hard rock band who've influenced more metal than a lot of people would like to admit. Growing up I mostly knew "Stone Cold Crazy" for the Metallica cover and "Get Down, Make Love" for the Nine Inch Nails cover, but those are just flat out awesome songs in any incarnation. I had a funny conversation at a party recently about "Don't Try Suicide," which is just kind of a bizarre and disturbing satire if you listen to the lyrics.

Much like the first Greatest Hits comp ended at Hot Space and their commercial fortunes soon began to fade in America, my interest in the band dims a bit after that point, and so I covered their last 5 albums in just the last 5 tracks on the playlist. Their '80s decline was more respectable than that of a lot of their contemporaries, though, and there are still a good number of impressive songs from that era. One interesting thing is that I had no idea until I even started putting this thing together that Made In Heaven existed -- all the stories I'd heard and seen about Freddie recording as much as he could right up to the end seemed to be mostly about Innuendo, the last album completed before he died. I didn't realize that he'd actually left behind enough vocals for the band to assemble and release a posthumous album in 1995. Of course, in a sign of how much bigger Queen were outside the states, the album sold 20 million copies worldwide, but only half a million in America, so it's no wonder that I never heard of it at the time. The title track is kind of a monster, though.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
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