Soundscape’s A-Z Of Bands: Queen

Queen

Where do you start with the greatest rock band in the history of bands? Queen have a very successful career and who knows what they could still be doing now if Freddie was still with us? They produced solid album after solid album which contain hit after hit and their songs have even been turned into a musical since. So let’s go right back to the beginning.

The band first formed in 1970 with its original line up. This would be the permanent line up of the band right up until Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991. Their first album was a self titled release in 1973. Reviews were good for the album and it peaked at number 24 on the UK album chart.

Queen II was released in 1974 and received mostly mixed reviews despite reaching  number 4 on the UK album chart. It was still early days for Queen and with their huge back catalogue, this album gets mostly lost in amongst the other classics. The same year Queen released their third album Sheer Heart Attack. It seems you could ship albums at the speed of light back then if you wanted to and boy did Queen want to. This album received such praise and reached number 2 in the UK this time. The band were building momentum.

The band released A Night At The Opera in 1975 and it was, at the time, the most expensive album ever made. The album was a huge success both critically and commercially and the album went to number 1 on 4 non-consecutive occasions.

The band followed it up in 1976 with A Day At The Races. This was the bands first self produced release and it received mixed reviews. But despite these mixed reviews it went to number 1 in the UK and a few other places worldwide. This album is always remembered as being one of the bands best pieces of work.

News of the World was the Queen’s sixth studio album and it was released in 1977. The album has been certified 4x platinum in the United States and 2x platinum in the UK. The album at the time of release received mixed reviews as it moved away from the bands previous progressive-rock sound. However, the sales more than secured Queen’s place for success.

Queen’s seventh studio album was Jazz, which was released in 1978. It reached number 2 in the UK album charts and number 6 in the US equivalent. The reviews were again mixed for this album, some hated it, others claimed it was a piece of mixed musical genius.

The Game was released in 1980. It channeled a 1950’s style rock n roll type sound on track Crazy Little Thing Called Love and a driving rock track on Another One Bites the Dust. Despite the change up of sound, critics were mixed in their opinions of the band’s songs on this album. Some loved it, saying it was the band’s return to good albums, others saying it was another dismal release.

In 1982 Queen released the album Hot Space. It was panned by critics, as the band had developed a synth driven dance-pop sound that was so big in the eighties. The experiment did not pay off and the critics claim this is one of those albums where a band completely lost the plot on a record.

The band decided to bring back some of their older sound on 1984’s The Works and combine it a little bit more with the electronic sound they had used on the previous album. The result received much praise from critics and it returned the band to their status as knowing how to write a great album.

Queen’s twelfth studio album, A Kind of Magic was released in 1986. This would be the last studio album that the band would tour due to Freddy Mercury’s diagnosis with HIV just a year later. The album again received mixed reviews, with many critics wondering how much of the record would have been produced in this style had it not been made as a soundtrack to the Highlander movie.

The Miracle was released in 1989 and despite making number 1 in 5 countries, critics were still mixed in their praise of the album. Many believed Queen had really returned to form on this release, whilst others suggested they saw glimpses of the old Queen but it wasn’t enough to really sell this record.

Innuendo would be the final album Freddie Mercury would work on before his death. It was released in February 1991, just nine months before his death. The album would still receive mixed reviews from critics, know of who really knew where Queen’s sound had gone and changed at the time. Freddie would keep his illness under wraps until the last moment, which would become obvious as the reasons for a slight decline for the band as he constantly worked through his illness.

The band’s final studio album was released in 1995, after Mercury’s death. His pre-recorded vocal and piano parts were worked on by the rest of the band and they added their parts to it, to create a final album of original music.

These days Queen is just Brian May and Roger Taylor. They tour the band’s vast back catalogue with some regularity, but it’s never quite the same. It’s great to hear the songs, but Freddie will always be missed.

Recommended Tracks:
Bohemian Rhapsody
I Want To Break Free
Hammer To Fall
Headlong
We Are The Champions

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About Anneka Sillitoe 200 Articles
Twitter: @minikidsxe Anneka loves her rock and metal. She also loves her wrestling and F1. This girl is insane!

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