Thursday, 27 September 2012

My Top Ten Queen Singles

Queen were the first band I ever truly loved. The idea of choosing only ten of their songs was just too daunting. So here's my Top Ten of the stuff everybody knows. Give me a break - I still had FORTY songs to choose from. One day I'll bore you with my Top Ten Queen Album Tracks. Until then...

10. Headlong

The last great Queen single, by which time Freddie was a shadow of his former self. Not that you'd know it, listening to this.

9. Hammer To Fall

Not the obvious choice from The Works album, but although Radio Gaga soundtracked my adolescence ("I'd sit alone and watch your light, my only friend through teenage nights") and I Want To Break Free features the wonderful video that ended the band's American career, there's something special about Hammer To Fall. Might be the guitar hero power chords - Brian May did invent the air guitar, after all.

8. Spread Your Wings

I'll be honest, I didn't even know this had been released as a single. It only ever reached number 34 in the charts, but it's always been a favourite.

7. Tie Your Mother Down
Tie your mother down
Tie your mother down
Take your little brother swimmin'
With a brick that's all right
6. Breakthru

Late 80s Queen is often dismissed by purists... but then, Queen are often dismissed by musos in general. What do musos know? I was 17 when this song came out and I sank my heart into it, convinced it was the anthem that would change things between me and whichever lacklustre young lass was ignoring my feeble attentions that week.

Still - Queen perform atop a high speed locomotive in the video. What else do you need?

5. Killer Queen

I keep meaning to write an in-joke into one of my comics in which a certain character keeps her Moët & Chandon in a pretty cabinet. Nobody would get the joke, but it'd make me smile every time I looked at it.

4. You're My Best Friend

If I'm in the right frame of mind, this song makes me weep. I know, I'm weird.

3. Seven Seas Of Rhye

Nobody did utter nonsense quite like Freddie & the gang. This, their first ever hit, ends on a slice of music hall frippery that never fails to remind me of the opening to The Queen Is Dead. Coincidence?

Meanwhile, just listen to that piano!

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

You may have expected to find this at number one. Or you might have predicted I'd be controversial and drop it from the list entirely. It's impossible to ignore though, and there was a time in my life when I considered it the greatest song ever written. Me, Wayne, and Garth... party on - excellent! 

1. Somebody To Love

Before I discovered The Smiths, this song was my How Soon Is Now.

Each morning I get up I die a little...

Any other Queen fans out there? Outraged that I didn't have room for A Kind Of Magic, Flash, or Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I feel your pain... but there can be only ten.


  1. I have a soft spot fo Bicycle Race. And no. Not because of the video.

  2. 'The stuff everybody knows'.
    Being a bit wrinklier than you Rol, I prob favour the older stuff a bit more.

    I'd struggle for any order, but I'd go for these singles:

    Keep Yourself Alive - 'I really like this group' I said in 1973.

    Now I'm Here - Tremendous played live. In the days before fancy stereo in my house, I'd no idea of a left and right speaker effect!

    Killer Queen - The turning point single. Highlighting the versatility and musicianship and humour. In 1974, the thought of a prostitute with Moet & Chandon seemed to me the most exotic mix.

    Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy - 'Queens 1st EP' was a tremendous bonus for the singles-buyer back then. (More for your money). Freddie's ragtime mood. I always thought there was a Mott The Hoople influence on Tenement Funster.

    Spread Your Wings - Always loved John Deacon's song. (Layla-esque at the end - or is that just me?) Could relate to this - particularly as I was about 15 at the time and (financially) further education wasn't an option for me. Sweeping up and day-dreaming at Morrissons supermarket was my 'Emerald Bar'.

    You're My Best Friend - Another Deacon special and not a million miles from Spread Your Wings. And electric piano taboot.
    Loved the idea that your wife can be your best friend. (A concept I couldn't understand at the time. Prob cos my mum and dad had just split up and seemed to despise each other).

    Dont Stop Me Now - Ubiquitous these days; which sadly dilutes it somewhat in my head. A joyous stampede of energy. I played it to death before it was even a single. (I recall that this was also the dawn of bloody Cassette singles). The album 'Jazz' came out at a time (late 78) when chart music was incredibly varied and the most important thing in my life. Punk tailed off, proggy rock needed a de-fib, New wave, disco, pop was all around us. It was a crossroads time for Queen.

    Somebody To Love - Complex and intricate and heartbreaking. Made me sigh and cry like no other. I was a 14 year old with nobody to love. ('Cept my dog - Dougal).

    Bohemian Rhapsody - S'pect it's all been said. I didn't know what the title meant back then, let alone the mock-opera nonsense. I remember telling my mates to look out for it cos I thought it was brilliant. Don't you just hate it when you were genuinely one of the very first to champion a song and then it becomes er, rather huge.
    Wouldn't it be nice to hear this song for the very 1ST time today?

    These Are The Days Of Our Lives - Oh Freddie. Indeed they were.

    1. Don't Stop Me Now would have made it onto my list 10 years ago, but since Freddie's estate insist on selling it to every supermarket with an open cheque book, the shine has worn off the apple.

      I should have given some consideration to Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy though.

      According to my book, Keep Yourself Alive wasn't a single...

  3. Seven Seas of Rye has always been my favourite...the first and the best for me...but they're all quite fun aren't they?

  4. I'm rather partial to 'Fat Bottomed Girls'. OH goes for 'Tie your mother down'

  5. Too. Many. Possible. Replies.

    Brain. Cannot. Cope.

  6. 'Keep Yourself Alive' was definately a single, our Rol. I have it in a box above my bed.
    (Contents of box probably not as interesting as the one in Kelloggs Ville's bedroom)

    1. Not a hit though... how odd. Was it released prior to Seven Seas?

  7. I'd also have Bicycle Race in there.

    I wouldn't have anything from the Flash Gordon soundtrack, although I din enjoy hearing a couple of snippets recently in the film Ted.

    And I think more people would twig the "pretty cabinet" reference than you think...

    1. The Sam Jones / Flash Gordon stuff was the funniest bit of Ted by far.

  8. EMI released Keep Yourself Alive as a single in the UK in July 1973, a week before 'Queen' the album trickled into shops. (Seven Seas was a single the following year).

    Crucially ... erm, 'The South Yorkshire Times' rated the single as "good"; the newspaper predicted that "if this debut sound from Queen is anything to go by, they should make very interesting listening in the future'.

    Knife-edge journalism I think you'll agree.

  9. Ah, yes, The South Yorkshire Times. Wasn't that where Woodward & Bernstein worked?


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