Give me your body: the best of Queen


58% on Rotten Tomatoes is frankly higher than I expected for Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic, as most reviews I’ve heard or read have been scathing. But there’s one good thing in all this hubbub over the film: it’s making people talk about the brilliance of Queen again. And that’s something we should never stop doing, because holy fuckballs they were great, one of the best rock bands of the quarter-century 1970-1995 (which was also my first 25 years, though to be honest I didn’t pay them much attention until the Wayne’s World-led revival of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1991).

First of all, stop reading this, take 25 minutes, and watch their 1985 Live Aid performance again. (I can only assume you’ve seen it. And if not, why not?!) The highlight for me is “Hammer to Fall,” which the band absolutely rips into. But I mean: the entire performance should be shown to every single aspiring rock star as Exhibit A in HOW TO DO IT. One of the greatest live sets of all time, period.

The copious amount of live material by Queen that’s been released in the past decade-plus is actually a blessing, I’ll argue. They were really in their element in concert, and I love hearing all the nuances across the shows. Plus Freddie was the greatest rock frontman of all time; Mick can suck it. I’m particularly fond of the Live at Wembley Stadium double, recorded just a year later at the same venue as Live Aid.

As for their studio work, don’t sleep. My top 25 list is basically singles; I’m a singles guy. Why is my #1 Queen song 1982’s “Body Language,” from their much-maligned (and unfairly so) Hot Space? Because it’s simultaneously ridiculous and totally believable. Freddie sounds committed — he did love his sex songs — and the spare funk groove fucking works. Said album provides a trio of songs to my list; it’s time to re-evaluate it, folks. Also: yes, they did good work after it — through the ’80s, in fact.

1. “Body Language” (Hot Space, 1982)
2. “Hammer to Fall” (The Works, 1984)
3. “Under Pressure” (Queen & David Bowie) (single, 1981)
4. “Killer Queen” (Sheer Heart Attack, 1974)
5. “One Vision” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)
6. “Radio Gaga” (The Works, 1984)
7. “Another One Bites the Dust” (The Game, 1980)
8. “Fat Bottomed Girls” (Jazz, 1978)
9. “I Want It All” (The Miracle, 1989)
10. “Somebody to Love” (A Day at the Races, 1976)
11. “Tie Your Mother Down” (A Day at the Races, 1976)
12. “Seven Seas of Rhye” (Queen II, 1974)
13. “You’re My Best Friend” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)
14. “Staying Power” (Hot Space, 1982)
15. “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Jazz, 1978)
16. “A Kind of Magic” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)
17. “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)
18. “The Show Must Go On” (Innuendo, 1991)
19. “Back Chat” (Hot Space, 1982)
20. “Sheer Heart Attack” (Sheer Heart Attack, 1974)
21. “Who Wants to Live Forever” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)
22. “I Want to Break Free” (The Works, 1984)
23. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (The Game, 1980)
24. “Thank God It’s Christmas” (single, 1984)
25. “Flash” (Flash Gordon Soundtrack, 1980)

About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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