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Thread: CW50 - The Bands Edition - No. 9

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    CW50 - The Bands Edition - No. 9

    9. Queen



    Points: 202
    Nominations: 13
    3rd Place: 0
    2nd Place: 2
    1st Place: 1

    If it was worth doing, it was worth overdoing. Love them or loathe them (and there are millions who align themselves passionately with both camps), those nine words perfectly encapsulated the philosophy of Queen – and in particular their incomparable frontman Freddie Mercury, for whom the phrase “larger than life” might have been invented. More than four decades since their genesis, and two since Freddie’s death, this most regal of bands continues to reign.

    Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor had worked together in the late 1960s in a college band called Smile, which was going nowhere fast when Farrokh Bulsara joined as the band’s new singer. Bassist John Deacon completed the line-up while Bulsara changed two names – those of the band, to Queen, and of himself, to Freddie Mercury. The band refined both their sound and their on-stage persona – May’s distinctive sound, emanating from his famously hand-made “Red Special” guitar was a particular trademark, while Freddie phenomenal voice and natural flair made him the consummate showman. The group’s eponymous first album sold poorly but was well received by the critics – a notable combination, given that the rest of their career largely followed the polar opposite theme of massive sales and critical derision.

    “Killer Queen” gave the foursome their first major international hit, but it was of course with 1975’s 6-minute mini-opera masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody” – complete with the revolutionary concept of a promotional music video – and the accompanying album A Night At The Opera that the band reached superstar status. “Rhapsody” was a colossal hit not only on its original release but on subsequent re-releases too and has since taken up almost permanent residence at or near the top of any self-respecting Great Song of All Time list. Success continued virtually unbroken throughout the 1970s – two of rock’s classic anthems “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You” dominated 1977’s News Of The World while the 1978 double A-side “Fat Bottomed Girls”/”Bicycle Race” was launched – how else? – by naked large-bottomed women riding bikes through Hyde Park. Queen became a by-word for over-the-top excess, and stories of their after-parties (complete with cocaine-distributing dwarves) passed into legend. Success at home was followed – and matched – by success overseas and for a period Queen was genuinely the biggest band in the world.

    The group’s relationship with the USA was particularly fascinating. After strong, consistent success through the second half of the ‘70s, they peaked in 1980 with The Game, which not only reached number 1 on the album chart but yielded two massively successful chart-topping singles in “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites The Dust,” the latter only released as a single on the advice of a certain Michael Jackson. Queen at that moment occupied a pinnacle attained by very few, and yet by 1982 it was all but over for them Stateside.Hot Space flopped, as did its singles – even the classic duet with David Bowie, “Under Pressure,” was only a minor hit. There were reasons, of course – issues with their record label, criticism of the new disco-influenced sound, Mercury’s increasingly gay image, the fact that Hot Space was pretty rubbish – and it almost looked as though they could recover when “Radio Ga Ga” charted promisingly following a change of record company.

    Then they went and dressed up in drag. The video for “I Want To Break Free” was a parody of Coronation Street – Britain got the joke and adored it. The rest of the world may not have gotten it but loved it anyway. Ultra-conservative US of A? Forget it – you couldn’t be doing that on MTV in 1984, and so for the rest of the decade one of the very biggest bands on the planet couldn’t get arrested in America. (Poignantly, Freddie once asked “Do I have to f*cking die to get America back?” It turns out he did. Well, that and Bohemian Rhapsody being used in Wayne’s World.)

    Ironically, Queen’s popularity almost everywhere else through their second decade grew. The band matured and diversified musically – from searing guitar rock classics like “Hammer To Fall” and “I Want It All” to the epic pop of “A Kind of Magic” and the haunting beauty of “Who Wants to Live Forever” all the way to the monumental three-movement opus that was “Innuendo”, there was nothing the band couldn’t do – they even composed the soundtrack for the film Flash Gordon. For all their success on record, Queen attained perhaps an even higher level in the rock pantheon as arguably the greatest live act of all time. They broke new ground in 1981 as the first western band to play a full stadium tour of Latin America, fostering a massive fanbase in that part of the world which remains to this day. Later they became the first band to play behind the Iron Curtain by performing to 80,000 at the Nepstadion in Budapest. It didn’t always go to plan – a gig at Sun City during the height of Apartheid drew much criticism, though the band responded – somewhat justifiably – with the defence that they had insisted on playing to unsegregated audiences.

    Two particularly magnificent moments came late in the band’s live career (their last live show was Knebworth in 1986 – it wasn’t admitted publically, but Freddie’s health prevented touring after that). At Live Aid in ’85 Queen – and in particular Freddie – unquestionably stole the show with one of the most celebrated performances in rock history. Then at Wembley a year later Queen gave back to back performances which remain the benchmark by which stadium rock gigs are – or should be – judged.

    Mercury’s health had been the subject or rumours and gossip long before the inevitable announcement of his illness on 23 November 1991. Twenty-four hours later he was dead. The beautiful “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” – the heart-wrenching video of which contained Freddie’s final take on camera – was released posthumously and went straight to number 1.

    May and Taylor have continued to perform sporadically under the Queen name with various singers and bassists – they give their all, of course, and as long as you realise you’re watching the world’s greatest Queen cover band then they put on a hell of a show.

    But it’s not Queen. Queen was Freddie, Brian, Roger and John.

    And I bloody loved them.

    Line-up

    Freddie Mercury (Vocals, Piano)
    Brian May (Guitars)
    John Deacon (Bass Guitar)
    Roger Taylor (Drums)

    Discography

    Queen (1973)
    Queen II (1974)
    Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
    A Night at the Opera (1975)
    A Day at the Races (1976)
    News of the World (1977)
    Jazz (1978)
    Live Killers (1979)
    The Game (1980)
    Flash Gordon (1980)
    Hot Space (1982)
    The Works (1984)
    A Kind of Magic (1986)
    Live Magic (1986)
    The Miracle (1989)
    Innuendo (1991)
    Made in Heaven (1995)

    Also:
    6 Live albums, 12 Compilations

    Download these songs:
    Bohemian Rhapsody; We Will Rock You; We Are The Champions; A Kind of Magic; Another One Bites The Dust; Radio Gaga; Crazy Little Thing Called Love; Hammer To Fall

    Write-up by The Sean
    Quote Originally Posted by DingDong View Post
    gimh has now surpassed richard as the greatest cw member ever imo

    RIP Craigos. A true CW legend. You will be missed.

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    May have to put Sean on ignore after this.

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    Hall of Fame Member grecian's Avatar
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    International Coach Pothas's Avatar
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    Yeah I thought he was such a good poster as well.


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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Really quality write up, that. Kudos to Sean. Almost had me thinking I might be wrong about them a couple of times, but it passed.

    Surprised they're so (comparatively) low tho, tbh.
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    International Coach Ikki's Avatar
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    Sean, great write-up mate.
    ★★★★★

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Really quality write up, that. Kudos to Sean. Almost had me thinking I might be wrong about them a couple of times, but it passed.

    Surprised they're so (comparatively) low tho, tbh.
    Really is a great read.

    I didn't vote for Queen - they're a band I like but not love. TBH I feel the same about quite a few of our higher ups.

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    Global Moderator nightprowler10's Avatar
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    Yeah, great write-up.

    I used to absolutely love Queen, but over the years I've found myself getting tired of their sound and most of the times even skipping over anything by them on my music player..
    RIP Craigos

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    Cricketer Of The Year The Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    May have to put Sean on ignore after this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pothas View Post
    Yeah I thought he was such a good poster as well.
    Lies, you both hated me for my football team long before my taste in music was revealed.

    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Really quality write up, that. Kudos to Sean.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ikki View Post
    Sean, great write-up mate.
    Quote Originally Posted by nightprowler10 View Post
    Yeah, great write-up.
    Thanks lads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grecian View Post
    C'mon Man U.
    RIP Craigos

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    Cricketer Of The Year The Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Surprised they're so (comparatively) low tho, tbh.
    Really? My view of Queen's perception on CW is pretty much encapsulated by the first four replies in this thread, so I'm actually amazed they're anywhere near this high.

    Incidentally, I was the one who had them at no.1. Just in case that wasn't clear.

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    Hall of Fame Member grecian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sean View Post
    Really? My view of Queen's perception on CW is pretty much encapsulated by the first four replies in this thread, so I'm actually amazed they're anywhere near this high.

    Incidentally, I was the one who had them at no.1. Just in case that wasn't clear.
    Freddie won a battle of the frontman thing once, dire day for CW only surpassed by GIMP winning BOTM, which disgusted me so much I pulled out of it this year.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    WAC z

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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sean View Post
    Really? My view of Queen's perception on CW is pretty much encapsulated by the first four replies in this thread, so I'm actually amazed they're anywhere near this high.

    Incidentally, I was the one who had them at no.1. Just in case that wasn't clear.
    I like to think I've gone some way into cowing the pro-Queen faction with my sustained antipathy over the years, but 13/31 voting for them shows there's still some cloth-eared wankers about their support holds strong on CW.

    Opinion dividers, IMHO. The Murali of bands. Very few people are indifferent to them.

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    cpr
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    Brilliant write up.

    Was gutted I'd forgot about them TBH, would've slotted in top 5 if i'd remembered.

    A band I'll regularly venture back to. Such a strong collection over a sustained period.
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    Cricketer Of The Year Agent Nationaux's Avatar
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    Great writeup. Had Queen in my top 10 and I love their music. Freddie has to be the greatest front man ever and Rhapsody is one of my all time fav songs.
    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
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