Every Queen Album, Ranked

Members of Pretenders, Rush, Queen, AC/DC, Police Shine at Taylor Hawkins Tribute
Members of Pretenders, Rush, Queen, AC/DC, Police Shine at Taylor Hawkins Tribute

At a time when rock stars had begun taking themselves just a little too significantly, Queen was a band of unapologetic entertainers who hid their musical sophistication in bubblegum hooks and a campy sense of the absurd. Bassist John Deacon, guitarist Brian Might, lead singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor started taking part in collectively within the post-Beatles feeding frenzy of early ‘70s London. They made costly and impressive albums that offered poorly at first, however their distinctive sound and method ultimately received over almost each section of the music listening public.

Certainly, Queen excelled at all the pieces that was occurring on the time (glam rock, heavy metallic, progressive rock, piano-based pop) and in addition channeled an assortment of different types few if any severe rock bands have been trying (opera, Broadway present tunes, sea shanties).  Every member wrote nice songs, with all however Deacon singing lead, however Mercury invariably voiced the hits. By many estimations the best rock frontman who ever lived, he stalked the stage like a shameless ham, and within the studio, he was liable to overdubbing so many vocal harmonies that there wasn’t room on the tape for the rest.

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Mercury’s sexual orientation wasn’t precisely a secret (he informed an interviewer, “I’m as homosexual as a daffodil, my expensive” in 1974), however his private life and childhood in Zanzibar remained considerably obscure behind the masks of the consummate performer. Mercury was recognized with AIDS in 1987 and quietly withdrew from touring and making public appearances, however continued recording with Queen till his dying in 1991.

Since then, Queen’s songs have by no means misplaced their ubiquitous grip on the English-speaking world. The band’s catalog has additionally loved periodic surges of renewed curiosity through the years, from a memorable lip sync scene in 1992’s Wayne’s World to the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, for which Rami Malek received Greatest Actor for his portrayal of Mercury.

With Disney+ having simply begun streaming the 1981 live performance movie Queen Rock Montreal, we’re having a look again via the peaks and valleys of the band’s recorded discography.

16. Flash Gordon (1980)

George Lucas had lengthy needed to direct the big-screen adaptation of the ‘30s area journey comedian Flash Gordon, and when he didn’t get the job, he created just a little film known as Star Wars as an alternative. When the Flash Gordon film lastly arrived in theaters in 1980, it couldn’t assist however be overshadowed by the Star Wars phenomenon, regardless of a bigger price range and music by one of many largest bands on the planet. Queen’s soundtrack album is generally instrumental exterior of the deliriously over-the-top theme music “Flash” and occasional reprises of its refrain, with a number of dialogue and sound results from the film blaring over the music. It’s enjoyable to listen to Queen flex their musical chops with some proggy instrumentals at a time when their correct albums have been centered on concise, radio-ready pop songs, and Might will get to shred throughout “Battle Theme.” Nonetheless, that is purely an album for completists.

15. The Cosmos Rocks with Paul Rodgers (2008)

Might and Taylor have carried out Queen’s hits on stage with a mess of spectacular vocalists within the many years since Mercury’s dying, together with prolonged excursions with Unhealthy Firm frontman Paul Rodgers and American Idol champion Adam Lambert. Solely as soon as have they added a brand new album to their studio discography, and the Rodgers-fronted The Cosmos Rocks affirmed Might and Taylor nonetheless had fairly robust instincts about how a Queen file ought to sound. Rodgers, who was in his late 50s on the time, may hit the identical excessive notes as Mercury, however he has little of his predecessor’s character, so the songs usually sound extra like Free or Unhealthy Firm than Queen. Foo Fighters resident Queen superfan Taylor Hawkins sings backup on “C-lebrity,” one of many solely songs that actually conjures the angle of ‘70s Queen. Total, The Cosmos Rocks in all probability ought to have been a good debut album from a supergroup as an alternative of an inadequate try at attempting to recapture the Queen magic. “The songs may need sounded much less terrible in the event that they have been delivered with a sure understanding camp, a grandiloquence that urged a way of the ridiculous,” Alex Petridis wrote within the Guardian’s evaluate. 

14. The Miracle (1989)

Queen performed their remaining concert events in 1986, however they continued writing and recording fist-pumping enviornment anthems akin to “I Need It All.” The quartet turned nearer than ever after Mercury’s AIDS prognosis, and for the primary time determined to easily share all songwriting credit equally for The Miracle and subsequent albums. The Miracle boasts one of many all-time most hideous album covers ever launched by a significant artist, and its accompanying music is healthier than that, however not by an enormous margin. Even at their glossiest, Queen may by no means make nameless music, and The Miracle has an entertaining sense of extra solely sometimes stifled by the spotless, joyless late ‘80s manufacturing.

 13. Sizzling House (1982)

Few platinum rock bands have been higher geared up to climate the disco period than Queen. The success of the bassline-driven grooves of “One other One Bites the Mud” and “Below Stress” actually made it appear to be a wise thought to go all-in on dance pop. In the fitting fingers, a Queen album produced by, say, Georgio Moroder, may’ve been legendary. Sizzling House by no means fairly lives as much as that potential, with its tinny drum machine beats sounding like a pallid downgrade from the band’s reliable rhythm part. At occasions resembling a muddled an inert group of unfinished demos, Sizzling House was considerably rescued by together with the already launched “Below Stress,” however not one of the singles had endurance, and the next tour was the final time Queen performed North America. Probably the most atypical music on Sizzling House, the mild falsetto jam “Cool Cat,” belatedly turned a streaming hit after showing in a 2023 Amazon Prime business.

12. Made in Heaven (1995)

Within the yr after Queen accomplished Innuendo, Mercury knew time was operating out, and spent the ultimate months of his life recording vocals for the band to show into full songs akin to “You Don’t Idiot Me” and “A Winter’s Story” after his dying. Made in Heaven was in the end crammed out with outtakes from The Works and The Miracle, in addition to Queen variations of a pair songs from Mercury’s solely solo album, 1985’s Mr. Unhealthy Man. Remarkably, Made in Heaven sounds roughly like a conventionally recorded Queen album, however  it’s not an ideal one. Regardless of the big resurgence of American curiosity in Queen after Mercury’s dying and the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in Wayne’s World, the hole between Queen’s business efficiency within the U.S. versus the remainder of the world really widened for Made in Heaven: the album peaked at No. 58 on the Billboard 200, however went to No. 1 within the U.Ok, Germany and several other different international locations. “These tracks give the band a schmaltzy, ballad-heavy sendoff,” Mike Boehm wrote within the Los Angeles Times evaluate of Made in Heaven

11. A Type of Magic (1986)

Six years after Flash Gordon, Queen determined to throw themselves into making the unofficial soundtrack for Highlander, a sci-fi film that made even much less cash on the field workplace. The Christoper Lambert/Sean Connery automobile has grown right into a cult traditional over time, but it surely wasn’t a lot of a launching pad for Queen’s hardest rocking album of the ‘80s. Whereas the band’s performances are spirited on A Type of Magic, the songs are hit-and-miss, and Queen generally sounds misplaced in David Richards and Reinhold Mack’s cavernous manufacturing. “Who Needs to Dwell Without end” is poignant exterior the context of a movie about an immortal attempting to keep away from being decapitated, whereas “Don’t Lose Your Head” is… not. 

10. The Works (1984)

Queen didn’t fully retreat from the failed experiments of Sizzling House, as an alternative incorporating extra drum machines and synths right into a return to rock bombast on The Works. The album veers between extremes, from the onerous rock strut of “Tear It Up” to the robotic vocoders on “Machines (or ‘Again to People’),” a garish however surprisingly interesting product of its second. MTV was scared off by the cross dressing within the “I Need To Break Free” video, a key episode in Queen’s regular business decline within the U.S. Queen remained bigger than life in Europe although, and the worldwide broadcast of their iconic 1985 Dwell Assist set, with “Radio Ga Ga” and “Hammer to Fall” performed alongside their ‘70s hits, at the very least gave America a style of the album they’d neglected. 

9. Innuendo (1991)

Mercury didn’t go quietly into that good evening. The final Queen album launched throughout his lifetime is bursting with highly effective vocals that don’t sound something like a person dying of a terminal sickness, together with the scorching “The Hitman,” the gently poignant “These Are the Days of Our Lives” and the rousing swan music “The Present Should Go On.” Innuendo’s title monitor is a six-minute swirl of tempo adjustments recalling Queen’s proggy ‘70s work, and have become their first No. 1 on the U.Ok. Singles Chart in almost a decade. Maybe essentially the most disappointing factor in regards to the deeply flawed Bohemian Rhapsody movie was its suggestion that Mercury’s story basically ended at Dwell Assist – and that his fearless curtain name on Innuendo, one of many defining acts of his life, didn’t have to be within the biopic. 

8. Queen (1973)

The sleeve of Queen’s debut album listed every band member and the devices they performed, with the purposeful addendum “…and no one performed synthesizer.” This was usually interpreted as a snobby precept the band would subsequently abandon within the Sizzling House period, but it surely was extra of a brag: these flashy, futuristic tones you’re listening to on “Hold Your self Alive”? They’re all popping out of the Crimson Particular, a guitar Might constructed along with his father within the early ‘60s. A lot of the hallmarks of a Queen album have been already absolutely current in 1973, however with a higher emphasis on dippy fantasy-themed songs akin to “My Fairy King” and “Nice King Rat.” The debut stays the one Queen album that missed the highest 10 on the U.Ok. album charts, however “Liar” shouldn’t be neglected because the band’s first maximalist epic.

7. The Sport (1980)

The one two Queen songs to prime the Sizzling 100 are each on The Sport, and each characteristic the band taking part in musical dress-up. Mercury’s goofin’ on Elvis on the sublimely campy rockabilly romp “Loopy Little Factor Referred to as Love,” and Deacon frolicked within the studio with Stylish through the recording of “Good Occasions” earlier than he composed his personal iconic disco bassline for “One other One Bites the Mud.” Alternatively, the songs that represented Queen’s core sound (“Play the Sport,” “Save Me”) obtained a cooler reception, foreshadowing that the band’s imperial period had an expiration date.

6. Queen II (1974)

“Seven Seas of Rhye,” a 76-second instrumental outro on Queen’s debut, additionally closed the band’s second album, this time as a completely developed music that turned their first hit single within the U.Ok. Queen’s heaviest album is filled with songs akin to “Ogre Battle” and “The March of the Black Queen,” briefly suggesting that their closest friends have been Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. They may have fostered a smaller however maybe extra loyal fanbase in the event that they’d continued on the trail towards metallic as an alternative of toying with opera and music corridor. “Wimpoid royaloid heavoid android void,” Robert Christgau quipped within the Village Voice

5. Jazz (1978)

Producer Roy Thomas Baker developed what we all know because the ‘70s Queen sound on the band’s first 4 albums. Baker returned for his or her seventh LP, Jazz, earlier than establishing store in America, the place he’d simply begun producing one other string of hits for the Vehicles. Queen’s business prime continued nicely after Jazz, however the crisp thump of Taylor’s drums would by no means sound fairly as excellent because it did on “Fats Bottomed Women.” That is the album that finest crystallizes Mercury as an irrepressible showman and inexhaustible crowd pleaser, particularly on “Let Me Entertain You” and “Don’t Cease Me Now.” Maybe it’s no coincidence Jazz can be the album that confronted essentially the most pronounced pushback from rock critics who discovered Queen cheesy and missing in substance in comparison with, say, Bruce Springsteen. “Queen could be the first actually fascist rock band. The entire thing makes me marvel why anybody would indulge these creeps and their polluting concepts,” wrote Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone’s famously splenetic evaluate of Jazz.

4. A Night time on the Opera (1975)

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was a tour de drive that nearly single-handedly modified the trajectory of Queen’s profession and nonetheless, dozens of hits later, defines its legacy. The music’s mother or father album, A Night time on the Opera, doesn’t really proceed the opera theme, though the eight-minute “The Prophet’s Tune” makes a mighty try to additional up the ante. The extra transient pastiches of pre-rock & roll varieties akin to “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and “Seaside Rendezvous” are just a bit too treasured for their very own good, holding the album again from constant greatness. “Love of My Life” and “You’re My Greatest Buddy” are two of Queen’s most enduring love songs, however Opera opens with the band’s most hateful rocker: “Dying on Two Legs,” penned by Mercury in regards to the Queen’s authentic supervisor Regular Sheffield.

3. A Day on the Races (1976)

The follow-up to A Night time on the Opera featured related cowl artwork and one other title borrowed from a ‘30s Marx Brothers film, framing it as a sequel to the band’s breakthrough. Whereas it didn’t have “Bohemian Rhapsody,” A Day on the Races is on the entire superior to its predecessor, with fewer cutesy style workouts and extra quintessential Queen songs akin to “You and I” and “Tie Your Mom Down.” Emboldened by the success of his opera tour, Mercury goes even additional in creating dazzling cathedrals of harmonies out of his personal multi-tracked voice on “Any person To Love” and “You Take My Breath Away.” “White Males” and the climax of “The Millionaire Waltz” are nearly the one onerous rock moments on A Day on the Races, however Queen’s first absolutely self-produced album is one in every of their finest by nearly each different measure.

2. Information of the World (1977)

Mercury began reducing his hair shorter in 1977, a turning level in his picture that may ultimately be accomplished by the well-known mustache. Queen’s songs have been changing into extra economical and concise on the time, too, although nonetheless indulgently florid and ornate in comparison with the Intercourse Pistols and the Conflict. As an alternative of adapting to punk’s problem, Queen embraced pomp and pomposity with the militaristic triumph of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” Taylor could be the least completed of Queen’s 4 songwriters, however he’s a virtuoso expertise in his personal proper, taking part in almost all of the devices on Information of the World’s “Sheer Coronary heart Assault” and “Battle from the Inside,” and singing the latter.

1. Sheer Coronary heart Assault (1974)

    “Killer Queen” lastly made them into stars, however Queen so rapidly surpassed Sheer Coronary heart Assault commercially that it feels without delay like a cult traditional within the context of their catalog, a touchstone for onerous rock followers and a lynchpin of the band’s stay repertoire. “Brighton Rock” options the definitive Might guitar solo – three minutes on file however generally greater than 20 in live performance. “Stone Chilly Loopy” is quick and heavy sufficient to lend itself naturally to a Metallica cowl, whereas “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)” is likely one of the most fascinating and immersive tone poems within the Queen discography. “Now I’m Right here” was solely a minor hit within the U.Ok. and by no means launched as a single in America, but it surely’s Mercury’s de facto theme music – the music Queen’s authentic lineup carried out greater than another.

    To see our operating checklist of the highest 100 best rock stars of all time, click here.

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