Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
It's possible to make a sports arena playlist without any Queen on it, but you'd be a fool to do so. From the stomp stomp CLAP stomp stomp CLAP of "We Will Rock You" to the completely overplayed and, most likely, unnecessarily hyperbolic "We Are The Champions" to the probably inappropriate "Another One Bites The Dust" when someone either strikes out, or their NASCAR vehicle has to pull over due to being completely on fire, there's a Queen song for every sports occasion.
Often "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions" are packaged together, one immediately following the other, even though it makes no narrative sense, and the songs don't really flow into each other. So I've taken my favorite late 70s Queen songs and strung them between these two classics, not to provide a narrative, but to give them some breathing room, and make Queen's most anthemic album of this discography.
I have cheated a bit. I know I said I was going to start with "We Will Rock You", and I sort of do, but I wanted to give it some sort of build-up before the clapping and stomping, so the album actually beings with an Intro containing the first twenty seconds of "Mustapha". This should also keep all of your racist relatives from stealing this fictional CD from your imaginary CD player.
Then stomp stomp CLAP stomp stomp CLAP, We Will Rock You, probably Queen's most famous song for elementary students. It's pure banner waving aggression and braggadocio. By the time the guitar hums in, the song is almost over. It's an unnecessary flourish to the song that I wish had been kept off. But, ehhh, it's part of history now.
More Of That Jazz is a weird suite of songs wrapped into one. It's a Taylor song with him doing all of the vocals, and most of the instruments. Mercury isn't the only one who can bogart a studio. The guitar riff is straight 70s metal. But then, about three minutes into the song, there's a harsh cut into other tracks from the album for reasons I don't understand. It was the final track of the album Jazz, so I guess it served as a coda. Here, it's an aggressive appetizer.
Before I heard the original, Queen version of Get Down, Make Love, I heard a version of Nine Inch Nails' cover as part of a 90 minute long mix of NiN songs from the early 90s. The original is relatively tame, with its simple bassline, spare piano chord progression, and occasional drums and guitar riffage. The instruments only come together during the chorus.
A piano riff that Billy Joel left, forgotten, in a bar too well lit for anything dangerous to happen, gets picked up by Dr. Brian May, who was just there to use the rest room. He gives it to Freddy Mercury, Jealousy ends up sounding like almost every late 70s piano ballad.
Bicycle Race doesn't sound like anything but a weird Queen song. The lyrics are the most pop culture-focused you're likely to find in a song that's mostly Mercury talking about how much he wants to ride a bicycle. He also drops a reference to the impending "Fat Bottomed Girls" in this song, and a fun little bicycle bell solo in the middle.
And, lo, do the Fat Bottomed Girls show up right at the end with a choral acapella intro, followed by a guitar riff buried into one track of the stereo recording in a frustrating way. I almost edited this into mono just to relieve the tension from the tonal imbalance. In 2000, I read a poll where this was voted The Worst Song Ever Recorded. In 2001 it was unseated by Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight". Those are both sound choices. This song is completely ridiculous, but it's very much pro-fat bottomed girl. It's the 70s prototype for Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back". It ends with a fury of guitars.
It's Late is a historically weird little song. It's a Dr. May concept where he treats each verse as an act in a romantic farce. He also uses a guitar technique called "tapping" which is most associated with Eddie Van Halen, whose debut album, Van Halen, came out just a few months after the "It's Late" single. It's, by far, the longest track on the album, ending with a killer gatling drum effect.
Mercury croons Don't Stop Me Now with a beautiful staccato chorus. It's the theme song for hedonism and selfishness. But it's so fun, and it has such a magnificent jacknife guitar riff about two and a half minutes into the song.
I mix the climbing piano of All Dead, All Dead into the end of "Don't Stop Me Now". This is Brian May's solo work, as he sings, and plays both piano and guitar on this track that's ... ummm ... about the death of his cat.
The piano keeps on going into one of Deacon's songs, Spread Your Wings. It's pretty much High School Poetry 101. Inspirational song about flying, dedicated to someone in the service industry that the egocentric narrator really believes in, man.
My Melancholy Blues tells the story of the aftermath of "Don't Stop Me Now". It's a bluesy piano ballad about what happens when all the partying stops, and you're left behind.
The final track on the album, as promised is We Are The Champions, which I always feel starts as if it's the second or third line of the song. It's another banner-waving braggadocio anthem, this time with guitars all the way down.