Queen Songs Ranked 140 – 121

Click here for an explanation of the rationale and the ground rules I adopted, and to see numbers 185 – 161.

Click here for numbers 160 – 141.


From 140 to 121…

This is starting to get hard now. There are absolutely no fillers here. Some of these songs are what I would describe as nearly-but-not-quite: there’s definitely something there, but it doesn’t quite make it to the next quality level. As you would expect, most of the non-album tracks are now accounted for…though not all.

140. Calling All Girls (Taylor), Hot Space, 1982

A ‘hybrid’ guitar sound (sort of semi-acoustic), built on an uptempo beat, drives this song along – it sounded even better performed live (it featured in the set list for the ’82 US and Japanese tours). ‘Calling…’ is, however, let down somewhat by bland lyrics and puerile humour (assuming that it’s the sound of a record needle we hear at roughly 1:43 ‘scratching’ the vinyl).

139. Delilah (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

A lightweight slice of Freddie-inspired whimsy. Nice guitar from Brian, especially mimicking the miaow of a cat.

138. You Don’t Fool Me (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

One of Queen’s better efforts at a ‘disco’ sound (at least the Freddie bits), it is nevertheless immeasurably enhanced by scorching guitar from Brian.

137. Son And Daughter (May), Queen, 1973

A real sawdust-and-spit, blues-infused effort from Brian, this was a different beast on stage (and will feature a lot higher in my rankings of Queen live songs), a showcase for his guitar solo before Brighton Rock came along. The lyrics are frankly a puzzle.

136. Scandal (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

One of the better efforts from the Miracle sessions (and one where the synth treatments enhance the song), Brian’s scorching guitar conveys the pain of the lyrics.

135. Sweet Lady (May), A Night At The Opera, 1975

Another of Brian’s rockier efforts, this has a great opening riff (sounding even better when played live), solo and frantic outro. The lyrics were mocked by ‘Roger’ in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.

134. Khashoggi’s Ship (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

After a false start with Party, Khashoggi’s Ship – real drums, raw guitar, no unnecessary synth treatments – brings The Miracle to life, marred only by the interlude at roughly 1:30. Like some of the b-sides from the Miracle sessions, it sounds like it might have been recorded in a single take (which is not a criticism).

133. Jealousy (Mercury), Jazz, 1978

One of Freddie’s piano-based reflections on the pain of love, it also features great bass from John. Oddly enough, Brian’s acoustic sound doesn’t quite seem to fit.

132. The Night Comes Down (May), Queen, 1973

Remarkably, it is the original demo from the legendary De Lane Lea session that made it onto the first album, as the band felt they were unable to improve on the feel of the song in subsequent takes. Now remastered, of course, it sounds great – and such a mature sound, building to an unbearably tense climax. Typically dark and introspective Brian lyrics.

131. Soul Brother (Queen), b-side, 1981

Although this sounds like a tongue-in-cheek, one-take throwaway from the ‘Game’ sessions, it is actually surprisingly effective and an unexpected bonus when Under Pressure was released. It’s the sound of the band enjoying themselves.

130. Cool Cat (Deacon/Mercury), Hot Space, 1982

With a suitably relaxed and laid-back summery feel, this is by far the best of the John & Freddie funky collaborations. Freddie’s vocals are great; the version with Bowie’s incidental vocals has rightly not seen the official light of day.

129. The Miracle (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

A classic nearly-but-not-quite song. On the one hand, satisfyingly complex arrangements (and a song that Brian often raves about), and a departure from the standard song structure. On the other hand, embarrassingly utopian, peace-on-earth lyrics (“That time will come / One day you’ll see / When we can all be friends”).

128. A Winter’s Tale (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

It’s easy to see why there is a ‘cosy fireside’ remix (referencing a line in the song). This song’s emotional power comes from the knowledge that Freddie wrote the words in the face of approaching death. The lyrics are a bit clunky in places; under normal circumstances, they would undoubtedly have been polished somewhat.

127. All God’s People (Queen/Moran), Innuendo, 1991

Apparently, this song was originally intended for the ‘Barcelona’ album, hence the writing credit for Mike Moran. It’s very obviously two interesting song ideas spliced together (a technique they had used before – Breakthru, for example).

126. Fight From The Inside (Taylor), News Of The World, 1977

As shown by the demo version released in 2017, this is almost exclusively Roger, including lots of his trademark riffs and vocal sounds.

125. Headlong (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Obviously, a favourite guitar riff of Brian’s (he references it on stage to this day). One of those songs where the lyrics perfectly capture the mood of the music (and vice versa).

124. Sheer Heart Attack (Taylor), News Of The World, 1977

Apparently written at the time of the Sheer Hear Attack sessions in ’74, it would be interesting to hear a demo recorded at that time, as this ’77 version comes close to a full-on punk sound (an obvious response from Roger to the then-current music scene). The rhythm guitar on the demo version released in 2017 sounds more natural.

123. Mad The Swine (Mercury), b-side, released 1991

An unexpected delight on its eventual release some thirty years or so late, Mad the Swine comes from the earliest sessions but failed to make it onto the first album. Another example of Freddie’s penchant for Bible-inspired lyrics from that period. That apart, it’s hard to envisage where it might have been positioned on the ‘Queen’ album – certainly Roger’s percussion is different from anything else he was doing at the time – or what it might have replaced. The break at roughly 1:38 (“And then one day you’ll realise…”) is wonderful.

122. If You Can’t Beat Them (Deacon), Jazz, 1978

One of John’s hidden gems, this is a great guitar-led song, which really came to life on stage, though it was unjustly omitted from Live Killers.

121. Tenement Funster (Taylor), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

All the usual Roger trademarks are here, lyrically (girls, growing up, cars and rock-‘n’-roll) and musically – it certainly sounds like Roger on rhythm guitar, though the soaring guitar solo is surely from Brian.

 

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