For the bands 40th anniversary, Hollywood Records has reissued deluxe remasters of Queens second round of studio albums with bonus EP discs fortifying each release.
This batch of five begins with 1977s News of the World, which proceeds regally with the double A-side single We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. Besides these two classics of Queens back catalogue, the album also features the punk-influenced Sheer Heart Attack and drummer Roger Taylors Fight from the Inside, fueled by a riff that Slash once cited as a personal favorite.
For News of the World, the bands contract with previous producer Roy Thomas Baker had expired, so arrangements were not as elaborate for this LP co-produced with longtime engineer Mike Stone. The production for the back-to-basics recording is relatively sparse. (Guitarist Brian Mays Sleeping on the Sidewalk was recorded in a single take, for example, which sharply contrasts with the sessions for A Night at the Opera or A Day at the Races.)
The recent Google doodle commemorating the 65th birthday of the late Freddie Mercury was set to Dont Stop Me Now, an excellent song showcased on Jazz, the second reissue in the bunch. Queen reunited with producer Baker for this 1978 album recorded in Switzerland and France.
Mercurys Tour de France-inspired Bicycle Race is one of his more complex compositions. A topless centerfold of the bicycle race held at Wimbledon Stadium a real novelty in the pre-Internet 1970s is included in the reissue for nostalgic fans.
After Jazz, Queen ditched the baroque influences and anthems, moved to Musicland Studios in Munich and embraced technology with German producer Reinhold Mack. The Game, the quartets first LP to include synthesizers, was Queens only No. 1 album in America.
The quadruple-platinum record opened with Play the Game. For the promotional video, Freddies black nail polish was replaced with the clone look accented with a moustache and cropped hair.
The genre-busting Another One Bites the Dust, built with a minimalist drum loop, hand claps and cymbal crashes, was the bands biggest U.S. single. Penned by bassist John Deacon, the crossover smash dominated the disco, soul and rock charts. Amazingly, the band released Dust as the fourth single from the The Game only after the insistence of Michael Jackson.
The Game also boasted the No. 1 hit Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which was released as a pre-album single and featured a rare Telecaster appearance from May. The rollicking rockabilly track was written by Mercury while enjoying a bubble bath.
Flash Gordon is a space oddity a 1981 soundtrack recorded during sessions for The Game with May co-producing with Mack. The stellar title track is the best thing about the campy sci-fi flick produced by the grandfather of Giada De Laurentiis. The soundtrack is largely instrumental, with the exception of the theme and the underrated rocker The Hero.
The least commercial and most intriguing album Queen in the second wave is 1982s Hot Space. Although it was released as the popularity of disco waned, many consider the record ahead of its time and Jackson claimed it influenced his Thriller album.
Hot Space remains a hodgepodge: The track Body Language was the only Queen single with no guitars. The rocking Put Out the Fire was odd man out with traditional guitar, bass, drums and multitracked vocals, but the songs anti-gun message watered down the testosterone. The legendary David Bowie collaboration Hot Space ends the album.
What about the bonus material on the EPs? Many good live performances are included, but I wouldve liked bonus footage like the Fat Bottomed Girls video filmed at the Dallas Convention Center in October 1978.
I also wish archivists wouldve included Queens cover of Imagine that was performed live after John Lennons assassination. It wouldve been better than Mercurys lyrically inferior tribute, the Life Is Real (Song for Lennon) album track from Hot Space.
Meanwhile, Mercurys vocals on Cool Cat fly solo on the album version, but the often-bootlegged outtake duet featuring Bowie is suspiciously missing. Thankfully, that ill-fated session spawned Under Pressure. The Taylor outtake Feel Like, which is an earlier version of what became that hit single, is also absent.
Finally, the bonus track Soul Brother showcases Freddies playful falsetto taking tongue-in-cheek lyrical cues from previous song titles. The shout-outs from some of Queens greatest hits serves as appropriate bookend for this second round of reissues.