Hi all. Today, it has been 12 years since Queen Forever has been out and 25 years and 7 days since Queen Rocks was released. I will start off by saying, if Queen Rocks focuses on the bands harder rocking material, then Forever equally does so, on the ballads and slower songs. The exception to this (sort of) is I Was Born To Love You, which rocks as a Queen song but is more dance Flavored as a Freddie Mercury solo single. On Queen Rocks, its own anomaly is the gentle ballad No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young), dedicated to Freddie and those who have died too soon, written by Brian. I am going to go through both albums, to point out how different they are and how they are also the same, as counterparts to each other and there is a direct line, through both albums and the Deep Cuts compilations in 2011. Both Queen Rocks and Forever deliberately avoid the standard greatest hits format, including album tracks and hit singles, here and there.
Queen Rocks was released on November 3rd 1997 and it had come out during a busy and interesting fall release schedule, with albums by Metallica among the more anticipated releases. Queen Rocks obviously put 17 of the heaviest tracks from Queen’s discography on it and for me, they could have made it a double album. These days, if there was a deluxe version (like Queen Forever has) it could be filled up with many more omissions, some of which would later appear on the Deep Cuts compilations along with some of its tracks.
Queen Rocks begins with We Will Rock You and the next song is Tie Your Mother Down, which goes against tradition, were you would normally here We Are The Champions after W W R Y. Right?
Next there is a version of I Want It All, which is a hybrid of the single and the album version taken from The Miracle. I Want To Break Free would also get the hybrid treatment of the album and single versions, for the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack. I’m In Love With My Car would receive the hybrid treatment later on this album, so let’s enjoy the first of the hybrids, of the single and album versions. https://youtu.be/DgiXqxmYBes
Another highlight is I Can’t Live With You (1997 Rocks Retake), which is apparently how Brian and Roger prefer the track to sound. Fair enough, as it starts off like a Queen song should, with bombast and flash. https://youtu.be/_xf7nw_JA_w
We have tracks like: Fat Bottomed Girls, Now I’m Here, Seven Seas of Rhye, Headlong, Hammer to Fall, One Vision, Stone Cold Crazy, I’m In Love With My Car, Keep Yourself Alive, Sheer Heart Attack, It’s Late, Put Out the Fire, Tear It Up,and No-One But You (Only the Good Die Young) to finish it off. I know, I didn’t put the tracks from this compilation in the correct running order, as I wanted to simply point out that they had appeared on the album. I should remind you that I’m In Love With My Car, also has a hybrid version of its own, as it served as the b-side to Boh Rhap and combine it with the album version from A Night at the Opera. The album version appears on the first Deep Cuts compilation, featuring material from the first 5 albums. Would you like to hear the 1997 Queen Rocks hybrid version of this track from Roger? https://youtu.be/lBMo0KRGj4k
Now let’s move on to Queen Forever, which starts off with Let Me In Your Heart Again, which was written by Brian, who has written the majority of Queen’s heavier songs and sings the ones which are of more of a personal nature to him. There are a few of those songs on this album with his voice as lead and we will get into them as we go along.
Let Me In Your Heart Again was originally recorded for The Works in 1983 and you can tell because there is Brian’s guitar sound from a regular Vox amplifier and that 80s guitar sound, which sounds like it had come from a Rock Man amplifier. Just listen to the last 3 albums from Boston and the Hysteria album from Deff Leppard, Would I Ly To You by The Eurythmics and plenty of other examples from the 80s.
The track features not just the original band and vocal track from Freddie but some new backing vocals from Brian as well. This was the first track I heard but not the first single or song available on iTunes for purchase. It is actually not a bad song for what the band were doing back in 1983. I don’t know how it would have fit on The Works with the rest of the songs which eventually appeared on it in 1984. This song should have been released years earlier, to hopefully revive the bands popularity in the US, whiched had wained from 1982 until 10 years later. However, it starts this compilation off nicely here. There is also a remix by William Orbit available on iTunes and I like that it brings out Freddie’s vocals more. All though the keyboard bass sometimes overpowers the other instruments. However, it is only a remix and I won’t complain about it.
Love Kills is the next track and this time it is a stripped down acoustic ballad as apposed to the original dance track it became in 1984 or the funky rocker in 1992. This is one of the few songs in the history of rock, which works well as both a funk rock track and a ballad. The playing by Brian and Roger is as good as it has ever been and really, what else can you say about the song?
There Must Be More To Life Than This comes next and is mixed by William Orbit. This track also features Michael Jackson and the original band track and Freddie’s vocals was taken from the Hot Space sessions. However, if you listen you can hear some new guitar parts from Brian near the end of the song. I actually like this version better than the original Freddie version on Mr. Bad Guy in 1985.
Now, as for the rest of the tracks on the album, it is not a compilation of the bands hits, not unlike Queen Rocks and there are some interesting trimmings that were done to some of the songs.
Play The Game and You Take My Breath Away had the wash of synthesizer and vocals eliminated from the beginning and the end of each respective track. Play The Game normally starts with the wash of synth and then Freddie sings “Open up your mind and let me step inside.” The rest of the song is as it has always been and maybe this could be done for radio but I’m not sure.
You Take My Breath Away is intact except for the wash of vocals which simply say “take my breath away” at the end, after the piano rings out the last few notes. Again, I’m not sure why this was done. Maybe it was because of CD length but I don’t know.
The tracks: Long Away, ’39 and Sail Away Sweet Sister are all sung by Brian May on the original and here as well. I’m glad that some songs that Brian has sung are getting further recognition on a compilation such as this and the Deep Cuts albums. You can also say the same for Roger’s song Drowse from A Day At The Races, which also appears here, but not on any of the Deep Cuts albums.
I Was Born To Love you fits because it is a love song in my opinion and thus, is the heaviest song on the album. However, I am glad it is here because it is a nice change of pace from the rest of it, which focuses more on the ballads and songs which are not necessarily hard rock.
The Miracle, Friends Will Be Friends and Who Wants To Live Forever were all big hits in the UK when they were released but not so much in North America. Thankfully they are also here as testaments to their greatness as Queen songs and as fan favourites. I am also glad that all 3 have been put here untouched except for the quicker faid of The Miracle. Despite this, it doesn’t edit out any important part of the song.
Lilly Of The Valley and Nevermore are interesting because on their respective albums they are linked with the previous track. On Queen ii Never More is linked with The Fairy Feller’s Master-stroke and on Sheer Heart Attack, Lilly Of The Valley is linked with Flick Of The Wrist. When I first read that both tracks were to be included I was rather unsure about how because of the links above. However, it was done and they both now sound like separate songs, as they are. Then again, Lilly Of The Valley was the b-side to Now I’m Here.
Everything else on Queen Forever has appeared on other compilations except for the final track Forever, which is simply an instrumental piano version of Who Wants To Live Forever? which appears as a bonus track or on the 2011 Deluxe version of A Kind Of Magic. It serves as an appropriate ending to the album and thus, the title. By the way, I have been talking about the deluxe version of Queen Forever and the standard version has some of the songs I had mentioned here, and at the end of this post, I will go through the track listing of Queen Rocks, the Deep Cuts compilations and both versions of Queen Forever, to further drive the point home about why there is a direct line between each of the albums.
Over all, Queen Forever and Queen Rocks are very good compilations in their own rights and it can be said, that they are counterparts to each other, with other albums as the direct link between the two. Also, because both albums serve as a framework for the three volume compilation Deep Cuts, which came out in 2011, as all the Queen albums were rereleased on Universal Music everywhere, let’s go over the track listings of all 5 albums and you will see there is a reason why those lesser known tracks appeared on Queen Rocks and Forever, along with some hit singles. In fact, I will give you the Wikipedia articles of all 5 albums and you can browse each of them to your heart’s delight, so you can compare the track listings of each of them. Let’s start with Queen Rocks, which came out on November 3rd 1997. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Rocks
Deep Cuts Vol. 1 is next and you will notice some of the same tracks on this and the next 4 albums. It’s not a bad thing, but if you pay close attention, it is noticeable. We have some songs from Queen Rocks and some which would appear on both Queen Forever and Greatest Hits In Japan in 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Cuts,Volume_1(1973–1976)
Moving on to the second volume of Deep Cuts, there are 2 songs from Queen Rocks on it and most of the others would appear on Queen Forever. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Cuts,Volume_2(1977–1982)
For the third volume of Deep Cuts, we have more songs which would appear on Queen Forever than ever. However, there are some on all 4 compilations which have only made their way onto their respective volume of Deep Cuts, depending on the focus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Cuts,Volume_3(1984–1995)
Now, we can finally get to Queen Forever and here, you will find the track listing for both the Standard and deluxe versions of this album. One thing about all of the studio albums, their Wikipedia articles all have a section focusing on all of the songs, with most having their own main article. In the case of this compilation album, the first 3 tracks all have their own main articles, along with others which were singles and possibly more that weren’t. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Forever
Well, that’s it for today and the next post will be on the 18th, with the first part of my look at The Miracle. I will be talking about how I had heard songs off of it for the first time and the first time I had bought it in 1991.