Hi folks. This is a post on Queen’s Greatest Hits album from 1981 and I have some thoughts on this and the second package 10 years later, not coming out in North America against the guys wishes. As someone who was born and raised in Canada, my version of this compilation is different from those in Queen’s native land and I don’t know why it wasn’t standardized throughout the world, despite that in some countries there weren’t enough singles released in order to fill up an entire albums worth of hits. If this had happened, we wouldn’t have had Classic Queen in 1992 and the Greatest Hits II would have probably been released throughout the world around the same time, even as the band’s back catalogue was being released on cd in North America for the first time.
If the 1981 British version was released as it was throughout the world, I believe that more people would have grown to like some of the songs which may have previously been unreleased as a single, or had been released with little chart success. Don’t Stop Me Now is a prime example of a song which was successful in one part of the world, but hardly so in another. However, this shouldn’t have influenced how this compilation was sequenced throughout the world and maybe Greatest Hits II would have gone out as is. Both of the 2 GH packages have British hits and having released both albums as they were, would have been great for the North American Queen fan, for the same reason I had mentioned above. It could have been an educational opportunity for those of us who may have been on the fence about Queen and only heard songs off of the radio, that would be played on certain radio formats or special times of the day or week. For example: an all request Saturday night program on a rock station may allow for songs which aren’t normally in rotation.
There are plenty of great songs in Queen’s catalogue which were released as singles in Europe and should have stood a chance in North America. A great example of this is Who Wants To Live Forever, which has an anthemic chorus and of course, came from the movie Highlander. Altho, I could have done without the edit to I’m Going Slightly Mad, Who Wants To Live Forever and Under Pressure, with the latter being replaced on future versions with the album version.
In 2004, the 1981 British Greatest Hits package was given a release in the US and Canada, with 3 bonus tracks: I’m In Love With My Car (Single Version), Under Pressure and Tie Your Mother Down (Live at the Milton Keynes Bowl, June 1982). It was released under the title Greatest Hits (We Will Rock You Edition) and it just happens to be the first album I ever bought by Queen from iTunes in August 2014. I am glad that it finally got a North American release, but why the bonus tracks? If there were bonus tracks maybe they should have been Under Pressure and Keep Yourself Alive and we would have been up to speed in North America. At least, we have the single version of I’m In Love With My Car, which really isn’t available anywhere else digitally, or physically. I think that this compilation was discontinued and pulled from all digital in streaming platforms, except for Spotify the last time I checked.
Anyway, as of 2023, both of these packages have become the definitive Greatest Hits packages. We could have done without the unfortunate releases of Classic Queen and the 1992 Greatest Hits album, which were obviously thrown together in a rush and with the same masters which had gone out on CD in 1991. Plus, albums overlapped with each of the 2 compilations and that bothers me. I Want To Break Free obviously wasn’t on the 1981 Greatest Hits in North America, neither was Body Language. What I think should have happened was that Queen should have took a chance and released the 1981 GH package as it was in England throughout the world and maybe include the Under Pressure single inside, as a bonus. Then, when it came time for the CD and digital reissue, Under Pressure and Soul Brother could have been bonus tracks after We Are The Champions. Then, Greatest Hits II could go out with Under Pressure on it, with the same mix that would appear on Classic Queen in March 1992. I would have been happy with that, as I like it better than the original in some ways. https://youtu.be/jYDjYERb6_I
As for any singles, they could have done what ever they wished as far as I’m concerned and I have no problem with any of the singles which were released in 1991 and 1992 all around the world, as they were meant to go out. Maybe the video for These Are the Days of Our Lives in 1992 would have seemed unnecessary without a home album to back it up except Innuendo, but so what? When it went out with BohRhap in December 1991, it wasn’t going to be put on Greatest Hits II. Right? Besides, everything will have sorted themselves out on Greatest Hits III in 1999 so, nothing to worry about. After all, all 3 hits packages are now available in The Platinum Collection boxed set in 2000 throughout the world and now things seem to have settled down, as far as that goes.
What they could have done with the 1992 US and Canada packages is release them in The Queen Collection Boxed Set all around the world in November 1992, as it was with the 3rd disk with the 1989 interview and Thank God It’s Christmas on it. Then, keep it around for digital and streaming platforms, where as now we just have the other boxed set and the Greatest Hits packages separately. Like I said, if there was a universal track listing and maybe a universal cover art throughout the world, we wouldn’t have had anything to fight about and I wouldn’t have to do this blog post. Sure, Under Pressure would be orphaned, but it would land on the second Greatest Hits package. Right? Then again, BohRhap and These Are The Days Of Our Lives could have been included as a bonus CD single with GH II, after December 1991. I’m just saying… … That’s all I have for today and I will see you later.