On march 3rd 1992, Classic Queen came out and I got my copy on Monday March 16th, which was the first day of our March Break and no ping-ponging to and from school for exactly a week from that date, because of a winter storm, the following Sunday. I was excited as this would be my first Queen compilation on CD for me and later on I would get Greatest Hits II on CD and later, on iTunes.
I have talked about how much I loth this compilation, as it really seems like it was thrown together. However, what I am going to do in this post is to point out the good things about this album, besides that it had sold millions in the US and Canada.
First, the single version of Bohemian Rhapsody (as it appears on Classic Queen) sounds exceptionally bright. I like how it sounds on this album, compared to other CDs and even the A Night At The Opera CD, as I found that there was some sort of diminution of sound quality, but not like MP3. With iTunes and Apple Music, the sound is much better than that, using advanced audio coding, which has improved over the years to sound much closer to CD quality and here’s a hint, if what you buy has the words “Apple Digital Master” attached to it, you are 99% guaranteed to have CD-quality sound. I can go into my own opinions on this, but that’s a whole different blog post and, an opinion post from me. To give you an idea of how bright the sound was on Classic Queen, here is the operatic section of BohRhap, with only vocals. https://youtu.be/WEd5knqzQiw
I was also happy that BohRhap was the point track and well, it was obvious why, as it became popular thanks to a comedy movie from a guy from Toronto and an American, who had done their own segment on Saturday Night Live, called Wayne’s World. That was made into the movie and had BohRhap in it and on the soundtrack and, it would be released as a single, backed with The Show Must Go On and why not? It was especially sweet when BohRhap had charted again in the US and had made it to 2 and that’s not bad.
I thought it was cool and this is the one song that can bring Queen and fans of hard rock and metal together, because of the part of the video, where the guys are in the car. https://youtu.be/iMX8d7KxoS0
Stone Cold Crazy was included and that made me happy, as on the Sheer Heart Attack CD, it and In the Lap of the Gods are so close that when SCC starts you hear the reverb from Roger’s snare drum at the beginning of the track. However, on future versions that was thankfully fixed including digital downloads. Of course, I like the song anyway and, it was also smart to include this track, because of the popularity of Metallica, who had done their own version almost 2 years later and were now riding high, with their own album and would play with Queen at The tribute to Freddie, on April 20th. https://youtu.be/uRf3KhJZRzU
Hammer to Fall got some love on rock radio, even if it was the single version which was played. I was so happy to hear this song on radio stations, who wouldn’t touch The Works if it had hit them in the face, playing this track on regular rotation, as if it was a new song from a currently active band. You see, at that time Queen were thought to be a dead act, because of Freddie’s death and for a while, that was kinda true. Anyway, I wish that the album version of this song would have been played on rock radio, instead of the single version which appears on both Classic Queen and Greatest Hits II, as it has a better guitar solo and is also, longer.
We got the single versions of I Want It All and Tie Your Mother Down, which neither The Miracle or A Day At The Races CD’s had included as bonus material. Altho, The Miracle would include the single version of I Want It All on the 2011 deluxe and the 2022 super deluxe version. Tie only would be included on Stone Cold Classics and for a time, the music video was available on iTunes, which also had the single version as the music for the track. Naturally, when I figured this out and had snapped it up in 2019 I considered myself really lucky and am so glad I had bought it. It is no longer on iTunes in Canada so, lucky me.
Queen would be played quite a lot on rock radio, besides BohRhap and Hammer To Fall. This would include both Headlong and The Show Must Go On, along with Keep Yourself Alive and of course, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen and other rock radio staples for Queen. You may have heard Stone Cold Crazy once in a while, but the other songs I had mentioned were played a lot, along with the normal album version of Under Pressure from Hot Space and I will get into that track below. Because of Classic Queen, Queen were played in regular rotation and the band’s popularity would balloon and the only problem was that this wouldn’t cary over to the back catalog shifting as many units for a while and I don’t understand why that was. At least, that is what I had heard on the radio somewhere, but I don’t know for sure. Either way, that would be rather disturbing.
Queen became cool again, thanks to BohRhap and of course, Classic Queen and when the 1992 “Greatest Hits” album was released they became even cooler. Hell, even my school would include BohRhap during an event called Run For Light and this would be documented on our audio yearbook for the 1993/ 94 school year. Was I happy? Sure, but it shouldn’t have taken the death of Freddie, a comedy movie and a weird compilation shifting units for this to happen.
We got a different mix of Under Pressure than the one we have known since 1981 and as I had said before, I actually like it better than the original. I had included this in a previous post, but I thought I would include it here again, because this was a major reason for me having any love for this compilation. https://youtu.be/jYDjYERb6_I
Like all compilations, the CD booklet contained the liner notes, there was information about every song on the album including when it was released and other cool details. My mom read it out to me and I had to help her with pronouncing names like Russell Mulcahy, when talking about A Kind Of Magic and it’s inclusion in Highlander, as well as on the eponymous album in 1986. Queen Rocks was the exception to this rule, as it had just the lyrics and no song information, like the hits packages have. Of course, this was years before Google was even a word and the only mention of it was with Sesame Street and Cookie Monster’s googly eyes, but I’m not sure if I even spelled that correctly. Anyway, I now have no need for That and can either do a Google search, or go into my bookmarks on my phone. I have a bookmark for Queen, along with Def Leppard and can simply search for Queen, if I want more specific information about one of the bands in this bookmark I had created.
Finally, this was my first Queen compilation I would own on CD and my second was the British Greatest Hits album. After both Classic Queen and the 1992 “Greatest Hits” albums had come out, I had gained much more appreciation for both of the British hits packages and especially, after the edits to songs, which didn’t deserve any cutting whatsoever. The Miracle was the worst offender as it was edited, while One Vision was trimmed at both the beginning and end, without taking any chunks of the song out. If you want, I’ll give you the Classic Queen edits of both songs here. First, The Miracle and if you know the album version like the back of your hand, you will see why I hate this atrocious edit https://youtu.be/B5uoiojY2ik
Now, here is One Vision, as it had appeared on Classic Queen and to be frank, I think that the single version should have been included, instead of this cheap trimmed version. https://youtu.be/pNNNZEjhg1I
There is a song which does need an answer, as to why it was included on a North American compilation. What the hell was One Year of Love doing here? It wasn’t even a single released in NOrth America and there for, it has no business on this album. Just because it is written by Deacy? That would be the only reason I could think of, for including it to make that quota. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense here.
Having said that, it is a good compilation, despite my own misgivings about how it was put together and the versions they used for some songs, which also goes for the Greatest Hits package which would be released in September 1992. I am also glad that Queen became cool again and cool to a younger generation, who were also being turned on to alternative rock coming out of Seattle and other genres of music which would bubble up to the mainstream, with Queen holding their own in their resurgence as a legacy band. By the way, I also loved what was coming out of Seattle as it reminded me of how rock was supposed to sound, with simple pop song hooks and for my progressive rock needs, there was that artistic side of bands like Soundgarden, along with Alice In Chains’s metal sound and what’s not to like about that, alongside Queen? Anyway, everything would eventually settle down and radio stations would circle the wagons, tighten the playlists according to format and Queen would once again, be played steadily on classic rock radio, as opposed to being overplayed like they were an active band with a new album on the market.
To call this post a day, i am going to ask a question and I hope that you can answer it in the comments on either Facebook, Twitter, or even here. I will also provide my own answer and you may find it surprising. Should Classic Queen be released as a digital download on iTunes and all streaming platforms? My answer is yes (warts and all), but not as a standalone compilation. It should be released as a part of The Queen Collection as it was with the 1992 Greatest Hits package and the 3rd disk with the Queen For An Hour interview and Thank God It’s Christmas on it, possibly with some bonus tracks, such as any remixes of songs which had appeared on the 1991 CD remasters, putting everything a Queen fan could want in one package and because those remixes and alternate versions are on Youtube and shouldn’t only be there. Maybe this would require a 4th disk, but I dont care as the inclusion of any and all Hollywood Bonus remixes would tie up any loose ends and remind those of us who had bought the 1991 CD remasters, what we were given back then. This would include everything which was different compared to the 2011 remasters like the silly edits to some of the songs, which were more obvious than others. I Want It All from the 1991 remaster of The Miracle is a prime example of this and I hope that something like this may come out, either this year or some time in the future. This would be a great Christmas release and something that most fans wouldn’t expect to go out after 31 years, but I think that my idea should at least get discussed. One more thing, it should be released throughout the world and not just the US and Canada. Hollywood Records is distributed by Universal and so is Island Records so, why not do this?