Rock fans in India have been on a Queen trip ever since late vocalist Freddie Mercury’s biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was released last week. While there have been diverse reviews, the performance of Rami Malek as the protagonist has been hailed by most.
Today (November 24) is Mercury’s 27th death anniversary. To mark the occasion, we thought we would choose 10 songs that aren’t part of the film’s original soundtrack. Thus, there is no ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘Radio Ga-Ga’ or ‘We Will Rock You’.
The list is a mix of known and rare, moving from hard rock to ballads to a Middle Eastern number to even a club hit. We have kept shifting the tempo and mood. You may find some good additions to your playlist.
1 A Kind Of Magic
From the 1986 album of the same name, one of Queen’s concert hits, with guitarist Brian May in full flow. The live version at Wembley stadium, London, is a treat.
2 Keep Passing The Open Windows
An underrated masterpiece from The Works (1984). Mercury is dynamite on this song about self-belief, and the instrumentation comes gloriously together in a hard rock feel.
3 Friends Will Be Friends
Also from the record A Kind Of Magic, this song is often used as a singalong anthem in concerts, with Mercury’s showmanship and interaction with the audience first-rate. Here’s the live video.
Described as an uptempo Arabic rocker, this song from the 1978 album Jazz has a Middle Eastern feel popular in those days. Drummer Roger Taylor also uses the hawk bells.
5 Seven Seas of Rhye
First used as an instrumental in Queen’s self-titled debut album in 1973, the vocal version came out the following year in Queen II. One of the band’s early hits, it’s a cracking hard rock number.
6 Lily of the Valley
A short piece from the 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack. It has Mercury’s trademark ballad style set against haunting piano and vocal harmonies.
7 A Winter’s Tale
Absolutely underrated, absolutely brilliant, this song was released much after Mercury’s death in the 1995 record Made In Heaven. The vocals had been recorded earlier and the band filled up the song.
8 Tie Your Mother Down
Another concert favourite in the hard rock space, this was from the exemplary 1976 album A Day At The Races. Mercury’s vocals are crisp but it is May’s guitar which steals the show.
9 You Don’t Fool Me
Another one from Made In Heaven (1995), this was one of Queen’s biggest club hits, released with different mixes. Mercury recorded the words before his death and the song took another dimension later.
10 Is This The World We Created..?
A short but very meaningful song that concludes the album The Works. Mercury’s voice is full of expression and pathos, and his range comes naturally through in just over two minutes.
Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon (okay, doesn’t fit, but you get the drift), Naren, NK, Kusnur, Narender, Kaansen, Jahanpanna… however else many call him, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier. If ever there is an Ustad given for music writing, NK, would be among the first to receive one. Narendra Kusnur writes weekly on Xyngr. Don’t ask us when.