In the mid-1970s Queen was on a roll. Five great albums in a row were released between 1973 and 1976. They continued their run in 1977 with another great one entitled News of the World. The band would release one more studio album in the 1970s called Jazz which also contained some big time hits including “Bicycle Race,” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” At the end of the 1970s, Queen was one of the biggest rock bands in the world. There were not many rock and roll bands more popular than Queen. They were in the same league as groups like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. The band started off the decade of the 1980s on another high note with a big-time hit called “Another One Bites The Dust.” which was released on the album The Game.
In 1980, Queen also recorded the soundtrack to the film Flash Gordon. Although it stands as a Queen studio album, in essence it’s truly just a soundtrack record. In 1982, Queen jumped the shark. The incredible success of their disco flavored song “Another One Bites the Dust,” resulted in an entire album based on dance music. As a big time Queen fan at the time, I was incredibly disappointed in the direction the band had taken on the album Hot Space. I was not alone. Thankfully, Queen’s experimentation in dance music only lasted for one album.
Queen returned in 1984 with the album The Works. The materiel the band released throughout the 1980s would pale in comparison with their 1970s catalog. Queen was still releasing good albums but nothing like the ones they released from 1973 to 1980. The final three Queen studio albums were released from 1986 to 1995. The band’s twelfth studio album entitled A Kind of Magic was issued in 1986. The album The Miracle which was fueled by the big hit “I Want It All,” was released in 1989.
Their final studio album while Freddie Mercury was still alive was released in 1991 entitled Innuendo. The band had been working on a new album in which Freddie Mercury contributed as much as he was able to do so while he was sick. That album would in turn become the band’s ultimate final studio album entitled Made In Heaven. It was released after Freddie Mercury had already passed away. In the end, Queen released fourteen studio albums between the years 1973 and 1993 not counting the Flash Gordon Soundtrack.
We all have our favorites, but these ten are what we believe are Queen‘s best albums.
# 10 – Innuendo
Our Top 10 Queen albums list open up with last album the band released before Freddie Mercury passed away. The album Innuendo was released in 1991. Its a tough album to write about because Freddie Mercury died within a year of the album’s release. In 1991, grunge music was taking over as bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam would soon dominate the rock and roll landscape. It’s all rather sad thinking back to the end of Queen as we knew them growing up in the 1970s. This album was the end. As far as the album went, most Queen fans were happy with it. It was stronger than most of their recent albums they had issued in the late 80s. I just can’t think of this album without remembering that Freddie Mercury passed away only nine months after it was released.
# 9 – The Works
We all breathed a sigh of relief when Queen released the album The Works. No one wanted another Hot Space type disco album. While The Works may not have compared to the Queen albums of the 1970s, it was still an enjoyable record for Queen fans. Standout tracks included the album opener “Radio Ga Ga,” and the great rocking track “Hammer To Fall,” which may just very well be the last great Queen song ever released. The album The Works was released in early 1984.
# 8 – The Game
The Game was a game changer for Queen. (sorry I couldn’t resist) The question is was it a great game changer? The facts are the band celebrated two huge singles from the record. “Another One Bites The Dust,” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” both hit number one on the United States Billboard Music Charts.
The Game was a good Queen album, but it was very different from their previous albums. The songs were simpler and more straightforward with less experimentation. Although one could argue that experimentation was indeed there in the way they utilized the old disco Chic groove on “Another One Bites The Dust.” But hey, they were Queen and they could do whatever they wanted. Perhaps our biggest pet peeve with the album was the packaging. The last four Queen albums released in the 1970s were nice solid gatefold records that swung open and were filled with artwork, pics, and even posters in some countries. The vinyl releases were really special. The Game was housed in a very thin cardboard jacket in a dull grey with no extras. It was cheap packaging and probably more disappointing to fans than they realized it would be.
# 7 – Jazz
Queen had released so many great albums in the 1970s it seemed that one great record may get lost among their catalog. If we had to choose one that fits that description it would be the 1978 album Jazz. With the release of the album, Queen issued a great two sided single that included the songs “Bicycle Race,” and Fat Bottomed Girls.” Other standout tracks included “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and “Mustapha.”
# 6 – Queen
When we think of our favorite Queen albums, the band’s first three albums instantly come to mind. Most of us did not discover their great debut album until their third record Sheer Heart Attack began to receive airplay. Even a larger base of eventual fans in the 1970s did not discover the record until the success of A Night At The Opera. Nonetheless, their debut album released in 1973 stands as one of their best. Our favorite tracks would include “Keep Yourself Alive,” “The Great King Rat,” and of course “Liar.”
# 5 – A Day At The Races
How does a band follow up an album like A Night At The Opera? Well its simple; just release one called A Day At The Races. It was probably the most brilliantly titled follow up album in classic rock history. But it was not just an album with a clever title, it was an outstanding great rock and roll album that defined the band could not be stopped. Queen has always opened their albums with great tracks. The album’s opener “Tie Your Mother Down,” was one of their best opening album tracks in their entire catalog. The record’s lead off single “Somebody To Love,” was a surprising follow up to the “Bohemian Rhapsody,” that eventually danced its way into the hearts of all Queen fans.
# 4 – News Of The World
After the releases of A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races, Queen came roaring back and changed things up a bit with a very interesting and successful album that delivered two of the biggest songs of their career. “We Will Rock You,” and “We are the Champions,” were massive hits that became stadium anthems which is not an easy thing to do. However the album was loaded with other great cuts such as “It’s Late, Spread Your Wings and Get Down, Make Love.” This was one of the most even albums the band ever released and stands as a fan favorite.
# 3 – Queen II
Queen’s second album is easily the one record of their career in which the band steers as close to heavy metal as they ever would. This one rocks hard but is still defined by ingenious melodies surround by four musicians who played their butts off on this one. “Orge Battle,” stands as one of the best Queen songs of all time. This is a magnificent record that is probably their most underrated work.
# 2 -Sheer Heart Attack
While Queens first two albums may have blown you pet rocks though your bedroom windows, their third record was proof that this was a band that was primed to do some serious infiltration into rock and roll’s fun house. We had never heard music like this before. Album oriented rock jumped on this record instantly. Tracks like “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Tenement Funster,” “Killer Queen,”“Now I’m Here,” and “In The Lap Of The Gods,” were mind blowing incursions that set the tone for what they would unleash onto the world one year later .
# 1 – A Night At The Opera
Closing out our Top 10 Queen Albums list is the band’s historic album A Night At The Opera. If you grew up in the 1970s, you can’t help but remember how big this album was. It was a ground breaking record in so many ways fueled by one of the most original rock and roll songs ever recorded in the name of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You may be tired of listening to it, but there no denying it’s brilliance. “Bohemian Rhapsody.” wasn’t the only great song on the record. All four members contributed great tracks. Rogers Taylor’s “I’m In Love with My Car,” stands as the drummers greatest composition and recording. John Deacon’s “You’re My Best Friend,” defined the pinnacle of his writing career.
Brian May’s Celtic inspired compositions provided a nice counter balance to the rest of the band’s songs on the record. And of course Freddie Mercury’s three amazing compositions “Bohemian Rhapsody, Love of My Life” and the terrific album opener “Death On Two Legs,” proved that Mercury had reached the zenith of his magnificent career as a writer and vocalist. Queen’s A Night At The Opera was a once in a lifetime album and easily stands as the bands greatest musical achievement.
For further reading on the album check out our previous article