QUEEN - ON AIR ~ VINYL BOX SET
- Label: Virgin EMI
- Product Code: 5708222
- Availability: In Stock
- Artist: Queen
- Format: 3 x 180gsm Vinyl LP Box Set Plus Digital Download
- Condition: New
“I heard it on my radio”
Queen’s meteoric ascendancy during the 1970s has been well documented. From their gloriously ambitious self-titled debut album of 1973 through to the album that put them in the superstar bracket, 1975’s A Night At The Opera, and beyond, this unique group carved out a singular path as the most visionary, inventive and charismatic band of that epic decade.
But there is another side to Queen’s rise that has been largely overlooked. Between February 1973 and October 1977, the band recorded six radio sessions exclusively for the BBC. The twenty four recordings these landmark sessions produced include alternate versions of the debut single, unique takes of classic album tracks and even a radically reworked reimagining of one of their best known anthems that has never previously appeared on any Queen studio release.
Now, for the very first time, all six Queen BBC sessions - meticulously restored by Queen engineer Kris Fredriksson and mastered by Grammy Award winner Adam Ayan - have been brought together on Queen On Air, released on November 4 by Virgin EMI.
Queen On Air is more than just a collection of rare recordings – it is a glorious snapshot of the growth of a legend.
Queen’s very first session for the BBC, which opens Queen On Air, dates from February 1973, five months before the release of the band’s debut album and single. Imagine that you are listening to the radio in early 1973; no-one in the world has heard any Queen recordings EVER! John Peel plays My Fairy King, the very first Queen song to be broadcast on radio anywhere, and the story begins. He follows with Keep Yourself Alive (the song which later became their first single), the laidback Doing All Right and the epic rock operetta Liar – all of which serve notice of the arrival of a major new musical force.
The band returned to the BBC for their second session in July 1973, the same month their debut album was released. Revisiting Keep Yourself Alive and Liar, this time they also covered the heavy-as-lead Son And Daughter and the bluesy See What A Fool I’ve Been. The latter, which has never appeared on any Queen studio album, would later be re-recorded and become the B-side of their breakthrough hit single Seven Seas Of Rhye in 1974.
By the time Queen recorded their third BBC session in December 1973, they had already begun work on their second album, Queen II (eventually released in March 1974). The band premiered a new song which would feature on that album, Ogre Battle, alongside three classics from its predecessor, the galloping Great King Rat, the Roger Taylor-sung Modern Times Rock’n’Roll and a new version of Son And Daughter. Two more Queen II songs were recorded during a subsequent session in April 1974 – the epic White Queen (As It Began) and the delicate ballad Nevermore, alongside a re-recorded Modern Times Rock’n’Roll.
Queen’s penultimate session for the BBC took place in October 1974, a month before the release of their classic third album, Sheer Heart Attack. The session saw the debut of four songs from that record: the dazzling Now I’m Here, the proto-heavy metal attack of Stone Cold Crazy, the caustic Flick Of The Wrist and Tenement Funster, their celebration of the rock’n’roll lifestyle.
It would be another three years before Queen returned to the BBC for their sixth and final session, by which time the success of Bohemian Rhapsody had turned them into a global phenomenon.
On October 28th 1977, they recorded some radically different versions of four songs from the brand new News Of The World album, on the same day as it was given its UK release: the epic power ballad Spread Your Wings, the steel-plated rocker It’s Late, the dusky jazz number My Melancholy Blues and two significantly contrasting renditions of the global hit We Will Rock You – the ‘regular’ version and the ‘fast’ version, a full-tilt guitar-heavy take on the song. The accelerated version on Queen On Air is the only known studio recording of this live favourite. “’We Will Rock You’ – profundity or just another teenage anthem!?”, remarks John Peel on playing the track. Peel is the person who famously once said (on air) of the band, “I’ve never seen them live. I must admit I’d like to – a band that sounds like nutters, actually, and I like that because I like rock music to sound a little out of control.”
Thanks to their studio albums and their monumental live shows, Queen’s status as bona fide rock legends has long been assured. With Queen On Air, the world finally gets to hear and discover this fascinating side of their legacy.