Queen has been putting out some of the best rock n' roll since the early 70's. They have had hit after hit after hit and become a world renowned sensation even to this day. You can turn on any classic rock/oldies station and you're guaranteed to hear quite a few of their songs. However, aside from the all the success those songs gave them, there are a great deal of mostly unknown treasures in their vault. Believe it or not, many of their early songs are hard rock and borderline heavy metal unlike the pop numbers that brought them commercial success. Below are 5 of what I feel are some of their best relatively unknown songs (in no particular order).
1. Ogre Battle
Good god is Ogre Battle from the album Queen II one of the heaviest songs I have ever heard from Queen. The high harmonized vocals that bring the song in are insane, but then the guitar riff that follows is unlike anything you would expect from a band that put out songs like Radio Gaga, The Invisible Man, I'm Going Slightly Mad, etc. It's thick, heavy, fast, and builds up to even more operatic vocals. The song isn't structured like a pop song at all. In fact, during this time period Queen was more prog rock than pop; though much of what they did was very melodic (especially in this song). That being said, Ogre Battle is worth at least one listen. It's loud, it's heavy, and still very much Queen.
2. Seven Seas of Rhye
There are two version of this song, but the one on Queen II is the version that is brought to full fruition and chocked full of Queen glory. This is a song about a fantasy world that singer Freddie Mercury and his sister played pretend in together when they were children. The fast piano riff is the focal point of the song, but guitarist Brian May does some absolutely fantastic harmonized guitar work as well. It is a very upbeat and driven song that almost has a bit of a galloping rhythm to it. Even today Queen does still play at least part of this song in their concerts with Adam Lambert on vocals.
3. Stone Cold Crazy
This song from the album Sheer Heart Attack has been covered by countless heavy metal bands including Metallica. To me it sounds like the very beginnings of thrash metal. Many bands since then have used similar riff patterns to make their songs. Unlike most Queen songs (even early ones), rather than focusing on being melodic, this song is rock for the sake of rock. Oddly enough however, the verses almost sound like swing in a way. May absolutely goes to town in this song and you can tell he is really into what he is doing. Heavy riffs, thunderous drums, fast solos.... What more can you ask for?
This song from the album Queen in a way is almost very reminiscent of their influence from bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin. There just seems to be that groove and vibe that those groups would give off in the intro and bridges. The first verse feels like it has almost a church music kind of vibe with the primary instrument being organ underneath Mercury's vocals. This song is an even better example of Queen's prog rock roots than Ogre Battle however because it has even less of a pop rock structure. In a way it's almost like a suite. It moves from part to part and many of them are distinctly different in musical style from one another. However, there is a very much loud hard rock vibe to almost the entire thing. It is quite creative and in my opinion one of the crown jewels of Queen's first album.
5. Flick of the Wrist
Another track from Sheer Heart Attack, it shows the beginnings of Queen's more operatic style that would be developed further in their fourth album A Night at the Opera. In a way, one could say that you can hear the beginnings of Bohemian Rhapsody in this track. There is a very prevalent nuance of classical music in the vocal melodies, though much of the song is still very much rock n' roll. What separates this track from Bohemian Rhapsody however is that the aforementioned song is very much an opera while this still has very definite pop song structure.
What are some of your favorite Queen songs that don't really get much in the way of any airplay on the radio? Feel free to comment them below!