Queen 80s Tracks

No Synthesizers? Underrated 80s Songs by Queen

Last year we put together a list of our favourite underrated 70s tracks by Queen, and it has since received so much love on social media that we decided it was time to jump into the 80s and start looking at some of Queen’s ‘hidden gems’. With Queen recording 6 studio albums during the 80s there’s lots to be discovered, but here’s a few of our favourites taken from the decade which brought us that iconic Live Aid performance!

1. Dragon Attack

Queen - Dragon Attack, Live in Montreal
Written by:
Brian May
Our favourite lyric: “Take me to the room where the beat’s all round, gonna eat that sound, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah”

Taken from the 1980 album The Game, Dragon Attack was featured as the B-side of Another One Bites the Dust. The song is constructed around a sharp drum loop and funky bassline as Freddie delivers nonsensical lyrics in a casual fashion over the top.

This is one of a few songs from the album which highlights Queen’s experimentation with a more minimal recording technique during this time. Brian spoke about this new approach:

“Yeah, that was when we started trying to get outside what was normal for us. We turned our whole studio technique around in a sense, because Mack had come from a different background from us. We thought there was only one way of doing things, like doing a backing tracks: We would just do it until we got it right. If there were some bits where it speeded up or slowed down, then we would do it again until it was right. We had done some of our old backing tracks so many times, they were too stiff. Mack’s first contribution was to say, ‘Well you don’t have to do that. I can drop the whole thing in. If it breaks down after half a minute, then we can edit in and carry on if you just play along with the tempo.’ We laughed and said ‘Don’t be silly. You can’t do that.’ But in fact, you can. What you gain is the freshness, because often a lot of the backing tracks is first time though. It really helped a lot. There was less guitar on that album, but that’s really not going to be the same forever; that was just an experiment.”

2. Sail Away Sweet Sister

Sail Away Sweet Sister, The Game - Queen

Written by: Brian May
Our favourite lyric: “Forgive me for what I told you, my heart makes a fool me”

Written and performed by May (except from the middle eight of the song where Freddie takes the reigns), it has never been confirmed just exactly who the “sister” is that the song is about. Is it a lover? A friend? A literal blood-related sister? Who knows. The song has been subtitled as “To The Sister I Never Had” though, so perhaps the latter was intended in a hypothetical sense.

3. Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)

Freddie Mercury - Hot Space Sessions

Written by: Freddie Mercury
Our favourite lyric: “Dream is just a pleasure dome, love is a roulette wheel”

As the title suggests, Freddie wrote this song as a dedication to John Lennon – one of his musical heroes. One of the stand-out tracks from Hot Space, the song sounds quite pretty and delicate, a strong contrast to the sometimes quite blunt and harsh lyrics. It has since been performed by Brian & Kerry Ellis on their tours, where it was performed as tribute to Freddie as a montage of images would play on the screen behind them, and a lyric would be changed to “Freddie is a genius”.

4. Man On The Prowl

Queen - The Works Sessions

Written by: Freddie Mercury
Our favourite lyric: “I wanna go to the movies, all I wanna do is sit on my ass”

The song is a three-chord rockabilly composition, almost like a sequel to Crazy Little Thing Called Love. For some reason Freddie didn’t believe that he was a very good piano player, so he enlisted Fred Mandel to play the piano ending on this track. You will notice on the song that the song comes to a very abrupt end – this was explained by Brian during one of his convention messages where he explains the tape had been cut as a different way to end the song as the band liked to avoid using fades.

5. Is This the World We Created…?

Freddie Mercury & Brian May - Is This The World We Created...?, Live Aid

Written by: Freddie Mercury & Brian May
Our favourite lyric: “Is this the world we devastated right to the bone?”

Freddie and Brian wrote this song after watching the news of poverty in Africa – most of the lyrics were written by Freddie while May wrote the chords and made some small lyrical contributions. This song was famously performed as Live Aid as an encore, and in our opinion contains some of Freddie’s most beautiful studio vocals.

6. Was It All Worth It?

Queen - The Miracle Album

Written by: Freddie Mercury
Our favourite lyric: “We bought a drum kit, I blew my own trumpet”

When we asked our Twitter followers what their favourite underrated Queen track was one of the most popular responses. Us Queenies ADORE this song! Penned by Freddie, it is speculated that this was Queen’s first goodbye to their fans – an epic musing on mortality looking back at a life and career and what it all means.

This track feels a lot rockier than the other songs on ‘The Miracle’, almost as if Queen are returning to their early heavier roots (well as heavy as you can get with synthesisers anyway!).

7. One Year Of Love

Queen - A Kind Of Magic Album

Written by: John Deacon
Our favourite lyric: “I’m cold but you light the fire in me”

Deacy has soul! He really bears his emotions with this track – a heartfelt ballad taken from A Kind of Magic which features on the Highlander soundtrack (who remembers the bar scene?). The most interesting part of this song is that May does not appear on it at all, and the guitar solo is substituted by a saxophone solo performed by Steve Gregory, whose claim to fame is his iconic performance on George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”.

8. Breakthru

Queen - Breakthru

Written by: Roger Taylor/Freddie Mercury
Our favourite lyric: “I’m outta control, I want to rush headlong into this ecstasy”

Can we call a track underrated if it was a top 10 hit in the UK? Debatable. Was I just looking for an excuse to share a photo of the Miracle Express? Maybe. Either way, it is not a track that regularly gets airplay or is featured on TV in the way that the other band’s hits are and I struggle to understand why. It is a fast-paced rocker full of energy, with an incredibly catchy melody written by Taylor. Of course we can’t forget, this track is an iconic part of the Queen Convention, and we are sure many of our convention regulars have stories from the Breakthru trains over the years!

9. Let Me In Your Heart Again

Queen Forever

Written by: Brian May
Our favourite lyric: “So don’t you walk away, remember it’s my heart you’re breaking”

We first got to hear this previously “forgotten about” track when Queen Forever was released in 2014, and we fell in love at the first listen! The song, written by May, originates from The Works sessions, but was abandoned as the band had found it impossible to complete the song. In order to bring us a finished track, May wove together sections from all of the existing Queen versions, before he and Taylor fleshed out the music. Here’s what Taylor had to say about the process:

“I was very pleased we had three new tracks to put on [Queen Forever]…’Let Me In Your Heart Again’ is absolutely typical mid-period Queen… When I put the original tape on, it was so astonishingly real, like it had been recorded that morning. I got quite emotional about the way Freddie was doing his thing. It’s like suddenly coming across recordings of your parents after they’re gone. And then it turns into something rather joyful.”

Have your say…

So, those are just a few of our favourite Queen songs from the 80s, but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree with our picks, or have we missed out on your favourites? Either way let us know in the comment box below!

Comments (2):

  1. EDU BELTRAN

    July 17, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Let me in your heart again is so delicate and beautiful!

  2. Ismene

    July 17, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Queen

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