Queen – Greatest Hits vol.1
We’re talking about my primary school days here, and yet Queen must be one of the only bands from that era that I still enjoy to this day. In general these days I am pretty adamant about not buying “Best of” albums and appreciating each album release on its own, but at age 10 I wasn’t so picky (or obnoxious).
When I was a kid growing up in Ramat Gan, my father, Arie, used to go on business trips around the world. In retrospect, I was lucky enough to get glimpses of real modernity of the western world in the days when Israel was eons behind. I guess at about age 8 he went to New York and I asked for the Queen G.H vol. 1 which at that point I only had on copy tape from my sister. This is what was to become my first real CD. My dad came back with some fancy deluxe special edition of this album, and when I opened it the CD itself was shattered in the box. Seeing this saddened me, my amazing dad went off the next day to get me the regular edition in Israel. And man, did I play that CD until it was completely scratched up.
Queen was one of those bands where every member of the band was unbelievably talented in his craft. In the 70’s there was an explosion of progressive rock bands (or guitar masturbators, as I prefer to call them) where people didn’t shy away from a 10-minute guitar/drums/synth solo. A justifiable recorded solo is one that just connects coherently to the flow of the song, and Brian May is a true genius when it comes to this. John Deacon, who was the first bass player I looked up to, had distinct and defining bass lines to a lot of Queen’s songs on this album. Roger Taylor’s drumming was, like May’s guitar work, made for a stadium act, being so big, inventive and loud. And of course, Freddie Mercury, who was the ultimate front man, with his amazing range and theatrical showmanship. Many tried to emulate Mercury, but no one could pull this off without becoming somewhat of a parody.
I believe that for my following birthday I asked for the Queen Greatest Videos vol.1, which are almost the same songs as the CD – only with the music videos on VHS. Any concern my dad could have had by this time about me being negatively affected by rock-n-roll dispersed when he was pleasantly surprised to see the members were college graduates and had families. We didn’t have cable TV then and I’m not sure MTV even existed in Israel at the time, so this was my first consistent exposure to music videos/live performances. At age 10 in a Hebrew-speaking country) we used to impersonate all members of the band and knew all the lyrics to the more familiar songs.
On the grand-scale of life, I’d say Queen’s Freddie Mercury had an educational effect on me too. Growing up I was bemused by some of the kids’ homosexual-jokes and cuss-words. I’m not sure I completely understood what homosexual means at age 8 (or sex, for that matter) but I remember thinking it’s ridiculous to offend someone by calling him that if the world’s greatest rock singer was that. His death in 1991 educated me about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in a way that no Sexual Ed class could.
Surviving members of Queen recently released 3 wonderful compilation albums of lesser-known songs from their past entitled “Deep Cuts”. I do enjoy listening to them and it’s refreshing to know some bands really never die, even if their bandmates do.