Queen Releasing Their Six BBC Sessions

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Queen will release a collection of all of their BBC sessions in November, complete with the interviews that were also broadcast for the Beeb.

Queen On Air compiles all six BBC sessions recorded by Queen at the radio studio from 1973 to 1977. In total 24 recordings were made during the sessions.

The original tapes have been restored by Queen engineer Kris Fredriksson and mastered by Grammy Award winner Adam Ayan.

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.”

Queen On Air Full Tracklisting

2-CD Edition

Disc 1
  • Session 1
    • My Fairy King
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Doing All Right
    • Liar
  • Session 2
    • See What A Fool I’ve Been
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Liar
    • Son And Daughter
  • Session 3
    • Ogre Battle
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Great King Rat
    • Son And Daughter
Disc 2
  • Session 4
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Nevermore
    • White Queen (As It Began)
  • Session 5
    • Now I’m Here
    • Stone Cold Crazy
    • Flick Of The Wrist
    • Tenement Funster
  • Session 6
    • We Will Rock You
    • We Will Rock You (Fast)
    • Spread Your Wings
    • It’s Late
    • My Melancholy Blues

3-LP Vinyl Edition
  • Side 1 (Session 1)
    • My Fairy King
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Doing All Right
    • Liar
  • Side 2 (Session 2)
    • See What A Fool I’ve Been
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Liar
    • Son And Daughter
  • Side 3 (Session 3)
    • Ogre Battle
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Great King Rat
    • Son And Daughter
  • Side 4 (Session 4)
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Nevermore
    • White Queen (As It Began)
  • Side 5 (Session 5)
    • Now I’m Here
    • Stone Cold Crazy
    • Flick Of The Wrist
    • Tenement Funster
  • Side 6 (Session 6)
    • We Will Rock You
    • We Will Rock You (Fast)
    • Spread Your Wings
    • It’s Late
    • My Melancholy Blues

Deluxe 6-CD Edition

Disc 1
  • Session 1
    • My Fairy King
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Doing All Right
    • Liar
  • Session 2
    • See What A Fool I’ve Been
    • Keep Yourself Alive
    • Liar
    • Son And Daughter
  • Session 3
    • Ogre Battle
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Great King Rat
    • Son And Daughter
Disc 2
  • Session 4
    • Modern Times Rock’n’Roll
    • Nevermore
    • White Queen (As It Began)
  • Session 5
    • Now I’m Here
    • Stone Cold Crazy
    • Flick Of The Wrist
    • Tenement Funster
  • Session 6
    • We Will Rock You
    • We Will Rock You (Fast)
    • Spread Your Wings
    • It’s Late
    • My Melancholy Blues
Disc 3
  • Golders Green Hippodrome, London, 13th September 1973
    • Procession (Intro Tape)
    • Father To Son
    • Son And Daughter
    • Guitar Solo
    • Son And Daughter (Reprise)
    • Ogre Battle
    • Liar
    • Jailhouse Rock
  • Estádio Do Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil, 20th March 1981
    • Intro
    • We Will Rock You (Fast)
    • Let Me Entertain You
    • I’m In Love With My Car
    • Alright Alright
    • Dragon Attack
    • Now I’m Here
    • Love Of My Life
  • Maimmarktgelände, Mannheim, Germany, 21st June 1986
    • A Kind Of Magic
    • Vocal Improvisation
    • Under Pressure
    • Is This The World We Created
    • (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care
    • Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart) 
    • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    • God Save The Queen
Disc 4 (Queen On Air: The Interviews (1976-1980))
  • Freddie Mercury With Kenny Everett (November 1976)
  • Queen with Tom Browne (Christmas 1977)
  • Roger Taylor with Richard Skinner (June 1979)
  • Roger Taylor with Tommy Vance (December 1980)
  • Roy Thomas Baker
  • ‘The Record Producers’
Disc 5 (Queen On Air: The Interviews: (1981-1986))
  • John Deacon, South American tour (March 1981)
  • Brian May ‘Rock On’
  • with John Tobler (June 1982)
  • Brian May ‘Saturday Live’ with Richard Skinner and Andy Foster (March 1984)
  • Freddie Mercury ‘Newsbeat’ (August 1984)
  • Brian May ‘Newsbeat’ (September 1984)
  • Freddie Mercury ‘Saturday Live’ (September 1984)
  • Freddie Mercury with Simon Bates (April 1985) 
  • Brian May ‘The Way It Is’ with David ‘Kid’ Jensen (July 1986)
Disc 6 (Queen On Air: The Interviews (1986-1992))
  • Roger Taylor ‘My Top Ten’ with Andy Peebles (May 1986)
  • ‘Queen For An Hour’ with Mike Read (May 1989)
  • Brian May ‘Freddie And Too Much Love Will Kill You’ with Simon Bates (August 1982)
  • Brian May ‘Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert’ with Johnnie Walker (October 1992)

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