Happy Japanese Queen Day! Following on from the wonderful variety of tracks on Side 1 that I reviewed previously, Side 2 of A Day At The Races continues to entertain with a mixture of offerings. It starts off with one of Queen’s most enduring and hugely popular hits, before taking us on a journey that ends up in Japan at the end of the album, which has important relevance to today, as explained for that particular track. So there’s plenty to cover as usual, and I hope you enjoy this latest set of reviews!
This post covers all the tracks on Side 2 of the album as follows. Click their names to jump to the reviews:
- Somebody To Love
- White Man
- Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy
- Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)
You can see all the videos I mention in this post and more on my Queen & Covers playlists. So do feel free to check them out (along with my other Queen playlists) and see which versions of each song you like best!
Written by Freddie Mercury
This soul-searching, gospel-infused, harmony-rich, intricately-layered masterpiece, with Freddie’s poetic lyrics pleading for God’s help to find that special person to spend his life with, is always a joy to listen to and is easily the most famous song from the album. The main surprise to me is that it only reached number 2 in the UK chart, held off the top spot by Under The Moon Of Love by Showaddywaddy. It spent 6 weeks in the top 5 altogether though, of which 4 of them were at number 4, so that’s still impressive. And it did reach number 1 in the Netherlands, while also getting to number 13 in the USA.
Commentaries & Interviews
Brian and Roger discuss the track on the Absolute Greatest Hits commentary, where Brian explains: “You have to bear in mind we’d just had Bohemian Rhapsody, historically, it had just been a huge hit, and it was a massive vocal production. And this also is a massive vocal production, in some ways the counterpart of Bohemian Rhapsody, but in a gospel kind of style. Aretha Franklin was Freddie’s idol, and so he wrote it really with her in mind.”
They also note how complex the song is, and what a great track it is to perform live. They particularly enjoy recalling a performance in Auckland, New Zealand, where Freddie started the song off but forgot what he was playing, and also put his trousers on backwards, because he’d been drinking heavily with Tony Hadley! For Freddie, ever the professional, this was very unusual, as he wouldn’t normally be the worse for wear before a concert. But, as Brian observes, he “just had too good a time” on this occasion!
The audio commentary on Greatest Video Hits 1 also features Brian and Roger, where they reminisce about the Hyde Park show and the music studio that both appear in the video, and remark on the multi-tracking they used to create the gospel choir. Freddie, meanwhile, discusses why many of his songs are about emotion, as he’s a “true romantic… writing about things that everyday people go through”.
- Brian is quoted as saying: “That was part of Freddie’s great gift: to take a song and keep building it until it almost became something else. Until it belonged to everybody. Somebody To Love was like that.”
- John Deacon once stated that the song proved “Queen could swing as hard as it could rock, by channeling the spirit of gospel music”.
- Roger Taylor, in Circus Magazine on 31 January 1977, observed: “Somebody To Love is Aretha Franklin-influenced. Freddie’s very much into that. We tried to keep the track in a loose, gospel-type feel. I think it’s the loosest track we’ve ever done.”
- Brian May briefly told Absolute Radio about the Aretha Franklin influence and building up the vocal parts to create a gospel choir.
Outtakes from the recording, including interesting experiments with the harmonies that were never used in the final track, were played at a Queen convention. It means you get the copyright message over the top regularly and the audio quality isn’t great, so I don’t often share such recordings for those reasons. But it is interesting to hear this particular rarity.
The 1991 Hollywood Records reissue of the album included a remix by Randy “Badazz” Alpert (nephew of Herb Alpert). There’s some phasing in different parts of the track, a bit of extra percussion, and occasionally different ad-libs from Freddie, none of which really adds anything special. So it’s ok, but the original mix is easily superior.
The vocals on this song are sublime to say the least, and are split between lead and backing vocals in the multitracks:
- Lead Vocals – Freddie’s performance on this track is an absolute tour de force of power, energy and feeling, and I defy anybody not to say it sends shivers down their spine when they hear it, especially in isolation like this. For example, on several occasions when he sings the lyric “somebody to love”, it’s incredible how he holds and plays around with just the word “love”, extending it for a good 6½ seconds on one occasion, and hitting a superb high note for the word “to” later on that’s difficult for some performers to replicate on stage. Likewise, it’s impressive how he manipulates the final word in “I’ve got nobody left to believe” up to a higher register, and there are several other nicely held notes during the track. There’s also the repeating “find me somebody to love” choir section in the middle, and other moments beyond that, where his improvisations and “ooohs” sound magical. It’s just perfection all the way, nobody else can sing like him.
- Backing Vocals – The linked video contains all the backing vocals as a complete track, but that’s not quite how they’re presented in the multitrack files. Most do reside on a separate track, but some of them are mixed into the lead vocal track when Freddie isn’t singing, so there are occasional gaps in the backing track as a result. Freddie, Brian and Roger all contributed to these wonderful harmonies (as John didn’t sing on the record), to give the impression of a 100-strong gospel choir. And it’s incredible what they achieved, it sounds amazing. Roger in particular, as on several other songs, demonstrates his ability for hitting some astonishingly high notes. The best example is around 2:55, at the end of “he’s alright, he’s alright, yeah, yeah”, where a lot of people mistake his high “yeah” for a guitar note! it’s only when you hear that part in isolation like this that you can clearly tell it’s him. And at the very end of the song you can hear Roger sounding a bit like one of the Bee Gees. There’s a bit of additional piano mixed into this track part way through too, to complement the main piano track.
All the other elements of the song play a crucial role as well, of course:
- Freddie’s piano that underpins the whole track is a solid and beautiful piece of composition, and when mixed with the vocals makes a perfectly decent song all of its own. It also incorporates the double hand claps sequence in the middle of the song.
- Brian’s guitar only features in the song for less than 50 seconds in the middle, but as ever he makes it count, with a rhythmic lead-in to his marvellous solo. He gives a little tutorial for the end of the guitar section in his 1983 Star Licks video.
- John’s bass plays a counter-melody with some nice little touches here and there. Even if you heard this bassline without being told which song it belonged to, you’d still recognise it, as it fits so well.
- Roger’s percussion is steady and effective, providing a firm rhythm throughout.
By combining the various tracks without Freddie’s lead vocal, you can hear a straight instrumental without any vocals or the instrumental with backing harmonies. Either way, it highlights how all the layers fit together like a perfect jigsaw. You can also sing along using the Karaoke Hits video.
The promotional video shows the band doing a staged recording of the track at Sarm East Studios, London on 4 November 1976, combined with visuals from their Hyde Park show a couple of months earlier (a concert that I discussed in my previous post). Every band member gets a fair amount of screen time, particularly Freddie in his shirt covered in colourful leaves.
John Deacon appears to sing backing vocals during the video, but doesn’t sing on the actual track, so it’s a visual cheat. The head of the band’s road crew, Peter Hince, explained to Mojo magazine in 2009 that: “Aesthetically, you had to have all four around the microphone, but John didn’t sing on the records. By his own admission he didn’t have the voice. He did sing on-stage but the crew always knew to keep the fader very low.” John’s voice can be heard on some bootlegs of live shows, however, so it wasn’t always faded out completely. Peter also told Mojo that the song was “always one of Queen’s best. The studio version was very polished, but on-stage there was so much more guts to it.”
The video has appeared on various “Greatest” video releases by the band, including the Greatest Video Hits I DVD. It’s also included with the 2011 reissue of the album on iTunes.
An alternative video, created from all 4 takes of the studio footage, some of it shown in split screen, was included on the Days Of Our Lives documentary DVD & Blu-ray. So that’s also really fun to watch. There’s also a teaser clip for the documentary on Queen’s Youtube channel that combines some of that music video with comments by the band.
There are also a couple of videos from TV music shows, where dancers performed routines to the song, which was common practice for programmes like Top Of The Pops when artists were unable to appear in person:
- Legs & Co Dance Troupe on Top Of The Pops, BBC1, UK in November 1976
- Penny de Jager’s Ballet Troupe on TopPop, AVRO, The Netherlands in December 1976
And more recently the song was played during the opening credits of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, as the band prepare to play at Live Aid.
As if the record itself isn’t special enough, the song comes to life even more on stage. It doesn’t matter that they can’t create a full gospel choir effect, because it’s not necessary with Freddie belting out the lead vocal as passionately and powerfully as he does. And the other band members sing backing vocals too – including John, even if he’s faded down a bit as he doesn’t have as good a voice as the others – but you can always hear Roger providing the higher notes.
Some of their live performances include:
- Earl’s Court, London on 7 June 1977 – You can occasionally hear John singing backing vocals if you listen very, very closely.
- The Summit, Houston, Texas on 11 December 1977 – Brian fluffs his solo a little bit, but otherwise it’s a solid performance as usual.
- Pabellon de Deportes del Real Madrid, Spain on 23 February 1979 – Not the best quality recording, as you can’t hear Freddie during the start of the song and in one or two other places, and there’s an odd moment where Brian’s guitar is heard in isolation for a brief moment. But it’s an enjoyable rarity nonetheless.
- Pavillon de Paris, France on 28 February 1979
- Hammersmith Odeon, London on 26 December 1979 – This was when Queen performed in the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea. Freddie does some improvisation at the piano as an extended intro, with some extraordinary vocals before the song even starts properly. And he continued to do this during their shows in the 80s, sometimes incorporating a bit of call and response with the audience, and generally making it quite elaborate.
- José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina on 1 March & 8 March 1981
- Estádio do Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil on 20 March 1981
- Poliedro de Caracas, Venezuela on 27 September 1981
- Montreal Forum, Canada on 24/25 November 1981 – Freddie extends the song further here with a bit of vocal jamming with the audience in the middle. You can focus on his voice even more closely in a semi a cappella mix, which Youtuber Chief Mouse has extracted from the DVD’s central surround channel. There’s also a nice commentary by Brian & Roger on the DVD, in which they talk about how it’s one of the last times it was just the 4 of them on stage with no assistance from an additional keyboardist, and why they made that change in later tours, as well as commenting on Freddie’s excellent piano and vocal skills.
- Milton Keynes Bowl on 5 June 1982 – Again this is a longer version with Freddie having fun midway through. Apart from being on the Live At The Bowl album and DVD, the audio from this was also included as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of A Day At The Races, and the video was available to stream as part of the Absolute Greatest release.
- Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 19 January 1985 – By this point the song had become shorter, stopping before the repeating “find me somebody to love” section. Freddie’s voice is also tired at this point in the tour, but he was always able to adapt so that he still sounded amazing even on his worst days.
- Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan, on 11 May 1985 – This appeared on their Final Live In Japan release, which was only available in that country.
Queen & George Michael
George Michael’s fantastic performance of the song with Queen at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Wembley Stadium, London on 20 April 1992, backed by a gospel choir and the 72,000-strong crowd, was without doubt the highlight of the show. He absolutely nailed it, making the song his own without trying to copy Freddie, and having the vocal skills to reach some of those tough top notes that few could pull off.
And he engaged with the audience so well too, getting them all clapping and singing along with ease. That moment near the end when the band pauses and he gets the crowd to sing the word “love”, and in unison they do the complex descending melody on that single word perfectly, is just marvellous, embodying the joyful impact that Freddie’s music has had on everyone present. Brian’s huge smile immediately after says it all – he’s rightfully proud, as Freddie would also have been. The experience has also been recalled by Mike Moran, who worked with Queen and Freddie for many years.
As well as being included in the film of the concert, George Michael’s performance was also released on his Five Live EP in 1993, along with These Are The Days Of Our Lives with Lisa Stansfield from the same show, plus a few other live tracks. All proceeds from sales went to the Mercury Phoenix Trust. George & Brian were interviewed by MTV about it at the time.
The EP went straight to number 1 in the UK singles chart for 3 weeks, one of only 4 EPs ever to reach that position (others had been by Demis Roussos, The Special A.K.A. and Erasure). It was eventually bumped off the top spot by All That She Wants by Ace Of Base. And as a result of that chart success, George’s version of Somebody To Love was also included on Queen’s Greatest Hits III and the related VHS video in 1999.
For George himself, his performance came at a very difficult and poignant time. His first love, Anselmo Feleppa, had just been diagnosed with HIV, after they’d both been tested 4 months earlier. Yet George’s homosexuality was still a secret from everyone else, even his own family, and remained so until he came out in 1998. So he was having to deal with his partner’s diagnosis, and the devastating death of Freddie Mercury from complications resulting from AIDS, all by himself. Anselmo passed away from an AIDS related illness in 1993, the year after the concert.
In his 2017 Freedom documentary, George recalled: “I went out there knowing that I had to do 2 things. I had to honour Freddie Mercury and I had to pray for Anselmo. So it was so much to me all in that one performance. I’m so proud of the fact that I held on to that feeling, because I just wanted to die inside. It was just overwhelming for me, and I think what that did was turned on one of the best performances of my career.”
Similarly, in the Red Line interviews he said:
“This was the loudest prayer of my life. And it’s not an accident that the performance, probably most well-known in my career, was sung to my lover who was dying. That will hopefully never happen again. The fact that it happened that way… I mean, my God, talk about destiny.”
“My subconscious knew this was very probably the most important performance of my life. So I went for five days to rehearse. Everyone else went for an afternoon. I went for five days because it had to be perfect. I think it’s probably my most famous performance.”
He also spoke about rehearsing for the concert in an interview with Chris Evans.
And it certainly was perfect even at the rehearsal stage. The DVD releases of the concert include a video of Queen & George rehearsing the song at Bray Studios, and his rendition is powerful and flawless, just like on the big night. You can tell that he really is taking it seriously and making the most of the experience. And the applause from his peers at the end shows the respect that everyone has for him. And, in hindsight, people have even more respect for his performance now, knowing the struggles he was facing at the time. It clearly took a great deal of courage to do the show, all things considered, so he’s right to be proud of it.
We Will Rock You Musical
The song was featured in Queen’s West End play, and there are several clips where you can see or hear it being performed:
- The song can be heard without Queen’s involvement on the London, Germany & Spain cast recordings (the first two in English and the latter in Spanish).
- You can watch Erin Claire singing it in the Australian show.
- It was part of a set by the UK Cast at Capital FM’s Party In The Park 2002, in London’s Hyde Park.
- It briefly featured in a medley by the German caston TV programme Wetten Dass on 11 December 2004.
Brian May & Kerry Ellis
Brian and Kerry beautifully adapted this song for their acoustic shows, with Brian on acoustic guitar and Jeff Leach assisting ably on keyboards, while the vocals were shared between Kerry, Brian and the audience. It sounded completely different to the original record but still worked really nicely, and was a great number that everyone was encouraged get involved with. Examples of their performances include:
- Liverpool Philharmonic on 23 June 2013
- La Cigale, Paris, France on 8 July 2013
- Stravinski Hall, Montreux, Switzerland on 19 July 2013 – Featured on The Candlelight Concerts – Live At Montreux.
- Wildlife Rocks, Guildford on 5 May 2014
- Arena di Verona, Italy on 1 June 2015 – Backed by an orchestra and choir, but Kerry still gets the audience involved at a crucial moment, before giving an epic vocal outburst of her own. It was part of their set during Lo Spettacolo Sta Per Iniziare (The Show Is About To Begin), which was broadcast on TV.
Kerry’s wonderfully powerful voice suits this song very well, so she’s also performed it independently of Brian with other musicians and groups, including:
- Harewood House, West Yorkshire on 4 September 2009
- Champions Of Rock, Stadium Arena, Norrköping, Sweden on 24 October 2009
- West End Eurovision, Dominion Theatre, London on 26 April 2012
- Killer Queen (Tribute Band), Obihall, Florence, Italy on 18 May 2012
- Rock Choir, Sounds Around The Abbey, St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire on 24/25 July 2017
She’s also performed the song with Only Men Aloud, who released their own version of it, which I’ll mention in the list of covers below.
Queen & Adam Lambert
You’ll notice that I’ve skipped the Paul Rodgers era here. Paul’s voice wouldn’t have been able to do the song justice so, to the best of my knowledge, the song wasn’t featured in any of the Queen & Paul Rodgers concerts.
Adam Lambert, on the other hand, has the range and power to do it justice in his own style, and gets the audience involved of course. Some later performances begin with Adam accompanied only by Brian on guitar, instead of the traditional piano, before Roger joins in and the song builds.
He’s performed the song with Queen frequently, with examples from concerts and TV appearances that include:
- Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev, Ukraine on 30 June 2012
- Olimpiyskiy, Moscow, Russia on 3 July 2012
- Hammersmith Apollo, London on 12 July 2012 – Brian does a special acoustic performance on his own here, followed by Love Of My Life, with the audience eagerly singing along throughout.
- iHeartRadio Festival, Las Vegas on 20 September 2013 – Although this was part of a Queen + Adam Lambert set at the festival, he didn’t actually sing the song in this case. Instead, Brian and Roger were joined by special guests from a indie pop band called fun., who lived up to their name and very much enjoyed the experience.
- The X Factor, Series 11 Quarter Final, ITV on 30 November 2014 – They’re joined by the talent show’s finalists in the latter half of the song.
- Rock Big Ben Live, Central Hall Westminster, London on 31 December 2014 – Part of their live New Year concert on BBC1.
- Isle Of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park, Newport on 12 June 2016 – Featured on their Live Around The World album, DVD & Blu-ray in 2020. There’s some fun call and response with the audience towards the end of the song, before the band go into a faster rock mode for the outro, which is an enjoyable surprise. Brian May also shared a brief backstage clip of the band singing the song as a teaser for the live album.
- The Late Late Show with James Corden, 2 February 2017 – As part of their tour promotion, Queen & Adam appeared on this US comedy chat show for a Front Man Battle, where James unsuccessfully tried to prove that he could be the lead singer. Snippets of various songs were performed during the segment, but a shortened version of Somebody To Love was the big conclusion, with James and Adam doing a duet.
Being one of Queen’s most popular songs, there are a wealth of different interpretations out there, and it’s testament to Freddie’s talent as a composer that it can be arranged in so many different ways to good effect. So hopefully you’ll find some versions you like among this lot.
- Amazon Music – A Voice Is All You Need – There’s a nice snippet of Freddie singing in this 30 second promo for Alexa.
- Confused.com 2010 – There’s a nice animation to go with the cover version sung in this advert, of which there is a bit of behind-the-scenes footage of the recording. There was apparently a bit of controversy near the start of the cartoon though, when the central character (Cara) appears to pull the microphone out from between her legs rather than a pocket, and there were complaints about about the over-sexualisation of the characters in later adverts. The ASA regulator also banned their adverts that made the inaccurate claim of being “18 million strong”, as seen in this case.
- Honda Ridgeline 2016 Superbowl Advert – A flock of sheep sing the song in this commercial, having learnt it in the vehicle they were transported in.
- Anne Hathaway performed the song in Ella Enchanted from 2004
- Brittany Murphy sang it for the dancing penguins in Happy Feet in 2006.
Glee’s version has been the inspiration for many of the covers presented later in this post, such was the popularity and influence of the show.
- The Glee cast performed it in Season 1, Episode 5 (The Rhodes Not Taken) in 2009.
- A studio recording was then released on the Season 1 soundtrack album, and as a single that reached number 28 in America and 26 in the UK.
- Before the series finale in 2015, Billboard published a list of the cast’s top 10 best-selling songs, and Somebody To Love got to number 8 with 418,000 downloads.
- The cast also performed the song on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show on 7 April 2010.
- There was an impressive lip dub video to this version by The Hebrew University Of Jerusalem, going around the campus in a single take before bringing all the students together at the end.
Lots of people auditioned for Queen Extravaganza in 2011 using this song, in their bid to be part of the official tribute band. And the one that went viral, with over 22 million views at the current count, was Marc Martel’s audition, as many people felt he sounded a lot like Freddie. I wouldn’t say they’re identical by any means, as some seem to suggest, as I can tell them apart very easily, but Marc is still very good. And such was its immediate popularity that he was inited to make a guest appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show just a week after the video was released.
His brother David also put himself forward, incidentally. And he’s good, but he’s not as good as his sibling.
Marc was successful in becoming the lead singer for Queen Extravaganza, and sang this track with them on many occasions, including:
- American Idol, Top 6 episode in 2012 – In addition to Marc’s performance with the tribute group here, Brian May and Roger Taylor also performed some other songs with the finalists, in this Queen edition of the programme.
- Capitole de Québec, Quebec City, Canada on 1 September 2013
- Portsmouth Guildhall on 1 November 2015
And he’s done various other performances of the song too, including:
- A studio recording for his album Thunderbolt & Lightning – It sounds very different to Queen’s original as he’s put his own spin on it, but it’s still good.
- Ellen Degeneres Show 2011 – The viral success of his audition video led to this appearance.
- WGN-TV, Chicago in 2017 – A solo performance at the piano.
- The Morning Show, Australian TV in 2019 – A live solo performance at the piano, with a nice bit of whistling in the middle, followed by an interview, as part of his promotional appearance for the Queen Celebration tour.
- Edge Radio, New Zealand in 2019 – Marc sings a bit of the song a cappella during his interview.
- Ultimate Queen Celebration, February 2021 – He joined this tribute group for an online performance during lockdown recently.
Other Male Singers
- Anthony Callea recorded a live version with Tim Campbell for his live George Michael tribute album. You can also see a video of a live performance, and he recorded an a cappella version with backing singers for his Backbone album.
- Frank Turner released his version on vinyl, as the B-side to I Still Believe in 2011. Both tracks were also made available online a week later.
- Gary Barlow & Tony Hadley did a duet of the song as part of Gary’s online Crooner Sessions during lockdown in 2020.
- Jarrod Spector performed a version on his live album A Little Help From My Friends, in a medley with Una Furtiva Lagrima (A Furtive Tear). He also performed both of those songs live at Broadway Sings in 2017.
- Peter Johansson & Jenna Lee-James recorded a live version with Peter’s band for his Champions Of Rock album. Peter has also performed it solo on piano, as he can be seen from a TV appearance & a concert performance.
- Sylvain Cossette released a version on his 70s album, plus he’s sung it live.
- Tony Harnell & Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, from TNT and Guns N’ Roses respectively, performed a special acoustic version at Hound Comics’ private party in Times Square in 2013.
- Troye Sivan recorded his version as one of 3 tracks commissioned by Universal to celebrate the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, with proceeds going to The Mercury Phoenix Trust. He said he was “beyond honored” to record the song, while Queen’s manager Jim Beach described his version as “moving and totally original”.
- Yvan Pedneault released his version as a single.
- Other singers who have performed the song live include Jeff Scott Soto (with his band at a 2003 Queen convention), Joe Victor (on piano with backing vocalists at Sofar Milan in 2018), Piano Man Len (on piano with his band), Ravi Amruth (a lockdown session on guitar at Acoustic Sanctuary in November 2020) Riki Putra (with the Bhinneka Orchestra & Chorus), Robby Valentine (in 2011 on piano, with the audience joining in, plus a later performance with his band in 2017), Timur Lezgishvily (a young boy giving a very respectable performance while dressed as Freddie at the 2018 Slavyansky Bazar festival in Belarus), VanVelzen (with the Chosen Gospel Choir) & Waylon (with a backing band, and duetting with a recording of Freddie Mercury, on Dutch TV talk show De Wereld Draait Door).
- Chase Sansing & Connor Banks also perform the song accompanied by piano.
- Other singers who perform it while playing acoustic guitar include Adriel Gene, Hawkmoon, João Rafael, Jordan Sheppard, Joshua Batten, Nice Peter, Phil Adèle, Salvatore Rizzo, Sunny Sharmaa & Zak Robinson, while Jonny Ukeboxmusic plays the ukulele.
- Andy Clayton, Anthony Vincent, Jamie McLaughlan, Jeremy Fox-Revett & Mateusz Psonak sing it to Queen’s original backing track, while Julian Fulco Perron sings it to a cover track.
- There are multi-tracked one-man band versions by Andoni Stuff, Lorenzo Politi, Pelle K & Virtus Lenon.
Other Female Singers
- Catherine Porter recorded a slow ballad cover featuring Brian May on guitar, which was released as a single from her album Gems For Ruby.
- Other covers released on albums include those by Connie Petruk (a live version on Loser’s Lounge Vol. 18: No Time for Losers), Holly Wilson (on Queen en Bossa Nova), Jemma Rix (on Gravity), Lauren Varnham (on Astonishing), Meg Birch (on Jazz Covers Of Pop Songs), Sally Ann Triplett (with the Estonia National Symphony Orchestra & Chorus on their album Rhapsody: A Symphonic Spectacular), Stephanie Fearon (on My Parade) & Talisha Karrer (on Jazz Covers Pop).
- There have been other live performances by Allie Sherlock (busking on guitar in Ireland), Camille Trust (with guitar at Sofar NYC in 2018), Gemma Sutton (live with the Sheffield Pops Orchestra), Heather Small from M People (on the 2005 TV show Queen Mania), Jamala (with an orchestra), Pearl And The Puppets (outdoors during Queen Week on Secret Sessions), Regan White (a Grade 9 student in her Canadian High School’s production of the We Will Rock You musical) & The Singing Waiter Masters (a lady performing a surprise rendition at a wedding reception in 2018 and again in 2019).
- Claire Young has posted a stripped back and sombre rendition on her channel.
- Connie Talbot, Emily Linge, Meli Mizrahi & Putri Ariani have sung it with piano accompaniment.
- Performances featuring acoustic guitar accompaniment include those by Jo Vass, Megan Lee, Northern Acoustics, Philippa Loveday and Tina & Joe.
- Elise Rae Pope sings it while playing the ukulele.
- Ramzauvi & Tatiana Ranallo sing it to Queen’s original backing music, while Ella Esparza, Katia August & Marina Damer perform it to cover tracks.
- The Ladykillers included a version on their live album Black Is Black.
- Leading Ladies, featuring Amber Riley, Beverley Knight & Cassidy Janson, released a cover as the second single from their debut album Songs From The Stage. They’ve also posted brief extracts of the music video and a cappella version online, and you can see them perform it in full at the Royal Variety Performance 2017.
- MxPx recorded a punk version for their album On The Cover II.
- The New Victorians released their own unique arrangement on their debut album Seeker Seeker, and posted an acoustic version online.
- On tribute albums there are versions by The Bohemian Champions (on their Queen tribute album), Dream Queen (on their Killer Queen album), Geoff Tate & Doug Aldrich (on Stone Cold Queen), The Protomen (on their live album A Night Of Queen), The Queen Kings (on their live album Made On Tour), Rajaton & Lahti Symphony Orchestra (on their Queen tribute album) & Tuff Darts (on Horse Feathers & Animal Crackers).
- Other recorded performances have been shared online by Afro Blondes, Barone, Born To Be Queen, First To Eleven, Gaston Mañé & Friends (incorporating Queen’s backing vocals), Ida Bang & The Blue Tears (a blues ballad version), Jajabi Band (an acoustic version), Kol HaMishpaha (including a brief snippet of the recording process & a live performance), Milk’n Blues (a catchy acoustic version), Rough Justice and Spike & The Impalers (with a choir from Bishop Blanchett High School & Holy Names Academy), along with tribute bands Classic Queen, Lucie & The Diamonds, Queenie & ’39 Queen Tribute.
- There are also live performances by Apartment Sessions (for the passengers on a train), Elio e le Storie Tese (Elio & The Troubled Stories) (in English during a show in Italy in 2000), Famous Players Band, Kanda Brothers Feat. Alfred Ayal (in English on Elshinta TV in Indonesia), Quadriphonix & students from Chicago School of Rock in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017.
- And there are live versions from various tribute bands including The Bohemians, Flash Harry (also here), Galileo, Night Of Queen (plus rehearsal footage), The Queen Kings, Queen Obsession (plus an acoustic version & rehearsal footage), Queen Real Tribute, Queenie, Queer (plus rehearsal footage), Regina (also here) & Rock Rhapsody.
Choral & Operatic
- Only Men Aloud & Kerry Ellis released a version on the male choir’s Band Of Brothers album, with Kerry on lead vocal. She’s also sung it live on stage with them.
- Children In Need Wales 2009 featured a choir led by stars including Bonnie Tyler and John Owen Jones performing the song.
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Royal Choral Society included a version on their Queen tribute album. This has also been combined with Queen’s original song for PiotreQ’s Orchestral Remix.
- Gentri released a single of their version, which mashes it together with bits from other Queen songs. They’ve also performed it live in concert.
- Gregorian chant versions have been released by Avscvltate (on The Essential Gregorian Chants) & Chant Masters on their Queen tribute album).
- Many other choirs & groups have sung the track, including AHS Show Choir, All For One Choir & Jamie Lee Harrison, Almond Entertainment Group (a flash mob in Colombia), Anne Shirley Theatre Company (a flash mob at Trent University), Bakersfield High School Choir, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Castleknock College, Chicago Children’s Choir, Choir Of Man (on the Norwegian Escape cruise ship), Christ University Choir & Band, College House Octet, CorVivace, Czech Symphonic Orchestra & Singers, Dublin Gospel Choir, Erick Horna & Silvia Fluixà (with music students during lockdown in 2020), Hladnov Rock Choir (who also have a studio version), Hoover High School, Il Volo (on an Italian TV show called House Party), Jakarta Concert Orchestra & Batavia Madrigal Singers, Kearsney College Choir of South Africa, Knox Academy Senior Choir, Lincoln High School Chamber Choir (this 2018 video won them a competition to perform with the band Foreigner, and there’s also an earlier live performance from 2012), London City Voices (a flash mob at London Bridge station, incorporating We Are The Champions), Margaret’s Choir & Winnipeg Youth Chorus, Maui High School Chamber Choir (recorded remotely in lockdown in 2020, plus live performances from 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019), Melbourne Welsh Male Voice Choir (on their album Christmas In Australia), MHS Choir, The Morris Knolls HS Combined Choirs, Newchoir Toronto, Notre Dame College Choir, Rainbow Chorus (LGBT Choir), Riff Raff Choir (also here), Rock Choir Whiteley, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (from their Queen tribute album), Seattle Ladies Choir (also here), Sisler High School’s Concert Choir, Skedsmo Voices, Southampton University Singers, Spanaway Lake High School Choir (also here), Stellenbosch University Choir (from their live Headline album), The Ten Tenors, UNASP’s Academia da Voz in São Paulo (as a flash mob), Uniisson, and a group of students at the Victorian State Schools Spectacular 2015.
- Acapop! Kids produced a version that mixes the song with Bohemian Rhapsody for their debut album.
- The Bostonians released a version on their Antiqued album, including a bit of Bicycle Race at one point, and have also performed it live on stage.
- Brothas From Otha Mothas (BFOM) included a version on their album Just The Brothas Vol. II.
- Chanticleer recorded it for their album Someone New. They also performed it live at Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Budapest, Hungary on 29 January 2012.
- The Spizzwinks(?) from Yale University included it on their albums Cause For Alarm! & Never Don’t Go. They’ve also posted videos of live performances in September 2008, May 2014, March 2015, May 2016 & August 2016.
- Other music videos have been posted by Alphabeat Acapella, Chris Lombardi, King’s A Cappella (from The King’s School Canterbury), Rain Drops (who also performed it on a music show called Winner), Tonewall, UMaine Renaissance & Voice In, along with multitracked versions by FreeStay, Jared Halley, Sonny Vande Putte, Timothy Christian Liu & Vlog For Cielo.
And many other a cappella choirs and groups have performed the song live in concert:
- The Barbershop Harmony Society have shared performances by Anna Coyotes Chorus at the 2020 Midwinter Convention, Maelstrom from 2017 at Harmony University Masterpiece at the 2014 International Convention, and The Recruits at the 2018 Midwinter Convention, along with no less than 5 versions by the Signature Quartet at the 2016 International Convention, 2017 Midwinter Convention, 2017 International Convention, 2018 Midwinter Convention & 2018 International Convention.
- Council Rock HS South Choirs sung during 2017 at Wells Cathedral in Somerset, Tintern Abbey in Wales, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London & the Council Rock Opening Ceremonies.
- Other groups that have performed it live include AcHOOstics A Cappella, Agnes A Cappella, American Canyon High School Choir, California Golden Overtones, The Carleton College Knightingales & Chorus Polaris Choir, Claremont Colleges After School Specials, The Cocktails, Con Brio, Divine, The Friars, The Harvard Opportunes (also here), Macapella, Meludees (also here), Mosaic Whispers, MSU Ladies First, Overflow A Cappella (also here), Rock4, São Vicente A Cappella, SoCal VoCals (from a tournament they went on to win), Take Note, Tonal Ecstasy, University of Richmond Off The Cuff, University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers, UVM Hit Paws, The Vocal Suspects (also here & here), The Water Boys, Williams College Ephlats & Winchester A Cappella (also here & here).
TV Talent Show Singers
A lot of contestants have performed shortened adaptations of the song as they try to win the judges and audiences over. So these attempts, all sung in English, are very variable in terms of style and quality, and none come close to Queen of course. But now you can be the judge as to which ones are best:
- America’s Got Talent – Brian Justin Crum & Dylan Zangwill
- American Idol – The Math Heads
- Last Choir Standing (UK) – Ysgol Glanaethwy
- Operación Triunfo (Spain) – Agoney
- Pitch Battle (UK) – Kedma
- The Sing-Off (USA) – Dartmouth Aires
- The Voice:
- America – James Wolpert & Jordan Smith (whose studio recording from his album debuted at number 21 in the Billboard chart).
- Albania – Klinti Çollaku
- Australia – Caleb Jago-Ward, Jordan Anthony & Louise Van Veenendaal
- France – Benjamin Bocconi, Clement & Vincent Vinel
- Germany – Jacko Zieverink
- Holland – Leon Sherman, Leonie Bos & Navarone
- Norway – Harald Norheim
- Portugal – Gabriel Silva, Gonçalo Lopes, Jéssica Ângelo, Jota & Marta Alves.
- Ukraine – Valeria Grubysova
- The Voice Kids:
- We Are The Stars (Georgia) – Gigi Tsiramua
- We Want More (The Netherlands) – Queen Must Go On
- The X Factor:
- UK – Andrea Faustini, Ben Mills (who released a studio version on his album Picture Of You), Hannah Marie Kilminster, Janet Devlin, Jenny Ryan (from quiz show The Chase), Joe McElderry, The Joys, Rhydian Roberts & Stevi Ritchie.
- USA – Rachel Potter (who released a studio version on her album Not So Black And White, as well as performing it live at VoicePlay in 2018 & Broadway Sings Queen in 2020) & Tara Simon.
- Indonesia – Desy
- Aleks Syntek – Included by the Mexican artist on his album Multiple.
- Caleb & Cantando em Português sing Spanish & Portuguese versions respectively, and they both cover many other Queen songs on their channels.
- Edurne – Un Poco De Amor – A Spanish version using the arrangement from the We Will Rock You musical, included on her third album Première. It was also released as a single in 2008, but it didn’t chart.
- Mia Martini – Un Uomo Per Me – Italian version.
- David Saints-Gome posted a video of himself playing piano, guitar and bass, accompanying the vocals and percussion from Queen’s original track. He also posted the piano part in isolation as well.
- Michael Cutler arranged the song for organ, piano and flute, which he and 2 fellow musicians performed in concert.
- There are solo piano performances by Adrian Lee, Chris Kotra, Craig Peter, Eric C (at St Pancras Station), Francesco Parrino, Jazzy Fabbry, Joel Bowerman, Kenneth August, Peter Bence (live in Slovenia), Robby Tunes, Sangah Noona & VK Goes Wild.
- Child pianist Cole Lam has posted videos of himself performing the song on public pianos in St Pancras International Station (also here), Euston Station, Westfield Stratford City.
- There are acoustic guitar renditions by Carlos Piegari, Daniel Cottle, Igor Presnyakov, Kelly Valleau, Monika Hiertz, Sean Song, Shaun Murray & Ton Venhuizen.
- You can hear a cello version with piano backing by GnuS Cello, and arrangements for the violin by Assia Ahhatt (with a strings group), Dúo Sunny (duet with acoustic guitar), Guido Sant’Anna (live in concert with piano accompaniment), Laura GM (with a recorded backing track) and Shani Gamrian & David Tetro (a duet with piano).
- There are also group performances for strings by the St Louis String Quartet, Tribute String Quartet, Vitamin String Quartet (on their Queen tribute album) & The Wedding String Quartet.
- For brass instruments, there have been live performances by The Olympic Brass Orchestra & Paul Duffy with The National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain performed the song live, while Seb Skelly & Vladimir Peña have created multi-track ensembles by performing the parts themselves.
- On the saxophone, Georgia Corrin & Seth Radman each created multitrack quartets by playing all 4 parts themselves, while Federico Sax Orefice, Julian Suarez, Noah-Benedikt & Tamara Kreimer perform solo versions to backing tracks (either Queen’s original or a cover).
- There are 8-bit arrangements by 8-Bit Misfits, 8 Bit Universe, 8 Bit Renditions, Chiptune Planet, Collective UwU, Dawidzii & Tomi Weissbuch.
- And there are lullabies by Billboard Baby Lullabies, Lullaby Baby Trio, Lullaby Rock!, Rockabye Baby!, Sweet Little Band & Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star, and a music box version by Carpintero Cajitas.
- The BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing featured Simon Webbe & Kristina Rihanoff in 2014 and Chris Ramsey & Karen Hauer in 2019 performing Viennese Waltzes to the song.
- Other performances of choreographed routines include those by Concord Dance Academy, Dance With Me, Jazz Senior Group, KlaXson Tap Dance (plus Bicycle Race as well), Tauhara College & Zumba With Tina.
Remixes & Parodies
- Dustin Ahkuoi – Somebody To Shove – A parody “for the generations”, referencing Boomers, Generation X, Millennials & Generation Z.
- Fits Of Gloom – To Love – Extended Mix & Club Mix – A remixed version by this Italian Eurodance group.
- Fort Dodge Police Department – A lip sync video produced to thank the local community for their ongoing support.
- Meidas Touch – Fraudulent Votes – A fun little take on Trump’s election defeat.
- Mr Bett’s Class – 13 Colonies – A historical lesson about the 13 British colonies in the New World.
- Marryokes – Julie & Anthony and Ross & Stephanie – Joyful lip-sync videos featuring the happy couples and their wedding guests.
Written by Brian May
This song, released as the B-side of Somebody To Love, is about Native Americans suffering at the hands of European colonists, poetically summarising their plight. It’s a heavy topic, and the song’s in a suitably heavy style to match – apart from the calm intro and outro sections that reflect how their idyllic lives have been disrupted, and which use the same melody as heard in the album’s lead-in section prior to Tie Your Mother Down. It’s a great rock track all round, with powerful guitars and percussion to accompany Freddie’s impassioned vocals.
When asked by Kenny Everett in his Capital Radio interview how they were able to make such a big noise on one record, after they had heard this song, Freddie replied: “That’s Mike Stone our engineer. We’re very bad in the studio for that actually. The poor engineer has to really suffer, because we really want as much level as possible, and we keep pushing the faders up and he keeps looking at the meters and going ‘Oh, it’ll never cut’. And then we give him the added task of going over to New York or wherever and saying ‘Make sure that cut’s as loud as possible’.” And Kenny explains to the listeners that “if a noise is too loud on a record, the little wobbly groove grunges into the groove next door, and the record skips.”
Queen played the song in concert during their tours for A Day At The Races and News Of The World, from which you can see recordings at Earls Court, London on 6 June 1977 and The Summit, Houston, Texas on 11 December 1977, and there are other poorer quality bootlegs out there. They never performed it beyond that tour as far as I’m aware, but a few vocal and guitar elements did make brief appearances in some concerts. There was even a nod to it in the later tours with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert, as part of the guitar intro to Fat Bottomed Girls.
In stark contrast to the previous smash hit song, there are hardly any covers for this deep cut album track:
- Metal band Stormwind did a version on their Rising Symphony album.
- Tribute band Queer performed it live in Tokyo, Japan on 24 November 2014.
- Jonathan Di Renzo posted a full cover on his channel, while Pascal Smit has covered just the vocals using Queen’s backing track.
- Mauricio Verderame sings it while playing acoustic guitar.
Written by Freddie Mercury
Note: The Lyric Video uses the Top Of The Pops recording of the track, which differs from the album version as noted below.
Again a big contrast to the track preceding it, this delightfully jolly, romantic, harmony-rich, music hall style song was released on 20 May 1977 on Queen’s first extended play single (with Death On Two Legs, Tenement Funster & White Queen). It entered the charts at number 36 and peaked at 17 on 2 occasions during its 10 weeks in the top 40.
In his Capital Radio interview with Kenny Everett (who introduces the song as “a little frilly number”), Freddie remarks that “It’s in my ragtime mood that I get a chance to do on every album. And this time, yes, this is something I came up with this time around.”
Freddie sang the bridge line in the song (“Hey boy, where’d you get it from? Hey boy, where did you go?”) with their record producer Mike Stone, a rare instance of a non-band member contributing vocals.
The band performed the song on Top Of The Pops in July 1977 to promote the EP, by miming to a new recording made at BBC TV Centre in Shepherd’s Bush especially for the show. It’s similar to the album version of course, but it’s a little bit faster, Freddie sings the vocals afresh and plays some different piano, Brian plays a new guitar solo, and Roger sings more prominent vocals including the line Mike Stone had on the original. So it’s an enjoyable alternative version. The video is among the bonus features on the Greatest Video Hits 1 DVD, and the audio was included as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of the album.
An alternative music video, syncing the album version with footage of the band performing the song live at Earl’s Court and other venues, was included on the 1992 Greatest Hits VHS tape released only in the USA.
Queen performed a shortened version of the song as part of a medley during their A Day At The Races and News Of The World tours. There are no official releases of such versions, but you can see videos online from Earls Court, London on 6 June 1977 and The Summit, Houston, Texas on 11 December 1977.
- The Cog Is Dead recorded the song during lockdown in 2020, and released it on Incognito: Cog Covers, Vol. 1.
- Jason Mraz covered the song for the Killer Queen tribute album.
- The Treorchy Male Voice Choir recorded it for their album Treorchy Sing Queen.
- Other singers who have recorded it with a full backing track include Ayoung Natividad, Emma Lachance, Mikk Kaasik (with cello quartet C-Jam) & Tony Regent, and one-man band versions by Luis Thomas Ire, Rachel Love, Ray Krislianggi, Ridwan Dharmawan & Zach Wiley.
- There are live group performances by the choir Escola Coral Veus Juntes (Choral School Voices Together), amateur rock band Flat Feet, and tribute groups Galileo Figaro & Queen Extravaganza (during a Killer Queen medley in the latter case).
- With piano there are covers sung by Ana, Dan Robinson, Giulia Liporazzi, Juliana Parker, Magdaléna Boháčová & Matěj Zelenka, Meg Rose-Dixon & Mike Dixon (with light percussion on their Sunday Lockdown EP), Robby Valentine (at the 2012 Dutch Queen Convention), Sarah Gibson (with harmonies and a basic drum track), Tommaso Sciortino (dressed as Freddie), and 12-year-old Colman Connolly (who has also performed it live on stage).
- Acoustic versions with guitar include those by Alex Hutajulu, James Well, Joachim Kauschke, Jonathan Di Renzo, Sammy Copley (a nice multi-track rendition with harmonies), Squidney & Yosua Sinaga, a ukulele version by Ariel McCleary, and a banjolele cover by Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq (plus a live performance).
- A cappella recordings have been released by The Binghamton Crosbys (on A Cosmic Voyage, plus live performances here & here), The Brown Derbies (on Nice Guys, Better Guests), Groove A Cappella (on Stay Tuned), The King’s Singers (on Library Vol. 2) & NYCGB Fellowship (as a single).
- And there are other live a cappella performances from Double Take (also here & here), Henry’s VIII, The Pikers, Rock4 (at the 2010 Dutch Queen Convention), The Scopes, The Sunday Boys, UMBC Cleftomaniacs & The Water Boys.
There are also many instrumental versions out there, including:
- Acoustic guitar by Carlos Bonell (with the Lara Symphony Orchestra on his Queen Guitar Rhapsodies album), Chris Edwards (a catchy duet), Dan Benton-Smith, Eugene Berger, Shaun Murray, Shtramy & Yu Watanabe (also here).
- Piano by David Saints-Gome, Gren06pp, Jazzy Fabbry, Mariano Vazquez, Melina Mercury, Mercuzio Pianist (on Pianosong Vol. 1), Mikhail V, Molotov Cocktail Piano & VK Goes Wild.
- Classical versions by András Demeter (violin, oboe & piano), GTA Strings & Los Angeles County High School For The Arts Orchestra.
- Trombones by Zagreb Philharmonic Trombone Quartet (live in concert).
- A lullaby version by Sweet Little Band and a music box extract by R3 Music Box.
Written by Roger Taylor
Roger sings the lead vocal here, reminiscing about his younger days, as well as playing electric rhythm guitar and timpani, while Brian plays slide guitar. It’s his only composition for the album and is in 6/8 time, just like I’m In Love With My Car on the previous album. I much prefer his car song personally, but he does sing Drowse very nicely and the lyrics are quite poetic.
Queen have never performed the song live, though it was rehearsed with Adam Lambert prior to their Rock Big Ben Live show on New Year’s Eve 2014, after the track had been included on the Queen Forever compilation the previous month.
We’re very much back in the realm of barely-covered songs with this one, which isn’t a surprise. The only notable renditions I can find are a recording by AB & The Gin House Bandits on the Horse Feathers & Animal Crackers tribute album, a music video by Norman Kapoyos & The Swinging Mood Orchestra, a live performance in Italy by tribute group Queen Obsession, and a solo cover on acoustic guitar by Mark Vayngrib.
Written by Brian May
Queen have had an enormous following in Japan from early on in their career that continues to this day. The band first performed in Japan in spring 1975, where they had a very busy tour. And the close bond they formed with their fans back then has persisted to this day. Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop the country celebrating the 45th anniversary of the band’s arrival on 17 April 2020, a date officially known as Queen Day!
This song, therefore, was the band’s way of gratefully returning the love to their Japanese fans. It was exclusively released as a single in the country, reaching #49 in the charts, and has been included on Japanese Greatest Hits compilations as well. In March 2011 it was also released on the Songs For Japan charity compilation album, in support of those affected by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
It’s a beautiful track that makes use of harmonium and plastic piano, both of which are played by Brian in addition to his guitar, along with wonderful vocals, enhanced further by a local choir brought in for the chorus at the end.
And the most striking feature, of course, is that it has 2 choruses sung entirely in Japanese. Only 2 other Queen songs have choruses sung in a foreign language (Las Palabras De Amor & Mustapha), so it’s all the more unique in that regard. The band had help to interpret the lyrics from their friend Chika Kujiraoka, who they credit on the album sleeve.
- An accurate translation from the actual Japanese, according to Wikipedia, would be: “Let’s go hand in hand, my beloved. In a quiet evening, light the light, embracing loving teachings.”
- The English chorus in the song is a more poetic interpretation: ““Let us cling together as the years go by, oh my love, my love. In the quiet of the night, let our candle always burn, let us never lose the lessons we have learned.”
On the album, the track finishes with a 1-minute Shepard tone melody that continuously rises. This is a repeat of the same tune that precedes the first track, Tie Your Mother Down, bringing the album full circle, and as such you can find out more about it in my previous post. The edits of the song on the single and Greatest Hits albums in Japan fade out early during that outro.
There is a short extract from an alternative take circulating online, taken from a 10″ Wessex reel to reel master tape, which features slightly different background vocals.
In 2005 a new High Definition Mix was released on the Jewels II compilation album in Japan, including the Shephard tone melody at the end. And 6 years later a stand-alone edit of the HD mix, which omits the Shephard tone outro and brings the song to a definitive end instead, was included as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of A Day At The Races. Brian had always been happy with the original mix, but subsequent advances in technology enabled him to revisit it, generating a fresh version that gives more clarity to some of the background vocals and instrumentation. It sounds really nice as a result.
Queen have only ever played this song in their Japanese concerts, given that it was written especially for their fans in the country. Brian May has sung it at their gigs since Freddie’s death, and also provides the only exception I can find of the song being performed elsewhere in the world.
Queen played this song in their Japanese shows during their tours from 1979 to 1982. These concerts would always be very late in each tour, sometimes at the very end, so occasionally you can hear that Freddie’s voice is tired and cracking a bit. But he sings this song beautifully in any case. Brian, meanwhile, would play the piano for this number, just as he does on the album, a rare sight for him to do so on stage.
Examples of the band’s various live performances include:
- Festival Hall, Osaka on 20 April 1979 – Their inaugural live performance of the song. Before they begin, Freddie tells the crowd: “We’re gonna do a song for the first time ever. I don’t know if you understand this. I think you’ll get the gist. And we’d like everybody to join in.” And they do, eagerly.
- Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda, Tokyo on 25 April 1979
- Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda, Tokyo on 18 February 1981
- Hokkaidouritsu Sangyou Kyoushin Kaijyou, Sapporo on 29 October 1982
- Seibu Lions Stadium, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Tokyo on 3 November 1982 – This show was released on VHS and Laserdisc exclusively in Japan, under the title Live In Japan. But 8 of the tracks, including this one, were also included on the DVD for Queen On Fire – Live At The Bowl, as a Tour Highlights From Tokyo feature.
The Brian May Band
- Aston Villa Leisure Center, Birmingham, England on 5 December 1993 – This is the only recording I can find of the song being performed by Brian outside of Japan and as part of his solo career, so it’s an enjoyable rarity.
Queen + Paul Rodgers
These versions build as they progress, starting off as an acoustic solo by Brian, before Roger joins in with backing vocals and percussion, and then it becomes a full band performance as Paul joins them for the bridge section onwards.
- Saitama Super Arena, Tokyo on 27 October 2005 – This concert was released in Japan on the Super Live In Japan DVD, while elsewhere in the world a highlights DVD of the show (including this song) was bundled in with special editions of the Cosmos Rocks album.
- Yokohama Arena on 30 October 2005
Queen + Adam Lambert
Adam himself isn’t involved with these performances, which are part of Brian’s solo acoustic sets during their shows:
- Summer Sonic Festival, QVC Marine Field, Chiba, Tokyo on 17 August 2014 – A lovely solo rendition by Brian on acoustic guitar, accompanied by the audience. This concert was released in Japan under the title Live In Japan, while 3 of the tracks (excluding this one) were later released in other countries on Live Around The World.
- Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda, Tokyo on 22 September 2016 – Another acoustic performance by Brian, but this time with some backing vocals and percussion by Roger towards the end.
- Saitama Super Arena in 2020 (also here) – These are purely solo performances by Brian again, but he plays a shorter version of the song. The second video shows that it’s followed by the full version of Love Of My Life, and the audience gladly sing along to both.
- Bands that have covered the song include Berklee Japanese Ensemble (a lockdown performance in 2020), The Gap, Mêlée (on the Japanese edition of their album The Masquerade), Mr Fabulous & Tittatani, along with tribute bands Lucie & The Diamonds, The Queen Kings (on their live album Made On Tour), Queen Obsession, and an unnamed band at a Freddie For A Day event in Mizroam, India.
- Versions by solo singers with full musical backing include Andre Matos (on the Japanese Edition of his Mentalize album), Aoi Teshima (on her album Highlights From Aoi Works), Kokia (on her Christmas Gift album), Liza Kalandadze (on a Georgian TV talent show called We Are The Stars), Luis Thomas Ire & Tony Regent.
- There are versions sung with just piano accompaniment by Aivia, Lucie Halamíková & Yuka Yamazaki, and with guitar by Marianne and Ritmiek & Co.
- Versions sung with an orchestra include Czech Symphonic Orchestra & Singers and MerQury with Orchestra Opera Leipzig (on their Queen Classical tribute album).
- There are choral renditions by JZsUK Unitarian College Choir, Krea Musica (also here), Orfeó Veus Juntes, St. Konrad Gospelchor,
Suffolk Constabulary Male Voice Choir & Felixstowe Harmonies, and Wyoming County Chorale with Choral Society Of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, instrumental versions include:
- A classical version by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Royal Choral Society on their Queen Collection album. The track is mainly instrumental, but the choir sing the chorus a few times at the end. It has also been beautifully combined with Queen’s version in PiotreQ’s Orchestral Remix.
- Another orchestral version by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra on their tribute album This Is Brass: Queen.
- An acoustic guitar cover by Carlos Bonell with the Lara Symphony Orchestra on his Queen Guitar Rhapsodies album, and a rendition on guitar and violin by Ice Cooling K.
- Versions on violin & piano by Eisuke Taskashima, violin & guitar by Ice Cooling K, piano & bayan by Gino Bellofatto, and piano only by Giulio Alunno, Jazzy Fabbry, Molotov Cocktail Piano, Otmar Binder, Piano Fingers & 9-year-old Miyuna.
And that brings us to the end of the album. There are a couple of less well-known songs on this second side that are perhaps the weakest tracks when compared to everything else on the record. And inevitably the album isn’t quite as good as its Night At The Opera predecessor. But such margins of quality between tracks and albums are small, there isn’t a bad song here. As ever we’re gifted with a fascinating variety of themes and styles that are all distinctively Queen, and it’s all very enjoyable to listen to. So I hope you’ve enjoyed my detailed run-through!
Check out my Queen & Covers playlists to explore the official videos, live performances, rarities, and other versions of the songs, including videos not mentioned above. I’ll update them in the future as I become aware of new videos. And if there are others I should check out and consider adding to these or any of my Queen playlists, do let me know. And I’ll see you again soon for the next album, News Of The World!