Queen: Album by Album is my hard cover coffee table book in which I have two or three experts per studio album go off about all things Queen—same format and sumptuous quality as my similar titles on Rush, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden. Every studio album is dissected, as we talk about who write what, who can sing up a storm, production bells and whistles, the shocking left turn into synth rock, all the hits, Freddie’s sexuality, Brian’s Red Special, B-sides, Mack vs. Roy Thomas Baker, Freddie’s death… man, on that front, the Made in Heaven album turns out to bestow upon us one of the best chapters actually, although the tragedy of it all begins with Innuendo.

Along the way we also evaluate the album covers, the lyrics, prog versus glam versus rock and dance, guitar solos, drum sounds, John Deacon… heck, pretty much everything needed to enhance your listening trip once more through these records.

Your panel of commentators this time consists of: Chris Caffery, Ralph Chapman, Stephen Dalton, David Ellefson, Jim Jenkins, Hansi Kursch, Reinhold Mack, Roger Manning Jr., Ian Mosley, Patrick Myers, Daniel Nestor, Nina Noir, John Norum, Darius Rucker, Derek Shulman, Dee Snider, Richie Unterberger, Jeb Wright and, yes, Sir Paul McCartney.

Gorgeous book, spot varnish and neons on the cover, same very cool 10” x 7 3/4” dimension as my recent Zeppelin, Floyd, Clash and AC/DC books, gorgeous hard cover, tons of rare pictures throughout, of the band, of memorabilia.

As my introduction to the book states...

Queen: greatest band ever to walk this earth?

Across many interviews and debates on radio, magazines, across the Internet, over 20 years of having a blast talking about this stuff, I’m pretty sure I’ve made that argument repeatedly. It’s crazy, I know, picking just one, and then when we really get into it, someone always challenges with the idea that the band that can win an accolade like this has to be great start to finish, and that Queen might get knocked down a peg on this stipulation.

Fair enough, because as soon as that happens, I fall back to the following supportable provocation: Queen is absolutely the greatest band to ever walk this earth, in any era, based on a specific and substantial run of albums across a single decade. Judas Priest, to my mind, comes close with what they produced from 1976 to 1979, but Queen is clearly the victor, at least in this writer’s opinion. The remarkable run of seven albums Queen produced between 1973 closing with Jazz in 1978 just might be the greatest hot streak of pure genius in all of recorded music. No one in the ‘60s (let’s not have that Beatles talk right now, please), not Led Zeppelin in the ‘70s, not U2 or REM in the ‘80s or whatever you might conjure in the ‘90s, no one can touch the royal hem of Queen as they set about crafting Queen, II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, News of the World and Jazz. Bloody ‘ell, I get heart palpitations just thinking about it.

And then Queen set about provoking and challenging that legacy, like true fearless artists, challenging their millions of fans to follow them into the unknown. And that we did, with mixed results—delight, revulsion, every emotion on the rainbow—as Queen constructed and then concluded a catalogue of incendiary range.

Which is the perfect set-up for the explosion in the fireworks factory you’re about to witness, as myself and an army of dedicated Queen fans take up machetes and hack our way through the catalogue—the good, the bad and the ugly—toward myriad new ways to reconcile and understand what it was Queen was after at the various phases in their action-packed career. Together, I think we’ve created an amusing celebration of all things Queen, couched in a cacophony of enthusiasm that evokes you and your smartest music fan buddies standing around the kitchen slowly depleting the fridge of its brews.

In the end, here’s hoping that you get out of this book what I most certainly did, and that’s a pile of new educated ways to look at the band’s bewildering bee’s nest of styles and songs. What I further appreciated is the way that our panel of experts have been able to paint pictures of the larger milieu in which Queen was operating at any given time. I found helpful and endearing the personal stories about initial reactions to these records, as well as the myriad ways speakers compared Queen to other bands. The personalizing of these records indeed helped me feel closer to the albums as well as the larger Queen community. I took great comfort in the fact that the psychological guidance and support and the intellectual and musicianly heft that these songs provided, were simultaneously being felt around the world by millions of passionate music fans like me. Here was a communion with many of those fans, an inspiring meeting of minds that was the greatest absolute joy of compiling this book.

So without further ado, let’s wade into the thick of Queen: Album by Album, and the intense, and sometimes controversial opinions of a bunch of fine Queen fans from many delightful walks of life. I hope the Queen record that is the love of your life emerges unscathed, and if it doesn’t, that you are good-humored and open-minded enough to at least accept into your heart the judgments of our cast. They, like you, are here because they care so damn much.

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Martin Popoff
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M4K 2Z2

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