It has been eight years since the great Freddie Mercury died but the influence of the legendary rock band he fronted - Queen - lives on. Monday will see a significant moment in the band’s post-Freddie period with the release of a third hits collection.
It begins with a tribute to the majestic talent of the late Freddie Mercury - in the form of the previously unreleased Queen-Elton John version of The Show Must Go On.
It continues as a celebration of the latter years of a band that, come whatever, will surely in some form or another always be with us.
Queen + Greatest Hits III, released Monday, highlights the extraordinary musical and songwriting strength of John Deacon, Brian May, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, all-powerful as Queen, the band in which each member can lay claim to having written a top 10 song.
As this package shows, it was not only Mercury who was able to enjoy chart success away from Queen.
Brian May, encouraged by Mercury and the band, took a solo outing in 1991 with Driven By You and scored a massive hit around the world. It was followed by another huge single, Too Much Love Will Kill You and two well received solo albums.
Taylor’s solo work has been even more prolific and he was, in fact, the first band member to go it alone. One of his early outings away from Queen, Heaven For Everyone, was later recorded by the band and became one of their ‘posthumous’ hits from the Made In Heaven album, reaching number two in the charts when released in 1995.
The album also assembles Queen’s great collaborations: with David Bowie on a song that began as a jam session and became an instant number one, Under Pressure. This album version features fresh recording work by May and Taylor and has been especially remixed for this release.
George Michael joined the three surviving members of Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley to perform Somebody To Love, and 17 years after the band first released their original version of the song, they had another chart-topper with this live version.
A seemingly unlikely coupling, Queen’s collaboration with rap star Wyclef Jean last year on a new version of the John Deacon smash Another One Bites The Dust gave them a top five hit around the world and briefly and unexpectedly turned the band into a dance act!
But what will excite most Queen fans is what must rate as one of the album’s more poignant moments: Elton John featuring with May, Taylor and Deacon on a previously unheard version of The Show Must Go On.
The track was recorded live in Paris in January 1997 by Queen and Elton on a night at which Freddie Mercury was remembered in a performance of a powerful AIDS inspired ballet which focussed on Mercury’s death as an example of the many talented lives that are cut short before their time.
It was only the second time Queen had played live since Mercury’s death. Their performance together spurred Elton John to say: ‘You guys should go out and play again. It must be like having a Ferrari in the garage waiting for a driver.’
It is eight years since the release of Queen’s previous Hits II, and eight years since Freddie Mercury’s death, yet still this new, and inevitably final, collection of 17 tracks is able to justify the ‘hits’ title - all, with the exception of the new The Show Must Go On, have continued Queen’s unbroken run in the charts, four of them reaching number one.