No 3 - Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
Freddie Mercury coquettishly referred to it as "my rhapsody". And, according to Brian May, "Freddie knew exactly what he wanted. It was just a question of doing it."
Just doing it involved three weeks in three studios, including an utterly barking seven 12-hour days on the "opera" section trying to hold their sanity together whenever Mercury enquired "Can we stick a few more 'Galileos' in, my dears?"
May recalls the experience as a metaphysical encounter between art and technology: "We ran the tape through so many times that when we held it up to the light we could see straight through it. The music has practically vanished. Strange business, holding on to this elusive sound signal which gradually disappeared while we created it."
But Queen captured a shooting-star fantasia beyond the wildest of pop dreams. Even those who, in that final pre-punk winter, pronounced themselves appalled on principle had to admit it was impressive.
Unusually, Bohemian Rhapsody proved both off-planet outlandish and overwhelmingly successful. Boosted by the misleadingly trumpeted "first ever pop video" and transcending radio's aversion to six-minute singles, it topped the British chart for nine weeks, sold a million, and took Queen from the city hall circuit that November to Hyde Park and 150,000 people the following September.
Mercury explained it only as "a personal song about relationships". Some painful autobiography might be perceived, given that it erupted during the period when the singer abandoned bisexuality and his live-in girlfriend for what his gay circle called The Real Life (for "Mama, just killed a man" read "Mary, my old self is dead"). However, to skate the exhilarating surface, Bohemian Rhapsody sweeps form sweetly harmonised confusion, through melodramatic upheavals (fleeing death, horror, persecution, betrayal), to a final lone-voiced acceptance of all doubts and fears, resigned but sorted. A trip, indeed. Take another now, Sir Frederick.