Each album has a few songs which I think are pretty underrated. It's not that people don't like these songs, but I think they get overshadowed by either the hits or the more ambitious songs on the same album.
Let's take a look...
The Night Comes Down
A quiet, moody and I'd say nearly perfect little gem on Side 2 of Queen's debut album. What's all the more interesting is that this version was a demo, recorded at De Lane Lea in 1971. Freddie's voice is in fine shape and Brian's acoustic guitar adds so much to the atmosphere of the song.
Some Day One Day
This song has a lot in common with The Night Comes Down, both penned by Brian. In the songwriting, you can hear the same soul's voice, though now a touch more optimistic.
Sheer Heart Attack
John's first song to appear on an album, this has sone great understated guitar work, in my opinion, and some clever drum fills. And it's catchy. I think it gets overlooked because the second side of the record moves so quickly along.
A Night At The Opera
Only recently have I really started to appreciate this song. On an album where every song is clever and full of experimentation and ambition, this song just kicks you in the pants and says "Fuck the gimmicks, we're rocking out! We still know how to do that!" And yet, there IS some cleverness in this song, as it's written in a 3/4 time. I think it's the lyrics that throw people off, but come on, they're much more entertaining than most rock love/hate lyrics!
A Day At The Races
You And I
Another John Deacon number, which, as I've said before, I feel is the best song never released as a single. It's got great piano, drums, harmonies and guitar. It's got everything. I defy you to not feel good while listening to this song.
News Of The World
Fight From The Inside
This is gritty funk-rock that just rolls along with a blistering vocal by Roger and some wicked rhythm guitar from Brian. John's bass playing is in fine form here too.
Freddie's last real venture into the old-time dance hall world. Brian's little guitar quartet and the harmonies both recall the Opera and Races days, though perhaps not as laiden with in-studio tricks as it might have been if recorded a few years before. I think the song is better for not employing such gags and just having the band play it straight.
Okay, it may be hard to see why I think this song is underrated because it was UK hit after all. It wasn't released in the US, though was in Canada. The North American Hits 1 didn't feature it in 1981, but it did pop up on the US Red GH. After all that, it never comes up in conversations about great Queen songs, which I think is a shame. The song is so steeped emotion and pent up energy, the way only Queen songs can be.
Should have been a single, particularly if it were slightly remixed with the Battle Theme.
Calling All Girls
Okay, okay, it's hard to make a case for a song that was released as single in the US and did absolutely nothing, despite having a video. Even Roger forgot he wrote it. I argue that this is a pretty decent song and would have garnered more respect if it had been on a different album, like The Game. It doesn't try to do too much and is refreshing after all the heavy funk/disco of Side 1.
Keep Passing The Open Windows
Written for the film "Hotel New Hampshire," but not used, this Freddie song would probably have been a single if it had been in the movie and might well have been a hit, as it has all the classic Queen trademarks of piano, guitar, harmonies and an atypical structure. There is so much going on in this song and it has so many awesome instrumental breaks.
A Kind Of Magic
Princes Of The Universe
Technically another song which appeared on a Hits collections, despite not charting in the States, even with an awesome video. The lyrics being so esotaric, I can see why it failed to chart (the fact that, after The Game, the States practically forgot who Queen were didn't help much either in the '80s). The song is epic Freddie and what's not to love here?
Was It All Worth It
Someone once called this "The Show Must Go On" Part 1 and I sort of agree. Like "Princes Of The Universe," this is epic Queen, with a majestic instrumental backing and the vocals making the walls shake.
All God's People
No one does gospel-rock like Freddie and Queen. Put the headphones on and listen to everything going on in this song, in the foreground and the background. I don't know how much this resembles "Africa By Night" but I'm guessing the rhythmic sections give us a glimpse of what the earlier song soounded like, particularly the ending. Someday, we may find out.
Made In Heaven
You Don't Fool Me
It's hard for me (and I'm sure many of you as well) to seperate the final product from what we know about this album and its creation. Knowing how it was made and where the various tracks came from, how can we compare it to the previous works, where the four band members collaborated equally and, well, together. Well, I'm going to try, knowing what I do about David Richard's work on creating this song with the remaining band members. This song was always a favourite and I'm glad it was single and a #17 hit. For me, in a lot of way, it recalls the moody atmosphere of Queen and Sheer Heart Attack. It conjures images of an electric blue sky just after the sun has gone down, gleaming of glass skyscrapers as the night in the city comes alive. The guitar solo, in my opinion, is one of Brian's best.