My top favourite singles?
Hmm...rather than simply making this about the songs alone, I'm going to look at the single as a whole: the songs, the artwork and why the single has significance for me.
01) 1975 "Keep Yourself Alive" US Re-issue 7" single
I found this 7" at a flea market, in a bin with a bunch of other 45s, for 50 cents each. I saw it contained "Lily Of The Valley" and "God Save The Queen" as b-sides. Two b-sides on a 7"? That was uncommon, and they were all from different albums. Weird! Upon playing the single, I discovered that all three were unique versions. KYA was the US edit, which I had on the US 1981 Greatest Hits, but LOTV was the complete track, with the full intro, not segued from "Flick Of The Wrist". GSTQ didn't fade in. It just started at full volume. I later learned that the single came out before the band was working on A Night At The Opera, so I realized that when this single came out, "God Save The Queen" was a NEW Queen song, exclusive to the states. For 50 cents, it's a heck of a find.
02) 1982 "Body Language" US 12" single
I know, I know, many of you hate this song, but the song is less what I'm going to talk about, more my experience in first hearing it. My best friend found this at a yard sale for me well before I had heard anything from Hot Space besides "Under Pressure". The cover art featured the nude man and woman from the video and at 16, looking at this sleeve, I was like, "Uh...alright." He had already listened to it and pronounced the song: "Weird, man...very different." We put it on and I heard it for the first time. I didn't know what to think. Keep in mind, I still didn't own all Queen's albums, so this was out of left field and I can appreciate why it startled people in 1982. We played the b-side, "Life Is Real" and I remember thinking, "That's more like it." This single and a-side did the most complete 180 degree turn around of any Queen song for me, going from WTF to Hell Yeah! as such, it earns it's place on this list.
03) 1995 "Heaven For Everyone" UK CD Single Part 1
It's autumn, my first year of university, away from home for the first significant time. I walk into the HMV Superstore in downtown Toronto one cold evening after studying and thumb through the Queen section. I see this CD single. "What is THIS? New Queen single? Seriously?" I don't think I had any inkling about Queen recording a new album, so this...THIS was a complete surprise. I had no internet, but a roommate did, so I bought the single, went the newly launched, still incomplete queen-fip.com site and it was like a meca. Queen information, lots of it, at my fingertips. Wow! I listened to single, TWO NEW SONGS! Now, I did know that The Cross had recorded this song, with Freddie, but never having heard it, this was all new. I took it at face value, as a new, complete Queen song. And WHAT a song! For me, this was right up there with the best of them (well, maybe not "Rhapsody," but certainly others). The sleeve promised a second CD single the following week. I couldn't wait! I love the blue, yellow and orange colour scheme and the Freddie statue on the front. This single will always bring back that memory, being the first new Queen single for me after I became a fan.
04) 1981 "Under Pressure" Elektra Re-print 7" single
Once again: high school...yard sale...I think I paid $1 for this one. I knew UP very well from Classic Queen and GH1 (US), but here was a b-side I'd never heard. "Soul Brother"? Alright, cool. This event preceeds the BL entry above, so I wasn't entirely sure if this song was even on the Hot Space album. I put it on and thought, "Hmm...another gospel song, like Somebody To Love." Then the self-referential lyrics came in and I was laughing. How many Queen references were they squeezing in here? Hilarious! It was the first song since "I'm Going Slightly Mad" that made me laugh out loud when I first heard it.
05) 1974 "Liar" US 7" single
Well established as a Queen fan at this point, I had all the albums and there werent many surprises left...or so I thought. I found this in a shop in Toronto, for $5 and bought it because the label said "3:30" track length. Uh...okay. This I had to hear! I went home, listened in stunned silence and then played it a second time. Then a third. I could not do a fourth time in a row. It was just...so...bad. They'd chopped up the song! This was the first time I felt a bit of disgust for something Queen-related. It was a new, unpleasant sensation. I flipped the disc over and listened to "Doing All Right," sweet and unaltered. Peace and harmony were restored. I still own the single and only ever listened to it again when I transferred the edit to my computer, for as bad an edit as it is, it's still rare.
06) 1984 "I Want To Break Free" Freddie-Sleeve 7" single
Found in the same shop as the "Liar" single, this too contained a unique b-side which is why it warrants inclusion on this list. I liked the original song "Machines," but hearing the instrumental was a new experience. It was the first Queen I heard in such an instrumental form. I discovered a new side of my love for the band's work, that their backing tracks were so well done as to stand on their own. I became fascinated with instrumental versions of the songs, and still am. all thanks to "Machines."
07) 1982 "Back Chat (Re-mix)" 7" single
Found in the same Toronto shop as before, for $5, I almost didn't buy this. I owned Hot Space by this time and wasn't entirely anamoured with the disco/funk pieces. Still, I had (and still have) a policy of grabbing singles when I find them, to add to my collection. So, I took it home. I notice on the label when I went to play it that this was a "Re-mix"....a remix from 1982? I didn't know such a thing had been done. I played the song and found it was punchier and, for me, better than the album version...and...I LIKED it. This marked for me the beginning of the shift in my view of Hot Space, where I began to overcome my chagrin toward this album. I liked that the sleeve matched the album, the four blocks of colour. I'm not sure why.
08) 1991 "The Show Must Go On" CD single
Bought for $4 in a different shop in Toronto (Toronto used to have dozens of great used music stores, many of which are now long gone!). Nothing new on this disc, except "Queen Talks," but I love the JJ Grandville artwork that ties all the singles together with the album. Also amusing is the selection of previous a-sides: "Keep Yourself Alive" and "Body Language". I never would have put these three songs together and there's some charm in hearing them this way. It seems mildly subversive when you consider that the single was partly promoting Greatest Hits 2, yet these two songs would not appear on either UK Hits albums. It's like Queen wanted you to have them in addition to the "Hits".
09) 1995 "A Winter's Tale" UK CD single
Wrapped in a red, white and green card sleeve, this single was bought in London, England, by my brother for a Christmas present. He wrapped in it paper and didn't sign the original sleeve, preserving it for me. "Merry Christmas from Queen!" How cool. I had the three tracks already, though this cut of "Rock In Rio Blues" was slightly different, but it was great to have the two holiday song together. It was also great to have my brother back for the holidays (he lived in London for two years, returning only once or twice a year). So many great memories associated with this little single!
10) 1995 "Too Much Love Will Kill You" US CD single
Back in HMV, now having heard Queen's new album, I was hunting down all the singles. I saw this and thought, "Huh? cardboard sleeve...Whoa! New song!" That was the "Rock In Rio Blues". I knew the band had done RIR, but what was this? A live track? Something else? I bought it, got home and put it on. It was like the Impromptu track from Wembley. Alright, very cool. Non-album live b-side. 1995/1996 were heady days, when new Queen singles were hitting the