Greatest Hits (Queen album)

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Greatest Hits
Queen Greatest Hits.png
Original 1981 edition
Greatest hits album by Queen
Released 26 October 1981
Recorded 1973–1980 (1981 UK edition (Parlophone) & 2011 UK edition (Island) & 1994 U.S. edition)
1972–1981 (1981 U.S. & Canada edition)
1974–1981 (1981 Japan edition & 2011 Japan Reissue edition)
1972–1983 (1992 U.S. edition (Hollywood Records)
1973–1982 (2004 U.S. edition (Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You)
Genre Rock
Length 58:19 (UK edition)
Label Parlophone (Europe)
Hollywood (North America)
Melodiya (USSR)
Producer Queen, various
Queen chronology
Greatest Hits
The Complete Works
Alternative covers
1992 U.S. edition
2011 Universal Remaster
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B+[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[3]

Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the British rock band Queen, released in the UK on 26 October 1981.[4] The album consisted of Queen's best-selling singles since their first chart appearance in 1974 with "Seven Seas of Rhye", up to their 1980 hit "Flash" (though in some countries "Under Pressure", the band's 1981 chart-topper with David Bowie, was included). There was no universal track listing or cover art for the album, and each territory's tracks were dependent on what singles had been released there and which were successful.

Queen's Greatest Hits was an instant success, peaking at number one on the UK Album Chart for four weeks. It has spent over 700 weeks in the UK Charts, and is the best-selling album of all time in the UK, selling over 6 million copies there.[5][6][7][8] It is certified 8x Platinum in the United States, and is Queen's most commercially successful album worldwide with over 25 million copies sold, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.[9][10] Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien hailed Greatest Hits as "impeccable" and "absolutely genius",[11] while British journalist Brian Viner called it the single greatest album ever made.[12]


There was no universal track listing or cover art for the Greatest Hits album, and each territory's tracks were dependent on what singles were released there and what tracks charted. In some cases, despite the band's popularity, not enough songs were issued as singles to fill a compilation album, and a few album tracks were used as filler. Some examples of these were "Sweet Lady" and "Love of My Life", neither was released as a single in any country, but appear on some regions' 1981 Hits release. In the UK and the U.S., where solid numbers could be collected, the standard was raised again by only including top 20 hits.

The U.S. ended up with its original edit of Queen's first single release, "Keep Yourself Alive", which had been re-released in the U.S. in 1975 (original release was 1973) after the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody". Also, because of the delay in release dates between the UK (out first) and the U.S. (almost a month later), the U.S. was able to add "Under Pressure" (Queen's duet with David Bowie) to its Hits collection, as it was released during that interim.

In Argentina and Brazil, the LP edition included the same list of UK Greatest Hits minus "Seven Seas of Rhye", and including "Love of My Life" (Live Killers version). CD version is the same as the British.

The cover photo that appeared on the UK and US release was taken by Lord Snowdon at his home studio using only natural light. For the 1981 release the photo was skewed but later presented as it was originally taken for the 2011 re-release.[13][14]

In 1991, Queen sought to issue a second Greatest Hits collection worldwide, this time with a standard track listing. However, the band had just changed record labels in the US, from Capitol to Hollywood Records, who were keen on a massive promotion of the band's back catalogue. The problem was that Elektra still held the US rights to that first 1981 collection (despite being Hollywood's US licensee). Hollywood Records decided to not release Greatest Hits II to the U.S. market, but instead created their own collection, Classic Queen (1992), peaking at no. 4.[15] This compilation was made up of tracks such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Keep Yourself Alive" and "Under Pressure" (which had already appeared on the Elektra 1981 Hits collection) as well as newer tracks ("A Kind of Magic" and "Radio Ga Ga").[16] Some tracks were not even singles in the U.S. ("One Year of Love") or anywhere ("Stone Cold Crazy").[16] Though well received, this collection would eventually pose the problem of overlapping track lists in the future.

Hollywood Records, later that year, re-released a companion collection Greatest Hits with similar artwork (on a red background, where Classic Queen was on royal blue). Commonly referred to as the Red Greatest Hits, it features most of the '70s tracks absent from Classic Queen (including "Another One Bites the Dust" [1980], "We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions" and "Killer Queen").

In 2004, to promote the Las Vegas production of the musical We Will Rock You, Hollywood Records released Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You Edition which was the UK Greatest Hits with three bonus tracks.

Commercial performance[edit]

By 2006, 25 years after its first release, Greatest Hits had become the best-selling album in the UK and the first album to sell more than five million copies there. In 2014, it became the first album in the UK to sell over six million copies.[8]

In the United States, the album has sold eight million copies, making it the band's best-selling album there.[8]

Track listing[edit]

This section includes the track listings for the original Greatest Hits in its various forms. For other compilations, including the second and third Greatest Hits albums, see the relevant articles. On the 17-track UK editions, Freddie Mercury wrote ten songs, Brian May wrote five and John Deacon wrote two. Roger Taylor had not written any singles for the band at that time.

1981 U.K. edition (Parlophone) & 2011 U.K. edition (Island)
Has a photograph of the band as its cover.
Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975) Freddie Mercury 5:57
2. "Another One Bites the Dust" (from The Game, 1980) John Deacon 3:36
3. "Killer Queen" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974) Mercury 2:57
4. "Fat Bottomed Girls" (single version, from Jazz, 1978) Brian May 3:22
5. "Bicycle Race" (from Jazz, 1978) Mercury 3:01
6. "You're My Best Friend" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975) Deacon 2:52
7. "Don't Stop Me Now" (from Jazz, 1978) Mercury 3:29
8. "Save Me" (Single Version on 1981 Release only, from The Game, 1980) May 3:48
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (from The Game, 1980) Mercury 2:42
10. "Somebody to Love" (from A Day at the Races, 1976) Mercury 4:56
11. "Now I'm Here" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974) May 4:10
12. "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (from A Day at the Races, 1976) Mercury 2:54
13. "Play the Game" (from The Game, 1980) Mercury 3:33
14. "Flash" (single version, from Flash Gordon, 1980) May 2:48
15. "Seven Seas of Rhye" (from Queen II, 1974) Mercury 2:47
16. "We Will Rock You" (from News of the World, 1977) May 2:01
17. "We Are the Champions" (from News of the World, 1977) Mercury 3:00
Total length: 57:20

In addition to the variations above, the official biography Queen: As It Began by Jacky Gunn and Jim Jenkins states the following variations on the original UK track listing:[citation needed]

  • Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela had "Love Of My Life" (live version) instead of "Seven Seas Of Rhye".
  • Belgium and Spain had "Spread Your Wings" as an extra track.
  • Australia was identical to the UK version, but had "Tie Your Mother Down" as an extra track.
  • Bulgaria had "Death On Two Legs" and "Sweet Lady" as extra tracks.
  • Canada, Germany, Israel and Netherlands had "Under Pressure" as an extra track.
  • Germany also added "Spread Your Wings" on some 1st pressing copies.


Chart (1981) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[17] 2
Austrian Top 75 Albums[18] 1
German Albums Chart[19] 1
Netherlands Top 100 Albums[20] 1
New Zealand Top 40 Albums[21] 1
UK Albums Chart[22] 1
Chart (1982) Peak
Norwegian Top 40 Albums[23] 21
Chart (1992) Peak
Australian Top 50 Albums[24] 8
Canadian Top Albums[25] 4
French Compilations[26] 5
Hungarian Top 40 Albums[27] 12
Swedish Top 60 Albums[28] 21
Swiss Top 100 Albums[29] 5
US Billboard 200[30] 11
Chart (2004) Peak
US Catalog Albums[30] 2
Chart (2007) Peak
US Hard Rock Albums[30] 5
Chart (2008) Peak
Spanish Top 100 Albums[31] 63
Chart (2011) Peak
Belgium (Wallonia) 100 Albums[32] 78
French Top 200 Albums[33] 56
Mexican Top 100 Albums[34] 53
Chart (2016) Peak
Mexican Top 100 Albums[35] 92

Preceded by
Shaky by Shakin' Stevens
UK Albums Chart number one album
14 November 1981 – 11 December 1981
Succeeded by
Chart Hits '81 by Various Artists


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[36] 3× Platinum 180,000*
Australia (ARIA)[37] 15× Platinum (Diamond) 1,050,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[38] 4× Platinum 200,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[39] Platinum 250,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[40] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[41] Platinum 55,058[41]
France (SNEP)[42] Gold 400,400[43]
Germany (BVMI)[44] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Sweden (GLF)[45] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[46] 5× Platinum 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[47] 20× Platinum (Diamond) 6,120,000[48]
United States (RIAA)[49] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Date Region Label Format Catalog number
26 October 1981 United Kingdom EMI/Parlophone LP / cassette EMTV 30
3 November 1981 United States Elektra Records LP 5E-564
1990 Soviet Union Melodiya LP А60 00703 001[50]
15 September 1992 United States Hollywood Records CD 61265
17 August 2004 United States Hollywood Records CD 2061-62465-2
3 January 2011 United Kingdom Island Records CD 2758364

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greatest Hits at AllMusic
  2. ^ Robbins, Ira (13 November 1992). "Greatest Hits Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  3. ^ "Queen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Record News". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 48. 17 October 1981. 
  5. ^ Queen head all-time sales chart BBC Retrieved 23 January 2011
  6. ^ "BPI Highest Retail Sales" (PDF). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  7. ^ Queen becomes longest reigning chart act Daily Mail Retrieved 23 January 2011
  8. ^ a b c Caulfield, Keith. "Queen's 'Greatest Hits' Becomes First Album to Sell 6 Million in U.K.". Billboard. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  9. ^ In Pictures: 50 years of pop BBC News Retrieved 17 January 2011
  10. ^ RIAA - Gold and Platinum Archived 4 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Recording Industry Association of America Retrieved 23 January 2011
  11. ^ O'Brien, Ed (July 3, 2003). "Radiohead live at Le Réservoir (Paris, France)". Music Planet 2nite. Arte. Queen did their Greatest Hits, and the first one is impeccable, isn't it? It's absolutely genius. 
  12. ^ Viner, Brian (February 14, 2014). "Why Queen's Greatest Hits is the greatest album EVER". Mail Online. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  13. ^ "January 2017". Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  14. ^ "Greatest Hits". Queen official website. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  15. ^ Billboard 25 Jul 1992 p.8. Billboard. Retrieved 30 May 2011
  16. ^ a b Queen Album: Classic Queen MTV. Retrieved 30 May 2011
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  18. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Austrian Charts (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Album – Queen, Greatest Hits" (ASP). Media Control Charts (in German). Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  21. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). New Zealand Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "All the Number One Albums: 1981". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  23. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Norwegian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Australian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "100 Albums (CD's & Cassettes)" (PHP/PDF). RPM. 56 (16). 17 October 1992. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  26. ^ "Les "Charts Runs" de chaque Album Classé". InfoDisc (in French). Archived from the original (PHP) on 18 February 2010.  Find "QUEEN" under the drop-down menu to see statistics.
  27. ^ "Archivum: Top 40 Album". MAHASZ (in Hungarian). Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  28. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Swedish Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  29. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Swiss Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  30. ^ a b c "Greatest Hits (Hollywood) – Queen". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  31. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Spanish Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  32. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Ultratop (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  33. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Les Charts (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  34. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits (Album)" (ASP). Mexican Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  35. ^ "Los más vendidos 2016" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  38. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits I" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Queen in the field Interpret. Enter Greatest Hits I in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  39. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Queen – Queen Greatest Hits" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  40. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". Music Canada. 
  41. ^ a b "Queen" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. 
  42. ^ "French album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  43. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD / Albums Tout Temps" (in French). Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Queen; 'Greatest Hits I')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  45. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  46. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Queen; 'Greatest Hits')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  47. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Greatest Hits in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select ' in the field By Award. Click Search
  48. ^
  49. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  50. ^ "Queen - Greatest Hits". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-09-04. 

External links[edit]