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 1974–1980 (1981 UK edition (EMI) & 2011 UK edition (Island) & 1994 US edition)
1972–1981 (1981 US & Canada edition)
1974–1981 (1981 Japan edition & 2011 Japan Reissue edition)
1972–1983 (1992 US edition (Hollywood Records)
1973–1982 (2004 US edition (Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You)
Genre Rock
Length 58:19 (UK edition)
Label
Producer Queen, various
Queen chronology
Greatest Hits
(1981)
The Complete Works
(1985)
Alternative covers
1992 US edition
1992 US edition
2011 Universal Remaster
2011 Universal Remaster
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[3]

Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the British rock band Queen, released worldwide on 26 October 1981.[4][5] 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 Albums Chart for four weeks. It has spent 833 weeks in the UK Charts, and is the best-selling album of all time in the UK, selling over six million copies.[6][7][8][9] It is certified eight times 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.[10][11] Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien hailed the UK edition of Greatest Hits as "impeccable" and "absolutely genius",[12] while British journalist Brian Viner called it the greatest album of all time.[13]

History[edit]

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 US, where solid numbers could be collected, the album included only top 20 hits.

The US ended up with its original edit of Queen's first single release, "Keep Yourself Alive", which had been re-released in the US in 1975 (original release was 1973) after the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody". The US version also added "Under Pressure", Queen's collaboration with David Bowie, which was released the same week as Greatest Hits and subsequently topped the UK Singles Chart and reached the top ten in many charts around the world. However, the song was not included on the European versions of Greatest Hits – according to Queen's business manager Jim Beach, this was because the longer manufacturing time required to press records in Europe meant that several hundred thousand copies of the album had already been pressed up before the song had been recorded.[5]

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.[14][15]

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 US market, but instead created their own collection, Classic Queen (1992), peaking at no. 4.[16] 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").[17] Some tracks were not even singles in the US ("One Year of Love") or anywhere ("Stone Cold Crazy").[17] 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.[9]

In the United States, the album has sold eight million copies, making it the band's best-selling album there.[9]

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 UK edition (EMI) & 2011 UK edition (Island)
Has a photograph of the band as its cover.
Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Bohemian Rhapsody" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975)Freddie Mercury5:57
2."Another One Bites the Dust" (from The Game, 1980)John Deacon3:36
3."Killer Queen" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974)Mercury2:57
4."Fat Bottomed Girls" (single version, from Jazz, 1978)Brian May3:22
5."Bicycle Race" (from Jazz, 1978)Mercury3:01
6."You're My Best Friend" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975)Deacon2:52
7."Don't Stop Me Now" (from Jazz, 1978)Mercury3:29
8."Save Me" (Single Version on 1981 Release only, from The Game, 1980)May3:48
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
9."Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (from The Game, 1980)Mercury2:42
10."Somebody to Love" (from A Day at the Races, 1976)Mercury4:56
11."Now I'm Here" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974)May4:10
12."Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (from A Day at the Races, 1976)Mercury2:54
13."Play the Game" (from The Game, 1980)Mercury3:33
14."Flash" (single version, from Flash Gordon, 1980)May2:48
15."Seven Seas of Rhye" (from Queen II, 1974)Mercury2:47
16."We Will Rock You" (from News of the World, 1977)May2:01
17."We Are the Champions" (from News of the World, 1977)Mercury3:00
Total length:58:44

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 US version, but had "Tie Your Mother Down" as an extra track.
  • Bulgaria had "Death On Two Legs" and "Sweet Lady" as extra tracks.
  • Canada, France, Germany, Israel and Netherlands had "Under Pressure" as an extra track.
  • Germany also added "Spread Your Wings" on some first pressing copies.

Personnel[edit]

  • Freddie Mercury – lead, backing and operatic vocals, acoustic piano, jangle piano, fingersnaps, bicycle bells, handclaps, acoustic guitar, organ, synthesizer, footstomps, fingersnaps (on original North American release only), drum machine (on 1991 North American release only), synth bass
  • Brian May – acoustic and electric guitars, co-lead vocals on "Fat Bottomed Girls" (chorus), backing and operatic vocals, bicycle bells, handclaps, piano, synthesizer, footstomps, fingersnaps (on original North American release only), co-lead vocals on "Keep Yourself Alive" (bridge), harmonium (on Japanese release only)
  • Roger Taylor – acoustic and (on 1991 North American release only) electronic drums, percussion, backing and operatic vocals, timpani, gong, triangle, chimes, bicycle bells, handclaps, woodblocks, tambourine, footstomps, fingersnaps (on original North American release only), cowbell, co-lead vocals on "Keep Yourself Alive" (bridge), rhythm guitar (on 2004 US edition)
  • John Deacon – bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic and electric pianos, bicycle bells, handclaps, footstomps, fingersnaps (on original North American release only), synthesizer (on 1991 North American release only)
Additional personnel (original UK release)
Additional personnel (original North American release)
Additional personnel (1991 North American release)

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[63] 3× Platinum 180,000^
Australia (ARIA)[64] 15× Platinum 1,050,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[65] 4× Platinum 200,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[66] Platinum 250,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[67] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[68] Platinum 55,058[68]
France (SNEP)[69] Gold 400,400[70]
Germany (BVMI)[71] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Italy (FIMI)[72]
(since 2009)
Gold 25,000*
Sweden (GLF)[73] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[74] 5× Platinum 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[75] 20× Platinum 6,120,000[76]
United States (RIAA)[77] 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
United States Elektra LP 5E-564
1990 Soviet Union Melodiya LP А60 00703 001[78]
15 September 1992 United States Hollywood CD 61265
17 August 2004 United States Hollywood CD 2061-62465-2
3 January 2011 United Kingdom Island CD 2758364

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Greatest Hits at AllMusic
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  3. ^ "Queen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  4. ^ "Record News". NME. 17 October 1981. p. 48.
  5. ^ a b Grein, Paul (17 October 1981). "Row over Rent-Only Plan for Queen Vid". Billboard. p. 84.
  6. ^ Queen head all-time sales chart BBC Retrieved 23 January 2011
  7. ^ "BPI Highest Retail Sales" (PDF). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  8. ^ Queen becomes longest reigning chart act Daily Mail Retrieved 23 January 2011
  9. ^ a b c Caulfield, Keith. "Queen's 'Greatest Hits' Becomes First Album to Sell 6 Million in U.K." Billboard. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  10. ^ In Pictures: 50 years of pop BBC News Retrieved 17 January 2011
  11. ^ RIAA – Gold and Platinum Archived 4 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Recording Industry Association of America Retrieved 23 January 2011
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Viner, Brian (February 14, 2014). "Why Queen's Greatest Hits is the greatest album EVER". Mail Online. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  14. ^ "January 2017". www.brianmay.com. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  15. ^ "Greatest Hits". Queen official website. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  16. ^ Billboard 25 Jul 1992 p.8. Billboard. Retrieved 30 May 2011
  17. ^ a b Queen Album: Classic Queen Archived 27 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine. MTV. Retrieved 30 May 2011
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 243. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in German). Hung Medien.
  20. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  22. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
  23. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
  24. ^ "Queen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  25. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
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  27. ^ "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.
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  29. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
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  32. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
  33. ^ "Ultratop.be – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in French). Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "Lescharts.com – Queen – Greatest Hits". Hung Medien.
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  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1981". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  39. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1981". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  40. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 LPs: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London, England: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 50–53. ISBN 0-906154-03-0.
  41. ^ Jones, Alan; Lazell, Barry; Rees, Dafydd (1982). "The Top 200 Albums (UK)". Chart File 1982. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 0-907080-49-9.
  42. ^ Kent (1993). "1982 – Top 25 Albums". p. 434.
  43. ^ "Jahreshitparade Alben 1982". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
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  45. ^ "Top 100 Album – Jahrescharts 1982". Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  46. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1982". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  47. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Jones, Alan (1983). "The Top 100 UK Albums". Chart File Volume 2. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-907080-73-1.
  48. ^ "Top 100 Albums". Music Week. London, England: Morgan-Grampian plc: 42. 26 January 1985.
  49. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1985). "Top 100 Albums: 1984". BPI Year Book 1985 (7th ed.). British Phonographic Industry. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0-906154-06-5.
  50. ^ "Top 100 Albums". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. 18 January 1986. p. 11.
  51. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1986). "Top 100 Albums: 1985". BPI Year Book 1986 (8th ed.). British Phonographic Industry. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-906154-07-3.
  52. ^ "Top 100 Albums". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. 24 January 1987. p. 25.
  53. ^ "1991 Top 100 Albums". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. 11 January 1992. p. 21.
  54. ^ "ARIA End of Year Albums 1992". ARIA. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  55. ^ "Jahreshitparade Alben 1992". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  56. ^ "Top 100 Album – Jahrescharts 1992". Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  57. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1992". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  58. ^ "Year End Charts: Top Albums". Music Week. 16 January 1993. p. 10.
  59. ^ "Los más vendidos 2016" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  60. ^ "ARIA End of Year Albums 2017". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  61. ^ "Los más vendidos 2017" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  62. ^ Jones, Alan (16 December 1989). "Chartfile". Record Mirror. Spotlight Publications. p. 45.
  63. ^ "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.
  64. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  65. ^ "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. 
  66. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Queen – Queen Greatest Hits" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
  67. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". Music Canada.
  68. ^ a b "Queen" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  69. ^ "French album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  70. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD / Albums Tout Temps" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  71. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Queen; 'Greatest Hits I')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  72. ^ "Italian album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits I" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.
  73. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
  74. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Queen; 'Greatest Hits')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  75. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Greatest Hits in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  76. ^ Myers, Justin (12 July 2016). "The greatest of the greatest: the UK's official Top 10 biggest hits collections revealed". Official Charts Company.
  77. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  78. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-09-04.

External links[edit]