Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Queen 'I Want To Break Free'

Chart Peak: 3
Side Three starts with another song of escape, albeit a somewhat lighter-hearted one. And proof that Queen aren't always the first track on a Now album, though they usually start a side.

'I Want To Break Free' was the second single from their album The Works and managed to spend three consecutive weeks at 3 in the charts; all of them were behind Phil Collins at 2, but there were two different Number One singles involved. Sales were perhaps helped by the fact that this was a different mix from the album track: unusually, the single edit is longer thanks to that dramatic intro. They were surely also assisted by the track's memorable promo video, which I can even remember seeing at the time. The cross-dressing allegedly caused some controversy in the USA, although as a British six-year-old raised on pantomimes, I didn't think there was anything particularly strange about it, it was just a little bit silly that Freddie Mercury still had his moustache while he was in drag. I hadn't noticed at that point that he does actually appear clean-shaven in one of the fantasy sequences.

The song was written by John Deacon, probably my favourite member of Queen, not least because he was the only one never to attempt a solo career and the one who seems to have been least involved in the disreputable attempts to keep the band going after Mercury's death. In a band of showmen, he was the calm sideman. Although my favourite of his was 'Another One Bites The Dust', which is too early for the series, this inclusion means that all four members of Queen individually appear on the Now albums as songwriters, as well as tracks credited to them collectively.  It lacks the emotional burden of the Bronski Beat track, seeming more a work of imagination, but when I say it's one of Queen's best ever pop songs I don't consider that at all a bad thing.

Also appearing on: Now 2, 4, 6, 7, 15, 16, 19, 21, 25 [with George Michael], 32, 33, 54 [with Vanguard]
Available on: Greatest Hits II

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