The Complete BBC Radio Sessions Meticulously Restored by Queen Engineer Kris Fredriksson & Mastered by Grammy Award-Winner Adam Ayan!
Queen's meteoric ascendancy during the '70s has been well documented. From their gloriously ambitious self-titled debut album of 1973 through to the album that put them in the superstar bracket, 1975's A Night At The Opera, and beyond, this unique group carved out a singular path as the most visionary, inventive and charismatic band of that epic decade. But there is another side to Queen's rise that has been largely overlooked. Between February 1973 and October 1977, the band recorded 6 radio sessions exclusively for the BBC. The 24 recordings these landmark sessions produced include alternate versions of the debut single, unique takes of classic album tracks and even a radically reworked re-imagining of one of their best known anthems that has never previously appeared on any Queen studio release.
Now, for the very first time, all six Queen BBC sessions - meticulously restored by Queen engineer Kris Fredriksson and mastered by Grammy Award winner Adam Ayan - have been brought together on the 3LP-set Queen On Air, an essential addition for connoisseurs of the band. Queen On Air is much more than just a collection of rare recordings – it is a glorious snapshot of the growth of a legend.
Queen's very first session for the BBC, which opens Queen On Air, dates from February 1973, five months before the release of the band's debut album and single. Imagine that you are listening to the radio in early 1973; no-one in the world has heard any Queen recordings ever! John Peel plays "My Fairy King," the very first Queen song to be broadcast on radio anywhere, and the story begins. He follows with "Keep Yourself Alive" (the song which later became their first single), the laidback "Doing All Right" and the epic rock operetta "Liar" – all of which serve notice of the arrival of a major new musical force.
The band returned to the BBC for their second session in July 1973, the same month their debut album was released. Revisiting "Keep Yourself Alive" and "Liar," this time they also covered the heavy-as-lead "Son And Daughter" and the bluesy "See What A Fool I've Been." The latter, which has never appeared on any Queen studio album, would later be re-recorded and become the B-side of their breakthrough hit single "Seven Seas Of Rhye" in 1974. By the time Queen recorded their third BBC session in December 1973, they had already begun work on their second album, Queen II (eventually released in March 1974). The band premiered a new song which would feature on that album, "Ogre Battle," alongside three classics from its predecessor, the galloping "Great King Rat," the Roger Taylor-sung "Modern Times Rock'n'Roll" and a new version of "Son And Daughter."
Two more Queen II songs were recorded during a subsequent session in April 1974 – the epic "White Queen (As It Began)" and the delicate ballad "Nevermore," alongside a re-recorded "Modern Times Rock'n'Roll." Queen's penultimate session for the BBC took place in October 1974, a month before the release of their classic third album, Sheer Heart Attack. The session saw the debut of four songs from that record: the dazzling "Now I'm Here," the proto-heavy metal attack of "Stone Cold Crazy," the caustic "Flick Of The Wrist" and "Tenement Funster," their celebration of the rock'n'roll lifestyle.
It would be another three years before Queen returned to the BBC for their sixth and final session, by which time the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody" had turned them into a global phenomenon. On October 28th 1977, they recorded some radically different versions of four songs from the brand new News Of The World album, on the same day as it was given its UK release: the epic power ballad "Spread Your Wings," the steel-plated rocker "It's Late," the dusky jazz number "My Melancholy Blues" and two significantly contrasting renditions of the global hit "We Will Rock You" – the ‘regular' version and the ‘fast' version, a full-tilt guitar-heavy take on the song. The accelerated version on Queen On Air is the only known studio recording of this live favorite.