One of my favorite things about Queen was their ability to play tough hard rock as well as more anthemic material, and yet make them both believable.
While “We are the Champions” probably counts as quintessential Queen, I’ve always been drawn to “Spread Your Wings” — also released on October 28, 1977 as part of News of the World. I can’t deny that there’s a little burnout factor with the former tune, but that’s not the whole story.
“Spread Your Wings,” written by bassist John Deacon, kicks off with Freddie Mercury featured both on a simple piano and vocals, before Brian May’s layered guitars slowly fill in the spaces. Mercury’s singing is its usual powerful self, and he’s showcased on a rare Queen song with no backing vocals, but it’s all given a lot of lift by those bombastic guitars.
This powerful combination sent “Spread Your Wings,” which was backed as a single by the relentless “Sheer Heart Attack” from News of the World, soaring into the U.K. Top 40. The B-side (which may or may not be a reaction to the punk music of the day) features vicious, chugging power chords that provide a surging energy.
All instruments, save for guitar, were performed by composer Roger Taylor on a track that had originally been started during the sessions for Queen’s 1974 album of the same name. Instead, “Sheer Heart Attack” wouldn’t be finished until two albums later. By then, as Brian May’s nervous guitar squeals usher in Taylor’s phase-shifted drum break, any doubts you might have had about Queen’s ability to rock out should be in hiding.
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