News Of The World
NEWS OF THE WORLD
By Greg Brooks and Gary Taylor
Queen’s sixth studio album, was recorded between July and September 1977 at two studios, Basing Street and Wessex. For the first time the band produced the record themselves, without Roy Thomas Baker but still assisted by resident engineer Mike Stone.
Another first for a Queen album was that News Of The World would fair better in the U.S. than in the band’s home country. It reached number 3 in the Billboard chart and achieved platinum sales status in America, while in Britain it peaked at 4. The album progressed well in the international charts too, helped by the first single We Are The Champions, and Spread Your Wings later on. The album was released on October 28th 1977 in the UK and on November 1st in America.
The album cover features a striking image of the band adapted from a painting by esteemed American science-fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas. The disturbing depiction of a giant robot plucking the four band members from a shattered auditorium, is among the most affecting of all Queen related imagery, as is a further picture inside the LP gatefold of the robot stretching out his hand to snatch up the petrified fleeing audience. The idea came from Roger who had seen a copy of an American magazine called Astounding Science, and thought that with a little adaptation it would make an excellent cover for the new Queen album. Kelly Freas was traced and loved the idea of his robot being adapted to this unlikely scenario. He willingly agreed to alter the picture to show the band members in the robot’s blood stained metallic hand. It is among the most striking and memorable of any album artwork for any artist, and numerous worldwide singles from the LP, as well as a myriad of weird and wonderful merchandise items too numerous to list, featured further variations of the pictures.
News Of The World was a significant departure from the two albums before it – the coupling named after Marx Brothers films; A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races - not just in its original and alarming artwork concept, but in musical content too, with its comparatively sparse production. The band spent half the time they had previously taken to record this album (roughly ten weeks) and this accounts for certain songs emerging with what many would describe as an under-produced sound – by Queen standards anyway. Indeed, one track, Brian May’s bluesy Sleeping On The Sidewalk, was recorded in only one take and contains none of the overdubbing traditionally associated with the band’s studio recordings. Like most material on the album, it is deliberately and conspicuously uncomplicated. The band were performing the song spontaneously, not aware the tape was rolling, and though they recorded numerous further attempts, the first take was never bettered and thus made it onto the finished album.
Brian's other contributions included the heaviest track on the album in the guitar driven It's Late, and the contrasting All Dead, All Dead, a song written about a cat of his who had died earlier, and featuring Brian on the piano and a part duet vocal with Freddie.
One of three songs from Freddie on News Of The World was Get Down Make Love. This little known piece, complete with risqué lyrics and eerie guitar effects for the middle section, which Brian later explained was “just an exercise in using guitar harmonizer effects together with noises from Freddie…a sort of erotic interlude” would also make for a startling addition to the live show of the time. Another jewel was the sombre and seldom heard My Melancholy Blues, featuring Freddie on the piano with John and Roger playing a subtle accompaniment. The audio would further emerge over a decade later as a 12” B-side and CD single track to The Miracle single in November 1989.
For the very first time, both Roger and John had two contributions each on News Of The World. Roger’s raw punk-driven Sheer Heart Attack (written for the album of the same name but not completed in time), which the author sings on the album but not in concert, is an extraordinary recording in dramatic contrast to the pairing of We Will Rock You and We Are Champions that it follows to commence the first side of the album.
Fight From The Inside, meanwhile, another little known track, not only demonstrates Roger’s vocal skills, but also his bass and rhythm guitar playing. John Deacon did not write anything remotely like the volume of material Freddie and Brian penned through the years, but nevertheless what he did come up with was always strong, emotive and commercially successful. Spread Your Wings is one of the album’s many highlights, and when performed live always went down a storm, no matter where in the world it was played. Alas, John’s other offering, the acoustic flamenco flavoured Who Needs You, never made it into the live show, or, more curiously, as a single B-side.
The first single released from News Of The World was the worldwide coupling of We Are The Champions and We Will Rock You, penned by Freddie Mercury and Brian May respectively. Released in the UK on October 7, the single reached number 2 in the charts and also realised a Billboard number 2 position in the USA. Although it is generally accepted that Crazy Little Thing Called Love (1979) was Queen’s first U.S. chart topper, the Champions/Rock You single reached the top spot of Record World’s chart, and thus, technically, gave the band their first American number one. The two songs matched each other so well that in America the record company requested permission to release the single as a double A-side, and subsequently both songs were given equal airplay. Eventually the coupling would be Elektra Records’ biggest selling single to date, selling over two million copies.
In France, the single stayed at number one in the charts for 12 consecutive weeks, after which, and only because no record was permitted to be number one for any longer, the chart was published with Rock You as number one instead. The original French 7” sleeve never had a title on the front cover, like the rest of the world, and after its number one run, had the title of We Will Rock You added, thus giving Queen fans another rare gem to barter for. The American Elektra picture sleeve was the first to be issued in that territory and is therefore another rarity worth locating, and so too the similar looking Japanese sleeve which again features Kelly Freas’ robot, but this time both copies set against black.
A special video, directed by Derek Burbridge, was filmed for We Are The Champions and featured members of the London-based Queen Fan Club. The fans were invited along to the New London Theatre on October 6th to participate as the audience in a live feel performance. At the end of the day’s filming the band remained on stage and played a special ten song concert as a thank you to the fans. The video would eventually be shown around the world, while an alternative version (featuring different camera angles) was used for Top Of The Pops in the UK. This variation has yet to appear on a Queen DVD video compilation.
For the We Will Rock You video, the band were filmed in the garden of Roger Taylor’s newly acquired country home, in January 1978, in the few minutes left over from shooting the Spread Your Wings promo, and with only enough daylight left to film two takes. It was a freezing cold day, and while John, Brian and Roger are seen to endure near frostbitten fingers, Freddie avoids similar discomfort by donning his roadie’s gloves – hence the word RATTY across the knuckles.
To the delight of Freddie and Brian, Champions and Rock You were soon taken up by various British and American football teams and supporters, and eventually for all kinds of other sporting events around the world. Today, the two songs are known in every corner of the globe, are universally recognised within an instant of the very first notes, and have been covered, sampled, copied and used in many varying contexts, from TV advertising and promotions, to films, toys, t-shirts and mobile phone ring tones. And, naturally, they both feature in the smash We Will Rock You Musical, in all its forms.
The second single released from the album was John Deacon’s haunting Spread Your Wings, and was partnered with Roger’s frenzied by comparison Sheer Heart Attack. Released on February 10 1978, and despite the Rock Flicks directed video filmed the same day as the We Will Rock You promo, Wings attained a disappointing number 34 in the charts. The same single was also released in most other European countries and some parts of the rest of the world, but strangely it was not issued in the USA or Japan. Those two territories instead went with an entirely different choice, in Brian’s It’s Late, in April 1978. No accompanying video ever materialised for It’s Late, not even live footage from the recent concerts, and partly due to this, and because of its six minute length, the song would receive little airplay in America. Meanwhile, a heavily edited version was put out by Elektra Japan, unbeknown to the band, and did not chart at all.
Did You Know?
1. Queen tracked down illustrator Frank Kelly Freas and asked him to re-illustrate one of his famous drawings for the album cover â€“ he agreed
2. Featured a song recorded without the band knowing and they decided to include it on the album (Sleeping On The Sidewalk)
3. Album features acclaimed songs We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions which gave Elektra records in the USA their first ever 2 million selling single release!
4. Queens quickest album to record, just 2 and half months
5. Provided Queen with another album to take on the road in USA and Canada for second time in a year- an unheard of feat!
We Are The Champions/ We Will Rock YouFirst single from the album News of The World
Spread Your WingsSecond single from the album News of the World
It's LateThird single from the album News of The World
4. All Dead All Dead
(Memories, my memories) (How long can you stay to haunt my days) She came without a farthing, a babe without a name So much ado bout nothing, is what she'd try to say So much ado my lover, so many games we played Through every fleeted summer, through every precious day All dead all dead, all the dreams we had And I wonder why I still live on All dead all dead, and alone I'm spared My sweeter half instead all dead and gone - all dead... All dead all dead, at the rainbow's end And still I hear her own sweet song All dead all dead, take me back again You know my little friend's all dead and gone Her ways are always with me, I wander all the while But please you must forgive me, I am old but still a child All dead all dead, but I should not grieve In time it comes to everyone All dead all dead, but in hope I breathe Of course I don't believe you're dead and gone All dead and gone
5. Spread Your Wings
Sammy was low just watching the show - over and over again Knew it was time, he'd made up his mind To leave his dead life behind His boss said to him "boy you'd better begin To get those crazy notions right out of your head Sammy who do you think that you are You should've been sweeping up the Emerald bar" Spread your wings and fly away, fly away, far away Spread your little wings and fly away, fly away, far away Pull yourself together coz you know you should do better That's because you're a free man He spends his evenings alone in his hotel room Keeping his thoughts to himself, he'd be leaving soon Wishing he was miles and miles away Nothing in this world, nothing, would make him stay Since he was small, had no luck at all, nothing came easy to him Now it was time, he'd made up his mind "This could be my last chance" His boss said to him "now listen boy, you're always dreaming You've got no real ambition, you won't get very far Sammy boy don't you know who you are Why can't you be happy at the Emerald bar" So honey, spread your wings and fly away, fly away, far away Spread your little wings and fly away, fly away, far away Pull yourself together coz you know you should do better That's because you're a free man C'mon honey - fly with me
6. Fight From The Inside
Hey you boy, hey you Hey you boy, think that you know what you're doing You think you're gonna set things to rights You're just another picture on a teenage wall You're just another sucker ready for a fall You gotta fight from the inside, attack from the rear Fight from the inside, you can't win with your hands tied Fight from the inside - ooh ooh aah Fight from the inside, right down the line Hey you boy, hey you Hey you boy, think that you know what you're doing You think that out in the streets is all true You're just another money spinner tool You're just another - fool You gotta fight from the inside, attack from the rear Fight from the inside, you can't win with your hands tied Fight from the inside, ooh ooh aah Fight from the inside, right down the line Right down the line, right down the line
7. Get Down Make Love
Get down make love, get down make love Get down make love, get down make love You take my body, I give you heat You say you hungry, I give you meat I suck your mind, you blow my head Make love, inside your bed everybody Get down make love, get down make love Get down make love, get down make love Everytime I get hot, you wanna cool down Everytime I get high, you say you wanna come down You say it's enough, in fact it's too much Everytime I get a get down, get down, get down make love I can squeeze, you can shake me (get down make love) I can feel, when you break me (get down make love) Come on so heavy, when you take me (get down make love) You can make love, you can make love You can make love, you can make love You can make everybody get down make love, get down make love Everytime I get high, you wanna come down Everytime I get hot, you say you wanna cool down You say it's enough, in fact it's too much Everytime I wanna, get down, get down, get down Aah, ooh, make love, make love, Make love, make love, make love, aah, oh Get down make love, get down make love Get down make love, get down make love Everytime I get hot, you wanna cool down Everytime I get high, you say you wanna come down You say it's enough, in fact it's just too much Everytime I wanna, get down, get down, get down make love
8. Sleeping On The Sidewalk
One two three I was nothin' but a city boy My trumpet was my only toy I've been blowin' my horn since I knew I was born But there ain't no nobody wants to know I've been sleepin' on the sidewalk, rollin' down the road I may get hungry, but I sure don't want to go home So round the corner comes a limousine And the biggest grin I ever seen Hey, sonny won't you sign right along the dotted line What you sayin ? - are you playin ? Sure you don't mean me ? I've been sleepin' on the sidewalk, rollin' down the road I may get hungry, but I sure don't wanna go home Now I'll tell you what happened... They took me to a room without a table They said "blow your trumpet into here" I played around as well as I was able And soon we had the record of the year I was a legend all through the land I was blowin' to a million fans Nothin' was a missin', all the people want to listen You'd have thought I was a happy man And I was sleepin' like a princess, never touch the road I don't get hungry, and I sure don't want to go home Have to have some fun... And now they tell me that I ain't so fashionable And that I owe the man a million bucks a year So I told 'em where to stick the fancy label It's just me and the road from here - yeah, yeah I'm back to playin' and layin', I'm back on the game And I'm sleepin' on the sidewalk, rollin' down the road I sure get hungry and I sure do wanna go home - yeah
9. Who Needs You
I make it half past six - you come at seven Always trying to keep me hanging round You little spoilt thing, girl you kept me waiting Never contemplating my point of view This comes as no surprise I'm a fool for I believed your lies But now I've seen through your disguise Who needs, well I don't need, who needs you Oh I believed you, went on my knees to you How I trusted you, but you turned me down But it's dog eat dog in this rat race And it leaves you bleeding lying flat on your face Reaching out, reaching out for a helping hand Where is that helping hand Oh mucho, I like it, I like it, mmm, ooh, well I don't need you How I was pushed around - "don't let it get you down" You walked all over me - "but don't you ever give in" Taking one step forward, slipping two steps back There's an empty feeling that you can't forget Reaching out (reaching out) for a helping hand (for a helping hand) When I met you, you were always charming Couldn't sleep at night till you were mine You were oh so so sophisticated, never interested in what I'd say I had to swallow my pride, so naive, you took me for a ride But now I'm the one to decide Who needs, well I don't need, who needs you
11. My Melancholy Blues
Another party's over and I'm left cold sober My baby left me for somebody new I don't wanna talk about it, want to forget about it Wanna be intoxicated with that special brew So come and get me, let me, get in that sinking feeling That says my heart is on an all time low so Don't expect me to behave perfectly, and wear that sunny smile My guess is I'm in for a cloudy and overcast Don't try and stop me coz I'm heading for that stormy weather soon I'm causing a mild sensation with this new occupation I'm permanently glued to this extraordinary mood So now moveover and let me take over - with my melancholy blues I'm causing a mild sensation with this new occupation I'm in the news, I'm just getting used to my new exposure Come into my enclosure