Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the British rock band Queen. The record, released on November 2, 1981, is the UK’s all-time best-selling album. Combined with Greatest Hits II, it became the definitive Queen compilation. While a domestic release with different tracks but the same cover art was available in the U.S. in 1981, the British release was available to United States customers only by import until the 1995 release of Greatest Hits I & II, which combined the two discs. The seventeen-track UK Greatest Hits disc was released in the U.S. on its own for the first time, with a few bonus tracks, in 2004 under the name Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You Edition.

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 U.S., where solid numbers could be collected, the standard was raised again by only including top twenty Hits.

The U.S. ended up with its original edit of Queen’s first single release, “Keep Yourself Alive”, which had been re-released in the U.S. in 1975 (original release was 1973) after the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Also, because of the delay in release dates between the UK (out first) and the U.S. (almost a month later), the U.S. was able to add “Under Pressure” (Queen’s duet with David Bowie) to its Hits collection, as it was released during that interim.

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.

Jumping ahead to 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 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 licencée). Hollywood Records decided to not release Greatest Hits II to the U.S. market, but instead created their own collection, Classic Queen (1992). 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”). Some tracks were not even singles in the U.S. (“One Year of Love”) or anywhere (“Stone Cold Crazy”). 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.

Edited by IRONICtypo on 1 Mar 2012, 22:47

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