This is Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” as you’ve never heard them before.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the dual-single release of two of Queen’s biggest hits on Saturday, Newsweek has the exclusive premiere of alternative, never-before-heard recordings of both anthemic tracks.
It was October 7, 1977, that Queen—fronted by the late Freddie Mercury—simultaneously released the Mercury-penned “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You,” written by Brian May, as the lead tracks from their seminal News of the World album. “We Are the Champions” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the official U.K. singles chart, and both songs have become signature to Queen’s live performances for four decades.
Queen will mark the 40th anniversary of News of the World with a special box set re-release on November 17 containing the original album on both vinyl and CD, numerous bonus tracks on CD, and a brand new documentary comprised of footage from the band’s 1977 USA News of the World Tour.
But the most tantalizing aspect of the re-release for most diehard fans will be a CD entitled Raw Sessions, featuring alternative versions of all 11 tracks on News of the World.
Ahead of the News of the World reissue, and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of both “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” Saturday, the alternative versions of both tracks will be available to stream and download from Friday. But before that, you can listen to both songs exclusively on Newsweek below.
“We Will Rock You”
“We Are the Champions”
These alternative recordings, all from the recording process of News of the World in 1977, were unearthed from Queen’s deep archives of rare and unheard material. The unused takes heard for the first time on Raw Sessions all differ from the final takes heard on the original studio album.
For example, the Raw Sessions version of “We Will Rock You” features a different approach to May’s famous guitar solo, one that is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. You can also hear the banter between the band members in the studio recording the song.
On the Raw Sessions version of “We Are the Champions,” meanwhile, Queen fans will notice instrumental elements that don’t appear on the final version of the track. This version is also nearly 90 seconds longer than the final version that was released in 1977—with two more choruses. The recording also confirms that an earlier version of Champions had a more complete denouement—in the form of a piano fadeout—than the abrupt way the final version of the song concludes.
Queen’s News of the World 40th Anniversary Edition is released November 17 and is available to pre-order now.