Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To...)

Song Review by

A Night at the Opera sparked Queen's commercial breakthrough, thanks mainly to the operatic novelty of "Bohemian Rhapsody," a song that enabled Freddie Mercury to show off his impressive vocal talents, and spearheaded by producer Roy Thomas Baker. Although "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s accolades are well deserved, the album's first track, "Death on Two Legs," is nearly as impressive, only it doesn't contain the same type of expressive radiance as the album's lead single. "Death on Two Legs" takes Mercury's two strongest facets, his aural dramatics and his poignant lyrics, and weaves them together to form a witty and even humorous bunch of sharply tongued insults. Whether they're aimed at the government, an assorted group of politicians, the whole of England's elite, or all of the above, quick stabs like "you suck my blood like a leach" and "you're a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride" are more than poetic justice, especially when teamed up with Brian May's squelching guitar runs. Mercury's antics can almost be visualized, with his punctuation resonating in all the right spots while his persona switches noticeably from line to line. His vocal bludgeoning is novel, and even unassuming at times, following a writing path of guitar and steady but explosive drum playing. The song's sound is stark in some places, and overly blatant in others, which is exactly the criteria that made Queen one of rock's most colorful groups. "Death on Two Legs" is a marvelous introduction to a classic album, as the track's poetic thrashing sets the tone for the rest of the material. While "Bohemian Rhapsody" broke the Top Ten (twice), the more endearing "You're My Best Friend" peaked at number 16, paving the way for Queen's future success. Often overlooked and disregarded, "Death on Two Legs" remains one of Queen's most intense songs.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
A Night at the Opera 1975 Hollywood 3:43
The Crown Jewels 1998 Hollywood 3:43
The Singles Collection [13 CD] 2008 Parlophone 3:43