A highlight of any Queen show is the rock and roll classic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” as it offers the perfect opportunity for the band to truly let rip. And as evidenced in episode 24 of the band’s on-going ‘The Greatest Live’ video series, Brian, Roger, Freddie and John enjoy it as much as the audience does. You can watch the footage in full below.
Famously conceived by Freddie Mercury in 1979 amidst the bubbles of his bathtub at Munich’s Bayerischer Hof hotel, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” has always been one of the most playful songs in the Queen catalog. But as we see in this week’s live archive footage from Japan ’82, the song evolved on the stage to include an outro jam that found the band flexing their musical muscles.
As the first song in contention for 1980’s The Game at Munich’s Musicland Studios, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” moved at pace. “It took me five or ten minutes,” Freddie told Melody Maker of writing the Elvis-inspired foundations. “I did that on the guitar, which I can’t play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing, because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords.”
Perhaps wary of the song vanishing into the ether, Freddie got the band together and urged engineer Reinhold Mack to roll the tape.
“Freddie wrote it very quickly and rushed in and put it down with the boys,” Brian May told Absolute Radio. “By the time I got there, it was almost done. And I think the sounds that Mack managed to get – these very elemental, very real, ambient sounds in the studio – had a big contribution to make. It does sound very authentic.”
The pièce de résistance was the period-correct ’50s twang of Brian’s guitar solo, reluctantly performed on Roger Taylor’s Telecaster. “I got bludgeoned into playing it,” said the guitarist. “That was Mack’s idea.”
As the band’s first US chart-topper, Mercury admitted it took “sheer guts and bravery” to strap on a twelve-string acoustic and drive the song’s rockabilly rhythm live. But as we see in this week’s footage, when the Japanese leg of 1982’s Hot Space Tour concluded at Tokorozawa’s Seibu Lions Stadium on November 3, the song had become the ideal platform for jamming, with Brian and Freddie gathered around piano player Fred Mandel with the joyous intimacy of a pub lock-in.
As an aside, Mandel would also join Brian and Eddie Van Halen in April 1983 at LA’s Record Plant for the near-mythical Star Fleet Project sessions – and four decades later, the thrilling results can be heard on the enhanced 40th Anniversary Edition, released July 14 on CD, vinyl and LP deluxe boxset.