Thoughts on latter day Queen? (A Kind of Magic onward)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Oakvale, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Pim

    Pim Forum Resident

    Great pop-albums with 2 or 3 fillers per album and a similar amount of highlights. For me:

    FILLERS

    The Works: Man On The Prowl
    A Kind Of Magic: One Year Of Love, Pain Is So Close To Pleasure
    The Miracle: My Baby Does Me, Rain Must Fall
    Innuendo: Delilah, The Hitman

    HIGHLIGHTS

    The Works: Radio Ga Ga, Machines, It's A Hard Life
    A Kind Of Magic: Who Wants To Live Forever, Princes Of The Universe, the title track.
    The Miracle: I Want It All, Was It All Worth It, Breakthru
    Innuendo: The title track, The Show Must Go On
     
  2. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I think The Miracle is Queen's worst album. Was It All Worth It?, & Breakthru (I hate that spelling!) are the only songs I like a lot on it. There's a couple of others I think are good. I don't understand the love for Scandal at all. Horrible sounding keyboards and not a great tune. Good vocal though. It sounded dated in 1989! The whole album has a sterile and lifeless sounding production.

    A Kind of Magic isn't much better. Some fantastic singles, especially the title track. But the filler tracks are very weak. Friends Will Be Friends is down there with Scandal for me as one of Queen's weakest singles. A poor and forced attempt to write an anthem. The rockers aren't convincing on this album either. The Miracle and A Kind of Magic have the worst covers of any Queen albums. You can judge an album by it's cover here.

    Innuendo is a lot better. The title track, These Are The Days of Our Lives and The Show Must Go On are essential classic Queen tracks. I also like I Can't Live With You and Don't Try So Hard. There's still some weak filler tracks and another weak single with Headlong. But it's a good album overall, some of it excellent especially considering the circumstances. Nice cover on this one too.

    Considering what it is, Made In Heaven is a good listen. It's no classic but it's a strong set of songs with no real duffers. They did well to get a good album together using what little material they had from Freddie's final sessions. As a complete album I prefer it to any of the above, though understandably it doesn't have the high points of those.

    With the exception of A Kind of Magic, all these albums were made with Freddie seriously ill. This will have obviously affected Queen's creativity for better and worse. It has to be said that Freddie's singing is still remarkable throughout them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  3. FourWalledWorld

    FourWalledWorld Forum Resident

    I must be one of the few who really likes A Kind of Magic. Maybe it helps being a fan of the first Highlander?
     
  4. redfloatboat

    redfloatboat Forum Resident

    IMO The Miracle is an awful album. There are about 3 good songs on it.

    AKOM has the extra track 'A kind of a kind of magic' on it which is great. Also has 'Forever' a lovely instrumental of 'Who wants to live forever.' Side 2 of the lp is great too.

    Innuendo is a very good album. Mind you, These Are The Days of Our Lives and The Show Must Go On make me projectile vomit! They are unbelievably cheesy and embarrassing imo.

    Made in heaven is a very good album. The track i listen to the most is track 13, the 22 minute 'hidden' track, the track the band had the least to do with apparently.
     
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  5. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I loved Highlander at the time. I have been critical in my overlong post above, but I still have affection for these records and enjoy them every now and then. A Kind of Magic didn't seem weak when I was 12! I do still like these albums, they're Queen and I absolutely love Queen!
     
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  6. Claus

    Claus Restaurant Critic

    Location:
    Germany
    Everything after The Game is poor to horrible, especially the last one!

    Flash Gordon 2/10
    Hot Space 2/10
    The Works 3/10
    A Kind of Magic 2/10
    The Miracle 3/10
    Innuendo 4/10
    Made in Heaven 1/10
     
  7. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    NO! Hot Space is bloody brilliant!
     
  8. Sondek

    Sondek Forum Resident

    Nonsense.
     
  9. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Double nonsense.
     
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  10. Claus

    Claus Restaurant Critic

    Location:
    Germany
    Compared to their boring work after The Game.....

    Queen 8,5/10
    Queen II 9,5/10
    Sheer Heart Attack 8/10
    A Night at the Opera 9/10
    A Day at the Races 7/10
    News of the World 6,5/10
    Jazz 8/10
    The Game 7/10
     
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  11. Pim

    Pim Forum Resident

    I would love a remix of The Miracle and Innuendo. They do sound very sterile. Imagine them sounding like later productions like Made In Heaven or Cosmos Rocks, which have IMO a great sound.
     
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  12. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    That's more like it! I do think you are harsh on the later albums but the decline from these is undeniable. They seemed to become more of a singles, videos and live orientated band from The Game onwards, with their albums having a lot of filler and less variation than the 70s ones. Unless you are a real fan, Greatest Hits II covers the essentials from The Works - Innuendo.

    I agree on News of the World being the weakest 70s album.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  13. Orthogonian Blues

    Orthogonian Blues Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Take away the dodgy lyric about bimbos in cars, and add a Freddie vocal, then Hijack My Heart can be a great album track. It could even have been a great single in its own right.
     
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  14. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I wouldn't mind Roger singing it with better lyrics. One of the things that weakens the 80s albums is that you don't get the occasional Roger or Brian lead vocal that were always on the 70s albums. Freddie was obviously the best singer but I like the change in mood the others bring, similar to when George sang Beatles tracks.
     
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  15. FourWalledWorld

    FourWalledWorld Forum Resident

    It's a shame so many of the tracks use a drum machine. It really didn't suit their sound IMO.
     
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  16. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Terrible considering what a superb and diverse drummer Roger Taylor is.
     
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  17. Big fan of the songs they did for Highlander ( included on 'Magic').
     
  18. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I like the song One Vision, but I pretty much stop at The Works.
     
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  19. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Norway
    I like them all, but "A KIND OF MAGIC" and "INNUENDO" have tracks that are among their finest. (I always think of "FRIENDS WILL BE FRIENDS" as an inferior rethread of "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS".)

    But the two tracks I REALLY like from this period is the bombastic but fantastic "ONE VISION" and "I´M GOING SLIGHTLY MAD".
     
  20. Pim

    Pim Forum Resident

    I wish they'd re-do them similar to the remake of I Can't Live With You from the Queen Rocks compilation.
     
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  21. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident

    Alright, let's dive in here.

    First, I should point out that I was introduced to Queen by people who thought they creatively ceased to exist around the time The Game rolled out. So, for me as a teen with the entire discography laid out in front of me, gems I found in the '80s and onward catalog were like gems I'd found that nobody else was aware of (how small the world was then). This may rose-tint my view on these albums, but I'd maintain they still hold up.

    A Kind of Magic

    Honestly, this is my least favorite of these releases - mostly because it always fails to feel like an album. There's probably an EP in here, but there's never any flow and the duds are serious duds in my view without any amazing high points other than "One Vision" and "Who Wants to Live Forever?" Actually, I should throw in "One Year of Love" which admittedly needed a slightly more low key vocal from Freddie to really work on record, and "A Kind of Magic." Well, there's the EP. The rest I can more or less leave alone. "Gimme the Prize" is a good rocker that desperately needs different words and for Freddie to sound like he's invested, and "Princes of the Universe" is another great riff that leads into a song that is way longer and fluffier than it needs to be. It worked in edited form as the opening to the Highlander TV show...

    So, not much flow, not many good tracks, and a lot that I can honestly leave. Not unlistenable, but may be at the bottom of the pile when the catalog is taken as a whole for me. If we're talking ratings, I'd maybe give it a 4/10.


    The Miracle

    I'll be the first to admit that this album has some serious low points. That said, the worst fault it has is the front-loading of the worst tracks. "Party" as your opening track? Really? "Khashoggi's Ship" has a great musical bed, but the lyrics are dirt stupid. "The Miracle" and "I Want It All" are top shelf though, so we have the serious high points that weren't really in evidence on AKoM. "The Invisible Man" has grown on me, though I still don't understand how it was viewed as a single. Moving on to the second side, "Breakthru" is a good song, but its best incarnation is the 12" extended version, which emphasized the rock elements of the track. It was far better in that form and I wish they'd taken a similar treatment for the album version. "Rain Must Fall" is fluff, but it's inoffensive. Breezy and ok, even a little catchy, but just kind of there. I'll just get "My Baby Does Me" out of the way and say it's not as offensive as "Party," but it feels like dead filler. Now, "Scandal" and "Was It All Worth It?" are great and should be regarded as more top shelf material as far as I'm concerned.

    In total, there are still some real low points on this record, but the highs are far higher than on AKoM as far as I'm concerned. I'd give it a 7/10.


    Innuendo

    Here we go! While I don't tend to think of the band as "washed up after album X" at any point, this was the album on which the kind of creative spirit present on the first five albums reappeared for an album's duration again. Honestly, I half wonder what might have happened had they continued to mine this sort of direction with a healthier Freddie (one can dream). It's probably easier to list my dislikes than likes on this album.

    First, the title track's lyrics are duds. I get it, they're kind of grandiose and that suits the music, but it sounds like a treatise written on the ills and ails of the world as written by a Ms. America contestant or a first year college student who signed up for a philosophy class - sounds big, mostly devoid of substance. Not offensive, just nothing you want to pay attention to. Next, I will say that the "Rocks Re-take" of "I Can't Live with You" is far superior to the album version. The album cut is hardly unlistenable, but it's much more stiff and doesn't flow as well as it could have. Blame the drum programming. Beyond that, I'd just say that I don't really get "The Hitman." It doesn't rock particularly hard and isn't particularly catchy. Another case of "Why was this pushed as a single?" Again, not offensive, but not really all there either. The only other tracks I don't care for fall into the "Rain Must Fall" camp of being fluff and not particularly substantial, but inoffensive at the same time. I'm looking at "Headlong," and "Delilah" primarily here.

    Now, for the high points, you've got the music of "Innuendo," which is a nice nod back to the multi-layered epics of the past without feeling like a re-tread. The flamenco turn by Steve Howe is also great. "I'm Going Slightly Mad" is great and most directly shows what I consider a point at which Queen started to sound like they were coming to grips with technology and how it could be used to improve the feel of a song rather than just dress it up. It's also one of my favorite tracks. I really like the driving nature and vibe of "Ride the Wild Wind." I'll just get out of the way that I'm moved by "These Are the Days of Our Lives" and "The Show Must Go On" and think they're both brilliant and very sincere tracks. Unlike some of the "bigger statements" the band attempted, these both land as far as I'm concerned and the album is way stronger for their inclusion. Quick shout out for "Don't Try So Hard." It's musically and vocally brilliant. Shame the lyric kind of lies there, but Freddie works hard to sell it and there's great vibe to the track. Just not quite the full package. "Bijou" is a great flip where the guitar sings the song and the vocal is where the solo would otherwise be. Some achingly brilliant playing by Brian here. Another great "vibe" track that shows the same romantic melancholy of an album like A Day at the Races. Honestly, I don't think this album gets the credit it deserves for feeling like the same attention to detail, drama and craftsmanship from the '70s albums was back in full force.

    An easy 9/10.


    Made in Heaven

    This one seems to divide opinion. I tend to think it's a great addition to the catalog, not least of all for rehabilitating songs that were under-served by their arrangements on Freddie's first solo album. It's not as vibey as Innuendo, but it's a solid listen of good rock songs from cover to cover. Honorable mention goes to "Mother Love" and "A Winter's Tale" which are some of Freddie's last recordings. Both very moving songs and very beautifully sung. There's not a clunker here at all and it definitely shows that this was a labor of love, though I would add that I'm curious to hear the version of this album started without Brian May as I tend to prefer Roger Taylor's sensibilities on a musical level if given the choice between the two in a solo context. Back to the album, I'd say it's well worth picking up and, yes, I would say to listen to it ahead of A Kind of Magic, no question. Probably give this an 8/10
     
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  22. Pim

    Pim Forum Resident

    Made In Heaven is awesome. Yes, there are only 3 or 4 really new tracks. But what an amazing production and songs.
     
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  23. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Machine wrapped in butter.

    Location:
    London, England
    The version of 'I Was Born To Love You' on Made In Heaven is the definitive one for me.

    I wonder if the equal credit approach was someone's generous way of covering for the lower level of creative input from a particular band member? The official line is that it was to prevent future arguments about royalties being fairly divided (cf Roger making a mint from having 'I'm In Love With My Car' as the B-side to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'), but I wonder if it's slightly more involved? I know that @ShardEnder has made some previous posts about John Deacon's general unhappiness around the time the band stopper performing live, but I wonder if this stemmed over into a lack of enthusiasm for new material, given Freddie's declining health?

    On the other hand, if the assigned unofficial credits are to be believed, Brian May is less than prolific after 1986 - five solo compositions over two albums, plus an undistinguished B-side. Were his contributions rejected, or was he too preoccupied with his personal life to be able to write? It definitely seems that the last two albums made in Freddie's lifetime are primarily composed by him and Roger Taylor. Perhaps this arrangement wasn't acceptable to the other two, and that discussion ended up with the shared credit scenario.
     
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  24. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    I recall each of these albums making quite an impact on their release and for me each of them contain extremely strong material that outweighs any poor material.

    A Kind of Magic - is a brilliant album - can live without Friends Will Be Friends -but other than that all are indispensable Queen
    The Miracle - This low point would make many bands highs - again I hope to never hear Invisible Man again
    Innuendo - Man, that title track alone assures this as a classic. Yeah song about his ***** cat is a bit filler.
    Made In Heaven - Haven't played this for years - would need to brush up on it before I comment.

    All in all, pretty decent output and I would reach for any of these these before Flash, Hot Space or even The Works for that matter.
     
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  25. I've thought about the equal credit approach on many occasions myself, but I often combine this with another factor that appears to have changed starting with The Miracle, and that's how all the lead vocals on Queen's albums from this point on were handled exclusively by Freddie, with the exception of where he'd not been able to complete tracks for what became Made In Heaven. If my understanding is correct, the official version of events is that Freddie didn't actually tell his colleagues about the fact he'd been diagnosed with AIDS until late into 1989, though I'm sure they would have been aware of the stories that were already circulating in the British press especially. While there's little doubt that Scandal was indeed written as an attack on the media after Brian's private life came under fire, as he's often suggested, I don't believe for a second that nobody suspected a thing when it came to Freddie's condition... Audience recordings from the first night in Munich on the Magic Tour - from roughly nine months before he was officially given the bad news, it should be noted - reveal him to have been in an uncharacteristically foul mood, supposedly because he'd gone to visit some old local friends, only to find that many had already fallen victim to the same illness he surely knew was an inevitability considering his past activities. Furthermore, there were also his remarks while introducing Who Wants To Live Forever on later shows, where he'd frequently address rumours of Queen splitting by insisting the group would remain together until they died.

    As I mentioned previously, it seems as if John was tiring of being part of Queen as early as '86, with Brian and Roger since confirming that he'd taken to having a member of the road crew serve him cocktails from behind a stack of speakers during the Magic Tour as a way of coping with being away from his family. If you look carefully at the very end of Radio Ga Ga at Knebworth the same year, he can be seen violently throwing his bass guitar into this very same tower of cabinets, switching to a spare for the encore songs. I don't claim to have any inside reference for this, but my guess is that he was in a very precarious state by then, with his frequent skiing trips after leading to him barely having much presence on The Miracle and Innuendo, even if he did contribute to several arrangements. For example, The Hitman is believed to be one such track he shaped, along with My Baby Does Me. Later, when it came to finishing off the material Freddie left behind, I've read that it was John and Roger who initiated work on these songs, only for Brian to return from his solo career, angrily rejecting many of their ideas. Under the guitarist's leadership, this project was redirected to focus more on remaking tracks from Mr. Bad Guy, recycling two outtakes from The Miracle (b-side My Life Has Been Saved and Too Much Love Will Kill You, the latter only dropped from that album's running order due to an issue with one of its co-writers) and building on fragments dating back to the sessions after Innuendo. Brian and Roger have frequently spoken of how protective they became over Freddie, but did this extend to outright lying about his AIDS status earlier than they've so far admitted to? Also, did John ultimately choose to retire because his closest ally was no longer around, using Queen's collaborators as an excuse to retreat from the public eye, which he'd planned on doing far sooner? If we can be sure of anything, I wouldn't expect honesty from the upcoming biopic, assuming this ever reaches cinema screens...
     
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