Sunday, 3 June 2018

Queen - Hot Space (1982)

You and me we got staying power....


Released May 1982

Recorded in Montreux and Munich

Running time 43.29

Released in 1982, before Queen’s “second coming” in 1984, “Hot Space” was a strange album. As Freddie Mercury told his audiences in live performances around 1981, the band were “experimenting with some black, funk stuff whatever you call it darlings..”. It was clumsy statement and indeed, this was a clumsy album. 

Everyone had to dabble in disco/funk it seemed - The Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, ABBA, Rod Stewart - many had already tried it. Queen, in fact, were very late in getting around to it. 

The band that once proudly trumpeted the fact that nobody played synthesiser on their early albums now released an album absolutely awash with them. It all sounded a bit incongruous, however, not convincing either as funk or as disco. Some people loved it, however, notably Michael Jackson, who claimed it had a big influence on his creating the "Thriller" album.


1. Staying Power

2. Dancer
3. Back Chat
4. Body Language
5. Action This Day
6. Put Out The Fire
7. Life Is Real
8. Calling All Girls
9. Las Palabras De Amor (Words Of Love)
10. Cool Cat
11. Under Pressure                                                    

Queen were most definitely “old hat” in 1982. Punk had been and gone, and New Wave. Two Tone had peaked and New Romanticism was all the rage. What better, then to win people back than to produce an album of cod white funk? Tracks like “Staying Power”, “Back Chat”, “Body Language” and “Dancer” are all tolerable enough but they are not the real thing, neither are they anywhere near as good as Queen’s previous funk outings - “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Dragon Attack”, for example. The old “side one” of this sort of thing is ok though and I suppose kudos must be given to them for trying to diversify. They gave it a go. It just didn’t really work, sadly. In an age nowadays when everyone is looking back retrospectively at Queen's career, very few are ever going to pick any of this material out to go on any compilations or playlists. It didn't fit in, culturally, in 1982 and it doesn't now either. The essence of Queen is certainly not to be found anywhere here. 

“Side two” sees things go even more awry. “Calling All Girls” is positively awful. Hold on, was that a Roger Taylor song? Well, there you go. The song about John Lennon, "Life Is Real" , was well meant enough, obviously, and it even sounds remarkably like it could have come off “Mind Games” but it just doesn't quite come off. 

“Las Palabras De Amor” is a big production number in a style that harks back to their mid-seventies pomp, however in 1982 it just sounded dated. I remember hearing it at the time and recalling my Queen fan days of 1975-76 and quite liking it, but at the same time realising how dated it was.

“Cool Cat” is an interesting curio. It doesn’t sound remotely like either Queen or Mercury. Actually, if you listen to this and try to forget it is Queen, it becomes more enjoyable. For me, it is the best track on the album, oddly. The subsequent releases of the album have included the collaboration with David Bowie, "Under Pressure", which was an enormous hit, of course. It sits somewhat uncomfortably with the rest of the album. It's great, as we all know, but doesn't really seem part of the album. 


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