Sunday, 7 October 2018

Queen - A Kind Of Magic (1986)


  

Released June 1986

Recorded in Germany, Switzerland and London

After Queen's renaissance with 1984's "The Works" and the triumphant show-stopping "Live Aid" performance, they were hip again and seemingly could do no wrong. Maybe they got a bit lazy, because this is a typically mid-eighties, patchy album. There is some classic material on this album, don't get me wrong, but there is some questionable stuff too. The sound quality throughout is outstanding on the latest remastering, however.

Let's be positive and talk about the good ones. "One Vision" is simply one of my favourite riffy Queen rockers of all time. When Brian May launches into it - wow. The stadium-friendly groove of the title track is pretty impossible to dislike, as is the anthemic, grandiose and powerful "Friends Will Be Friends". The latter is the track that harks back to Queen's late seventies material more than any on the album. The plaintive "Who Wants To Live Forever" is heartbreakingly moving, of course, and would prove to be even more so five years later.

Now on to the less wonderful material. John Deacon's "One Year Of Love" is not a funk-rock outing, but an eighties-era Elton John-style ballad, redeemed by Mercury's vocal and a deep, resonating bass beat. It also has a late-night, easy-listening saxophone solo. Alright in that type of song, but is this Queen? Surely not! Look, it is pleasant enough, but you have to say Queen had become very middle-of-the-road with material like this. "Pain Is Close To Pleasure" is a slice of AOR eighties slick disco, that sounds like something Diana Ross may have put out around this time. How fans who had been into Queen since the start, like myself, could tolerate tosh like this is difficult to understand. The excellent sound quality detracts from what is a pretty awful track.

"Gimme The Prize (Kurgan's Theme)", one of several tracks from the soundtrack of the film "Highlander", gets things back on track with an excellent, muscular, thumping rocker full of chunky guitar, a classic Brian May solo, samples from the film and a powerful Mercury vocal. "Don't Lose Your Head" is an unremarkable synth-rock number from Roger Taylor. Mercury's vocals are typically strong, but the song is similar to the worst ones on "Hot Space". Again, what Queen fans see in this is beyond me. "Princes Of The Universe" is a bit clich├ęd lyrically, and musically, with its big clunky heavy riffs, but its ok. It has a quick snatch of "Brighton Rock"-style guitar at one point, though.

This is not a Queen album I revisit too often. I have to say, though, that listening to it now I have quite enjoyed it, but it certainly is no classic.

C+

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