Queen - 1986 A Kind Of Magic

Lee South AfricaLee South Africa South Africa
edited August 2 in year-1986

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ARTIST: Queen
ALBUM: A Kind Of Magic
LABEL: EMI, Capitol
SERIAL: CDP 7 46267 2
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Click here for a list..

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Freddie Mercury - vocals * Brian May - guitars * John Deacon - bass * Roger Taylor - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 One Vision * 02 A Kind Of Magic * 03 One Year Of Love * 04 Pain Is So Close to Pleasure * 05 Friends Will Be Friends * 06 Who Wants to Live Forever * 07 Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme) * 08 Don't Lose Your Head * 09 Princess Of The Universe

Background

Queen are certainly a little light on reviews here at GDM, most especially the 80's material so here goes.

The band's 1982 dance experiment 'Hot Space' had flopped and done their rock profile and reputation significant harm, so it was apparently decided that the next album would be their last.

'The Works' was to be an epitaph of sorts, incorporating all the hallmarks that made the band great. The problem with this was, 'The Works' belted out such an array of classic AOR and was so successful that retiring was going to be difficult.

First Queen were talked into doing a live aid song ('One Vision'), another success, then 'The Highlander' film project beckoned.. retirement was put on the backburner, giving us 'A Kind Of Magic' to look into and discuss.

The Songs

The 1985 hit 'One Vision' opens the album, brimming with energy and AOR intent. The hook and chorus combination are memorable, totally AOR and typically Queen, I can still see scenes from 'Iron Eagle' in my mind when this plays! Great song.

Title track 'A Kind Of Magic' is next, one of the first 7' singles I bought as a 12 year old. Not the most typical Queen song, built around a lilting bit of guitar from May.

Rather than a crunching riff, it does deliver the mid-tempo AOR by the barrel load. Yes it got played a lot on the radio like all of Queen's hits, but it's none the worse for that in my view.

The bonus disc includes 'The Highlander' soundtrack version, this one offering more crunch and riffage. Superior to the album version to be honest, always did love some crunch in my AOR.

'One Year Of Love' and 'Pain Is So Close To Pleasure' are both quite frivolous and forgettable, bordering on kitsch.

Then we get to 'Friends Will Be Friends', the AOR mid ballad that seemed designed for football stadium anthem status. This track was massive in South Africa and in many territories, and I have to say it still sounds good despite being vastly overplayed back in the day.

There seems to be a grand element that Queen works into their better tracks that comes across as natural rather than contrived, and this chorus is an example of that. This single further embedded AOR into my young mind!

'Who Wants To Live Forever' must rank as one of the pomp ballads of all time, totally grandiose and reaching a thunderous crescendo by song's end. Terrific track.

'Gimme The Prize' ushers in some brutal guitar power, I would call it a hard pomp rock workout with quite a unique rhythm pattern going on. Those snare drums could demolish buildings, I must stress the power going on here. The chorus is hard hitting and melodic in an uncluttered way, but the Scottish highlands themed solo from May steals the show here.

'Don't Lose Your Head' is as incidental as the 'guest vocals' from Joan Armatrading, a bit of a scene filler from the movie.

'Princes Of The Universe' is an entirely different matter though, power AOR full of pomp tendencies and tempo changes. If ever a track should be described as majestic then this one fits the bill, smashing the AOR coffee meter beyond repair.

Once again the chorus is layered and terraced in the Queen tradition, backed by amped up guitar. I can make no apology for labelling this one a classic.

In Summary

I haven't made specific song comparisons to other bands, but Queen easily joined the realm of Foreigner/Toto/Kansas etc for AOR appeal, and had already done so with the previous album.

'A Kind Of Magic' was a significant success despite the goofy animated cover art. Sadly, it would be the last real Queen tour, with Freddie falling ill in the second half of the 80's.

However, he was not too ill yet to stop recording, paving the way for further AOR, starting with 'The Miracle'. More to follow.


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