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Queen - News Of The World CD (album) cover




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3.25 | 518 ratings

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5 stars Oh boy, did I dread getting this album. Granted, my overall experience with News Of The World turned out much better than I expected, but considering the album's reputation for giving Queen their final push into arena-rock status, I was half expecting the musical quality to take a nosedive. Fortunately, this was not the case, at least for me.

Most of my initial nervousness was a result of, not surprisingly, the one-two punch of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions". After a lifetime of having these songs being needlessly drilled into my head by "classic rock" radio, sports arenas, commercials and bad movies, I can easily see why these two songs are the most frequently used in the multitude of "Why Queen Stinks" essays, not to mention that this two-headed monster was one of the reasons why I've stopped listening to "classic rock" radio altogether and avoided this band like the plague for years. Nonetheless, I've finally managed to make peace with these songs. "We Are The Champions" is actually a pretty good power ballad that was famously featured in the ending to the B-movie classic Revenge Of The Nerds, arguably one of the few times this song was put to effective use instead of being slapped on to a sports cliché, totally redeeming it in my eyes. Its brother, "We Will Rock You", on the other hand, has been a tougher nut to crack for me, with its sing-along chorus and incessant (not to mention legendary) stomping. Yes, it's cheesy, but, thankfully, it never outstays it welcome. It's still a gas to listen to, though, whenever you pop the record in and push play. So, yeah, good songs. About the only complaint I have left with them is that I really wish "We Are The Champions" had been put near the end of the record instead of at the beginning. "We Will Rock You"' is the most obvious song to open the album, so it would make sense that "We Are The Champions" would be its climax to mark the end of our journey.

Acquiring the commercial taste aside, the rest of the album is surprisingly good. The Zeppelinish "Get Down, Make Love" is a delightfully raunchy number (perhaps too raunchy for fans of their earlier work) which pounds just as hard as "We Will Rock You", while May slashes away like a knife counterpointing Mercury's machismo, culminating in a brief moment of electronic insanity. "Fight From The Inside" is another stomper that foreshadows some of the band's funk experiments. A lot of fans seem to hate this one, and, I admit, if some other band did this, it might have been lost in the shuffle of Seventies rock, but here it's quite harmless. Meanwhile, what was supposed to be the title track to Sheer Heart Attack makes an appearance here as a ferocious speed rocker, most likely left off due to the presence of "Brighton Rock" and "Stone Cold Crazy". Compared to those two, it's relatively simple, most likely a jab at the growing punk movement. It even includes a parody of the Velvet Underground-like feedback that a lot of alternative rock groups were starting to adopt. I'm not sure if the band's audience in America would have gotten the joke at the time. "It's Late" is yet another good, pounding rocker, this time with a more arena-rock flavor to it.

If you can't stand the pounding of the above tracks, there's always the piano ballads. "All Dead, All Dead", is a moving elegy, capped off with one of the most eerie guitar solos I have ever heard. The uplifting "Spread Your Wings" is just as lovely, thanks to Mercury's singing, which is probably his best on the album and probably would make a Top Ten entry if I ever decided to make one on his performances in Queen. "My Melancholy Blues" is a nice way to close the album, a jazz ballad straight out of the 30s or 40s that conjures up images of a bar closing after a wild night.

Rounding out the album are a couple of stylistic curve balls. "Sleeping On The Sidewalk" is May's attempt to one-up Brownsville Station. Once again, it's another number that I might have dismissed if virtually anyone else did it, but here, it's a neat little diversion. "Who Needs You" is a nice tropical sounding ditty with some delicious acoustic guitar.

If you're not comfortable with Queen's arena rock shift, this might be a good place for you to jump ship. As for me, I think it's one of the few arena records that's deserving of its classic status.

Final rating: I was thinking of giving this a 4/5, but I've decided to just give it a weak 5/5. It's not progressive rock per say, but it's still high quality music. The classics are great and the diversity really helps make it a memorable listen. Nice album cover, too.

Personal favorites: "We Will Rock You", "We Are The Champions", "Sheer Heart Attack", "All Dead, All Dead", "Spread Your Wings", "Get Down, Make Love", "Sleeping On The Sidewalk", "Who Needs You", "It's Late", "My Melancholy Blues"

Personal dislikes: None

KingCrInuYasha | 5/5 |


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